We have written an updated version for 2020, you can check that out here!
Forty years ago there were over 150 carpet manufacturers in the U.S. That number is less than twenty today and the two largest sell almost 70% of all carpet sold. This transition is normal in any maturing industry.
The two giants, Mohawk and Shaw Industries, swallowed up most of their competitors and drove the others out of business. Although these two sell all types of carpet, they both have their own flagship carpet brands that are on this list. The remaining three are smaller niche mills that specialize in only making high-end, beautiful carpet. There are a few other mills that make high quality carpets, but they didn’t make the top five cut.
1. The crown jewel of the carpet industry is Mohawk’s little darling, Karastan. This is the oldest brand in the carpet business at 88 years old. Karastan is known for beautiful area rugs but also manufactures high-quality wall to wall carpets.
Mohawk bought this brand about 25 years ago and has mostly left it alone. They have a separate manufacturing, styling team and management staff that run it without interference from the mother company. Karastan is the only carpet brand that manufactures both wool and man-made yarn types. Distribution of Karastan is highly restricted. There are only a few dealers in each town that are allowed to show and sell it. In fact, the Karastan reputation is so important that dealers have explicit instructions to satisfy all customers, even if it means replacing carpet for free.
The biggest difference between Karastan and all other top carpet brands is that Karastan costs less. Karastan is made with the highest quality raw materials available. All the other manufacturers that make this quality charge 30% - 40% more for it. Karastan also has some proprietary manufacturing components that no other manufacturers can replicate. This makes Karastan truly one of a kind. Karastan has a broad range of styles and its prices start around $2.99 per square foot.
2. Fabrica is another high quality carpet mill. They like to use the word “deliberate” to explain how they manufacture carpet. In other words, they know that doing things the way they do costs more, but it also gives the customers something they can’t find elsewhere -- the highest quality possible.
For example, they twist their carpet fibers 25% more than others, which translates into carpets that barely show wear. They “Beck Dye” all their lines which is a very time consuming and costly process. It means their carpets are highly fade resistant and eliminate side match claims which happen in our industry all the time.
They run the speed of their tufting machines very slow compared to others because they feel this delivers the highest quality carpet to their customer. They have a product called Chez (pronounced Shay) that is the nicest velvet plush ever made. The denier of the yarn is so fine that it creates the most elegant finish that a carpet can achieve. The term velvet means that it looks like a piece of velvet fabric put on a floor. Nothing short of spectacular!
Fabrica is one of the most expensive carpet brands in the industry. This is an absolutely gorgeous carpet line that costs a little more, but if you can afford it, your house won’t look like your neighbors. Distribution of Fabrica is a little tighter than most of the mills but not as strict as Karastan.
3. Camelot makes very beautiful, quality carpets as well. Unlike Fabrica which has many varying styles, Camelot focuses on fewer looks and makes them in varying weights. Camelot’s forte is making high-quality cut pile styles. They make them in plushes, textured plushes, friezes, cables and velvets.
Almost all carpet manufacturers are located in Dalton, Georgia, the “carpet capital of the world” as it has been nicknamed. Camelot, Tuftex and Fabrica are manufactured in Los Angeles. That means they generally use popular west coast color pallets. It is a known fact that east coast consumers like wilder color pallets with bright pastels while west coast colors come in more subdued shades like beige, taupe and grey shades.
Camelot also manufactures a wide array of level cut loops (LCLs). This is a shorter, flatter style of carpet with a distinct pattern that is achieved by blending loops with cut pile fibers. It is a very high-performing style that is easy to keep clean. Camelot prices start at around $3.99 per square foot.
4. Masland Carpets are made by the same manufacturer as Fabrica with shared parent company, Dixie Group. I would call Masland the little sister to Fabrica. Both are extremely high styled lines with Masland being a step down from Fabrica.
One of the things that Masland is known for is the vivid color pallets in their lines. Bright violets and peach colors are impossible to find in the industry except at Masland. This is one of the reasons Masland is loved by many designers. Masland has done an outstanding job of covering almost every possible look available in the industry. Their colored patterned lines are one-of-a-kind in the industry. Masland is a little spendy with prices starting around $3.99 per square foot.
5. Tuftex Carpets is another high end, west coast mill that was bought by giant, Shaw Industries a couple decades ago. This the most high-end Shaw carpet offered. They do a great job with west coast colors and make their lines very stylish.
Probably because Tuftex is owned by Shaw carpet, prices are extremely competitive. If you are on a tight budget but still want a beautiful carpet, Tuftex should be on your shopping list. Prices start around $2.99 per square foot.
If you were to watch the entire carpet manufacturing process, you would think the cost to fill a home would top $20,000. But in truth, it’s shocking how inexpensive high-quality carpets can run. However, if you want to make your neighbor’s mouth drop, you’ll want to spend the money.