Fifty years ago there were over 100 carpet manufacturers in the U.S. Today, that number has shrunk to less than twenty, with the two largest, Mohawk and Shaw Industries, controlling about 70% of all carpet sold domestically. Almost all carpet sold in the U.S. is manufactured in Dalton, Georgia, nicknamed “the carpet capital of the world”. A small percentage of wool carpet is made overseas and shipped here to be sold.

Over the last 50 years, Mohawk and Shaw Industries bought up most of their competitors or drove them out of business. Carpet mills today look nothing like what they did even 10 years ago. Due to the popularity of hard surface flooring like hardwood, tile or luxury vinyl plank, carpet mills have acquired many hard surface manufacturers and carry a much broader inventory of flooring beside carpet. Although Shaw and Mohawk sell all types of carpet, they both have their own flagship residential carpet brands. The remaining two brands on this list are owned by a different manufacturer and specialize in making high-end, beautiful carpets as well.

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Karastan logo

1. The crown jewel of the carpet industry is Mohawk’s, Karastan. This is the oldest brand in the carpet business at 92 years old. Karastan is known for beautiful area rugs but also manufactures high-quality wall to wall carpets.

Mohawk bought this brand 35 years ago and has been extremely careful in preserving the quality and high value it has been known for. Mohawk has separate manufacturing, styling and management staff that run this division 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. Karastan’s 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 and yarn systems that no other manufacturers can replicate. This makes Karastan truly one of a kind.

Karastan carpets are made from nylon, wool, polyester and Triexta yarn systems. Each yarn produces a different look, feel and luster level to its carpets. This gives Karastan the broadest variety of performance, cleaning and styling options. There are about 140 styles of Karastan carpets with prices starting around $2.99 square foot. In 2020, they introduced hardwood and luxury vinyl plank brands for the first time in Karastans history.

Fabrica logo

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 show less wear. They “Beck Dye” all their lines which is a very time consuming and costly process. There area a few different methods of dying carpet but this is far and away the most expensive. It makes the finish product highly fade resistant and eliminates side match claims which happen with the other dying options on occasion.

Fabrica runs 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!

This line is almost exclusively made from the premium nylon fiber brand, Stainmaster. Like most other manufacturers, Fabrica has about 50 different styles of carpet starting at about $4.99 per square foot.

Fabrica is the most expensive residential carpet brand 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 limited to higher quality dealers in each trading area.

Masland Carpets logo

3. 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. Like Fabrica, almost all Masland styles are made in Stainmaster nylon. 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. Like Fabrica, Masland is carried by most higher end dealers in each city.

Tuftex logo

4. Tuftex is Shaw Industries flag ship residential carpet brand. Shaw acquired Tuftex a couple decades ago. Unlike the others, Tuftex is located in southern California. At one time, there were several carpet manufacturers in the Los Angeles area but almost all have closed shop. Just a couple years ago, Camelot/Royalty, a high end 50 year old Los Angeles based carpet manufacturer closed after its owner died. Tuftex makes almost all of its carpet from premium nylon Stainmaster and Anso brands. 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. Distribution of Tuftex is the same as most Shaw products, most dealers have it. There are about 150 Tuftex styles and 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 run because of high speed machinery. The current trend in the flooring business is towards hard surface through the majority of a home. In the 1960’s, hardwood floors were being covered everywhere by carpet because of noise and coldness under foot. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happened again down the road.