Traffic Lanes Gray: The carpet appears to be soiled, but is actually clean.  This is often due to a combination of factors, such as scratches or fiber distortions due to wear, which will cause light to reflect at different angles instead of uniformly. 

Shading, Pooling, or Nap Reversal:  Normal traffic causes the pile of carpet to flatten slightly, resulting in a shaded effect, especially in plush carpet.  Vacuuming the pile in the same direction can temporarily correct this situation.   

Even though a conscientious program of vacuuming is followed, some change will take place.  The changes will not only be in the traffic areas but in other sections which receive very little traffic.  This change is more noticeable on solid colors and in the better grades of plush carpet.  It may first become apparent as a large spot, as if something has been spilled.  It may look like a water spot.  The spot may be rounded or have a wavy shape, not really enclosing any area.  If the fingers are run over the spot, it will be noticed that the pile runs in one direction until the edge of the spot is reached.  The edge of the area will appear rough, or raised, and then once outside the area, the pile runs in a different direction from that in the spot. 

If an area is observed from one direction, it will appear to be darker than the adjacent area.  Viewing the same area from another direction, it will appear lighter than the surrounding area.  The reason for the change of shade is due to the amount of light being reflected from the area.  When the sides of the yarns are viewed, more light will be reflected and it will appear lighter than looking at the ends of the yarn.

Shading is a characteristic of a plush carpet, and it should be expected to develop.  It is not something which the manufacturer can eliminate in a plush or a velvet type of construction.  Shading helps to break up the plainness or sameness in a solid color, dense, cut pile carpet.  It is a characteristic which occurs in good quality carpet and should be enjoyed.  Using a carpet rake or pile lifting may temporarily improve the appearance, but it always comes back. 

Even though ground in dirt and soils can be a tremendous challenge, the reflection of light on carpet that was installed incorrectly or the nap has turned can be an even greater obstacle providing a clean appearance.

Your comments and questions are always welcome.  I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or