Shopping for new carpet is a little like shopping for a new mattress. You sort of know what you want. And you sort of know what you like. But if a sales person asked you to explain your criterion, you'd be better off pointing to a few samples instead.
Plenty of people make major purchases based on their “I'll-know-it-when-I-see-it” instinct. But you don't have to select new carpet this way because you have Experts in Your Home, who will supply you with the language and skills you'll need to make an informed choice.
Keep Carpet Uses in Mind
Before you learn about carpet fibers and carpet styles and how to assess a carpet's quality, keep in mind:
- The room (or rooms) in which the carpeting will be installed
- Whether the area is directly accessible to the outdoors
- The type of activity (especially eating and entertaining) that takes place there
- How much foot traffic (and pet traffic) the carpeting will face
Choose a Carpet Fiber
- Nylon is durable and low maintenance, making it well suited for high-traffic areas and homes with children and pets. Nylon fibers may be listed as “100 percent nylon” or “branded,” which denotes nylon of the highest quality.
- Olefin is an inexpensive fiber that resists fading but is not as resilient as nylon. Olefin is often made into a looped Berber style with a nubby weave. It offers good stain resistance, making it right at home in high-traffic but “cleaner” areas of a home, such as family rooms and children's play areas.
- Polyester feels soft and even luxurious underfoot, but it tends to shed, can be more difficult to clean and is less durable than nylon. It is well suited for low-traffic areas like bedrooms or where children and pets do not roam.
- Triexta is the “new kid” on the block – a newly classified fiber derived from corn sugar. It offers anti-stain properties that may be superior to those of nylon. And it's resilient, though time will tell if it's as durable as nylon. In the meantime, it's a fine choice for any room that must stand up to children and pets.
Choose a Carpet Style
- Berber or looped carpet is eye-catching, but it can snag easily and be difficult to repair. Berbers with small loops wear better and are easier to clean than those with large loops.
- Frieze is the most durable of the three cut piles, which include saxony and textured. With tightly twisted tufts, it can last 20 years or more if properly maintained.
- Saxony (also known as plush and velvet) is most often found in formal dining rooms, living rooms and bedrooms. This carpet exposes footprints and vacuum marks – a matter of personal preference.
- Sculptured carpet, also called cut-and-loop carpet, is durable and economical. It hides dirt but reveals seams.
- Textured, cut-pile carpet consists of more than one color of yarn and tufts of various heights. This two-tone appearance deflects footprints and vacuum marks.
Assess Twist and Density in Judging New Carpet Quality
- Just as the name suggests, the twist on a plush or cut-pile carpet refers to how many times the yarns are twisted together over the course of 1 inch. The tighter the twist, the better the quality of the carpet. A twist of five or higher should result in a more durable carpet.
- Carpet density refers to the number of carpet yarns packed in 1 square inch. High-density carpet offers less space for yarns to spread out or become crushed and matted over time. But there is a trade-off: high-density carpet may feel hard while low-density carpet tends to feel soft. Whichever you prefer, take a carpet sample and bend it backward. If you can see the backing, it's such a low-density carpet that it probably won't hold up for long.
Experts in Your Home can do more than help you select new carpet; we can install it for you, too. You choose the color – and don't forget the padding, which can extend the lifespan of carpet considerably. In the end, you'll feel like an expert in your home – and one sitting atop comfortable new carpet, too.