Buying new carpeting is a major investment for most people. Yet, for such a “big ticket” item many people don’t spend enough time during the selection process and wind up buying carpeting that is not suitable for their lifestyle. They often end up unhappy with the performance of their carpeting, which is one of the major reasons why people often choose alternative floor coverings, such as tile, wood or vinyl.
Often times, consumers are mislead by salespeople, who may push certain brands or styles that they make a higher profit margin from, or are overstocked on. The salesperson’s “recommendation” is not always a carpet that will work best for the customer.
When shopping for a new carpet, you need to discover how is the room going to be used? Will it have heavy or light foot traffic? Will the room be the center of activity for family and entertaining? Is there direct access from outside, or is the room away from entrances? Will the carpet receive direct sunlight?
Your budget and life style needs are key elements in selecting a new carpet. A better grade of carpet will give you a longer length of service than one of lesser quality.
Buy the best carpet you can afford for the heavy traffic areas of your home – family room, hallways and stairs. A medium grade is sufficient in rooms with less traffic. Many manufacturers sell different grades of the same color and style, making it easy to use different grades in your home, while maintaining a consistent appearance in all rooms.
When obtaining a cost estimate make sure that the carpet cushion, professional installation, moving of furniture and removal and disposal of your old carpeting is included.
Color selection is a very personal choice however; lighter colors show soil and pathways faster than darker or multi-colored carpets. Carpet texture will also help disguise traffic pathways and soil in your high traffic areas.
The four major types of carpet fiber are:
Nylon: Approximately 65% of all carpets sold are made from Nylon. Nylon is highly recommended because of its wear resistance, ease in cleaning, ability to withstand heavy traffic and hide soil however Nylon is prone to staining and UV fading from long term direct sunlight.
Olefin (polypropylene): Moisture and fade resistant, Olefin is cheaper to manufacture than Nylon. Many Berber style carpets are made from this fiber. Negatives: Lower heat threshold, dragging furniture across it may melt the fibers. Difficult to clean, it is “oil loving” meaning it absorbs oily soils or stains; never install olefin near the kitchen. Olefin does not withstand heavy traffic; as such gray traffic paths appear sooner.
Polyester: Noted for its luxurious, soft feel when used in thick, cut pile textures. Polyester, like Olefin is more difficult to clean than nylon. Polyester fibers also are prone to showing wear in traffic areas prematurely however are less likely to become permanently stained.
New technology has been applied to polyester fibers making it a very good choice for high use areas that may also be prone to spills. These “smart strand” fibers appear to be a better choice than olefin and may (in time) out perform nylon.
Wool: The longest wearing of all carpet fibers; however Wool is also the most expensive and is highly susceptible to permanent staining and damage from alkaline cleaning agents. Great care and expense is required to maintain and professionally clean wool fibers.
Density and fiber twist: Aside from fiber type the two most important factors in carpet performance are density and fiber twist. Carpet quality is categorized by weight per square inch (measured in ounces) therefore the higher the face-weight (density), the better the quality.
Although carpets with a tighter twist provide enhanced durability; they are more prone to nap opposition, corn rowing and pooling problems. That being said the most expensive carpet might not be the best choice for a household filled with kids. In such situations a “plush” pile (less twist) is likely the best choice as opposed to a Saxony pile.
Never cut costs when choosing a carpet pad. A high quality pad will extend the life of your carpet. Make sure that the pad you select is recommended for your style of carpet. If you need any further advice, the best person to contact is likely going to be your certified professional carpet cleaner!
Some of the information in this article was obtained from the Carpet & Rug Institute.