With the wide variety of carpet styles available today it’s a good idea to start by knowing the basic carpet characteristics, marks of a quality carpet, fibers available and how to choose the best floor carpet for that room or living space.
The most common type of floor carpet is the loop style carpets which come in four variations:
Level-loop Pile (loops are of equal height)
Multilevel Pile (two or three variable heights of simple or complex design)
Cut Pile (sculptured carpet in which the loops have been cut to create a more sophisticated looking carpet)
Cut and Loop Pile (a combination of loop and cut pile)
Some examples of these common carpet types are the Berber (multilevel pile) the shag (cut pile) and the most common wall to wall carpet (level – loop).
Carpet tiles are also becoming increasingly popular. Installation is similar to the standard floor tiles. They can be easily cut to fit, mixed and matched to provide a personal design accent, and can be a creative solution to an unusual space where an area rug is needed.
Determining the quality of the carpet is important in that it is directly related to how well it will hold up in the home.
The most important guide to buying quality carpet is to look for is the density or loops/yarns per square inch. The greater the density; the better quality. A simple test, known as the “grin” test can be performed to identify a carpet’s density.
Fold a carpet sample backwards as if folding a piece of paper backward, look at the crease to see how much backing is showing, the less backing you see means the better the carpet quality, in other words, the longer it will retain its comfort..
Types of Carpet Fibers
Carpet fibers are made of both synthetic and natural materials. Price, style and quality is related the fibers used and the complexity of design. Whatever option, always choose the highest quality within the budget to ensure the best performance for the longest period of time.
Wool Carpet: This is a natural fiber that is most often used in homes where luxurious comfort is most important. Rich, plush, and elegant in design, though one of the most expensive it resists stains and is wear resistant. With proper care, a wool carpet can remain beautiful for up to 25 years. Not the best choice of flooring carpet for areas of high humidity since it has a tendency to absorb moisture and develop a consequential odor.
Olefin Carpet: Otherwise known as polypropylene, this carpet fiber is made of a plastic polymer and has easily become the most in demand for carpet manufactures due to its superior stain resistance, color retention and consumer affordability. One word of warning however, Olefin is a oil magnet, any oil based spill will literally be blended with this carpet fiber and will be impossible to remove.
Nylon Carpet: This is the most common of carpet fibers and is perfect for most home applications. Nylon is the material most advertised by familiar manufacturers such as Dupont, Allied and Monsanto. Nylon has withstood the test of time and is available in a wide variety of price points. Its strongest feature is it’s ability to restore its shape after repeated pressure and thus is perfect for high traffic areas. It’s resistance to stains is minimal unless pre-treated with a stain guard product.
Polyester Carpet: Comparable in price to olefin and in quality to nylon, this fiber is a good over-all choice for busy homes and high traffic areas. Stain resistance is superior to any other carpet fiber but it does have a reputation for shedding and pilling.
The absence of a quality carpet pad supporting the carpet will sabotage any benefit from choosing soft surface flooring. The right carpet pad underfoot will make any carpet softer in step and will dramatically extend the life of the carpet fiber’s performance.
The general rule when matching pad to carpet; use no more than a 7/16th inch pad for a standard residential pile carpet; for low pile carpets such as a Berber, use no more than 3/8th inch cushion.
Comfort and beauty in a home are a result of balancing patterns, style and color. A carpet can be the main feature in the room or simply provide a canvas of comfort. Either way, using this guide to buying carpet will aid in finding the best carpet for utility, design and family comfort.