So it’s time to buy carpet? There are some basic things you will need to know. I’ll touch on these things to get you started in the right direction. I’m not planning on making you an expert, but if I can get you thinking about more than just “is it the right color and how does it feel?” than we have accomplished something together! If you can better understand your own need, the carpet style you want, the fiber that best suits you, and the importance of “pile height” and weight, than you are ready to pick something out.
First, before I jump into specific flooring information, think about your home and current situation. How long do you plan on staying at your current home? Why are you replacing the carpet? Or if you are a property manager, how long do you want the floor to last? If you’re a builder, is this a spec home or higher end job? Try to get a feel for the performance that will be expected of the carpet. If you are only going to be in the home for 6 months, it may not make sense to get a higher end carpet style. Be sure to relay this type of information to your salesperson, whether over the phone, email or in person.
Once you have an idea of your need, then it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of Carpet styles. There are several different styles of carpet:
• Plush/Saxony-Very formal and elegant but tends to show tracks. This style comes in solid colors typically.
• Berber-can look casual or formal depending on decor, usually made out of olefin so it can mat down somewhat over time. Also with Berber, the fewer the seams the better because it’s a loop product and the fewer the seams, the fewer the loops that can become pulled at the edges. Berber comes in solid and flecked colors and hides surface dirt well if using flecked colors.
• Semi trackless/textured plush-imagine a plush, but the fibers are slightly twisted to give a still somewhat formal look but shows less tracks than plush. Semi-trackless is available in solid colors but the appearance can change slightly depending on the light in the room.
• Frieze- highly twisted, irregular fibers that resemble shag, but are thinner, tighter fiber strands. Frieze is offered in solid or flecked colors, and like Berber, can hide surface dirt well
• Sculptured/cut loop/high-low- has a pattern with high and low loops or a mix of some loops that are cut and some are pulled tight against the backing. There is a high variation in these styles of color mixes, yarns, looks etc. Performance depends on the yarn used.
• Level loop-usually a commercial looking style with short, tight loops of carpet, made for high traffic. You usually don’t see in homes, but you can get deals on level loops so they can be a great for a bonus room, playroom etc. Level loops usually hold up well over time because of their tight loops and construction.
There are also different types of yarn used in carpet. Nylon is king. It has a nice feel and has superior wear and “memory”. Nylon also resists soil and stains well. Another yarn is Polyester. Polyester may have one of the best “feels” out of all of the yarns. It is also very stain resistant. Polyester may have more “fuzzing” than other yarns though. The third yarn is Olefin. Olefin is a polypropylene blended product. It is extremely stain resistant. It does wear well but can tend to mat down over time. Wool is another option, but very rarely used anymore. Lastly are the Eco yarns. The Eco yarns are yarns and fibers that are sustainable solutions for the environment or environmentally friendly. The most popular Eco yarn is PET. PET stands for (polyethylene terephthalate). PET fiber is made out of recycled plastic bottles. It is durable and also extremely stain resistant. The other Eco fiber is called Sorona, a product introduced by DuPont, which can be made into carpet yarn. Sorona is mainly produced from corn syrup. The fiber is not 100% corn product but it is one of the primary base products used to make the fiber.
A common myth is to purchase carpet based on the weight, measured in ounces. Weight is important to a degree, but not as much as many would have you think. If you will notice, the big box stores will usually try to stress the importance of weight. Weight is only important when the “pile height” and yarn density are considered as well. Common weights for carpet run between 30 and 70 ounces. Most consumers think the higher the weight, the better the carpet. Pile height is how tall the fibers stand off of the backing. Yarn density is how close the yarn is tufted next to each other. A 50 ounce, shorter pile height carpet with a tight density may very well outperform a higher weight carpet with a higher pile height if the higher weight isn’t as dense a product. Keep these in mind. Tighter is better.
If you take into consideration your specific need, the style and yarns that best suit you, and a nice tight carpet not based solely on weight, then you’re sure to make a perfect choice for your upcoming floor covering project.