Tips for Choosing Carpet for Homeowners
Learn to Pick Carpet Like a Pro!
Carpeted floors are favorites in the household because they can easily create a cozy and luxurious atmosphere in any room in your home. Carpet is simple to maintain, easy on the wallet with the lowest total cost, quick to install, and is versatile enough to match the decor of any room. It is also the best choice for those who prefer warm and cozy areas and sound-insulation for their floors.
However, with the vast array of carpet qualities, types, and styles, the task of getting the right carpet to perfectly match a room and your needs can be daunting. Most homeowners are not acquainted with the factors affecting carpet selection and performance so they can end up with the wrong purchases if not helped by professionals.
Understanding what is important to consider when buying carpet will not only help individuals choose the right material for their carpeting; it also results in a good investment and the most cost-effective decisions.
8 tips to help you shop for the best carpet type:
1. Carpet Durability
The most important aspect of carpet for the long-term is its durability. There is more to durability than just the brand and the way a carpet feels. A carpet’s durability is directly related to:
- The thickness or density of the carpet
- The fiber it is made from
- The way a carpet is constructed (tip #4, types of carpet)
When looking for the most durable carpet for your budget you must consider the following:
Carpet density is how close the fiber strands of a carpet are to each other. The denser the carpet the longer it will stand up straight and the less it will “crush”. However the denser the carpet, the less soft it will be (there are nice dense carpets on the market that are still soft). You will have to decide if long term quality or softness of the carpet is more important. Or choose a carpet that is dense but still soft and get the best of both worlds.
Fiber Types of Carpet
- Wool Carpet – The most expensive of all carpet fibers. It is very durable, green (eco-friendly), and soft, but usually double or triple the cost of the more common types of carpet fibers and cost-prohibitive for most people.
- Nylon Carpet – This fiber is considered by industry experts to be the most durable for foot traffic. It is soft and comes in a large variety of styles and colors.Since it is a fiber it is prone to stains. To combat the stains most of the nylon carpets that we sell are treated with an R2X stain treatment system. It is a stain treatment that encapsulates the entire fiber and backing. When a stain occurs it beads up like mercury and you can use a wet paper towel to blot it up. When you are finished, even if you have a white carpet, you will see no remnant of the stain at all. Most of the nylon carpets that we sell carry a Lifetime Pet Stain Warranty.
- Polyester Carpet – When constructed in a Continuous Filament Platform this fiber is a nice “bang for your buck” alternative to nylon. You will get more carpet at a better cost. Most of these carpets are made with recycled beverage bottles so they are green (eco-friendly) and inherently stain resistant. Most of the Continuous Filament Polyesters are treated with the same R2X as the nylons, despite the natural stain-resistance of polyester.
- Solution Dyed Polyester – A carpet that is made a color instead of white and then dyed. Because of the way it is constructed your color selections are limited. However, if you can find a piece that you like within the color lines that are available, this carpet is one of the best values on the market today. It is almost stain proof, bleach resistant, UV resistant, made with very little oil (less dirt build up), color fast, green (eco-friendly), and all for less than the cost of comparable products. A great choice for anywhere in your home.
- Triexta – A glorified polyester carpet product that is manufactured exclusively by Mohawk. It is naturally stain resistant, however they do not treat it in any way with stain blockers.
- Olefin – A more basic carpet fiber made from plastic that is very stain resistant but not as soft as some of the other fibers and will crush quickly.
2. Stain Resistance
When purchasing carpet for any area in your home, stain resistance is very important. Stain resistance can mean many different things when purchasing carpet. Here is a quick summary of stain resistance and carpeting:
- Inherent Stain Resistance – Carpet that has inherent stain resistance is made with a fiber that does not absorb (or absorbs very little) foreign liquids. The most popular of these types of carpet is Solution Dyed Polyester followed by a Continuous Filament Polyester. The best inherently stain resistance carpets come with a stain treatment on them as well to help prevent any stains from absorbing into your carpet.
- Stain Treatment – All carpet is ultimately a fiber. When treated with a stain treatment, whether it is a stain resistant fiber or not, the carpet is better equipped to repel stains. There are 2 different types of stain treatments:
- Whole Fiber System Stain Treatment – A stain treatment that bathes the entire fiber and backing is the best type on the market. One of these is R2X. It encapsulates the entire fiber system and backing, eliminating stains that would otherwise come back after a cleaning because the backing is stained.
- Topical Stain Treatment – just treats the tips of the fiber. This type of stain treatment wears off pretty quickly and is not a quality product for the long-term.
The better the stain treatment on your carpet, and the less oil that is used in the manufacturing process, the better your carpet will repel dirt and the less dirt will be able to build up – extending the life of your carpet fibers and the look of your carpet.
3. Price of Carpet
Budget – One of the most important words when making a purchase. Usually the price of the carpet is directly related to the quality of it, however, that is not always the case. Once you get above a certain benchmark of cost per square yard you are spending more on style than quality. One thing to watch out for are very stylish carpets that cost a lot of money but are made with lower quality fibers. Another red flag are carpets that feel nice but are made poorly (there are quite a few of these on the market).
It is a good idea to work with an honest and reputable company that practices no pressure sales to make sure you know what you are purchasing and that you are getting a fair price.
Remember, the best price is not always the best deal.
4. Type of Carpet
Carpet comes in numerous different types and styles, all serving different purposes. The carpet type you choose will depend on your needs and wants.
Plush Textured Carpet
A stiffer type of solid color plush carpet that is not as soft as its counterparts but will not show foot prints or vacuum marks. Because of the tightness of the weave it will stay plusher longer than “looser” types of carpet.
Plush Saxony Carpet
A softer “lay your head on the carpet and go to sleep carpet” carpet. It also carries a certain shine to the carpet that makes it very attractive.
This type of carpet has a different construction type than the previous two. It’s carpet fibers are looped instead of standing straight up. Usually it comes in a multi-color as well. It is more durable under foot traffic but not as comfortable under your toes. If you have pets make sure that you get the “zipper lock” type so that you won’t have any runs when Spot decides to go digging in your carpet.
Exactly what it sounds like. It is a plush or berber type carpet with a pattern built into the fiber.
Print Carpet is a plush that has a full color design printed on top of the fibers. It can look like flowers, zebra stripes, baseballs, or almost whatever you want!
LCL – “Level Cut Loop” Carpet
This is a cross between a plush and a berber. Some of the fibers are standing straight up and some loop over. There is a pattern created inside of the carpet because it is built this way.
Frieze or California Shag Carpet
Bringing back the 70’s! This is the loosest type of carpet fiber to create a more modern shag type of carpet.
5. Softness and Carpet Feel
Choosing the feel of carpet is the most fun as this is what you will feel when walking barefoot or laying across your floor. Just imagine walking barefoot across the soft, luxurious…oops! Sorry, getting away from myself again!
The feel of carpeting adds comfort and coziness or stiffness and durability. As long as your fiber, construction, and thickness are right you really can’t go wrong. You will get good life out of whatever you choose. Yes, a tight carpet will last longer, but you are not talking about significant differences and you should purchase something that you will enjoy for many years instead of something you will just live with.
The feel of softness cannot be described over the internet and should be touched in person.
6. Carpet Look & Style
The almost limitless choices in carpet, color, and style may be the primary reason why most homeowners decide on carpet.
Before drowning in the sea of colors and design, here are some stylistic tips and ideas:
- Room Space – cool hues of pastels and neutrals work well in making smaller rooms appear larger, while warm hues like browns and rusts create a more closed-in, warmer, homier effect.
- Other Room Furnishings – rooms with already heavy patterns and texture will find a good use for a matching solid-colored floor or carpet. Conversely, simpler walls and furnishings will benefit from bold colors and awesome patterns.
- Targeted Overall Feel – warm hues and earth tones such as beige, taupe and brown can give off a relaxed, quiet mood; pull-off a gradation effect to give the feeling of height in a room by matching dark floors with walls and furniture that gets lighter in color as you move up.
- Future Plans – If you are planning on selling your house in the near future choose a neutral color and tone, and a neutral feel.
7. Carpet Pad and Underlayment
A carpet pad or an underlayment supports and cushions carpet. Several homeowners give too little attention to this without realizing that padding serves as the foundation of your carpet.
Most carpet pad that is sold is called rebond. It is industrial recycled material (cuttings from couch cushions, the foam inside of car door panels, etc.) adhered together to create carpet pad. There are a few important factors to consider when thinking about carpet pad.
- NEVER buy plain foam pad – It is inexpensive, will crush, and deteriorate. As a rule HRS Flooring/The Carpet Warehouse NEVER sells foam padding.
- Density – This is how much fiber is in a cubic foot of pad. An 8 lb pad will have 8 pounds of fiber inside of one cubic foot (1 foot wide by 1 foot deep by 1 foot tall). For your home you do not want anything less than 6LB pad, as it will crush and traffic out too soon. 6LB pad is also the minimal requirement for FHA (Federal Housing Administration). As the pad gets denser it will last longer but feel stiffer. A nice, good quality, cost effective pad with a good overall feel is an 8LB 7/16″ pad. It will last as long as your carpet, is not that much more expensive, and it feels good under foot.
- Thickness – This is the thickness of the pad. You want a thinner piece for berber (3/8″ or 5/16″) and a thicker piece for plush (3/8″-1/2″). You don’t want anything too thick or thin as it can compromise the quality and longevity of your carpet. A good median for plush carpet is 7/16″.
- Bells and Whistles – Some nice options are available on the market today when it comes to carpet pad. They obviously cost more but may serve your purposes better and therefore protect your carpet investment. Some of the options available are:
- Spill Trap – This is a layer of plastic between the pad and the carpet. Very good for pet owners or people that eat on their carpet. If you get a spill or stain it stays in the carpet and does not pass through to the pad. Spills, odors, and stains are easier to get out of carpet than pad – especially with the new stain treatments available.
- Memory Foam – Instead of recycled industrial material, this carpet pad has recycled industrial memory foam built in. This means it is a pad that will never crush and is very soft to walk on.
- Antimicrobial – Antimicrobial carpet pad is treated with an agent that prevents and inhibits the growth of mold and mildew. Perfect for basements, attics, and anywhere else with moisture issues.
8. Carpet Functionality
Carpet can instantly improve the home’s aesthetic value, and bring a new look and feel to any area of the home. However if you choose the wrong carpet it will soon look worse rather than better.
In choosing which carpet type will be most suitable for areas in your home, you have to determine floor traffic and room usage. Once you know that you can purchase a carpet that is correctly suited to the room. If you are not sure what the room will be used for, or if it is a multi-purpose room, then be sure to choose a carpet that will work well with any application of the room.