Many people go in to the carpet buying process uninformed and make a quick decision based on color, feel, or just a desire to get something on the floor as soon as possible. With the proper knowledge on basic carpet facts and their relation to your needs, it is far easier to select a carpet and go home with the right one for your space. Let's get started in looking at the steps that you will take in your carpet buying process in order to get exactly what you want.
It's important that you start by looking at the requirements that you have for your carpet.
- Consider your needs within the area that will be carpeted. What is your anticipated level of foot traffic? Is this a heavily used room or one used only for entertaining? Do you have pets? Children? Is this a room where you would only use the carpet for walking? Or does it need to provide a cushion for activities on the floor?
- How many years do you plan on using this carpet? Is this a short term carpet that you are installing prior to a move? Do you want to have this carpet for years and years to come? Some carpets are meant to last 5 years, while others will stand up to 30 years of use.
- Establish your budget. You don't want to fall in love with a beautiful new carpet only to find out that it is several times over your price range.
Once you have your carpet needs in line, inform yourself of the basics of carpeting and the types of carpet that are available. Learn what factors affect your carpet quality and why.
First, you must learn about the different types of fiber that can make up a carpet. The fibers are the foundation for your carpet and affect its performance more than anything else.
- Polyester is the cheapest fiber available, and while it may look nice for a short period of time, it will likely not last longer than 5 years because it tends to pill or fuzz, therefore looking old and worn more quickly.
- Often used in commercial and outdoor applications, olefin is an extremely strong material that performs well when used in small looped carpets. Olefin, as a fiber, can't hold itself up very well so it gets matted down. To counteract this, it is typically manufactured into looped carpets; not a full-proof solution however, it still has a tendency to flatten.
- Nylon is the most durable and resilient of carpet fibers. It can stand up to heavy traffic and bounces back easily. While it is not inexpensive, it will not mat or crush in the same way that polyester does and can be used with a larger loop as opposed to olefin.
- Wool is the most high-end choice for carpeting because it is a soft, natural fiber. Wool is sometimes blended with nylon to bring the cost down as well as add nylon's positive attributes; wool and wool blends are an excellent choice if you are ready to make an investment.
Photo: Martha Stewart Living
Next, you'll brush up on the basics of carpet quality.
- Density is how closely the tufts are spaced together. This creates the feeling of thickness in a carpet. You will want to look for the highest density possible in your budget. Related to density is twist, which tells us how tightly the threads are twisted within each tuft. The tighter the twist, the more durable the carpet.
- Pile height is the height of the tufts. The taller the tufts, the more plush the carpet. Think of a shag carpet compared to a very short tufted commercial carpet. A deep pile is appropriate when you are looking for a soft rug in a casual application; a lower pile is great for a room where there will be lots of action, such as an office or a playroom.
- Weight combines both the density and the pile height. Weight tells you exactly how much fiber is in a carpet. As a general rule, the heavier the weight, the better.
Photos: Point Click Home
My intent with this short "crash-course" is to prepare you with enough knowledge so you ask the right questions and know what to look for. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to find a beautiful carpet that fits your aesthetic sense and stands up to the wear and tear of your daily life.
Do you feel more prepared for carpet-shopping success? I hope so.