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Choosing the Best Carpet for Your Home

Updated on September 1, 2017

Although wood, laminate and tile floors are extremely popular, carpet still plays a valuable role in home decorating. Carpet is one of the most affordable flooring options available. It provides sound insulation and keeps our tootsies warm during the winter. Carpets also provide texture, comfort and color to a room.

There’s nothing worse than getting your brand new carpet installed, only to find out six months later you’ve made the wrong choice. Protect your investment by purchasing carpet that best suits your family’s lifestyle, budget and long-term needs.

Types of Fibers

  • Wool will probably be your most expensive carpet option. Wool is super durable and provides a luxurious feel underfoot. It is a natural fiber and provides a comfortable option for homeowners looking for eco-friendly flooring. One of the main drawbacks is ease of cleaning. Wool and spot cleaning chemicals are not compatible. A whole carpet cleaning by a reputable company that specializes in wool is your best bet. So, if you have kids and pets, you may want to look into synthetic carpet.

  • Nylon fibers are one of the most common used in making carpets. They are noted for their durability, comfort and stain resistant properties. Nylon carpets are great for high traffic areas. Avoid using them (or any carpet, for that matter) in areas with high moisture such as bathrooms. Certain types of nylon carpets can even be used in outdoor situations – just make sure the label indicates they are safe for indoor-outdoor use.

  • Polyester is similar in durability and feel to nylon carpet. It is also a stain resistant, but has a tendency to attract dirt, especially after spot cleaning. Use polyester carpet in guest rooms and areas that receive minimal traffic.

  • Olefin fibers are extremely popular, and with good reason. They hold up to years of abuse, resist moisture and are impervious to cleaning chemicals. The only drawback is their comfort. Olefin fibers are more coarse than other synthetics, so they might feel a bit scratchy when compared to other carpet fibers.

Jute is one type of natural grass fiber used for carpets.
Jute is one type of natural grass fiber used for carpets. | Source
  • Grass-based fiber carpets are another natural and eco-friendly option to synthetic carpets. They are strong, sustainable and anti-static, which is an important factor during the winter and in low humidity climates (no “shocks” from walking across the carpet). They do cost more than synthetic carpeting, but if home and family health is a concern, the extra cost will be worth your peace of mind. You can choose from beautiful grass fibers such as jute, seagrass, and sisal. These natural fiber carpets look great in casual and modern interiors.

Carpet Construction

The way in which a carpet is manufactured impacts its appearance and durability.

State-of-the-art carpet manufacturing.
State-of-the-art carpet manufacturing. | Source

Tufted carpet is the type you will see most often. It is constructed using high speed machines that create fiber loops and stitches them through backing fabric. Once the loops are completed, a second layer of backing material is applied for added stability. The manufacture of tufted carpet is efficient and much less expensive to produce.

Woven carpet uses a technique similar to that of woven textiles.
Woven carpet uses a technique similar to that of woven textiles. | Source

Woven carpet is produced much in the same way as woven fabric. The pile, warp and weft yarn fibers are interwoven on a loom. Some of the better-known woven wool carpets are manufactured in England and are extremely expensive, however, they do provide a wide range of design and customization options.

Styles of Carpet

  • Cut pile carpets are the easiest to identify because their dense fibers are usually trimmed to the same length to create a “plush” effect. Many manufacturers refer to their cut pile carpets as “plushes”.Saxony is a popular type of cut pile carpet. It features an even cut pile height and is extremely plush and dense. This traditional carpet style is susceptible to vacuum cleaner trails and footprinting. It is a great choice for bedrooms and formal living rooms – areas with light traffic.

  • Frieze is a type of textured carpet that features twisted fibers that curl at the surface of the pile, creating a textural look and feel.

Note the curly fibers of a frieze carpet.
Note the curly fibers of a frieze carpet. | Source
  • Berber carpets have bulky fibers cut at various lengths, containing, big and small tufts with specks of darker yarn interspersed among light yarn.

  • Cut and loop carpet is commonly known as sculpted carpet. The surface consists a combination of large areas of cut ends and large areas of loops giving the finished product an undulating, sculptural appearance.

A gorgeous example of cut and loop carpet.
A gorgeous example of cut and loop carpet. | Source

Room Use and Traffic

One of the most important things to consider (other than budget) is the intended use of your carpeted rooms. Determine if your room is formal or casual and the amount of traffic. You will need to consider carpet based on each room’s demands.

If you are using different types of carpet in each room, you will want to achieve a consistent look and color throughout. Your carpet professional will be able to help with options that will look good as your eye travels from one space to another.

For example, if you have children or pets, you might want a dense, durable carpet that can withstand spills and “accidents” and can be regularly spot cleaned. Use this type of carpet in heavily lived-in areas. In guest rooms and other low traffic areas, you might be able to get away with a lesser-priced carpet that has the same general look, feel and color.

Important Carpet Buying Tips

  1. Before you buy, check the density. Examine the pile by taking a sample and bending it back. If you can easily see the backing, the carpet may be of inferior quality and is not a good investment.
  2. Make sure your carpet fibers are twisted tightly. Lesser-grade carpeting will have loose twists that will break down quickly.
  3. Always comparison shop. Choose a few carpet brands and styles that you like and see which store has the best price. Also ask what they charge for padding and installation to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
  4. Spend as much as your budget will allow. Quality carpet is an investment that pays over the long haul. High quality, well-made carpets have an average lifespan of 15 years.

Do your research before shopping for carpet.
Do your research before shopping for carpet. | Source

Every wonder how they make carpet?

© 2012 lindacee

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    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 22 months ago from Arizona

      Ashley, carpet tiles are perfect for families with pets and kids. But they're no longer your grandma's carpet tiles -- just take a look at these chic choices:

      Thanks for commenting and sharing the link!

    • Ashley LeAnn profile image

      Ashley LeAnn 22 months ago

      Carpet tiles are also a great option for pet owners, those with children, & in areas where food or drink is brought in. This article explains the benefits of carpet tiles:

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks rfmoran! I hope this Hub can help those on the hunt for new carpeting! Thank you also for your comment and votes. Greatly appreciated! :)

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      This is one of those hubs that you are grateful for. A lot of us buy carpeting from time to time, and this is a resource to consult before setting out on your shopping journey. Voted up and useful. Thanks Linda.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks Carol! Yes, here in Vegas tile is certainly more prevalent than carpet -- although wood and wood laminate gained a lot of ground during the Tuscan home invasion before the RE crash. I currently live in an apartment with REALLY cheap carpeting and it is a constant struggle to keep it looking fresh. In high traffic areas it mats down -- I have to "rake" it to fluff up the pile. :( I appreciate the votes and share!!!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      Living in Arizona most of us have more tile than carpet..due to warm weather. We have two rooms carpeted and after upgrading everything we chose the cheapest carpet. Probably not a great idea. You have covered some excellent points here. And I always enjoy your hubs. Voted UP and sharing...and on facebook also

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      That's probably the best flooring solution, Leah. I prefer the look of real wood flooring, but with a dog we opted for laminate (easy care!) in high traffic areas. Carpet is perfect for living rooms and bedrooms. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      This is a timely article for me, because we desperately need to replace our carpet! Our entire house is carpeted, and we are planning on replacing our high-traffic areas with solid flooring (wood or laminate) and keep the carpet in the living room and other areas that receive less foot traffic.