Carpets are versatile, easy to install and offer many choices of colors, designs, textures and construction types. They offer warmth and softness underfoot. They also provide sound insulation and are a good choice for families with children because they help cushion falls.
Carpet is a natural material and is environmentally friendly as it reduces the use of fossil fuels to manufacture hard flooring products. It is also a great thermal insulator, helping to keep heat in the home during winter and saving energy. It is an ideal choice for homes with open floor plans as it creates zones within the space and helps anchor furniture.
In terms of maintenance, today’s carpets are more stain resistant than ever before which makes them easier to clean and maintain. Many are manufactured using recycled materials and are recyclable themselves, further reducing waste and the need for extracting, transporting and manufacturing virgin petrochemical-based raw materials. Carpets trap airborne dust, allergens and microbes, which is a great benefit for those with allergies or asthma. Carpets are not as durable as hard surface flooring options, however, and may be damaged by heavy foot traffic and furniture.
A good quality carpet can last 20 years or more. There are several factors that determine a carpet’s durability including fiber type and density, which is the number of tufts per square inch. The higher the density, the better the quality.
The quality of a carpets is also determined by its face weight and its twist (or the amount of turn in the yarn). A high face weight indicates a thicker, heavier product, while a low face weight is thin, lightweight and less durable. The twist of the yarn is important because it dictates how easily the carpet will stand up to wear and tear.
The way a carpet is dyed will also affect its durability, with two main processes used: yarn or pre-dyeing, which is applied to the fiber before it’s tufted, and fabric or solution-dyed, which is done after tufting. A quality carpet is designed to withstand frequent foot traffic, but not excessive wear and tear. The more dense a carpet, the better it will hold its shape and color over time.
Carpet is one of the largest financial investments homeowners make, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the many choices in styles, colors, brands and carpet fibers. Doing your homework and working with a knowledgeable retailer can help you find the best product for your needs, budget and lifestyle.
Before you even step foot in a carpet store, calculate the square footage of your space and factor in any special needs, like stairwells or doorways. Then use this information to work up a rough estimate of how much carpet you need. Once you have that figure, take measurements of the area to be covered, and add 10 percent for trimming, carpet grippers and installation costs.
Most retailers offer a measuring and fitting service, which can be worth the extra cost when it comes to keeping your purchase within a budget. Ask about the warranty coverage, too. Carpet manufacturers typically offer at least a 10-year texture retention warranty, which ensures that the carpet will maintain its appearance over time.
Besides color and style, one of the most important considerations in choosing a carpet is its fiber construction. The fibers are what makes a carpet soft and durable, and they can be made from natural or synthetic materials. The most popular fibers are nylon, wool and polypropylene. Wool is the softest fiber and can be very expensive, but it’s also extremely resilient. Synthetic fibers, on the other hand, are cheaper than wool and more resistant to stains.
The next thing to consider is what sort of wear and tear your carpet will receive. For example, if you plan to install it in a high-traffic room, you’ll want to choose a thicker, dense pile with a low tuft height. A lower tuft height will resist soiling and make it easier to vacuum.
In the manufacturing process, a dye is applied to the yarn either before or after it’s tufted. After dyeing, the carpet goes through a finishing process that shears and finishes the fibers, shearing the pile to remove loose ends and to make it easier to clean. The final stage of the finishing process is applying a latex coating to both the primary and secondary backing, which helps keep the finished carpet in place and prevents it from separating from the floor.
Carpet fibers can be either BCF or staple. BCF fibers have a continuous filament that holds its shape, but staple fibers shed more. While that doesn’t have a significant impact on long-term quality, it can be an issue for allergy sufferers and may require more frequent vacuuming until the shedding stops.
Nylon carpets are generally considered the most durable, and they’re usually the most affordable. Nylon is available in a range of grades, from lower-quality “branded” fibers to top-of-the-line 100% 6.6 nylon. The quality of the fiber is often indicated on the label with words such as “100% Mohawk Nylon” or “100% Stainmaster Tactesse.”