Guide to Carpet: Facts to Know Before You Buy Carpet

Flooring choices are many but before homeowners select what to put down on the bare floor they may want to consider some facts about carpeting. Whether it’s a brand new home or a renovation or replacement of worn out flooring, carpet is often the best answer.

Most consumers are confused by the countless ads that advertise different types of flooring but carpet remains the lowest cost per square foot floor covering that can be purchased today. Other pros of carpet over tile or other types of flooring also include its lowest maintenance, requiring little more than regular vacuuming and an annual cleaning. Carpet is the easiest to install do-it-yourself type of flooring. Carpet is also quiet underfoot, does not produce potentially harmful fumes, and is attractive. Carpet also helps preserve floors beneath the covering for many years to come.

Before consumers dash out to buy carpeting, however, it’s wise to know the different types of carpet available on today’s market. There are four types of carpet and these are cut and pile, cut and loop, level loop, and multi-level loop.

Cut and pile carpets are the best selling type of carpet. It looks more luxurious than other types of carpeting and resists crushing more than most other types of carpet. The four times of cut and pile carpeting are Saxony, with two or more fibers twisted together. Saxony carpets show footprints and vacuum marks. Another is textured Saxony, a carpet with a soft feel underfoot that is popular in family rooms, dens, and kids’ rooms. Textured Saxony absorbs tracks and vacuum marks better than plain Saxony. Velvet plush carpeting is much softer and level and although it will show footprints and vacuum marks, it often has the most upscale appearance. Frieze carpeting is highly twisted cut pile designed for high traffic areas, designed to last longer and show less marks than other cut and piles.

Cut and loop carpet is the second carpet type. Designed in a different way that uses both cut and looped carpet fibers, cut and loop hides footprints and other marks. It often offers various textures and sculptured looks.

Level loop carpets, one type of cut and loop, is the third type of carpet and is also durable and track resistant. Level loop pile fares well in high traffic areas. Higher level loops can give a look of luxury while still being easy to maintain and suitable for a lot of foot traffic. Berber, a level loop pile style of carpet, has grown in popularity and often offers thicker yarn. It also works well for high traffic family areas.

The fourth type of carpet is multi-level loop pile and differs only in that heights of the carpet vary. Various levels of loop give a look of random texture.

Synthetic carpet fibers are also popular and 97% of carpeting is made from synthetic fiber. Any of the above types of carpet is available in synthetic fibers, noted for durability. Types of synthetic fiber include acrylics, also called man made wool or art wool. Acrylics offer the look of real wool for much less cost but it is not as durable in high traffic areas as other fibers. Blends are often created from nylon and olefin and although durable, stains tend to affect blends more adversely than other fibers. Nylon is a popular choice for carpet fiber. 90% of home carpeting and 60% of all carpets sold are made of nylon. Static free, durable, and stain resistant, nylon is often the choice for home owners with small children. Olefin is another type of synthetic carpet fiber. 60% of all commercial carpeting (shops, offices, hotels,) is made from olefin. The best points about olefin are that it is stain resistant and easy to clean.

Polyester, the same synthetic used in many garments, can be another synthetic carpet choice and costs less than either wool or nylon. Although it doesn’t stand up to the heavy wear and tear of high traffic areas as well as other types of fiber, polyester offers a plush look desired by many homeowners.

Wool, natural wool, is the most expensive of all carpet fibers. Nylon costs about $8 per square foot and polyester around $7 but wool costs $20 or more per square yard so it is found much less often than synthetics.

Other factors to consider in choosing carpet are color. Although pale and pastel shades are attractive, it is often wiser in the long run to choose a medium or neutral shade that will show less soiling over time. High traffic areas require a durable carpet while areas such as bedrooms or formal dining rooms may look their best in a higher quality carpet.

Before making a decision, ask if carpet samples can be taken home to try with present furniture and wall shades. Ask the carpet professionals any questions to make sure that the right carpet for your needs will be installed.

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