It’s not something you buy every day. But when it’s time to buy carpet, you’ll want to know your stuff. Make a bad decision and you’ll pay dearly for a long time, and I am not talking just about the money. You’ll pay a significant price in dissatisfaction and disappointment.
First, decide the style of carpet and type of fiber you want, determined by where it will be installed and how much money you have to spend.
Visit several retail carpet stores that will let you take carpet samples home for a few days. Walk on them, view them in a different light. Set a heavy piece of furniture on them to see if the fibers will “rebound” once removed.
No matter how much pressure the sales staff pours on, remember you are not obligated to purchase from any store even if you checked out samples from them.
Styles of Carpet
Usually one solid color with even, smooth pile height. Varies from lightweight (apartment-grade) with fewer tufts per square inch to heavier weights that are very dense. Comes in a vast range of colors. Shows footprints and vacuum marks.
Two shades mixed with varying pile heights that reduces vacuum marks and footprints. About the same price as plush.
Very tightly twisted tufts of yarn. More expensive than plush but wears much longer—15 years is not unusual. Frieze comes in a variety of pile heights from short all the way to super shag. Durable, holds up to heavy use without matting or showing traffic patterns. Rebounds well.
Has two types of tufts—loops and cut pile in varying heights. Often called high-low. Usually has several shades of color varying from light to dark. Doesn’t show much dirt; often used in apartments.
Very dense cut pile carpet with well-defined tufts. You can actually see the individual tuft tips, giving it a very textured look. Has a rough, textured appearance, although quite similar in appearance to plush.
A popular choice in recent years, berber has nothing to do with color (usually comes in light earth tones) but rather with construction. Berber capret is made of short looped yarn that is aligned in rows for a uniform look. The loops can snag and run easily like a pair of hose. When that happens, it is nearly impossible to repair.
Cut pile berber
Not really berber, as the loops are all cut to make short pile from fat yarn. The speckled look resembles the look of berber. Looks good when new but wears poorly.
Known for its small, low-level loops and short cut pile. Usually glued to the floor. Not typically used in residential areas, as it’s not soft underfoot.
Types of fiber
A synthetic fiber that out-performs all other fibers. It wears well, cleans like a dream, resists matting and comes in all colors and styles. And it is inexpensive.
This fiber is made from polypropylene, a type of plastic. Olefin is quite cheap. Most berber carpets are made of olefin. But olefin has problems. It is difficult to clean—more like impossible—so it tends to look dingy in traffic areas. Feels rough underfoot.
Polyester or P.E.T.
This feels very soft but beware—polyester carpet mats terribly and is not resilient. Because polyester carpet feels so great and is quite inexpensive, it’s a favorite among uninformed consumers. Not unlike polyester leisure suits. Remember them?
Quite expensive, but a truly elite fiber for carpet. Requires cleaning by a specialist who deals in wool. Wears well, lasts for decades but not often worth the price, which can be astronomical.
Paddings under carpet
Each carpet manufacturer recommends a specific pad for a specific style. Don’t go higher or lower than recommended—go with exactly the type of padding recommended to insure the best result.
This is the type of padding that usually comes with the “padding included” or “free padding” offer. Don’t accept it. It will not hold up to traffic, will flatten quickly and is not recommended for residential use.
The most common for residential installations, rebond is made of recycled urethane foam, is usually multi-colored and looks like lots of little pieces stuck together (it is). It comes in a variety of densities and thicknesses to accommodate all manufacturers’ specifications.
Very dense and more expensive than rebond, fiber pad will help a berber carpet wear better.
- Take care of spots the moment they happen. Use a good spot remover like Spot Shot.
- Hold off as long as possible from having the carpet professionally steam cleaned, but once you do this set a standing appointment for at least once yearly.
- The best thing you can do for carpet is to vacuum often and thoroughly—twice weekly if at all possible.
And in conclusion …
Have you figured it out? There is no better carpet for the price than a 100% nylon frieze installed over rebond pad. Nylon frieze resists stains. Spots that do happen come up very easily. It does not mat or become crushed, even in high-traffic areas. Nylon frieze is reasonably soft underfoot and will bring you many years of enjoyment.
That was easy. Now comes the hard part—selecting a color you will enjoy for 15 years or longer!
First published: 4-14-15; Revised, Republished 3-27-19
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