Trying to pick a carpet for our home is difficult for many of us. From the minute you walk into the carpet store, you experience this overwhelming feeling as you're faced with decision after decision. For many of us, we don't know where to even start!
Some of this confusion comes from the racks themselves. As you start to explore, you'll find that every rack you come to tells you it is "the best for your home!" With every single sample proclaiming this, how can you decide which one really is best?
This is where many of us turn to our carpet salesperson for guidance. Now, this can be really good but it can also really bad. It should be good because theoretically, this person should know where all the different types of carpets are in the store and they should willing to tell you all about each one. The bad news, however, is that they may not show you everything they have to offer or even mention most of the selections to you. Carpet salespeople tend to sell what they like. That's right - you might not be shown everything so this is why it's good to do your own homework first.
When you do you your research, you'll know more about what to expect, what questions to ask, and what to look for. What's a person to do - go look to the internet for answers? Well, you could but a lot of the answers you'll find are going to - once again - be what some company is trying to direct you to buy. But never fear - I am here today to share with you my 20+ years of knowledge about buying a carpet (and not just the stuff I like).
Before we can go into all the different types of carpets and styles available, you need to ask yourself a few questions first. This will get you to really think about what your home is like and how this carpet will be used. Asking yourself these questions will help you to make better buying decisions, resulting in a better purchasing experience and better long-term satisfaction with the carpet you choose.
Questions to ask yourself before you choose a carpet for your home
What kind of traffic will this carpet get?
Consider how much traffic this room will have. Is this a living room, hallway or master bedroom? These areas are usually considered a high traffic area and will have lots of potential wear and tear from walking back and forth. Other rooms such as guest rooms or formal dining rooms may be areas that are only used on occasions. Remember that it does not take a lot of people living in the home to consider an area high traffic. Master bedrooms only have one or two main occupants, but they usually get high traffic to the bathroom due to frequent use.
Who will be using this carpet?
Think about who will be in your home most frequently walking on this carpet? Is your home is occupied frequently by kids or pets? You might need a carpet that is great for cleaning. Are the people who live there older and have trouble picking up their feet? In that case, you might need a really short pile carpet so they're less likely to trip.
How long do you need the carpet to last?
How long are you planning on staying in the home? Do you need a carpet that will last only up to 5 years because you might try to sell or move soon? Maybe you are not planning on moving and will be in the house for many years to come - if that's your situation, this carpet may need to last 10-20 years!
Next, pick what type of weave you want as you choose a carpet for your home
Cut pile carpet is currently the most popular of carpet weave and comes in two different types: Textured and Saxony.
Textured carpet is created by cutting the tips of the yarns at different angles. These different angles reflect light and prevent the carpet from showing the direction of the nap. Most people prefer this type of carpet as it does not show footprints or vacuum marks as much as saxony.
Saxony carpet has the tips of the yarns cut straight across. This produces a more elegant or formal look. Not many carpets are sold in this look although it's still widely available. They're simply not as desirable for many homeowners because they do show more footprints and vacuum marks in the room.
Berber carpet is considered to be a level loop weave. The carpet is made up of continuous stands of large loops. This type of carpet was popular in the 90's and it's still favored by some who had a good experience with the carpet's durability. One must be cautious, though - this carpet can pick or ravel from pets' nails and vacuum cleaners. As the yarn is a continuous strand, it is possible to run a whole line out of the carpet leaving a line of missing yarn - sort of like a run in a stocking.
Multi-weave is usually found in a pattern. This pattern can look random, or like a swirl or geometric shapes. This carpet is usually a combination of cut pile Saxony and very short Berber carpet. Occasionally, you'll see patterned carpets with multilevel loops with no cut pile. This gives the carpet its pattern or adds interest to a simple pattern as well.
Third, decide on what type of fiber you want to choose a carpet from
Polyester carpet is now used in abundance as it's an inexpensive fiber to purchase or produce. This type of yarn is now made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that is commonly known as plastic recycled bottles which are good because we have lots of them! It's worth noting that polyester is not as durable as the nylon fiber, so it's recommended for lower traffic areas of the home.
However, with the increase in the cost of nylon, polyester is used more frequently throughout an entire home today. New advancements in technology have increased the durability closing the gap in longevity between polyester and nylon dramatically.
There are two different types of nylon that are made into carpet: nylon 6 and nylon 6,6. They're named for the double strands of carbon atoms each contains.There are no clear answers as to if one is better than another - although current claims are that 6,6 is more static resistant and has an increased colorfastness. There have been improvements to type 6 to address these issues.
In today’s market, the differences between the two types are very minimal. Nylon has been the most popular fiber option in the industry for many years. This popularity comes from the fibers' durability and ability to wear well, holding its look for a long period of time. This durability, however, will come at a higher cost as this fiber is made from petroleum. (You can read about the invention of the material here.)
Triextra is a fiber that is unknown to many of us as the Federal Trade Commission only classified it as own yarn source in 2009. The product, however, was introduced in 1995 by Shaw Carpet (they manufacture under the Corterra name label). Shaw could not perfect the product and abandoned the yarn in 2009. Mohawk saw the value in this new fiber, though, and they were able to perfect the production of the product.
Now, Triextra is in the process of becoming one of the best carpet options available. This increase in popularity is due to several factors. The most notable is the durability. Triextra wear is about the same as nylon. This makes it a great product for high traffic areas. Best of all, this product surpasses all other carpet options in cleanability as the fiber is naturally stain resistant. Even if this material had no added stain protection (which it does) then it would be naturally resistant to stains. This fiber is also a renewable resource as it is made from a corn base like ethanol. This makes the yarn very green and environmentally friendly as it doesn't require as much energy to produce.
This fiber is usually produced in the Berber weave because it does not wear well in a cut pile construction. The loop construction of the Berber increases the durability of the yarn. This fiber is known for its low look - in fact, it often resembles a wool. It's usually best suited for areas of low-level traffic (with the exception of the material in a low-level tight weave commercial carpet).
The cost if this product is less than other carpet options because it's cheaper to produce. The carpet is stain resistant because the fiber itself resists stains, but it does attract oil which can cause dirt to accumulate on the carpet. Wearing socks or slippers in your home can reduce the transfer of oil from the bottom of your feet to the carpet. This yarn is also used in outdoor carpeting as it is hydrophobic - it actually does resist or repel water.
Points of interest in manufacturing you must know before you choose a carpet
Construction of yarn
The process of producing carpet yarn and construction of manufacturing has changed through the years. A common complaint from homeowners used to be that they would vacuum their new carpet and their bag would be full of carpet fibers. This happened because the yarn was made in a staple yarn. This is a process where yarns are cut into small short yarns and then twisted back together. As you vacuumed this type of yarn, the short loose fibers would come out filling the vacuum bag. This process was done to make the carpet feel fuller and denser. Today, this problem has been solved as yarns are now made in a continuous filament aka long strands of yarn. Preventing the loose of yarn has prevented the pilling effect on the carpet - the overall effect is that homeowners are much happier with their new carpet.
Your choices are solution-dyed yarns vs. piece dyed carpet yarns.
Solution-dyed yarns are dyed and impregnated with color before the yarn is produced. Carpets that have been dyed with this process can be cleaned with a 50% bleach and 50% water solution without removing the color from the yarn. A good idea of what this carpet would look like is if you could slice it open would be like a carrot - the color goes all the way through.
Piece dyed or sometimes called beck dying is done after the yarn is produced. The yarn is bathed in a dye bath after the yarn is made. This could be represented by what an apple would look like as the color is only applied to the outside of the fiber. The problem with this is that the colored dyes can come out if harsh cleaning chemicals are used, so beware!
One of the most common questions I get asked by homeowners trying to choose a carpet is if the carpet has a stain protection applied or if it's stain resistant. Believe it or not, the answer is always yes! All carpets have some type of stain protection on the yarns to help the carpet to repel stains. These stain protectants are made by different companies and perform at different levels.
Some carpets just have topically applied stain resistance - imagine standing in the rain while holding an umbrella. Other carpets will be bathed in the stain protection - this would be more like standing in the rain holding an umbrella while wearing a long raincoat. Obviously, this is going to provide a homeowner a better stain protection as more than just the tips of the yarn are treated.
BE AWARE- Most stain protections will wash off the fiber after the carpet has been cleaned about 3 times. Always ask the professional carpet cleaner to reapply a stain protection.
What should you know about warranties before you pick a carpet?
Well, since we're talking all about carpet here, I will let you know you shouldn't get too hung up on carpet warranties. There are NO standards in the carpet industry to specify what warranty is to be placed on a carpet. This means that the carpet manufacturers are making their own warranties. This also means that what homeowners call "normal wear and tear" is not what the carpet manufactures call wear. Most wear warranties are against you wearing 10 % of the yarn off the backing. Homeowners usually think of wear the flattening of yarns in the high traffic areas.
In my 20+ years of experience, this has never happened. In addition to this, stain warranties are only good for normal household stains. There are strict guidelines that help these manufacturers to wiggle out of standing behind carpet claims. However - are any of us really surprised by this? If the manufactures replaced every piece of carpet that got a stain on it, they would go bankrupt quickly. Think of it this way - do you know of any nylon or polyester shirts that are totally stain proof?
New recent warranties on carpets such as Mohawk Triextra now warrantied against covering pet stains. This is a warranty that I have actually seen filed and covered by the manufacturer. Now that is not a guarantee - if you purchase it, they might cover a pet stain but I've witnessed this happen more than one time.
There are ways that you should maintain your carpet to ensure your warranty will be valid. Proper maintenance will ensure that if the problem arises, these warranties are more likely to be covered. Almost all carpet manufacturers recommend that you vacuum your carpet at least once a week and your high traffic areas daily. Now I know that might seem a bit extreme, but the reason for this is that the cleaner the carpet, the better it will perform. This is why you should have your carpet cleaned by a professional at least every 18 months- 24 months as recommended by the manufacturer. Trying to clean your carpet yourself with a home cleaning machine is not recommended as the machines usually leave a soapy residue that actually causes more damage to your carpet.
Well, there you have it - all the best information for what you need to know before you pick a carpet for your home.
Try to remember that price is a great indicator of the quality of the material you're purchasing. The higher the price, the higher the grade of carpet. I hope that this information will help you to understand carpet a lot better and will help you to make informed decisions when you choose your next new carpet!
Please share this information with a friend who might benefit from learning how to choose a carpet from this information or pin it on a board for safe keeping for later.
If you're considering buying more than one type of flooring and you need more information on other types of flooring, check out my ebook on "What you should know before you buy your next new floor." I go over hardwood, laminate, luxury vinyl tiles (lvt), ceramic tile, carpet and pad and more. You can go here to purchase the ebook.