Installing new carpet is a great way to spruce up your home, express your personal style, and create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Carpet is soft, comfortable and helps to dampen noise. However, all flooring options are not created equal, and there’s a lot to consider when buying new carpet – your lifestyle, the room you’re putting it in, the look you’re hoping to achieve, as well as what features and benefits are the biggest priorities for you.
Here are a few things to know as you set out to buy new carpet.
There are three main types of carpet to consider: cut pile, loop pile, and cut-and-loop pile. Cut pile stands straight up from the backing, while loop pile is looped and reinserted into the backing. A combination of cut pile and loop pile, cut-and-loop pile is often used when making patterned carpet.
Cut pile carpets tend to be the softest types of flooring, although it may depend somewhat on the density of fibers. There are a few different styles of carpet within the cut pile category: plush, a smooth and dense carpet where the short fibers are all the same length; textured, featuring low-density fibers of different heights; Saxony, which is similar to plush but features well-defined tufts of fiber; and frieze, which features longer, tightly-twisted fibers that give the carpet a “shag” look.
Loop pile isn’t quite as soft as cut pile, but it tends to be quite durable. A common type of loop pile carpet is Berber, which features short, tight loops of fiber woven together. This is a great choice for high-traffic areas of the home, as loop pile carpet won’t be susceptible to crushing or show footprints or vacuum marks.
Understanding different carpet fibers
Just as there are many styles of carpeting to choose from, there are also several options for fiber materials.
Nylon is the most widely-used fiber in carpet. Durable, easy to maintain and available in a wide variety of colors, nylon is deservedly popular. With proper care, nylon carpeting can easily last a decade or more.
Polyester is naturally stain and fade-resistant, but is a bit less durable than nylon. Some carpet manufacturers also use recycled content from plastic bottles to make their polyester fiber, so this is an option for people who are interested in sustainable products.
Olefin, or polypropylene, resists color fade and is a good choice for hiding dirt and stains, but lacks the durability of nylon or polyester.
Triexta is a relatively new fiber in the market, and only one major U.S. manufacturer is using it. It’s a resilient option that resists stains well.
Wool is a natural fiber option, and in addition to being resilient and soil and stain-resistant, it’s also naturally fire-retardant. However, wool is much more expensive than other fibers.
Consider your lifestyle
If you’re thinking about choosing carpet, you should consider how it will fit with your family and your lifestyle. For example, do you have pets? Many manufacturers offer pet-friendly cut pile carpets, so if your four-legged friends are a consideration, talk to your retailer about these different options.
Loop is a great option for high traffic areas and it can be a good choice for homes with kids since it tends to hide stains and wear better than cut pile. However, cut pile is softer, making it comfortable for kids to lie, sit or crawl on. Cushier carpet can also help to absorb some of the impact from falls, which is especially nice with toddlers in the house.
Consider your space
Different types of carpeting will be more suited for different areas throughout your home. For example, a plush Saxony works great for formal dining rooms and bedrooms that don’t get a lot of foot traffic and where you want the highest level of comfort. A tight, resilient Berber, on the other hand, is preferable in high-traffic entryways, hallways, and staircases. For oft-used play rooms and living rooms, opt for nylon cut pile with stain protection for comfort and durability.
You can find the right carpet for nearly every room in your home when you know what to look for.
Carpet tiles: a new flooring type
Carpet tiles have become an extremely popular type of flooring in recent years. Usually measuring 12″ to 16″ square, carpet tiles are offered in multiple piles, fibers, and patterns. Because they can often be installed over existing floor coverings, they’re quite versatile and can be used to create patterns or cover hard-to-reach spots.
Extras and installation
Don’t forget about carpet padding. In addition to protecting and extending the lifespan of your carpet, it helps with creating softness underfoot, cleaning and dampening sound, which is a huge plus if you’re installing carpet on an upper level of your home. Carpet padding is usually made from foam, rubber or fiber, and the carpet padding you choose is dependent on the type of carpet being installed.
Proud flooring aficionado and office dog mom, "Flauren" has been a professional writer and editor for more than a decade (though she still maintains her magnum opus was "The Day it Snowed Slurpees," written at the age of 6).
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