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Is Carpet Better Than Other Flooring?
Lately it seems as if you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a home remodeling program where a homeowner or buyer removes the carpet and replaces it with flooring such as hardwood, laminate or tile. Sometimes the carpet was in great shape but they just didn’t stop to consider the advantages of carpet over other flooring products. Here are some of those advantages:
- Carpet comes in many colors to easily integrate with your furniture or decor. It looks good and cushions your step when you walk on it. It is comfortable enough to lie on the floor with your family and pets, relaxing in front of the TV, or play games on family night.
- Carpet offers sound dampening, absorbing excess noise. Hardwood and tile floors can give off an annoying echo and can make a fun family conversation sound like a dull roar. Another bonus: carpet will insulate the floor, which will make a big difference in the winter!
- Carpet provides non-slip footing and some padding if you do happen to fall. If you have children or an elderly family member in the house, you will feel much safer.
- Carpet is much easier to maintain. Hard surface floors have to be swept and mopped more often. Obviously the same amount of dirt exists, but it is less noticeable in the carpet fibers so you do not need to vacuum as often.
Berber has become so popular many people believe it is a brand name, but it is actually any carpet with loops. A standard berber carpet consists of repeating tightly looped fibers of the same length. Due to these strong loops, berber is track resistant and holds up great on high traffic stairs and hallways, and it will not show footprints or vacuum marks. It frequently comes in an off-white, weathered look that comes from the use of flecked yarn, but is also found in pastels and darker shades.
In addition to standard berber, multi-level berber and cut loop carpet are available. Multi-level loop carpet is simply any berber with different loop heights, that provide various textures and patterns, such as floral patterns or diamonds.
A cut loop carpet is a combination of both a berber carpet and a cut pile carpet. It contains loops followed by cut pile. Similar to multi-level loop carpet this creates textures and patterns. A cut loop carpet is usually much softer than a standard berber or multi-level loop carpet due to the patches of cut pile between the loops. Choosing a cut loop carpet can be a good compromise between a cut pile and a classic berber carpet.
Plush style carpet is the most common because it is smooth and dense. It is composed of lightly twisted pile, making it uniform in color and very soft. Formal plush carpet is very soft with thinner, level fibers and is often used in bedrooms because it is very comfortable to walk on.
If planning on installing it in highly used areas, remember that it tends to show footprints, furniture indentions and vacuum cleaner lines.
A frieze carpet is a cut pile carpet with fibers that have been twisted and then crimped somewhere along their length giving a wild, squiggly look with various strands bending randomly in different directions. By crimping the strand along its length, the fiber bends so that it hides vacuum marks and footprints, and extends the carpet life. Frieze carpet is one of the most durable carpets that you can purchase, and survives high traffic areas well.
Frieze is very tightly twisted cut pile carpet made up of yarn described as “hardtwist” because the yarn has been given an extra turn or two which makes the surface texture a little rougher and less prone to show footprints.
Cut Pile Carpet
A textured cut pile has alternating lengths of fibers that help mask footprints and vacuum marks and is a great all around carpet. This style works great in apartments or the most elegant master bedrooms. It is economical, has great durability and offers a nice variety of designs.
Cut-and-loop carpeting is created by tufting some loops higher than others, resulting in a unique texture sometimes referred to as a “sculptured” style. This type is usually multicolored and has the ability to hide soil and wear and tear.
Level loop carpeting is made by weaving even loops of yarn into carpet backing at both ends. Unlike the cut-and-loop styles, level loop offers an even-textured and casual appearance. The short and densely packed loops are easy to clean and prevent dirt and dust from filtering into the carpet, making it a great choice for high traffic areas.
The weaving method in level loop carpet leaves opportunity to produce lower quality carpet. Look for big squares on the back. A higher quality carpet will have smaller, tighter squares. A woven backing is an indicator of the best quality of carpet. If your carpet has a twist level of approximately four or five, and a face weight of 35 ounces or better then you are looking at a good quality carpet.
Due to the wide variety of shades available, selecting the color for your carpet can be the most difficult part of your carpet buying experience. But if you break it down into steps you’ll see it isn’t too hard to find the perfect shade.
Start with the general color family you want. Maybe you are thinking of neutrals, or maybe you want a specific color. You can ask for samples of those colors or color groups. Put the samples in the actual rooms of your home to see how they will look in your lighting, and against your furniture and wall colors. Keep in mind that a small sample won’t look exactly the same as a whole carpeted room. When installed, your carpet may appear lighter or darker by 1/4 to 1/2 of a color shade (possibly more), based on the lighting, the direction of the carpet nap, the style and fiber material.
You can use different colors in various rooms but remember that the seams will be visible where the color changes take place. Placing samples side by side can give you an idea of how noticeable that transition will be.
You may choose one color for the whole house, or different colors for a child’s room, the master bedroom and the family room. It is your home and you should choose the color and style that fits you, your family and your home.
Types of Carpet Fibers
Carpet comes in natural and synthetic fibers to provide a wide variety of textures and thicknesses. Since synthetic fibers are petroleum-based, you may need to look at the natural, sustainable alternatives if your goal is to decorate your home with the most environmentally friendly products.
The most common carpet fiber is nylon due to its durability. It won’t become “threadbare”, but it can show wear if it’s not properly and regularly vacuumed and shampooed, or if substandard padding was installed. See more on padding after a description of the various carpet fibers.
Nylon is the most popular carpet fiber, comprising over 70% of all carpet made. Nylon is so popular because it is soft, stain resistant, durable and resilient, and easy to maintain. It looks great installed almost anywhere in your home or office.
Nylon Tactesse Carpet
Nylon Tactesse is made from smaller, more densely packed fibers making it a stronger and softer form of nylon that is even more durable than standard nylon. As such, it does cost more but nylon Tactesse will retain its texture longer than standard nylon.
Polyester (PET) Carpet
Great stain resistance and numerous color choices make polyester carpeting a popular choice. The fiber is weaker than nylon, making it less expensive and still a good choice for the average family although not the best option for high traffic areas. It can be made from recycled materials, which appeals to some people who are trying to “go green”. It has a soft feel and is best for use in low-traffic volume areas. However, for the price difference, and knowing you may want to redecorate again in a few years, many people find the quality suitable for their needs.
Olefin (Polypropylene) is used primarily as a commercial grade fiber. Although extremely durable and traffic resistant, it does tend to have a rough feel. Some companies have been making strides in producing Polypropylene carpet that has a softer, more plush feel. It has high stain, static and mildew resistance, but is not as resilient as nylon, so oil-based stains can be difficult to remove. A soil protectant product can help. Good for indoor or outdoor applications.
Wool is the softest, most durable carpet fiber that you can purchase. In fact, many consider it to be the most “elite” carpet fiber. However, it is the least stain resistant, and is somewhat pricey. It absorbs spilled liquids, and stains can be difficult to remove. It is resilient and durable, and does offer some stain resistance, but can be high maintenance and very expensive.
Made from Mexican agave, coconut coir fiber and sisal combine to make a sustainable, modern carpet. It repels some dirt, but also hides it adequately. It is durable and low maintenance. May be bound and used for area rugs, making it a versatile choice.
This is a strong, durable, natural grass fiber that is impermeable to dying so it retains its natural golden brown color. It is available in a variety of weaves, and is also often bound and used for area rugs.
Carpet padding helps provide carpet its comfortable, thick feel. Most people prefer thicker padding. The better the quality of padding, the softer the impact and the more it helps support the carpet. It isn’t always necessary to go straight for the thickest option, but it’s better to consider padding quality along with the carpet style you choose.
Many widely looped carpets, like berber, are not even meant for thicker padding and could wear unevenly, disintegrate, or come apart at the seams. Also, certain areas of your home that receive constant foot traffic, such as staircases, hallways, offices, or entryways, are not meant for the thickest padding. Those areas work well with 1/4″ (.6 cm) or 3/8″ (1 cm).
Thicker carpet padding is a great choice for a cut pile or cut and loop carpet. With these types of carpet, thicker padding insulates the floor from cold and noise, and absorbs the impact that would otherwise affect the carpet. Another option is to use a different kind of padding, rather than a thicker one, such as fiber pads, rubber cushions, and foam – all of which have their own advantages within a suitable price range.
Thick carpet padding would also result in a more luxurious feel to low traffic areas such as bedrooms, closets, sitting rooms, or the home theaters that so many families are adding to their homes. Generally, most carpet experts don’t recommend exceeding a thickness of 7/16″ (1.1 cm).
The primary components of carpet quality are carpet twist, density, and pile height. Denser carpets will have a longer life and feel more comfortable. The higher and denser a carpet is, the more material it takes to produce the carpet, which increases the cost. However, it is a wise investment because you want your carpet to last.
Carpet twist refers to how many times a carpet’s fiber has been spun before being heat set. The more revolutions the twist has, the better the carpet is. A more tightly twisted carpet will withstand much better, and last longer. Most carpet consists of at least two piles (individual carpet strands) that are twisted together before being heat set.
The ends of the carpet twist should be tight and neat. Loose or flared open strands are an indication of poor quality. The twist on formal plush carpets should be particularly tight and level.
High Twists Per Inch
A twist rating refers to how many times the fiber is twisted together in a one-inch length. Five or more twists per inch indicate good quality carpeting.
The tighter a carpet is constructed, the more ability it will have to stand up to crushing and matting. Logically, a carpet made with 100 strands of fiber will not hold up as well as carpet with 200 strands. The more strands, the more durable.
When looking for carpet, some stores will list on the carpet sample its information including density, twist, and pile height. A denser, more tightly twisted carpet with a higher pile is going to be a higher quality than a carpet where the backing shows. If you can bend a sample of cut pile or frieze carpet and easily see its backing, then it isn’t the best quality. A formal plush in particular should be very hard to see the backing through the carpet.
Carpet density refers to how closely a carpet’s individual tufts are packed together. Carpets with a high density will resist matting, crushing, and wear better than carpet with a low density. To check the density, fold back the carpet and examine its backing. A high quality carpet will show very little, or no backing when bent. A lesser quality carpet will show quite a bit. Prod the sample with your fingers to see how easy it is to feel the backing through the carpet sample.
A denser carpet will feel more soft and luxurious when walking across it barefoot, making it an important feature in your search for the perfect carpet for your home. Heavier types of carpet will hold up longer and really pay off over the years. The closer the fibers are attached, the less wear on each individual fiber. Denser carpet and carpet with more yarn tufts per square inch has a better resistance to crushing.
Carpet Pile Height
Pile height is literally how tall the carpet is. It is the distance the carpet extends above the primary backing. A lower carpet pile might be appropriate on your stairs, but a higher pile will be more comfortable to walk across in a bedroom, or living room. Where you are installing the carpet is your guideline for what pile height you choose