Find out what you need to know to choose the best carpet for your needs.
Performance and Maintenance
There are really two questions you need to consider first when choosing a new carpet: how much foot traffic will the area get and how much dirt and staining is it likely to endure?
For high traffic areas, you’ll want to look for features that increase resistance to wear. In areas where dirt and staining are likely to be a problem, you should seek carpets with stain resistant fibers.
Density and Weight
Density tells you how tightly the fibers are packed together in the carpet. Denser carpet is heavier and resists crushing, so it holds up better under heavy traffic. It is measured in ounces per yard. Weight is a measure of how much fiber there is above the backing, which is a function of the density and length of fibers. Basically, it measures how much carpet you’ll feel underfoot. Generally, the greater the density and weight, the higher quality the carpet and the more it will resist wear.
Type of Fiber
Most carpets sold in the U.S. today are made from nylon fibers. Nylon is the strongest fiber available, so it resists crushing and holds up well under heavy traffic. With stain treatment, it is moderately stain resistant. Polyester fibers offer excellent color quality and natural stain resistance. They have a soft, luxurious feel but may crush and mat in heavy traffic. Olefin offers superior stain resistance and colorfastness, but is also more prone to crushing than nylon. Wool is a premium, natural fiber that offers a luxurious finish. It is more expensive than other fibers and provides good stain resistance.
Other advanced fibers with superior resistance to staining and crushing are now available, such as Mohawk’s SmartStrand, made from an eco-friendly fiber called triexta.
The next consideration after performance is carpet style. The main types of carpet styles are cut-pile and looped pile. Cut pile is the more common kind of carpeting with individual strands cut across the top. Loop pile carpeting, common in commercial facilities, has fibers that are looped in and out of the backing.
Saxony is a traditional carpeting style with evenly cut pile roughly ½ to ¾ inches high.
Plush is a type of Saxony with a very smooth, even surface. Both are more formal styles of carpeting.
Textured Plush is a cut pile carpet with long, crimped yarns and an uneven surface to resist crushing and hide vacuum marks well. It has a more casual finish that is easier to maintain than a plush or Saxony and is the most popular style of carpeting.
Frieze is a cut pile carpet with tightly twisted yarns designed to resist crushing and hide footprints and vacuum marks.
Level Loop carpeting features tight, even loops of yarn for a smooth surface. Its superior resistance to wear and crushing make it a common choice in commercial facilities.
Berber is a loop pile carpet with longer loops of varying heights.
Sculptured or Patterned carpeting features a combination of loops and cut yarns to create a variety of patterns and designs.
In many ways, a carpet is only as good as its pad. Don’t fall into the temptation of cutting corners on padding just because it doesn’t show. Padding dramatically affects how well a carpet wears, how well it insulates from cold and sound, and how cushiony it feels year-after-year.