A Complete Checklist for Choosing a New Carpet
We know a lot about carpets here at Bailey’s Floor Care, so we’ve decided to share with you our top tips for choosing a new carpet. Enjoy…
When we’re choosing a new carpet for our home or business premises, we tend to focus primarily on appearance. We want a colour that looks nice and matches the walls or furniture of the room. But, there are many more factors to consider before making such a decision, considering you’re going to be walking on, sitting on, hoovering, cleaning and caring for your carpet for many years to come.
Carpet quality can be measured by the fibre used and the twist, finish and density of the fibre. Many of us assume that thickness is an indication of quality, but this is a common misconception. Whilst thickness can make a carpet seem more soft and luxurious, it does not indicate quality or performance. Like the colour or pattern, thickness is simply a matter of preference – not a sign of quality.
Fibre density is the amount of yarn used in a carpet and the density of the tufts. The density can be measured at the backing – not the surface. The density on the surface may appear to be high, but when you spread the tufts and look underneath, the base of the tufts can be spread out. Low density carpet wear much quicker, whilst high density carpets remains thick and full. Density is arguably the most important factor in the longevity of any carpet.
Tip: To test a carpet you’re considering buying, bend a sample of it in your hand so that the tufts spread apart. The less backing material you can see, the better.
Continuous Filament vs Staple
Carpet fibres can be either continuous filament or staple. Staple fibres (aka spun fibres) have short fibres that are spun together to create yarn. Wool is an example of a staple fibre. Because of the many short fibres, staple fibres have more initial shedding than filament fibres. However, after the early shedding, both fibres perform about equally, with no clear advantage to either. Continuous fibres are also woven into yarn, but they are made up of long fibres and so do not tend to shed.
Carpet fibres are commonly one of five materials: Nylon, Olefin, Polyester, Acrylic or Wool. The majority of carpet today is made from synthetic fibres, with nylon leading the way.
Nylon – Nylon accounts for roughly 60% of all carpet sold in the UK. Dye tends to be added to nylon fibres as they are manufactured and so are colourfast. Nylon is wear-resistant, tolerates heavy furniture and is available in many colours and styles. Only with the addition of stain-repelling technology (which is now standard for most nylon carpets) does nylon manage to maintain a stain-resistant form, whilst untreated nylon is susceptible to stains. Nylon is prone to static charge and to fading in direct sunlight.
Olefin – Commonly referred to as polypropylene, this thread is strong, wear-resistant, stain-resistant and is easy to clean. This material can be use outdoors because it is moisture and mildew resistant. While not as resilient as nylon, it is more resistant to fading. This material is not as comfortable on bare feet and does not have the luxurious feel of some other carpet.
Polyester – Polyester is quickly becoming more popular, perhaps due to its lower cost. It is not as resilient as nylon and is more prone to fading and staining, making it unsuited for high traffic areas. Noted for its soft, luxurious feel when used in thick cut-pile textures, polyester is a good value.
Acrylic – This has the look and feel of wool but without the high cost, though it is not as widely used as other fibres. Acrylic resists static build-up and is moisture and mildew resistant.
Wool – The only natural fabric commonly used for carpet. Wool has a luxurious feel and is very durable. It is naturally soil resistant and stains can be removed reasonably easily. However, wool will fade in direct sunlight and is the most expensive fibre.
Blends – Various combinations of fibres can improve the overall look, feel and performance of a carpet. Wool/nylon and olefin/nylon are two commonly used blend.
Many carpet manufacturers identify their carpets by “grade”. Technically, no standard system actually exists, and the grade is commonly used as more of a marketing tool. You cannot compare two different manufacturers who each offer a grade “5” or similar rating. One provider’s grade 5 may be significantly better than another provider’s. The only relevant rating is the wear rating, “high traffic”, “medium traffic” and “low traffic”. But once again, there is no universal standard, so one company’s “high traffic” may last much longer than another company’s.
When people think of a carpet appearing “worn”, they’re referring to matting (whether they know it or not). Matting is caused by compression of the carpet fibres in high traffic areas. Carpet rated for “high traffic” will resist matting more, so the use of the proper grade of carpet will keep the carpet looking good longer. High traffic carpet is a good choice for stairways, hallways, entryways and any other area or room that will face a lot of foot traffic.
Plush – A cut pile with a smooth, even finish. Straight fibres, cut shorter than Saxony. Has a velvety look. Tends to be formal in appearance. Often used in formal living areas.
Saxony – A cut pile with a smooth, even finish. Fibres are taller than plush and have a twist. This is the most popular style of carpet. Saxony tends to show footprints and vacuum tracks more than other textures
Friezé – Pronounced “free-zay”, this cut pile has extra twists applied to the fibres resulting in a rough, curly, informal texture. This texture hides footprints and tracks very well. Longer piles are called shag and are suitable for lower traffic areas.
Textured – Lower density fibres with an uneven cut give this carpet a more casual feel. Often uses two toned fibres to help hide dirt. Not as well suited for high traffic areas as some other choices.
Berber – Tightly packed short looped fibres, also called level-loop, provide a very durable surface suitable for a high traffic area. Informal appearance and durability make this a popular choice for family rooms. Flecked yarn helps to hide dirt, but the short pile makes seams more visible.
Cut & Loop – This combines cut pile with uncut loops to create interesting textures and patterns. Sometimes referred to as a sculptured texture. This texture hides dirt well and is well suited for high traffic areas.
Multi-level Loop – Two or three loop heights are used to give this style of carpet more texture or even pattern effects.
Choosing Your Carpet
Whilst budget is an important factor for most of us, you shouldn’t refrain from spending a little extra when choosing a carpet that you want to last for a long time, especially in high traffic areas. Buying a cheap carpet now will only mean you need to buy a new one sooner down the line.
- When comparing prices, remember to combine the costs of the carpet, pad, installation, labor for stairs, furniture moving and removal of old carpet.
- Grades given by different manufacturers can’t be compared, due to standards varying from company to company.
- Warranties usually cover wear but not matting. Most carpets will never come under warranty coverage because of this exclusion as well as the exclusion of carpet installed in hallways and stairs, where wear is the greatest. Warranties are more of a marketing tool than a consumer protection.
- The quality of the installation is important. A poorly installed carpet will never look as good nor will it last as long as a properly installed one.
- Always check the reviews of both the carpet provider and installer before making final decisions. The provider can recommend installers, but you should ideally do your own research, too.
Not quite ready to replace your carpet? Find out about Bailey’s professional carpet cleaning services here.