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5 Tips for Choosing Carpet

Carpet nothing looks like it, feels like it or performs like it. It enhances the peace and quiet of your home by absorbing sound. It insulates against the cold, cushions your feet with comfort, and adds safety—helping to prevent slips and falls and protecting dropped objects from being damaged. And because carpet is a key decorative element in the home and a major purchase, you must keep several factors in mind during your selection process. With so many different colors, materials and designs available, it can be difficult to choose the best carpet for your home.

Perhaps the most important things to consider are these: Does it fit your taste, and does it match your lifestyle? This informative section was created to help you make a selection that best suits your home and your budget.

Tips for Choosing Carpet

1. Location/ Use

Before purchasing carpet, you need to answer the following questions: How is the room going to be used? Will it have heavy or light traffic? Will the room be the center of activity for family and entertaining? Is there direct access from outside, or will the carpet be away from entrances? Will the carpet receive direct sunlight?

Where there is to be heavy traffic (usually the family room, hallways and stairways), choose the best carpet you can afford. When shopping for carpet, look for performance rating guidelines with various brands of carpet. This rating system offers guidance on choosing the carpet that will perform best for various traffic needs. Most guidelines will be based on a 5-point scale, with the number 4 or 5 rating being best for the highest traffic areas. A 2 to 3 rating is good for areas with less traffic.

2. Color

Because it covers so much living space, carpet is the foundation of your room’s décor. It can be a neutral color, blending in with fabrics and other surfaces; or it can be a vibrant focal point of the room, making a statement that reflects your style.

The selection of carpet color is a very personal choice. Carpet comes in almost every color, pattern, and texture you can imagine. You will want to select a color that unites your decorative elements and creates the atmosphere you desire. Ever-popular beige carpet can make a room look spacious; but for a bolder statement, look for a common color in your furniture and draperies. Choose a carpet with a similar hue. Environmental colors, like blues, deep greens, rosy quartz, and stony neutrals are becoming increasingly popular.

Warm colors can turn up the heat in a room that lacks light, while cool greens and blues have a calming effect. Lighter colors make the room seem larger; darker colors provide coziness. There are also practical considerations in color selection. New stain and soil resistant technology makes today’s lighter color carpet much easier to clean, allowing more decorating options. Medium and darker colors, tweeds, and textures will help disguise common soil in your home’s high traffic areas.

3. Cost

Your budget and your needs are two key elements in selecting carpet and rugs. There are a wide range of choices and costs from which to make your selection. Ask yourself how long you expect to keep your carpet before replacing it. A better grade of carpet will give you a greater length of service than one of lesser quality. Buy the best carpet you can afford for the heavy traffic areas of your home—halls, stairs, and family rooms. A medium grade will provide good service in rooms with less traffic—bedrooms and guest rooms.

The cost of carpet is based on many factors, including fiber, construction, quality, and design. The total project will include the cost of cushion and installation. Be wary of the cheapest products or services.

Ask your retailer to give you a complete cost estimate—one that includes cushion, installation, moving of furniture, hauling off old flooring materials, and any special needs that you may have. Remember—a high-quality, professional installation can extend the life of your investment.

4. Fibers

Fiber is carpet’s basic ingredient. The type of fiber used and the way the carpet is constructed determine how well the carpet will stand up to spills, pets, and daily traffic. Approximately 97 percent of all carpet is produced using synthetic fibers that are designed to feature style, easy maintenance, and outstanding value. There are five basic types of carpet pile fibers.

Nylon: It is the most popular and represents two-thirds of the pile fibers used in the United States. Wear-resistant, resilient, withstands the weight and movement of furniture, and provides brilliant color. Ability to conceal and resist soils and stains. Generally good for all traffic areas. Solution-dyed nylon is colorfast because color is added in the fiber production.

Olefin (polypropylene): Strong, resists wear and permanent stains, and is easily cleaned. Notably colorfast because color is added during fiber production. Resists static electricity and is often used in both indoor and outdoor installations because of its resistance to moisture and mildew. Used in synthetic turf for sports surfaces, and in the home for patios and game rooms. Many Berbers are made of olefin.

Polyester: Noted for luxurious, soft “hand” when used in thick, cut-pile textures. Has excellent color clarity and retention. Easily cleaned, and resistant to water-soluble stains.

Acrylic: Offers the appearance and feel of wool without the cost. Has low static level and is moisture and mildew-resistant. Commonly used in velvet and level-loop constructions, and often in bath and scatter rugs.

Wool: Noted for its luxury and performance, wool is soft, has high bulk, and is available in many colors. Generally, wool is somewhat more expensive than synthetic fibers.

Blends: A wool/nylon blend combines the superior look and comfort of wool with the durability of nylon. Acrylic/olefin and nylon/olefin are other popular blends, offering good characteristics of each fiber.

5. Eco-Friendly

Many people are shocked to learn just how much carpet, padding and adhesives can impact air quality and health. If you’ve ever been around brand-new carpet or other building materials, you probably remember that distinctive “new” smell. That odor is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs, such as formaldehyde, cause poor indoor air quality and can contribute to a host of health problems, including asthma and allergies. Protect your family by choosing carpet made from natural products, including wool, jute and other organic materials.