How to Choose a Carpet

3 styles of carpet

Carpet tends to be underfoot and out of mind. But when it’s time to choose a new one, it is important to understand which ones can be easily cleaned – especially if you have kids and pets. Here is some advice on how to choose the best carpet for your house from Jon at Eclipse Cleaning who explains the pros and cons of common carpet styles and fibres.

The carpets here can be installed wall to wall or ordered in a specific size with bound edges to be used as an area rug — a good solution for large or oddly shaped rooms. (Specialty area rugs, such as Orientals, have their own considerations and are not included here.)

One of the first issues with how to choose a carpet is to understand the difference between tufted and woven construction. Most carpets are tufted, consisting of rows of machine-punched yarns held together by adhesive and a backing. They generally last between five and seven years. Woven carpets, made on a loom, are known for their long life span — 20 to 30 years. You’ll pay significantly more for the higher quality. Most of the styles and fibres listed here are used for both woven and tufted carpet. So start looking — and you’re on your way to kicking off your shoes.

The Carpet Pile

Identifying styles of pile — the yarn that makes up a carpet — becomes easy when you see samples up close. Pile is sheared for “cut pile” or left intact for “loop pile”. A combination is called “cut-and-loop pile.”

Seeing and touching carpet samples will drive home their differences — and your preferences. Pile heights include short velvet piles and longer plushes; deeper pile has a more luxurious feel, but short pile tends to be easier to care for. A carpet label is required by law to list fibre content and country of origin; some will include additional helpful details.

As you shop, take the opportunity to ask questions, read labels, and find out how to install and maintain the carpet you buy.

Different Types of Pile

Ribbed pile cut can be a cut-and-loop pile or a cut-pile carpet that is trimmed in areas to create carved designs; it may also have colour variations throughout.
What to know: Because its textured surface can camouflage marks and stains, ribbed cut is a good choice for children’s rooms or other high-traffic spaces.

Plush pile is cut to a smooth, level height. It is higher and less dense than velvet.
What to know: Plush carpet is comfortable underfoot, making it a cozy covering for a bedroom floor. But its pile is easily crushed, revealing indentations.

Frieze is a cut-pile carpet with twisted yarns and a crimped, textured appearance.
What to know: The twisted strands of a frieze carpet obscure footprints and vacuum marks well, and the tousled look complements an informal room.

Shag has pile so long it doesn’t stand upright, giving a carpet a “shaggy” look.
What to know: No longer just a throwback to the 1960s and ’70s, today’s shags come in contemporary colours and have an inviting feel. But those long yarns can still get caught in the rotating head of a vacuum.

Different Types of Fibres

A carpet’s appearance, texture, and longevity also are determined by its fibres. The pile can be natural, synthetic, or a blend of several fibres.

Wool is strong, static-resistant, and pleasing to the touch.
What to know: It is the fibre that most synthetic fibres are meant to imitate, and it is more costly than those materials. Wool is resilient and flame-retardant. Note that a wool carpet will shed a bit initially.

Silk carpet is largely produced in India, China, and Turkey.
What to know: Carpets made from silk are soft and luxurious. Silk dyes better and is more durable than any other fibre. Because of silk’s high cost, the fibre is often blended with wool.

Coir is the fibre taken from the hairy husk of coconuts.
What to know: Coir is durable, wiry, and mildew-resistant. In other words, coir makes the perfect doormat.

Sea grass carpet is made from a variety of reedy plants and has a greenish tint.
What to know: Although durable, sea grass carpets are not very absorbent; they should not be used in moist or humid rooms. Sea grass costs less than sisal and jute.

Polypropylene has a wool-like appearance and is often used for cut-pile carpets. It dyes well, so it’s available in a range of vibrant colors.
What to know:  Polypropylene carpet is soft, stain-resistant, and affordable. It’s not as resilient as others but can be cleaned much easier than most other fibres. It may mat down in a short period.

Sisal comes from the agave plant; the highest-quality fibres are from East Africa.
What to know: Sisal is strong (second only to wool). It is one of the more pricey plant fibres. Sisal is particularly prone to fading in direct sunlight and can be stained even by water. This can only be dry cleaned

Sisal-like carpets are meant to imitate the look of sisal or other plant fibres and are made from wool or a synthetic.
What to know: These mimics are softer underfoot than the real thing, and they release stains better. An example of this is a Berber.

Berber once referred specifically to an undyed Moroccan rug. Today the term is used broadly to describe most loop-pile carpets. It looks more like a mat.
What to know: Because loop pile has no exposed tips (unlike cut pile), it is especially durable. This makes berber a good choice for high-traffic areas, such as family rooms, hallways, and staircases.

Velvet carpet is soft, like the fabric for which it’s named. The pile is short, uniform, and dense.
What to know: The carpet has a matte finish, giving it an understated appeal. Velvet pile generally holds up well but, like plush, its uniform surface exposes indentations and tracks.

PRICE AND PARTICULARS

Bear in mind that carpet is often priced per square yard, not square foot. (To calculate the price per square foot yourself, divide the price per yard by nine.) Be aware, too, that when you look at a carpet sample, the color might differ slightly from what would be delivered to your home. Consider asking for a roll-cut sample — a piece of carpet cut from the lot you would actually purchase. This is particularly helpful when it comes to fibres with a tendency to fade, such as sisal or jute.

UNDERLAY

The pressure a carpet withstands results in crushed pile and ground-in dirt. Some of that can be alleviated by padding, which also absorbs sound. Not all underlays are suitable for all carpets, so ask before you buy. For instance, “hard” carpet, including those made from most plant fibres, can be damaged by ultra-cushiony padding (the space it creates invites shoe heels and heavy furniture to puncture the carpet).

MAINTENANCE

Twice weekly vacuuming with good suction and a rotating head keeps many carpets looking their best. (For delicate carpets, such as hand-woven or hand-tufted, use a vacuum without a rotating head. Deep cleaning once a year is recommended by Eclipse Cleaning 01488 670 113

Main Carpet Brands

Wilton is considered the premier woven carpet. It is made on a jacquard loom and can have cut, loop, or cut-and-loop pile.
What to know: These carpets are tightly constructed, making them dense and durable. Worsted-wool Wiltons are some of the best carpets available.

Saxony carpet yarns have a soft twist or curl; the pile is often cut at an angle.
What to know: Saxony is not quite as textured as frieze but it still effectively conceals marks, making the carpet a popular choice for children’s rooms and family rooms.

Axminster is a cut-pile carpet that is woven by definition. It is often called “pub carpet,” a reference to the carpet’s frequent appearance in restaurants and hotels.
What to know: Axminster tends to be the most affordable of the woven carpets and is available in a wide range of colours. Like a Wilton, it is long-wearing. But it is not as refined and may appear industrial.

For more carpet advice contact Jon at Eclipse Cleaning:

Phone: 01488 670 113 / 07723 395457

Email: jon@eclipsecleaning.co.uk

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