Carpet has become one of the nation's most popular floor coverings because it provides additional insulation, reduces sound and gives off an appearance of comfort and warmth. Today, carpet is made from a variety of products and is easier to care for with most lines offering soil, stain, odor and static resistant options.
Carpet is a big decision for most homeowners, especially given the fact that it will likely remain in the home for a decade or more. Home improvement pro Bob Vila [www.bobvila.com] suggests homeowners spend a little time planning before venturing out to purchase any carpet.
"Once you decide to purchase carpeting for your home, let common sense be your guide," says Vila. "Select a carpet that is made for the traffic and activity level of your home, set it on padding that works, keep it clean and soil-free, and you will have a product that will enhance your home for years to come."
Homeowners can narrow down the decision making by taking into account the different types of carpet available. In an industry that once offered only a limited number of colors and quality grades, carpet manufacturers now provide a vast array of patterns, designs, weights, colors and textures to suit any homeowner's preference. Prices can vary from $5 to $50 per square yard.
Cut pile carpet has a plush appearance which happens when the fiber loops making up the carpet are cut on the top. Saxony, velvet/plush, texture, and frieze all fall into the cut pile category. The first two - saxony and velvet/plush - while beautiful are not considered great options for high traffic areas because they are prone to showing footprints and vacuum marks. Textured carpeting hides traffic patterns by using multi-colored fibers that act as a camouflage. Frieze has short, highly twisted fibers, almost a short cut version of yesterday's shag. Its short fibers curl in many directions when crushed, disguising any crushed areas or marks.
Cut and loop pile carpeting uses both cut and looped fibers and is characterized by a sculptured or textured effect created by several different yarn levels. This type of carpet hides dirt and traffic marks and is available in several styles.
Level loop pile carpet weaves even loops of fiber into the carpet backing at both ends and can be created with high or short loops. Berber is the most recognized form of this type of carpeting which is made up of short densely packed loops making it difficult for dirt and particles to filter into the yarns. Higher loops can create a nearly opposite appearance to Berber, looking more lush and comfortable.
Multi-level loop pile is made up of two to three different loop heights, giving off a more textured appearance that also works well in high traffic areas.
Once the type of carpet is determined, buyers then choose the weight, quality and color. "Carpet quality is judged by density and pile," says Vila. "The densest carpets are packed with fiber per square inch. So, the denser the pile, the better the carpet."
Padding and installation are other things to consider when purchasing a carpet. Ask the salesperson what kind of pad the manufacturer suggests for your choice of carpet. Most retailers price carpet with installation included. Homeowners should expect to pay about an additional $1 per square yard if old carpet needs to be ripped up and disposed of properly.