Choosing wall-to-wall carpeting
Ensure your satisfaction with your wall-to-wall carpeting.When choosing wall-to-wall carpeting, it is important to consider many factors before making your purchase. Consider its location and the amount of traffic it receives. Price should not be the primary consideration. Naturally, if you have children or pets in your home, they should influence your choices. The room you plan to carpet will provide some initial parameters in terms of some of the following attributes: durability, stain resistance, moisture resistance and ease of care.
Although some carpet is able to fit in a variety of locations, there are several factors to examine in matching the carpet to the location. The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a carpet is how much foot traffic it will get. Check the performance rating – a five-point scale which reflects how the carpet will hold up to traffic. A higher rating is good for high traffic, while a lower rating (two or three) is suitable for an area that will have less traffic.
For the busiest areas, look for a dense construction. One way to do that is to lay a carpet sample on the table and run your fingers through it. You don't want to be able to see the backing of the carpet. You'll also want a shorter pile height — the general rule is half an inch or less. In a cut-pile carpet, look for a good, tight twist of the yarn bundles. In looped carpet, look for smaller, tighter loops. Less-trafficked areas give you more freedom, allowing you to choose from plush cut-pile Saxonys to twisty friezes.
Choosing Carpet Material
Wool has always been the industry benchmark. It doesn't crush or fade, it's naturally fire-retardant, hypoallergenic, discourages the growth of bacteria and even regulates the room's humidity. But, because it tends to cost more than other fibers, wool accounts for a relatively small share of the market.
Synthetic yarns, advanced dyeing techniques and new manufacturing processes now produce carpet with more texture, color, durability and stain resistance than ever before. In fact, two-thirds of all carpeting purchased in the United States is made of nylon because of its colorfastness, resilience, and easy maintenance. Olefin (also called polypropylene) is another durable, colorfast and reasonably priced synthetic. Often used for level-loop and Berber carpet, olefin resists static, moisture and mildew better than other fibers and can even be used outdoors. Polyester is not as resilient as other fibers, but it's soft to the touch and easily cleaned. Acrylic is most often used in velvet and level-loop constructions; it looks and feels like wool and gives you the most bang for your buck.
Keep in mind that the type and thickness of the backing and cushioning will also contribute to the feel of the carpet underfoot. Do not skimp on the cost of the carpet padding. A few extra dollars will make a big difference. A good padding also helps to increase the life of a carpet.
Another factor that many people tend to overlook when choosing wall-to-wall carpeting is the safety factor. The Pill Test is the federal standard for measuring the flammability of both carpet and backing. Fabric floor coverings of dimensions greater than 24 square feet must meet the standard, and this applies to virtually all carpets. Carpet squares are included. There is also special fire-retardant treatment that is applied to some carpeting. Be sure to check with the retailer about this rating before purchasing.
Another important consideration is the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – air pollutants that are emitted by new carpets. The presence of these compounds means that special care must be taken with ventilation when new carpeting is installed. Much more desirable are carpets, padding and installation adhesives with low VOC ratings, which may be identified with a green label. Ask the installer about this. Don't necessarily take his word; ask to see documentation!
Tips for Purchasing Wall-to-Wall Carpeting
- Choose one-color rather than patterned carpeting. In order to match a pattern, more carpeting may have to be purchased than will actually be used.
- Synthetics cost less and may require less investment in care.
- Consider carpet tiles (also known as modular tile or carpet squares). This is particularly true in children's rooms. You may save money on installation and gain a longer carpet life, because the tiles are designed to be interchanged from low to high traffic areas so they wear more evenly. In addition, a serious stain or other damage to an area can be dealt with by replacing only those tiles affected.
- Pile weight and style contribute to cost.
- Check carpet discount stores. Also look for closeouts.
- Carpet is priced by the square yard, so it is easy to compare the cost of different options once you know the amount of carpet you need for your room.
- If you plan to do any careful color coordinating, take along samples of fabric (upholstery, drapes, table linens; or comforter, sheets, pillow shams) and wallpaper or paint when you shop. If shopping online, order samples rather than relying on the color on your monitor.
- Always check on the experience of the installer and what recourse you have if the job is not done properly.
- Get all warranties in writing!