Tips on choosing carpeting

By Robin Becker
Info Guru,

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Carpeted living room
New carpeting can make your existing home feel like new
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Carpeting whether just an area rug or wall to wall - enhances many different settings and styles of decorating, from sleek contemporary to formal or traditional decors. It is warm, quiet and comfortable, and offers more colors and textures than any other flooring. You can easily and dramatically change a room's look and feel by replacing the carpeting.

First, determine the type of carpeting you want.

Here are some definitions regarding carpeting that may prove helpful in your selection:
  • Hand Carved - Using hand shears, the weaver cuts a design in to the rug. The carving and sculpturing give the rug a distinctive and unique look.
  • Heat Set - a process polypropylene goes through to put a twist in the yarn. When the yarn is set with heat, it will have a wool-like appearance.
  • Line Count - one indicator of rug quality is the number of knots or stitches per square inch.
  • Stitches/Needle Count - the number of loops of yarn. The higher the stitch or needle count, the denser the rug. Higher density rugs will last longer and wear better than more loosely woven
  • Pile - the surface yarn that makes up the face of the rug.
  • Border - composed of decorative designs repeated in one direction around the outside of the rug.
  • Field - the background of the rug inside the border. It may be a solid color or patterned.
  • Medallion - a round or oval design in the center of the rug.

Your carpeting store should have a large and varied selection of carpets with different fiber options. Today's carpeting is available in wool, synthetics, blends, sisal, linen, jute, coir, woven vinyl, fur, and even paper. Each material has its own unique uses and strengths, so consider the amount of traffic, sunlight, moisture and potential stains before you select your carpet.

Things to consider when choosing carpeting:
  1. Not all fibers are created equal

    Whether it is wool or a synthetic, the more tightly twisted the fiber, the more wear it will withstand. Fiber length is also important. With long individual fibers, there will be less shedding. Test by digging your fingertips into the pile and dragging them across the surface. If you can scrape up a bunch of carpet fibers, the staples are too short, and your carpet may continue to lose density. If very few fibers come loose, that's good: your carpet will retain its body. Also notice how it feels: a poor quality yarn will be coarse and dry as well as fuzzy.

  2. Wool is naturally an ideal carpet fiber

    Wool stays beautiful for years naturally. It is an extremely durable, crimped fiber which springs back into shape after you walk on it, so carpet won't show matted-down paths or heavily used areas. Wool's natural coating makes it stain resistant and easy to clean and the configuration of its fibers helps to keep soil on the surface so it is easy to vacuum or blot up. Moreover, wool accepts dye readily, enabling pure and clear reproduction of every color imaginable.

  3. Synthetics are better than ever

    Synthetics have enjoyed recent advances which have produced very high quality carpet fibers which are stain and crush resistant (look for a texture retention warranty), reliably color-fast, and "de-lustered" for a more matte, less shiny finish. The best are "Wear-Dated", guaranteeing their durability. Look for these premium branded products such as DuPont Stainmaster and Anso Crush Resister III. The biggest advantage of synthetics can be their affordability, however, a good value in wool be less expensive than a high-end synthetic.

  4. Think about color

    Ivory and pale beige are by far the best -selling carpet colors, but they're most appropriate in bedrooms and other light traffic areas. If you want neutrals for stairs, entryways and other areas exposed to heavy use or soil,consider taupe or mushroom, which are light, but don't show soil and stains as readily. Darker is not necessarily the ideal choice. Lint, dust, pet hair, and any other light-colored materials will be very noticeable on deep tones.

  5. Consider the texture

    Cut pile carpets such as velvets (short pile) and plushes (longer pile) are elegant, but they show footprints and can develop "pooling" which look shaded because the pile nap has been reversed due to its natural bend.

    Patterned or textured carpets are better at camouflaging footprints, soil and stains. Even a slight variation in carpet color or texture can help to hide signs of use. Probably the most forgiving texture is a mixture of loops and cut pile; it hides most everything, including footprints.

  6. Be careful when choosing new carpet for stairs

    Stairs are the one place where it is critical to select the right type of carpet.

    Wool carpeting is the ideal material for use on stairs and in high traffic areas. Woven carpet is the best choice for stairs because the woven backing keeps each piece of yarn in place. Cut pile is preferable to a looped pile, as the spaces between the loops are more likely to open up on the edge of the steps, referred to as "grinning". Density is also important. Try to separate the rows of fibers: if you feel the foundation, the carpet may not be dense enough for use on stairs.

    The ultimate choice for stairs has these desired attributes: a dense, cut pile and a woven backing.

  7. Ask about seams

    Talk with your installer before the carpet is in place. You'll want to make sure seams will be as hidden as possible under furniture or in the least noticeable area of the room. Most carpet is 12 feet wide, so a seam (or seams) will be necessary if your room is wider than 12 feet. With some odd-shaped rooms, you'll have a choice: you either can purchase less carpeting an

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