Picking the Right Carpet for your family

Shopping for carpet is a lot like shopping for a car. It can be a large financial investment; there are many different styles, colors and brands and not knowing what you are looking for can make it a difficult experience. Most often times you end up dealing with high-pressure salespeople. The carpet buying experience can be so immense, that it’s easy to shop for something easy and cheap just to get it over with. By doing just a little bit of research, comparing styles, brands, and working with a reputable flooring company,you will be able to get exactly what you are looking for to help fit your home needs.

Different Carpet Fibers

Below are a few of the different styles and fibers that are available to help explain the qualities each one has, and to better educate you on what you would may want based on your needs.

Nylon outperforms all other fibers in durability, resilience and easy maintenance. This is a good choice if you want your carpet to last a decade or longer, for high-traffic areas, and in homes with kids and pets. Higher quality nylon fibers are “branded,” and the carpet label will use terms like “100% Mohawk Nylon” or “100% Stainmaster Tactesse.” Lower-quality, “unbranded” nylon fibers are listed simply as “100% nylon.” The strongest and softest type (and most expensive) is 6.6 nylon. Cost is $10 to $45 per sq. yd.

Triexta (brands include Smart-Strand and Sorona) is a newly classified fiber derived partly from corn sugar. It has excellent, permanent anti-stain properties (nylon must be treated with stain protectors over its life span). It also has good resilience, but it’s too soon to tell whether it will match the durability of nylon in high-traffic areas. Because of its superior stain resistance, this is a good choice if you have young kids or pets. Expect to pay $20 to $45 per sq. yd.

Polyester (also called PET) is stain resistant, very soft and luxurious underfoot, and is available in deep and vibrant colors. However it’s harder to clean, tends to shed and isn’t as durable as nylon. It’s best used in low-traffic areas (like bedrooms) and in households without kids or pets. A nice, cushy choice if you like to exercise on the carpet. The cost is $8 to $18 per sq. yd.

Olefin (polypropylene) is an attractive, inexpensive fiber that’s strong and resists fading, but it’s not as resilient as nylon. It’s most often made into a looped Berber with a nubby weave that conceals dirt. It has good stain, static and mildew resistance. Olefin carpeting is often selected for high-traffic “clean” areas such as family rooms and play areas. It costs $8 to $25 per sq. yd.

Signs of Quality Carpet

Try bending the carpet sample backwards in towards the fibers.. If you can easily see the backing, the this is low-density carpet, which would be cheaper quality. Not a bad carpet, but not one meant for longevity when it comes to a larger investment.

A salesperson might tell you that a certain carpet is a good deal, and it may be, but that is also there job, to sell you something for them to make money on.  Always check the label and ask questions to help determine the quality of the carpet.

At least a 34- to 40-oz. face weight. This is the number of ounces of fiber per square yard. The range is generally from 20 to 80, and the higher the number, the heavier and more resilient the carpet. This will help determine the wear ability of the carpet.

A tuft twist of 5 or higher. Twist is the number of times the tufts are twisted together in a 1-in. length. The higher the number, the more durable the carpet. This makes the fibers stronger.

A density rating of 2,000 or more. Density is determined by the thickness of the fibers and how tightly packed they are. The thicker and heavier they are, the better quality the carpet and the less susceptible to crushing. Bending the carpet backwards can help determine this. If you can see the backing easily, it’s a low-density (lower quality) carpet. You want the backing to not be very visible through the fibers.

Is it BCF or staple fiber construction? Carpet fibers can be either Bulked Continuous Filament (BCF) or “staple.” Staple fibers shed more than BCF fibers. This does not affect the long-term quality of the carpet, but the shedding does mean you’ll have to vacuum more often until the initial shedding stops (which can take up to a year), and it may also be an issue for allergy sufferers.

Be sure to ask about the warranty and get the exact terms of the coverage. You want at least a 10-year “texture retention” warranty. This will cover how well the fibers return to their original shape after being walked on. Although manufacturers tout their 15- and 25-year warranties, salespeople caution that warranties are seldom honored except in cases of obvious product defects.