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Carpet Buying Guide

Choosing Carpet

Carpet has a long history, beginning as early as 6000 BC. Over the years, it is has evolved into a quite popular floor covering, used in many homes and businesses. It is made by tufting pieces of yarn into a thick backing. Different fibers, colors and tufting techniques produce the variety of carpet styles available on the market today. Use this information to help you decide what kind of carpet you should buy for your home or business.

Where can I put carpet?

Carpet can be installed nearly anywhere in a home where water will not be a concern. It is ideal for all locations except bathrooms and kitchens.

What choices do I have?

Carpet comes in three major types: cut pile, loop pile, and cut loop. Cut pile is a durable choice and comes in variety of styles: plush, textured, Saxony, frieze, and cable. These will provide everything from a formal look to a shaggy look, and certain types will help hide dirt. Loop pile is made without cutting the strings of yarn and is a durable, “all-purpose” carpet available in two styles: Berber, also known as level loop, and patterned multi-level loop. Berber is a good choice for high traffic areas that don’t require a formal look. Some fibers feature multiple colors that help hide dirt. Multi-level loop carpet has loops of varying heights that create a more textured look. Cut and loop is a mixture of carpet where some fibers are cut and some are looped. This creates a multi-level texture ideal for high traffic areas. Carpet tiles, or squares of carpet, are also available for those who want an easier install and more control over the geometric appearance of the final floor.

The carpet you choose should be based on where the room is, what it will be used for, how much like it gets, how big it is, whether or not there are pets in the home, if there are stairs in the home, and the kind of padding you prefer.

Why choose carpet?

Carpet is versatile. It comes in a variety of styles, colors, and types making it easy for most buyers to find the right carpet to fit both taste and needs. It is the least expensive option for floor covering and a great way to update the look of a room.

Can I do it myself?

While you can do your own installation, it is one of the more difficult projects for the average do-it-yourselfer to tackle since specialized tools are required to complete the job properly. In most cases, the expense of hiring a professional team to install the carpet far outweighs the hassles and potential complications of doing it yourself.

How will my floor wear over time?

Carpet fibers may get matted if excess dirt or sticky substances are allowed to remain on the carpet. Fibers may also unravel or shed. Proper care and maintenance will extend the life of the carpet and reduce the visible wear and tear. If you see signs of wear, repair them as soon as possible to keep your carpet in good shape.

Who Loves Carpet?

People with allergies. Carpet, when properly cleaned on a regular basis, can trap allergens and stop them from getting into the air you breathe. When you have a hard floor, allergens like dust and pet dander can be swept off the floor and back into the air.

People who want easy clean up and maintenance. Simply vacuum once or twice a week, and blot stains with the appropriate cleaner. Steam clean or clean to the manufacturer’s recommendation once every 12 to 18 months, and you’re done.

People who want a budget friendly way to change the look of their home. Carpet is a cost effective flooring option, much less expensive than wood flooring. The styles and colors available make it easy to match carpet to any decor so you can update the look easily.

Cleaning and Maintenance

The easiest and most important part of cleaning and maintenance is regular vacuuming. You should vacuum all your carpet at least once or twice a week, especially in high traffic areas. This will remove dirt, dust, and other debris that can degrade the carpet fibers over time.

When something spills on the carpet, the important thing to remember is not to scrub, as this could damage the fibers. Instead, use the appropriate cleanser to lightly cover the stain and blot until the spill starts to come out of the carpet. The sooner you clean a spill, the less likely it is to stain. The manufacturer will offer recommendations for different cleaning solutions to clean different kinds of spills. Never use bleach, as this will pull dye from the carpet and lead to discoloration.

Clean the carpet as recommended by your manufacturer – usually professional steam cleaning – at least once every year and a half to help extend the life of the carpet and keeping it looking newer, longer.

Calculating the Cost of Carpet

Carpet was once sold by the square yard, but to simplify it for buyers and installers alike, most carpet is now sold by the square foot. Depending on the type of carpet, you may be spending anywhere from $2 to $8 per square foot for the carpet itself. You will also need to purchase a high quality carpet padding, which can range in cost from $5 to $10 per square foot. You’ll also need to tack on a few dollars per square foot to cover installation and removal of any old carpet and padding. These estimates include a bit more for installation, but the actual cost of installation will depend on the contractor you choose to hire for the job.

Preparing for an Installation (how to install)

Before installing any carpet, remove any carpet and padding currently in the room. Vacuum the carpet before removal to minimize the dirt and dust that gets left behind when you pull it up. Vacuum again after the carpet and padding are gone, and for an extra measure, sweep the floor to ensure it’s clean before you start. Check the subfloor to ensure it is level and in good condition. If there are major issues with the subfloor, those will need to be repaired before the new carpet and padding are laid.

Installation

There are two basic methods for installation: stretch in or glue down. Stretch in is the most commonly used method, and involves rolling the carpet, cutting it to size, and stretching it tightly across the pad to fit the room. It is generally stapled down, or attached with tackless strips. If the carpet is glued down, it is simply glued at the edges, pressed against the pad, and allowed to dry. Double glue down installation occurs when the padding is glued to the subfloor, then the carpet is glued to padding. Carpet tiles are generally glued down, one tile at a time in a pattern you choose. This is why carpet tiles are easier for a do-it-yourself installation. For more information on how to install carpet, check out our Carpet Installation Guide.

Repairing Carpet

Repairing carpet doesn’t have to be complicated. If the carpet feels loose, you can re-stretch it. Remove all objects from the room, take the carpet off the tack strips, remove tack strips, stretch the carpet, and secure on tack strips in new location once the carpet is tight again. If the carpet is burned, you can use a pair of scissors to trim away the burnt pieces, being careful not to cut too deeply. You may also choose to get a remnant piece that matches your carpet, or cut a small piece out of an obscure area to replace the burned area. You can also use this method to patch holes and get rid of small stains. If your carpet has come unraveled or is snagged, it can be repaired. Find more detailed instructions and information on our Repairing Carpet page.

(5) Comments

  1. I have spent an hour reading your web site & you talk all around what I need to know. Do you rate the carpets; i.e., Mohawk, Shaw, Stainmaster, etc.) … I have no idea which is rated highest & reasons. It is very difficut to attempt to buy carpet & have no rating system. Another question: How can Lowe’s/Home Depot sell name brand carpets for less??? There is something I don’t know and don’t know how to find it.

    Thank you.

    Ann O’Hare

  2. I live in an old house, two foot hardwood around edge of each room, oak woodwork and matching quarter round. My living room is a 15 x 13 with rubberback carpet 12 x 14 leaving the hardwood showing around edges. I need to replace this carpet and can not find any quality rubberback carpet. The carpet layers want to install stretch in wall to wall and remove the quarter round. The room has large double doorways and a fireplace in the corner. I don’t really like this idea. Could I lay stretch in as the rubberback leaving the hardwood around edges, excepting the fact that it may not wear as long.

  3. the debate about wood or tile being better for those with allergens can be deceiving. Hard surface is only better if a rigorous cleaning schedule is maintained. If not , the dust can get airborne much easier on hard surface than with carpet.Carpet helps to trap the dust.
    Also , picking colors that help hide dirt and soil are good for keeping carpet appearance good,. Regular carpet cleanings are also a big part of home health.

  4. Hi Susan,

    Sounds like you are shopping at a CarpetOne dealer because Lees no longer makes residential carpeting. CarpetOne bought the Lees and Bigelow names two very popular mills that closed in the late 80’s and early 90’s. They use these names so you can not shop the product at any other retailer therefore they can make a better margin on it. That is not a bad thing because you want the retailer you buy from to be profitable so they will be in business if you ever have a problem with the carpet a few years down the road. If you are looking for a good quality carpet for you family room you may want to consider a carpet that has a texture that would minimize footprints and vacuum tracks. Nylons are generally the most resilient fiber and stand up to matting and crushing. Look for a carpet that has good density, high twist level and good stain warranty. You will have to trust your retailer to guide you with those requirements. A good choice would also be a carpet that has multi-color as they tend to hide soiling better. Keep in mind you will want to have your carpet professionally steam cleaned a minimum of every two years by a quality carpet cleaner.

  5. Susan Szewczyk-Black - Reply

    I am looking into carpet and really want to know which brand is better. I am looking at Lees vs Chadwick. The backing on Lees and pile are of much better quality. Which brand do you recommend? This is going in a family room that gets a lot of use. I am not partial to one vs the other but I really want the best stain resistant as well as best durable as I am replacing carpet only 10 years old in a rather large room. 21.2 by 14.6

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