How to Choose the Best Carpet
by Ron Marr
It's not always easy to choose the right carpeting for your home. And by "right," I mean whatever your spouse thinks is best.
One way to help improve domestic harmony when it comes to carpet selection is to know what your options are when it comes to color, fabric and style. Lucky for you, I've put together a carpet cheat sheet.
Not all carpet is created equal, and different styles, textures, patterns and fabrics are intended for different areas of the home. Some types are best suited for high-traffic areas, hiding footprints and vacuum marks. Others stand up well under the pressures of kids and pets, rejecting stains and the tread marks of tricycle wheels. A third option is designed for more formal rooms, where elegant luxury is desired.
Most Common Fabrics
Nylon and wool:
Resists crushing and matting, while retaining its original look
Stain resistant and very soft
Moisture resistant (for the most part)
Basic Carpet Styles
A twisted yarn cut in tight loops. Often installed in medium-traffic areas.
Pattern Cut Pile:
A combination of cut yarn and loops resulting in a sculptured look.
A luxurious and elegant style integrating densely-packed, evenly-cut fibers.
Most Berber carpet is of a loop style. This is a long-wearing carpet featuring subtle shades of color.
The best choice for hiding footprints. Textured carpet is the choice for high-traffic areas.
Cable is plush, crafted from thick yarn. It's extremely comfortable on feet.
The Best Carpet Choices Room by Room
Formal Dining Rooms and Master Bedroom
A plush, Saxony carpet is the preferred choice for your most elegant rooms. Saxony does show footprints and vacuum lines, and tends to wear more quickly than other styles. On the other hand, it conveys a sense of warmth and class.
Family Rooms, Living Rooms and Dens
Textured Saxony or a patterned, textured-loop carpet, both of which are durable and attractive, are a favorite for medium-traffic areas. These styles show minimal footprints and vacuum marks. Stain and soil resistance is important if kids and pets are charging about.
Kids Bedroom and Bathrooms
Rough and tumble kids require a tough carpet. The best option is a stain-resistant nylon or polyester. Keep in mind that spilled drinks and crumbs are more visible on solid colored carpets than on their multi-colored counterparts.
Hallways and Staircases
The most stomped upon regions of your home deserve a dense-pile, level-loop carpet such as Berber. Nylon is the most durable fiber available, making it suitable here. Generally speaking, nylon carpets must be treated to become stain resistant.
Outdoor, Patio and Basements
Carpets made from olefin fibers (also known as polypropylene) are relatively inexpensive, strong and largely fade resistant. They're generally a type of Berber, and are light-years removed from the old-style "indoor-outdoor" carpets of years past. The latter usually came in colors of green, green and green, highly resembling Astroturf. Olefin is available in a spectrum of colors and patterns.
Ron Marr is a long-time woodworker and luthier whose work can be seen at marrsguitars.com. He is also a frequent contributor to The Workbench Life.
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