What type of carpet is best? Carpet Buying Guide
The question needs more specificity as you first need to know the specific purpose. There are two important factors helps you decide the type of carpet to use, the first and most important being where do you want to use the carpet and second important factor is your budget.
The very basic classification will start with residential use, commercial use, high traffic area, or low traffic area.
Two things create distinct types of carpet, the fiber of the carpet and the construction of the carpet.
Carpet fibers are either natural like wool or synthetic like nylon or polyester.
Nylon is the most commonly used carpet fiber. It was also the very first truly synthetic fiber which was used in carpet industry. DuPont introduced nylon in carpet industry in the mid 1950’s.
It is very strong and that’s the reason it’s being used for heavy traffic areas. Nylon is easy to clean, soil and mildew resistant, non-allergenic, abrasion and property to retain the texture.
Polyester is not as popular as nylon and it is less durable compared to nylon. Although polyester has wide range of textures and colors and very easy to clean.
Polyester fibers are softer and naturally stain resistant. It is eco-friendlier as compared to other synthetic fibers. From budget point of view polyester is cheaper compared to nylon.
Polypropylene (Olefin) carpet fibers:
Polypropylene is good for commercial and outdoor uses. Its water-resistant properties make it a good choice for outdoor uses. It has of wool like feel and appearance. Olefin is solution-dyed which means its color is an inherent part of its structure and not like a coating. The color will not fade easily when exposed to direct sunlight or weather conditions.
Triexta (PTT- Polytrimethylene Terepthalate) is the type of polyester fiber. It is relatively modern synthetic fiber which was first commercially produced by shell chemicals. Shaw Carpet introduced the first PTT residential carpet in 2001.
Triexta is naturally stain resistant and it does not need an additional stain treatment. This makes it a softer and more plush carpet. It is very good for residential uses but not very good for heavy traffic areas.
Wool is the only natural eco-friendly fiber used in carpet construction. It’s eco-friendly and recyclable properties make it little costlier than synthetic fibers.
Wool is natural stain resistant, but the fibers will absorb water quickly this feels needs to be cleaned up fast to prevent staining. In dry environment it can build up static. Wool is a fire-resistant fiber because it will char instead of burn.
When you hear terms like plush carpet, Berber carpet, Shag, those all relate to the construction of the carpet. It is more about the look and feel after you have decided the type of fiber you want to go for!
Before we go in to details about the carpet construction, few important terms need to be understood well.
There are two components in carpet structure. The fibers and the backing. Fibers are spun together to attach to a woven backing.
The bunch of fibers you see on the face of the carpet is called pile. It is also called face or nap.
Pile height is the height of the fibers from face to the top of backing. The height of the pile can be usually in a range of ¼” to ¾”. Based on the height it is classified as short (flat) pile, medium pile or long (shaggy) pile.
Short pile or low pile carpet are good for heavy traffic areas and commercial uses. They are easy to clean and better in wear and tear due to short piles.
Long piles are not so stronger but gives a very good feel bare foot and so they are mostly used in residential low traffic areas like bedrooms.
Short piles are less expensive compared to longer piles as a capital cost as well in terms of maintenance.
Pile Density and Face Weight:
Density is a measure of how closely the fibers are packed or tufted on the backing. Face weight is ounces per square yard and pile density is ounces per cubic yard.
The more the density, more is the durability.
Less densely packed longer pile can have same face weight as more densely packed shorter pile. It is the density which helps identifying durability and not the face weight.
In other words, carpet with longer pile and higher face weight will give you a more plush, luxurious feel. This is where knowing the face weight will help.
Weight comparison helps while you compare same materials like nylon to nylon but not nylon to polyester!
Twist refers to number of times the fibers turn in a one-inch length. Twisting makes the carpet stronger and more durable.
Piles are cut and fiber ends are exposed.
Loops remain uncut and both ends of the fibers are stitched to the backing.
Patterned Loop Carpet:
Loops are uncut and have different heights.
Cut and Loop Carpet:
A combination of cut and loop.
Carpet installation varies based on size of the carpet you are dealing with. Carpet can be a broadloom or a carpet tile.
Broadloom is usually 12 ft wide rolls and carpet tiles are usually 2ft x 2ft or 1 ft 4ft kind of configuration.
Carpet tiles are mostly used in commercial applications because it offers some advantages like easy and quick installations, able to be laid in any kind of space layout and very easy to maintain (replace).
While broadloom gives different advantages like less wastage with perfectly suited room sizes, control over choice of backing (pads), use of large patterns without seams etc.
Carpet tiles have a higher initial cost which means higher Capital cost they have lesser maintenance cost at the long run.
Carpet Installation can be basically divided into four different types of installation.
Glue down installation, double glue down installation, stretch in fit and lose laid/ cut to fit.
Glued down installation:
This is also called direct glued down installation. It’s the most popular installation type in commercial settings. In this type of installation, the carpet is directly glued down to the floor which is a concrete or wood surface. This installation proves good for heavy traffic areas as it’s more powerful against wear and tear and less movement due to traffic. This type of installation provides less buckling and is very suitable for large areas.
Some of the major disadvantages of the direct glue down method are due to lack of pad below the carpet. It feels less comfortable pad below, it is less insulation because of no pad. Pad acts like a shock absorber and without the pad it has a low durability.
Also, because it’s directly glued down to the floor, removal is difficult as compared to stretch in fit.
Double glue down installation:
As the name suggests, two things that are glued down to the floor are the pad and the carpet. the pad is glue down to the floor directly and the carpet on top of the pad. This method is also called double stick installation sometimes.
Selection of the pad is equally important as the selection of the carpet. The purpose of using the pad is to have more comfort more insulation and to extend the life of the carpet.
The two important factors that helps selecting the carpet pad is the thickness and the density.
Most of the residential use carpet pads are 7/16 inch or 1/2 inch thick. The commercial grade carpet or the short pile carpet can have thickness of 3/8 inch thick.
The density is measured in pounds per cubic feet. A good quality pad will be usually 8 pounds per cubic feet but shall never be less than six pounds per cubic feet while you select the pad.
The Material of the pad is foam or it could be recycled material.
As it is in direct contact to the floor moisture resistance and anti microbial properties are most important to avoid mold, mildew and bacterial growth.
Stretch in carpet installation:
There is no glue used in this type of installation instead that are tack strips or tack less strips used on the edges. tack and tack less are two opposite terminology but used for the same product. There is a wooden strip which is nailed or glued to the floor which has tacks. Because you do not have to use separate tacks to attach the carpet, it is called tack less.
Tack strips are first installed on the edges then the pad is installed/ stapled close to the tack strips. The carpet is then laid stretched and attached to the tacks to hold it.
The carpet is quick to install and easy to remove by using this method. This is the only method which allows the installer to easily work with patterned carpets.
The disadvantages of this method are: it is not suitable for very large spaces due to buckling or rippling and cannot be used while there is a rolling traffic.
What type of carpet is best for bedrooms?
The most important criteria for selection of bedroom carpet is the Look and the feel over strength and durability. Bedrooms are considered low traffic areas. A very good feeling Barefoot and a good insulation is more important in bedrooms as compared to its durability and low maintenance.
Carpet pad plays a very important role in terms of insulation and a better feeling bare foot.
Below are some of good carpet types suggested for bedrooms:
Saxony: It is a dense firm carpet, but it will show footprints and brush mark.
Plush: Plush carpet is like Saxony carpet with velvet appearance.
Textured: The Twisted fibers allow for a footprint and Mark free carpet.
Shag: This is also a thicker carpet with longer length of pile.
Polyester or Triexta are one of the best choices for low traffic areas in residential uses such as bedrooms. Wool is the only natural fiber used in carpet construction and wool can also be chosen as one of the good materials for bedroom carpet.
Nylon is more durable but little less soft compared to polyester.
What type of carpet is best for living rooms?
Living rooms are considered heavy traffic areas. Using short pile or Loop pile carpet is best for living room.
Nylon is more suitable for living room area. It is more durable easy-to-clean and wear resistant and it will still give you a softer feel.
What type of carpet is best for basements?
While choosing a carpet for basement, the most important criteria to keep in mind are –
(a) to have a moisture resistant material
(b) easy to remove in case of flooding and
(c) easy to clean.
One of the best choices is a low pile carpet which is less absorbent and quick in drying.
Think about using a carpet tile instead of broadloom (wall to wall/ rolled product). Carpet tiles will be easy to remove!
For cleaning, stain resistance and chemical resistance– carpet made from synthetic materials should be your first choice.
Not having a wet or leaky basement is a top priority OR think of using other flooring materials like vinyl/ laminate instead of carpet!
What type of carpet is best for commercial spaces?
99% of commercial use carpets are synthetic fibers.
The carpets used in commercial applications are mostly Nylon, Olefin or Polypropylene. They are constructed in loop or cut pile. Compared to broadloom (Wall to wall rolls), carpet tiles are more popular now a days due to less maintenance and replacement costs.
10 important Carpet maintenance tips:
- Clean it immediately after spills or it will be very hard to remove the stains later.
- First try to remove the spills without adding water. Do dry blotting first then add some water and blot again. Use a little detergent if required and then vacuum it. Some more water can be added after you do this and for further cleaning.
- Before using any chemical for cleaning or using a spot removal solvent, you should find out whether it is suitable for the type of carpet you are using.
- For some heavy stains use of hydrogen peroxide is recommended. 3% hydrogen peroxide is applied on the stained area and let stand for about an hour. And repeat until it’s gone.
- If a part of carpet is burned, you can cut/trim the top of fibers which are spoiled if you are not planning to patch or replace.
- For excessive water damage you may need professional carpet cleaners because that needs to be dried up from top and bottom.
- Pulling or direct heating the carpet fibers is never recommended. For heavy Furniture dents you can stroke the dented area with the edge of a coin, or you can use a hair dryer on an iron.
- Consider professional cleaning at least once in a year.
- Vacuum your carpet regularly.
- Vacuum can be more efficient if you understand the type of carpet and the type of vacuum and its features to be used. Let’s say for the soft carpet efficient air flow is important, very concentrated or sealed suction shall be avoided.
To find the best carpet installers, cleaners and suppliers near you please visit our carpet suppliers and installers listings at www.boodovaa.com.
Read More on Flooring:
Selecting Tiles for floors and walls?
Ceramic vs. Porcelain Tile – What is the difference?