Buying a new Carpet – Where to start?

For most people buying a carpet is not something you do very often. It’s a large purchase that will make a significant difference in your home and you want to get it right. You have decided that you do not want a hard floor, so you start your search.

You might start to look at a few companies online and you think about designs; plain or patterned will very much depend on the room, it’s size,  purpose and the furniture. Then you start thinking about colours; maybe the latest greys or a light beige. The internet has provided a good starting point but now you need to touch and feel a carpet to work out what you want so you visit your local showroom.  For those that have walked into a flooring shop you’ll be met by a huge choice of carpet reels from lots of different companies. You might run your hands over the carpets on display and you can feel that they are all different but then what? You thought you’d know what you were looking for but there is so much choice it’s hard to know where to start. This is a moment to feel #confused!

This blog tries to give you some of the key points when choosing a carpet. It will help guide you through some decision points so you can work out what you want and make that visit to the carpet showroom slightly less daunting. We will also point out some of the lingo so that you have far more confidence when asking questions.
So firstly there are five considerations:

  1. What is the purpose of the area/room that is being carpeted? Is it a bathroom, bedroom or lounge. This is important as it will determine what activities are taking place, will bare feet be walking on the carpet, the likelihood for food or drink to be dropped on it or how warm the room needs to be.
  2. What is the likely level of use? In general communal rooms will have much more traffic from people and for some, animals. However even circumstances can change the level of use, someone with an office bedroom will use their bedroom carpet more than a usual bedroom carpet. Do people have to cross a carpeted area to get to a bathroom or kitchen?
  3. Likelihood of stains? – It’s unlikely that a carpet will escape stain free but the type of stains will be different dependant on the type of household. Children, pets or the type of work you might do can affect this. If an open fire is near the carpet extra protection from spitting embers might be needed in that area.
  4. Level of care taken with the carpet? I’m sure we all like to think we are house proud but we also need to be realistic. Children will be children, pets might shed animal hair. Regular hoovering can increase the lifespan of a carpet as can removing shoes.  A small mat over carpeted areas where an animal might routinely sit  might be useful, it can always be slid under a sofa when not needed.  Consider what type of household you have.
  5. How long do you want it to last? Now this might be the most difficult question as it’s hard to predict what is around the corner. However it is important to consider is this carpet for a quick renovation, perhaps for new tenants or a significant investment in your home.

When you’ve considered those questions then you are really in a position to start looking for your perfect carpet.

With carpets there are two main types which are differentiated by how the pile is woven. The pile? Well that’s the material you walk on which is attached to the carpet backing. Both types of carpets have their pros and cons but ultimately decisions will be driven firstly by personal taste and then finding the type you want within your budget.

The two types of carpet pile are

  1. Cut pile
  2. Loop pile

What is a cut pile carpet?

This is what you would traditionally think of when visualising a carpet.  It’s often called twist carpet because the yarn is sewn then cut and then the pieces of yarn are twisted together so they stick up. If there are 2 pieces of yarn twisted together that’s known as 2ply and 3 pieces known as 3ply. 3ply obviously has more yarn and is therefore slightly harder wearing.  Twist is the most common type of carpet. It tends to be soft underfoot and can be used in any kind of room.  It is hardwearing and is extremely versatile but over time it will flatten although certain materials will fair better than others.

…and loop pile carpet?

This is very distinguishable from twist carpet as it’s made from uncut loops of yarn which sewn into the matting. Generally these loops have a more rugged appearance and are often favoured for use on the stairs, in hallways or in other high traffic areas. The loop pile carpet is often preferred by families as it is hard wearing, durable, practical and looks stylish and sophisticated. It is  comfortable underfoot and although it will flatten, it’s design is long-lasting so it looks great for longer.  Loop carpets are not recommended for households with pets as their claws can get stuck in the loops and constant pulling can cause the carpet to fray.

Once you decided the type of carpet you prefer, then the decision is about the material. The material will affect the softness of the carpet and it’s longevity. Carpets are made from different materials some of which are man-made fibres or natural fibres and some people will feel strongly about the type of material they have. The most usual materials are wool and nylon but there are other materials like polyester or more unusually corn, bamboo and recycled materials.

As a general rule man-made materials are softer to the touch but natural fibres are harder wearing. However the pile itself can improve the wearing so man-made material in a loop pile will be harder wearing that a cut pile. To complicate things more, nearly all materials can be treated prior to use in various ways including scotch-guarding, treated for moth resistance, stain proofing etc, all of which can add value to the raw material.

So with all this knowledge you are now ready to go back to that carpet showroom and really look at the carpets on offer. Ask to see a cut pile and loop pile so you can see what you prefer. Discuss your room with the salesperson and answer the 5 key questions about your room as that will help you work out an appropriate material. You aren’t on your own when buying a carpet, let the salesperson help you through the buying process and I am confident you will find the perfect carpet for your home.

Look out for our forthcoming carpet blogs series including ‘a day in the life of your carpet’ and ‘the benefits of underlay.

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