Lifestyle is the best indicator for which carpet to select for your home. Carpets constructed from nylon, polyester, or olefin do well with active families, little children, and young pets because they are durable, easy to clean, and stain resistant. Carpets with longer pile length are harder to clean but feel luxurious for bare feet. Consider your lifestyle before selecting a carpet which may shroud your floors for 5 to 15 years.
Piles describes how manufacturers manipulate fibers achieve different textures to make the carpet. Traffic in the room and activities in a room will indicate the wear and tear on the carpet.
- Cut Pile has straight strands that are cut and twisted to be soft. Footprints and vacuum marks show on the surface. Saxony, velvet, or plush are descriptors. Velvet pile is the most luxurious giving a smooth, suede-like appearance.
- Low Pile is short cut to 0.25 inches or less. The height, or lack of height, affects the wear, appearance, and feel of the material. Low pile is harder than cut pile and does not last as long.
- Plush carpet is trimmed so that the yarn ends poke up. Saxony plush has short tuffs that are densely packed. This is a luxury product that does not have the endurance of cut pile.
- Textured carpet features various length strands to create a pattern with depth and variety. This is a durable product that is trackless, so it does well in high traffic areas.
- Twist Pile features twisted yarn to provide texture and protection from wear and tear. More twists indicate more durability. Frieze has long strands and is long lasting which makes it excellent for commercial areas.
- Level Loop Pile has yarn glued on both sides to make strands of the same height. While informal in appearance and stain resistant, it holds up well in high traffic areas and provides cushioning for second floors. Best for walkers, wheelchairs, and canes.
- Berber carpet has a nubby texture with complete yarn loops that stand upright. It is less likely to shed over time. Berber used to refer to hand-knotted, natural carpets made in Africa. Today, Berber is level loops knotted by a machine and made of nylon. Berber is good for hallways, living rooms, and family rooms.
- Patterned Loop Pile uses varying heights to create interesting designs. The casual look does well in family rooms.
- Cut pile has a mixture of yarn styles. It is comfortable and will fit into any room in the house.
Acrylic fiber used to be the standard, but it wore out in less than 5 years. Today carpet fabric can be made from nylon, polyester, olefin, wool, cotton, or sisal.
- Nylon most popular, strongest. Subject to static and often receives an anti-static treatment before installation. Used in high traffic areas. Resists wear, mold, and mildew. Best for stairs and landings. Good for bedrooms. People with breathing disorders do best with nylon carpets. Easy to remove pet dander from nylon.
- Polyester low cost and resists moisture which makes it great for garages and basements. Stain and water resistant. Can comes from recycled products. Best longevity with a low pile and high twist count. Good for children’s rooms.
- Olefin low cost and easy to maintain. It can be used as an indoor and outdoor carpet. Pretreated to resist fading. Softer and less durable than nylon. Resists moisture but is susceptible to burning or melting like dropping a hot pan on the carpet. Can come from recycled products but cannot be recycled. Good for active families. Also good for homes with many windows as olefin won’t fade in sunlight.
- Wool is comfortable, durable, and natural in appearance. Dirt resistant. Costs double compared to synthetics. Difficult to maintain and fades in direct sunlight. Good for bedrooms and homebodies. Does best in low traffic areas.
- Cotton carpet is the softest of the fiber options. A natural material so it is costly. Prone to stains and fading in direct sunlight. As a rug, easy to clean does well in kitchen and dining rooms. Natural fibers like wool and cotton have the lowest volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Sisal is derived from a cactus plant and has an earthy, rough texture. Stronger and more durable than other fibers. Perfect for sunrooms, patios, and decks.
There were basically three grades of carpet to choose from, good, better, and best. The lowest grade carpet, good, was designed to last 5-15 years before it would show any signs of wearing out. Medium and higher grades, better and best, could easily last 20 years or more, even in heavy traffic applications. Visit the showroom. You need to touch the carpet to pick the one right for you.