Isn’t the prospect of buying carpet exciting? Perhaps you’ve already decided how you want the material to look and feel. Still, before entering a carpet showroom, you’ll want to consider other features as well. Otherwise, the product you buy may disappoint you over time.
Other factors to gauge are durability, ease of cleaning, and insulation against cold and noise.
Some carpet fabrics are kind to the environment. Plus, since carpet is expensive, it needs to have longevity.
Here I equip you to make the optimal choice, suiting your living situation. So, when you get to the showroom, buying your carpet will be a breeze!
Let’s discuss the most popular types of carpets below:
Table of Contents
- Carpet Structure
- Types of Carpet Fiber/Material
- Types Of Carpet Pile
- Types Of Carpet Underlay
- Common Questions
- Fantastic Choice
First, let’s discuss basic carpet “anatomy” regarding its fibers and pile.
Fibers are yarns anchored into a base material by looping them back and forth.
Pile refers to fiber density, height, and form. For instance, a high pile carpet has tall, loose fibers. In low pile carpet, the yarns are short and tightly looped.
Types of Carpet Fiber/Material
Carpet fibers can be synthetic or natural. Artificial fabrics tend to be more stain-resistant and affordable. Yet, natural fibers stand up better to foot traffic.
The leading carpet fibers are nylon, olefin, acrylic, polyester, triexta, and wool. In this first section, I describe each type, including its traits, advantages, and drawbacks. For pictures and further information, check out the links.
Do you have children, pets, or both? If so, consider nylon carpet, perfect for high-traffic areas.
This synthetic fiber is tops in durability. It excels at preventing stains, mildew, mold, and rot. While nylon carpet is super-strong, it’s also delightfully soft and static-free.
Moreover, since nylon fibers dye well, their vibrant colors persist over time. With your diligent care, nylon carpet can serve you nicely for 12 to 15 years!
For the best quality, choose “branded” nylon carpet, showing the manufacturer’s name on the label.
This way, you know the company stands by their product. An example is “100 percent Mohawk Nylon.”
Conversely, on carpet of lesser quality, its label will merely say “100 percent nylon.” Since the producer is anonymous, it has no accountability.
2. OLEFIN (POLYPROPYLENE)
Olefin, a.k.a. polypropylene, dries quickly, curbing moisture buildup, mildew, and mold. Thus, it’s great for humid basements and open patios.
Moreover, olefin is colorfast, resisting fading. Hence, it can weather harsh sunlight and its damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Still, olefin carpet flattens readily. In areas subject to busy foot traffic, you’ll need to vacuum daily to restore its pile. So, preferably, install olefin carpet on less-traveled floors.
Since polypropylene can’t absorb liquids, it proudly deters stains. On the other hand, it has a yen for oil and grease, attracting dirt.
For this reason, skip going barefoot on olefin carpet. Wearing slippers and socks will shield the fibers from your skin oils.
Also, avoid using olefin on your kitchen and dining room floors. Otherwise, spilling oily foods will lead to carpet soiling.
Consider olefin carpet in the Berber style, pictured here. Manufacturers weave the fibers in parallel lines, boosting their strength and durability.
This luxurious synthetic fiber comes from clear plastic. Acrylic is soft, springy, and easy to clean. It also diffuses moisture, banning mold. Meanwhile, it’s non-allergenic, ideal if allergies run in your family.
You’ll find acrylic carpet in vivid colors, enduring strong sunlight without fading. Plus, acrylic doesn’t generate static or electric shocks.
Still, you must promptly tend to dirt, grease, oil, and other debris. Otherwise, permanent stains will occur.
Additionally, in high-traffic living areas, acrylic rugs tend to lose fibers, becoming thin.
The remaining yarns can turn fuzzy, evolving into pills. Thus, acrylic is best on floors with light foot traffic, such as bedrooms. Even then, acrylic carpet has an average lifespan of six years.
Acrylic carpet is a fire hazard, igniting fast when exposed to electric sparks or flames. Hence, avoid installing it near a fireplace, stove, electric heater, and the like.
Also, when using a carpet cleaning product, make sure it’s acrylic-safe. Some chemicals can render stains.
For the safety of your home and occupants, choose acrylic carpet treated with a fire retardant.
4. POLYESTER (PET)
Polyester carpets are warm, soft, and plush. Along with their exquisite beauty, they’re surprisingly inexpensive!
They’re also versatile. You’ll find them in elegant styles, subtle patterns, soft colors, and eye-popping hues. Like acrylic, polyester carpets are non-allergenic.
Moreover, polyester easily fends off mold, mildew, and liquid stains. Any dirt quickly yields to cleaning. Yet, oils are tough to remove unless the carpet has a stain-resistant coating. Furthermore, bold colors will fade in harsh sunlight.
Note that polyester carpet lacks resilience, losing its fibers and pile to constant treading. Thus, reserve this carpet for less-traveled floors, such as bedrooms and a home office.
Would you like an ecological option? If so, polyester is a possibility. Some manufacturers use recycled plastic, infusing their carpets with heightened strength and durability. Amazingly, the fibers retain their soft texture and posh appearance.
When shopping, choose “PET polyester.” This way, you can trust that the carpet comes from recycled plastic. Manufacturers include Everstrand, Resistron, Permalon, and Resistron ISF.
Notably, when you buy PET polyester carpet, every square yard saves 30 plastic soda bottles from a cluttered landfill. This fascinating article describes how carpet is made from recycled plastic.
Meet triexta, polyester’s Earth-friendly cousin! Triexta is derived from polyester and corn sugar.
This fiber is relatively new to the market, arriving in 2009. Producing it requires fewer chemicals. Plus, making triexta uses 37 percent less petroleum than polyester. Furthermore, corn sugar is a renewable natural resource.
Do you have a humid basement? If so, triexta will repel the moisture, along with mildew and mold.
Moreover, the fibers are highly stain-resistant, ideal if you have children or pets. Often, you can clean up dirt and certain spills with plain water!
Compared to polyester, triexta is markedly softer, durable, and resilient. However, the carpet fades when subject to bright sunlight and UV rays. Also, triexta has a dull finish, lacking the luster of polyester.
In the carpet industry, triexta goes by various names. You may find it sold as PTT, an abbreviation for its chemical makeup. Brand names for triexta carpet include Corterra, Sorona, and SmartStrand.
This natural fiber, courtesy of sheep, is king of the carpet industry. Among its reigning qualities are superior softness, warmth, and resilience.
If your floors are well-traveled, wool carpet can take the pounding. That’s because its fibers are coiled, easily rebounding from foot pressure. For this reason, wool carpet can last for several decades.
Moreover, wool repels water-based stains, and dirt releases easily. However, if you don’t catch oily spills pronto, they will likely cause permanent blotching.
Also, if wool carpet stays wet for extended periods, mold and mildew result. For thorough cleaning, it’s best to hire a professional.
Buying wool carpet can lighten your carbon footprint! That’s because it’s renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable.
Plus, wool absorbs air-borne toxins, such as those emitted by furniture, stoves, heaters, and cigarettes. Meanwhile, the fibers are naturally flame-resistant.
Still, intense sunlight fades wool carpeting. It also tends to shed, especially when new. Since moth and beetle larvae relish wool, the bugs can eat holes in your carpet.
To thwart them, some manufacturers treat wool fibers with Permethrin. This pesticide can pose health problems for those sensitive to chemicals.
Wool is the most costly carpet fiber. You can save money with a wool/acrylic blend.
Types Of Carpet Pile
Once you’ve selected a carpet fiber, the next step is choosing the pile. To review, this term relates to fiber density, height, and structure.
The word “density” means the number of fibers and their closeness to each other. Pile governs how a carpet performs, wears, looks, and feels.
Carpet fibers begin as loops, woven into a base material called a “backing.” Then, manufacturers either cut the fibers or leave them intact, creating the carpet pile, shown here.
In turn, various fiber arrangements give rise to carpet styles, such as frieze, shag, cable, Saxony, and velvet. Below are popular kinds of carpet pile.
7. CUT PILE
To make cut pile, manufacturers slit the fiber loops at their ends. This technique produces a soft, comfy carpet that’s relatively easy to clean.
Cut pile carpets blend seamlessly from room to room, unifying the appearance of your floors. They’re well-suited to family rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms.
Note that walking and vacuuming can leave impressions in cut pile. Manufacturers counteract this tendency by twisting the fibers tightly. Moreover, the coils hide dirt and thinning areas.
Overall, cut pile is less durable than other types. Thus, you’ll need to replace such carpet more often.
8. LOOP PILE
On this carpet surface, the fiber loops are intact, sold in various weights and densities. Loop pile is remarkably durable! As such, it’s fantastic for well-traveled areas, such as stairs and hallways. Moreover, you won’t see any footprints or vacuum tracks.
Still, the looped fibers can get snagged by sharp objects, such as high heels and pet claws. Consequently, the fibers loosen, giving the pile a tousled look.
The most popular loop pile is Berber, valued for its stain resistance. Generally, Berber comes in light colors, enhanced with darker flecks, shown here.
Sisal is another homeowner favorite, pictured here. Sisal’s geometric designs and chiseled textures render an artistic flair.
9. HIGH PILE CARPET
So far, we’ve discussed pile regarding fiber structure, either cut or loop. Another consideration is pile height and density. With high pile carpet, the yarns are tall and loose, making them plush, warm, and fluffy.
Still, footprints are obvious. Hence, high pile doesn’t complement areas with busy foot traffic. Plus, the fibers are magnets for dust, dirt, pet dander, and debris.
For effective carpet cleaning, you need a height-adjustable vacuum with an electric power nozzle. Avoid using a rotating brush. It will snag the carpet fibers, causing permanent damage.
10. TEXTURED CUT CARPET
With this pile, the sheared fibers have varying heights. They’re also spiral and springy, quick to bounce back from pressure. Manufacturers treat the fibers with steam, reinforcing their twist. Thus, textured cut pile is optimal for well-used floors, fending off footprints and vacuum tracks.
Since the fibers hide dirt and stains, consider this pile if you have pets, children, or both. Accidents and spills are easier to clean. Still, you can streamline stain removal with a stain-resistant finish.
Additionally, textured cut pile adds visual interest to your rooms. You can buy it in shaded designs and pretty patterns, making a gorgeous design statement.
Types Of Carpet Underlay
Underlay is a thin, cushioning layer of material installed beneath carpeting. This barrier:
– improves foot comfort
– reduces carpet wear
– insulates against moisture, sound, and heat loss
Below are the most commonly used carpet underlays.
11. FOAM UNDERLAY
This ecological choice features polyurethane (PU), sourced from recycled sponges or furniture foam. It’s lightweight, highly durable, noise-reducing, and insulating. Additionally, foam underlay is nicely priced and easy to cut.
Since foam is soft, it has a relaxing feel, excellent for bedrooms and living rooms. Also, choose it for areas that are tough to fit, such as staircases.
While PU foam can take moderate foot traffic, it will flatten over time. Also, it doesn’t rebound well from the weight of furniture.
12. FIBER UNDERLAY
For a rigid barrier, consider fiber underlay. It’s made of wood fiber, both recyclable and sustainable. Like PU foam, fiber underlay is simple to cut and fit.
Do you have uneven floors? If so, fiber underlay can level them when installed in several layers. Moreover, it’s superb for soundproofing, silencing creaky floors. Additionally, fiber underlay combats heat loss.
Since wood fiber is sturdy, it stands up well to perpetual foot traffic and heavy furniture. It can even prolong the life of your floor.
13. RUBBER UNDERLAY
This carpet padding is sponge rubber with either a flat or waffled texture. Both types are firm and resilient, conferring substantial noise reduction. Some manufacturers use recycled tires for their underlay, making it eco-friendly.
Waffled rubber has a shorter lifespan, compressing over time. Thus, it’s best for less-traveled floors, such as bedrooms. Use flat rubber underlay for rooms with ongoing foot traffic or heavy furniture.
Unlike PU foam and wood fiber, sponge rubber is expensive and hard to fit on stairs. Moreover, it lets heat escape, insulating poorly.
Here are answers to questions I often get from homeowners:
1. What type of carpet is the softest?
Wool wins the prize for a comfy feel, followed by nylon.
2. Which carpet fiber is most durable?
It’s a tie between nylon and wool. Next, in descending order, are triexta, polyester, and olefin.
3. In a showroom, how can I gauge carpet strength and durability?
First, bend the carpet samples backward. Those that yield easiest are the least enduring.
Secondly, check the manufacturer’s specs concerning face weight, density, and tuft twist.
A durable carpet has a face weight of 40 ounces or higher, a tuft twist of at least six, and a density of 2000 or more.
4. Which is the best carpet for a living room?
That depends on the carpet qualities and performance you value. So, consider how you rank these factors:
– dirt and stain resistance
– cleaning ease
– softness and warmth
– carpet pile and style
– environmental benefits
– carpet price and installation cost
5. Which is the most popular carpet for homes?
Trending now is textured cut carpet, complementing busy lifestyles. This robust pile fends off dirt, stains, footprints, vacuum tracks, and flattening.
Moreover, textured cut streamlines cleaning, especially spills and accidents incurred by kids and pets.
Meanwhile, this pile is classy! You’ll find it in pleasing patterns and lovely hues, a warm invitation to the living space it graces.
Now you’re well-versed in the various carpet fibers, piles, and underlays. You’ve also met some popular carpet styles, such as Berber, sisal, shag, and frieze.
Hence, you can browse the carpet store with confidence. I’m sure you’ll make a fantastic choice!
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