Have you gotten bored with the look of your home? Nothing can change the look and feel of your home as easily as new carpet. Carpet will add luxurious warmth and softness to almost any room in the house. The endless array of styles and colors available today means that you no longer have to live with the “Builder Beige” carpet that came with your home. Why not explore your options and discover what’s new in the world of carpet. See how easy it is to love your home again.

Start out by asking yourself some questions:

Will this area be used? Will it have light or heavy traffic?

The amount of traffic or use that an area will receive is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting carpet. Areas that get a lot of traffic like Family rooms, Stairs and Hallways need to have carpet that is designed to withstand abuse. These are not the areas to skimp on quality or to try to cut costs. The quality of the carpet will quickly become apparent in an area with heavy traffic. Consider using darker colors, multi-tones or tweeds to help hide the dirt and soiling that accumulates in heavily used areas. Patterned carpet also helps hide the traffic patterns. Berbers, friezes and dense textured plush all work well in high traffic areas.

Kids rooms, Guestrooms and other areas with light traffic are areas that do not need the best quality carpet. These are the areas to balance out your flooring budget.

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Do you have Pets?

Many newer carpets that are out now are made from fiber that is highly resistant to pet stains. Some even have lifetime warranties against pet stains. The new stain and soil resistant technology found in today’s carpet is better than it has ever been, but that doesn’t mean that you should get white carpet and expect it to look perfect forever! If you have pets, consider using darker colors, multi-tones or tweeds. Loop-pile Berbers are NOT recommended because they can snag on a pet’s claws and can unravel. Once unraveled, looped Berbers are almost impossible to fix. Very dense textured plushes work well with pets because “accidents” and other spills stay on the surface making it easier to clean up. Regardless of the type of carpet selected, pet “accidents” should be immediately cleaned up to help prevent permanent damage to the carpet.

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How long do you intend to live with this carpet?

Is this a starter home for you? Do you expect to be moving within the next five years or is this the home that you will retire in? The longer you plan to keep the house, the higher the carpet quality should be. If the carpet is just being installed in a child’s room you might want to use a less expensive carpet. When your child gets tired of the color in a few years, you can change it knowing that it didn’t cost much in the first place.

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What color do you want to use?

The carpet will be the foundation of your room’s decor. You can either allow it to remain neutral by blending it into the surrounding color scheme or you can choose to make the carpet the focal point by selecting a color or style that immediately grabs your attention when you enter the room. Either way, it is a personal decision that should reflect your own style.

Lighter colors will make a space look larger and brighter. Deeper colors will create a space that is quaint and more intimate. Blues, greens and grays are cooling and serene. Reds, yellows and browns tend to warm an area. Regardless of your preference, you can find a carpet that fits your style.

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What is your favorite style of carpet?

There are more carpet styles than you could possibly imagine. Selecting the right one for your lifestyle is crucial to your ultimate satisfaction with your purchase. The possibilities are endless but here are some descriptions of the most common styles

Velvet/Plush – Velvets and plushes have the smoothest surfaces of the different carpet constructions. They lend themselves to a more formal atmosphere. The smooth elegant pile will show footprints and shading more than any other style. Velvets look great in Formal Living rooms and Dining rooms.

Saxony – Saxonies have a smooth level finish yet the yarns are tufted with well defined tips so they will create a less formal look than a plush or velvet. Saxonies work well in Traditional Living rooms, Dining rooms and in Bedrooms. Saxonies will show subtle footprints and vacuum marks.

Textured Saxony – The yarn tips are slightly crimped or twisted in a textured Saxony. This crimping gives the pile’s surface a frosted or highlighted look that helps hide footprints and other marks. Textured saxonies look great in any room in the house and they hide wear better than velvets and plushes.

Frieze – This style is probably the most functional of all the carpet styles. The yarns are twisted so tight that they crimp and bend over. The tufts actually work like coils that bounce back up after being walked on. Friezes will give a room a beautiful informal look and will generally wear great. Friezes show almost no footprints or vacuum marks due to the curly textured surface. Friezes are perfect for Family rooms, Hallways and Stairs.

Berbers and Looped Piles – These types of carpets are made from continuous, looped strands of yarn. They can either be tufted to have all of the loops at the same height or the loop heights can be varied to create a sculptured or patterned look. Berbers are usually found in natural colors with flecks of browns and grays to give it a more natural look although, colored berbers have become more popular in recent years. Berbers provide a warm, casual look with great durability. One note of caution – because Berbers are tufted with continuous strands of yarn, they may snag and can unravel. Berbers are not recommended for households that have dogs or cats. Also, you should never drag any furniture across a loop pile carpet.

Cut and Loop – Sometimes called “sculptured” carpet, cut and loop carpets are tufted using a combination of cut and looped yarns. This combination provides a variety of patterns and carved designs. They are usually dyed in multitone colorations so they are great for hiding dirt and stains. They also do well at hiding footprints and vacuum marks.

Cut Pile Berbers – One of the newer looks in the carpet industry, Cut Pile Berbers offer the best of both worlds. They provide the natural look of a Looped Berber Pile without the problems of snagging and unraveling. They have the thick soft feel of a Saxony combined with the functionality of a Frieze. They look great in any room in the house.

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What is the right fiber for your needs?

There are five main carpet fibers used to make most of the carpet produced today. Each fiber has different characteristics that will help determine which is the right choice for your needs. Keep in mind that fiber alone does not decide how well a carpet will perform. As with most products, a carpet’s quality and performance are also dependent upon the way it has been constructed. The density of the pile as well as the twist of the yarn have as much to do with a carpet’s quality and performance as the type of fiber used. Here is a brief description of the five main fibers:

Nylon – Nylon is the most commonly used carpet fiber. Two thirds of all cut pile carpet made today uses this fiber. Nylon has excellent resilience, abrasion resistance and soil resistance. Nylon’s durability is better than any other synthetic used in the construction of carpet. It can be dyed in an endless array of colors and made into many styles and textures. Some Nylon is solution dyed which means that the dye is added to the fiber while it is still in a liquid state. When this liquid is extruded into a fiber, it is colorfast offering great stain resistance. Most solution dyed Nylon is used commercially.

Olefin (Polypropylene) – Many of today’s Looped Berber styles use Olefin because it looks very much like a natural fiber. Olefin is solution dyed so it is very stain resistant. Olefin is generally limited to looped pile construction, although some Olefin is used for outdoor synthetic turf and occasionally in very dense commercial cut pile applications. Olefin is not very resilient so it is rarely used in residential cut pile constructions.

PET Polyester – Today’s Polyester isn’t the same Polyester that was used to make that shag carpet that your mom had in her living room so many years ago! Today’s Polyester is a whole new fiber! Polyester today is stronger and inherently more stain resistant than your mom’s Polyester. Iit wears better, cleans better and just lasts longer. Many PET carpets are “solution dyed” which means that the color goes all the way through the fiber. This type of dying process makes the fiber much more stain resistant and even makes the carpet resistant to bleach! Compared to other fibers, Polyester is a bulkier and thicker feeling fiber and costs less than nylon carpet of the same weight. Polyester fiber has excellent color clarity, color retention and resistance to water soluble stains. Most Polyester used today is called “PET Polyester” and is actually made from recycled plastic soda and water bottles which makes it a very environmentally friendly product. In fact, one square yard of PET Polyester carpet keeps about 30 plastic soda bottles out of the landfill! Because it’s derived from “food grade” plastic bottles, it’s actually a higher quality Polyester than generic polyester fiber! Mohawk alone recycles over 3 billion plastic soda and water bottles per year to make their PET carpet!

Triexta (Dupont Sorona and PTT) – In March of 2009 the Federal Trade Commission found this fiber to be so unique, that it deserved a category all its own. It’s the first time that this has happened since Nylon was recognized in 1959! Triexta is a remarkably soft, stain resistant, durable and long lasting fiber. It’s an Earth-friendly fiber of which 37% of it’s polymer is derived from renewable resources like corn sugar. It requires 30% less energy and produces 67% less greenhouse gas emissions that in takes to produce and equal amount of type-6 nylon. Triexta has permanent, engineered-in stain protection that won’t wear or wash off and it even resists discoloration caused by bleach! It’s one of the softest feeling fibers used in the production of carpet today and test have shown that it wears comparably to nylon. Though the FTC just recognized Triexta in 2009, it has actually been used and proven in the marketplace since about 2001 or 2002.

Wool – Wool is the original carpet fiber and has been used in carpet construction for centuries. No synthetic fiber has yet been able to match Wool’s warmth, look and feel. Wool is an environmentally friendly product and is a renewable resource. Because Wool fibers spiral as they grow, they have a natural tendency to bounce back just like a spring after they have been compressed. This natural resilience can not be matched by synthetic fibers. Wool fibers also have a thin protective membrane that gives it a natural ability to resist dirt, spills and stains.

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What about the Pad?

The padding is an often overlooked element in the carpet selection process. The right pad is the foundation of a quality carpet installation. The pad serves many purposes. It makes the carpet feel more luxurious, it absorbs sound, it insulates and adds warmth, it makes the carpet easier to keep clean and most importantly a quality pad extends the life of your carpet. In fact, the pad is so important that almost every carpet manufacturer requires that a quality pad be used in order to comply with their warranties. There are generally three types of cushion used in carpet installations today: Rubber, Fiber and Foam. All three work well under the right circumstances

Flat Rubber – This padding is normally used in large scale commercial applications. It also works very well with radiant heated floors. Waffled Rubber cushion is used primarily for residential use. Rubber cushion is specified in ounces: 40, 60, 80 and 100 ounce for Waffle cushion and 56, 64, 90 and 110 ounce are the most common weights for Flat Rubber padding.

Fiber – This padding is made by interlocking loose fiber into felt sheets. The fiber can be natural such as jute and animal hair or synthetic using both virgin or recycled man made fiber. This cushion is not used as often as other types. Fiber is usually specified by its use: Light, Medium or Heavy Traffic.

Foam – This padding comes in three categories: Prime, Froth and Bonded. Prime Polyurethane is similar to the cushion that is used for upholstery, mattresses and furniture. Generally, Prime Foam does not withstand heavy use. Froth Polyurethane is thin, dense padding normally used for commercial applications. Bonded Polyurethane, often called Rebond, is made by combining chopped and shredded pieces of foam into continuous sheets. The Bonded Foam padding industry uses almost all of the scrap and recycled foam produced in the United States. It is truly an environmentally friendly product. It can be used both in residential and commercial settings and is the most commonly used cushion for carpet installations. There are two measurements to be aware of when specifying Rebond: Density and Thickness. Density is measured in pounds per cubic foot and the thickness in fractions of an inch. For residential use, most manufacturers require a minimum density of 6 pounds per cubic foot and a maximum thickness of 1/2 inch to comply with their warranty requirements.