What You Should Know Before You Buy New Carpeting
Carpet can be both a comfortable and fashionable purchase for your home. You’ve decided on buying new carpet, but you want to shop smart. Carpet has many qualities that you may not be aware of. It will help quiet a room, insulates well from cold, and comes in a wide variety of colors. You will have many different materials and styles available to choose from, and the decision can be difficult at times. This buying carpet guide will help you get the facts so you can make an informed choice.
Before you head out to Lowes to shop for new carpet, there are a few things you should know. You should know the types of carpet available and how to figure the quantity you’ll need. Carpet comes in a variety of materials. Wool is the softest but also the most expensive choice. Moisture and fade-resistant olefin is best for indoor/outdoor carpet. Other synthetic materials are soft and colorfast. Nylon lasts a long time and polyester is bright and easy to clean. Triexta is a new polyester-type fiber that’s engineered to be stain resistant.
What makes a good carpet, which padding is best for you and what goes into a quality installation? Carpet is sold in square yards, and most carpets come in 12-foot wide rolls. Follow these steps to estimate square yardage for your home’s rooms:
- Measure the length and width of each room in feet. Don’t forget closets and hallways.
- Multiply length by width of each room to get square feet. So if the room is 10 feet by 12 feet, multiply 10 by 12, for an area of 120 square feet.
- Add together the square footage for each room.
- Divide that total by nine to get square yards.
- Next, add 10 percent to the square yards for a total amount. The extra helps keep patterns matched up since carpet must be laid in one direction, and it allows for irregularities and seams.
The above steps are used as a guide for getting an estimate. Always consult a professional installer or salesperson when you’re shopping for carpet. Unless your room is narrower than 15 feet, you’re going to have seams. Most carpet comes in widths of 12 feet and 15 feet. The visibility of your seams will depend on the texture and color you choose, as well as lighting, furniture placement and skills of your installer.
When shopping for carpet, it’s important that you take other factors into account too. Other things to consider include style and weight. You will need to find a sample that meets your needs and style while still within your budget. Carpets are made of fibers that are cut, looped or cut and looped. Although there are several different categories of carpet styles, all fall within one of these three groups. As a general rule, as pile height increases, the carpet becomes softer and more luxurious but also harder to clean.
A carpet’s nap runs in a single direction, making pile reversal or the shading you see from a vacuum trail, completely normal for most cut pile styles. You get what you pay for. If you want your carpet to have a great pile density and tighter twist construction, which leads to improved durability, then you’re going to want to go with a higher quality product. New carpet adds value to any home so consider it an investment.
Carpet covers a large part of any room, so it’s vital that you consider some basic rules when selecting its color. Recognize that color can affect the apparent size of a room. Call it a visual illusion, but lighter carpet makes a room look larger and darker colors make a room look smaller. If you like to redecorate often or plan to move soon, go with a neutral. Stain protection is also an important consideration when buying carpet. Products come with various levels of protection and warranties. As the quality of a carpet increases, so does its stain protection level and warranty coverage.
Padding is the layer of spongy material between carpet and floor. It’s the padding not the carpet that determines whether the carpet feels good or great when you walk on it. Quality padding can help preserve a carpet’s look and can extend its life. Padding is not sold by any specific color for your carper and the color of the padding sample you see in the store may not be the same color as what’s installed in your home. The pad is the carpet’s support system. It makes the carpet feel more comfortable to walk on and keeps the carpet from getting worn and matted.
Good padding also makes carpeting easier to clean by enabling air to circulate through the carpet when you vacuum. Prime urethane pads are generally the least expensive because they have a tendency to compress after installation. Natural and synthetic fiber is the densest and most resilient but also the most expensive. Bonded or rebounded pads are made of multicolored polyfoam chunks, are a good compromise and are the most common padding for residential use.
All of these types come in a variety of thicknesses and densities. It’s important that you use the right pad for the carpet or you can actually damage the carpet. An extra-thick pad can cause the carpet to flex too much, opening seams and weakening the backing. A pad that’s too thin can collapse and cause the carpet to wrinkle or wear out prematurely. It’s a good idea to read the product specs and warranty coverage on the back labels of your carpet prior to purchasing. Doing so will give you the information you need to protect your investment in case there is a warranty issue down the road.
Buying Tip: When it comes to buying carpeting, what you don’t know can definitely hurt you. Consider that covering a 300-sq.-ft. room will cost anywhere from $600 to $3,000. And just because you spend a lot of money doesn’t guarantee that you’re getting the best carpet for your needs. Buying new carpeting involves much more than running your hand across some samples.
Carpets are made of fibers that are cut, looped or cut and looped. Although there are several different subcategories of carpet styles, all fall within one of these three groups. As a general rule, as pile height increases, the carpet becomes softer and more luxurious but also harder to clean. Think of your carpet needs in the same way: Lower levels of your house like a basement need less height and more firmness. Upper levels of your house like the living room and bedrooms need more height and softness.
Loop-pile carpets: There are level loops and multilevel loops. Because the yarn tips aren’t exposed, these carpets tend to wear better and work well in high-traffic areas, such as hallways and family rooms. Thick Berber is fine for high-traffic areas, but the tightly spaced loops of thick yarn tend to trap dirt and can be difficult to keep clean.
Cut-pile carpets:. These include styles known as velvets, saxonies and friezes. They have a nicer look and richer feel but aren’t as durable as loop piles. Adding a twist to the fiber, however, does add durability. A velvet is fine for low-traffic areas but tends to show dirt and footprints. Saxony’s are twisted and then heat-set, giving them more resilience for use on stairs or in hallways. Friezes have the most curl and greatest resilience.
Cut-loop pile: This is a combination of loop-pile and cut-pile carpets. The combination of large islands of cut tufts and lower loop tufts hides wear well. It’s recommended for stairways, family rooms and less formal dining areas.
You also need to decide if you will install the carpet yourself or have it installed professionally. Installing your own carpet isn’t a job everybody wants to take on. It can be hard on both your knees and your back, and if you don’t get it right, everybody will see where you messed up. However, installing carpet is a moderate skill project and by renting some specialized tools, doing your research and being prepared to take your time, installing carpet is a job you can do yourself.
If you have a third party installer or an in-store contractor do the installation get at least two quotes. The first time an installer comes to your home, the only tools he should have are a pencil, a pad of paper and a tape measure. All of the sales reps and installers we spoke with warned against taking measurements yourself. A pro is trained to see things that a homeowner can’t, such as traffic patterns and incoming light, and they can suggest the best places to hide seams. The floor plan of the installation should be included in your contract. Pay attention to the location of the seams. Few seams are invisible, but they can sometimes be positioned out of major traffic patterns. Also ask about removal of the old carpet. If there’s an extra charge for this, you might be able to save some money by removing it yourself.
Buying carpet is a big investment in time and money, but the right carpet will bring years of comfort and beauty to your home. Don’t just look for the lowest price on carpet, pad or installation—look for the lowest price and best value on everything. In addition to offering the benefits of comfort, softness, durability and easy maintenance, today’s carpet is a great answer for families that wish to maintain a healthy and comfortable home.