Choosing Residential Flooring

For those who have never purchased carpeting for their home, the process might seem confusing. The terminology, different types of fibers, and factors that affect quality and price will likely be unfamiliar. Some types of fibers are better suited for cold weather while others are designed for fashion. The style of carpeting you choose for your house will play an important role in your home's appearance and comfort.

You can expect a new carpet installation to last at least 7 to 10 years so it's worth investing the time to ensure you make the right choice. Below, I'll describe the 3 basics of selecting the right carpeting for your home.

Most types of carpet are comprised of fibers, cushion, mesh, and adhesive. Our focus here will be primarily on the fibers. There are many types of materials used to create them and each type of fiber is constructed a little differently. Wool is extremely durable, but requires ongoing maintenance (for example, mothproofing). As a result, it's not as popular as synthetics. Nylon is the most widely used fiber because of its durability and easy maintenance requirements. Plus, it's naturally resistant to soil, making it an ideal choice for carpeting high-traffic areas in your home.

Polypropylene is resistant to moisture, which is why it was initially designed for outdoor use. Polyester is another popular synthetic (though not quite as popular as nylon). It's easy to clean, resistant to mildew, and can withstand heavy wear. You'll also see acrylic fibers used, though they're more common in offices than homes.

Carpet comes in cut or loop pile, or a blend of the two. (As a matter of detail, all carpeting starts as loop pile. A machine creates cut pile from the loop.) There are 3 main types of cut pile: Saxony, Frieze, and textured. Saxony uses strands that are individually wrapped. When the strands are packed closely, it gives the home flooring a smooth appearance. Frieze is more loosely packed. While Saxony strands tend to stand upright, Frieze strands have a twisted structure. They don't provide the smooth surface that Saxony provides, but are more durable under constant wear.

Loop pile carpet comes in 2 main types: Berber and level loop. Berber strands tend to be long and lack uniformity. That is, some looped strands are longer than others are. It can be made from wool, nylon, or polypropylene, and is extremely durable. Level loop can be made from the same material as Berber. The only difference between the 2 types is that level loop strands follow a uniform height. Like Berber carpet, it's durable making it an excellent choice for areas that receive high foot traffic.

Quality and price are the crux of any carpet installation. Quality is typically measured by the density of the pile. The denser the pile, the more durable the carpeting. Some types of carpet use pile that is so closely packed together that it's difficult to push your finger to the bottom. As you might expect, that level of density can support a high volume of foot traffic. Assuming a limited budget, the type of flooring your choose for your home will be a balance between quality and price. It's worth noting that a high-quality carpet can last up to 15 years, making the investment easier to justify.

The appearance of your home's carpeting will need to be balanced against its traffic. For example, a Saxony cut can provide a formal appearance, but may not be suitable if your family includes small children. On the other hand, the twisted fibers of a Frieze cut will look far less formal, but might be ideal for a busy living room. Plus, keep in mind that some types of fibers are better able to resist stains, moisture, and soil.

When the time comes for you to choose a carpet for your home, speak with an experienced professional. He can help you determine your needs and choose the right solution, given your budget.