With improved fiber and finishing technology, carpets are better value than ever. Whether you’re a traditionalist or after one of the latest animal prints, like plain carpets or imaginative borders, there’s one to suit. Even asthmatics, usually steered clear of carpets, will find one endorsed by the British Allergy foundation.
Halls and stairs need the heaviest duty carpets, followed by living areas and then bedrooms, where you can get away with less robust types. There’s currently no grading scheme, though a new European standard is expected soon and this is likely to pinpoint where carpet should be used. Use a professional fitter to lay carpets, who will also give an estimate of quantities.
Carpets are either woven, tufted (Hessian or foam backed) or bonded, which means they don’t have a pile. Woven carpets (Ax Minster or Witt on) are more expensive as the pile and backings are woven together giving extra durability. Tufted foam backed carpets are less durable and suitable mainly for bedrooms.
Carpets: wool or synthetic?
- Acrylic: acrylic looks and feels like wool and is often blended with other fibers. It has good stain resistance.
- Nylon: very hard wearing and will resist crushing if in a dense twisted pile otherwise once flattened the pile is difficult to restore. Top quality brands can almost feel like wool although cheaper ones attract dirt and feel harsh. Static is now much reduced.
- Polyester: warm underfoot, it keeps its color well and is abrasion resistant, but the pile is difficult to restore.
- Polypropylene: inexpensive and durable but it has a harsh feel so is often used in wool blends. It flattens easily so low loop piles are common. Carpets containing this fiber are non absorbent, colorfast; they resist abrasion and are low in static.
- Wool: the most expensive type of carpet with good insulation properties and resistance to soiling and flattening. Frequently blended with 20 percent nylon for good looks, greater resilience and durability, it is ideal for heavy duty areas. Like all woven carpets, it can not if over-wetted.
When you choose your carpet, take a photograph of the room or rooms with you to help find the right color or pattern.
Choose the best quality you can afford. A good underlay can prolong the life of your carpet so never use an old one with a new carpet. It will also prevent draughts through floorboards and act as sound proofing. Choose between;
- Felt made from matted fibers: top of the range and will resist indentations.
- Paper felt: used under foam backed carpets.
- Solid rubber: hard wearing but not as springy as waffle rubber.
- Waffle rubber underlay: sold in different weights from light use to heavy duty.
The closer the tufts the more hard wearing the carpet can be:
- Looped in and out of the backing; low loops are very hard wearing and often called corded if very tightly looped.
- Cut, but short dense cut pile (velvet) is susceptible to shading and shows up tread and furniture marks. A less dense pile is known as Saxony carpet and shag pile is the longest cut pile and should be avoided on stairs. Twist pile is twisted cut pile, the more tightly twisted, the greater the durability and resistance to flattening.
- A combination of cut and looped for a textured effect.
- A Berber carpet that can be cut or loop with flecks of contrasting color throughout.