Want Floor Covering Options? We’ve Got You Covered
Carpets or rugs provide the foundation for the decor of every room in which theyre found. So its no wonder homeowners are putting a lot of thought and time into selecting new floor coverings. However, given the ever-growing number of styles and choices available these days, making a decision can be difficult. Before heading to the nearest flooring store, learn the basics every consumer should know when shopping for carpeting or rugs.
Photo courtesy of Wear-Dated
In order to make an informed decision when purchasing new carpet, customers first should know what, exactly, they are looking at on the sample racks.
The primary element of all carpet is its fiber. Five basic fiber types are used in todays carpeting. Nylon, the most popular, is chosen for its resistance to wear, soils and stains, its radiant color, and its good performance in high-traffic areas. Nylon is the best fabric out there regarding performance and cleanability, says Tad Provence, owner of The Floor Gallery & Interiors in Atlanta.
Some manufacturers are working to improve the strength of nylon. StainMaster, Wear-Dated and Anso have branded nylons, which is a higher-quality nylon, says Andy Brumlow, director of merchandising for Carpets of Dalton. Duponts Tactesse is a sturdier nylon but with a softer feel, he says.
Another popular fiber, olefinor polypropylenealso stands up well against wear and stains, and it resists static electricity, moisture and mildew. Olefin commonly is used for Berber carpets. It is easily cleaned and maintains its brilliant color and resists water-soluble stains.
Soft yet offering strong performance, wool generally is more expensive than its synthetic counterparts. For a more affordable alternative, acrylic has a similar look and feel to wool and, at the same time, is resistant to moisture and mildew. Of course, many manufacturers also blend these fibers together for unique materials.
Photo courtesy of Honeywell
Another important element of carpet is its texture. Achieved through its construction, carpet texture generally comes in one of four types. Cut-pile, perhaps the most prevalent texture in carpet today, is produced when the carpet loops are cut, revealing individual yarn tufts. These tufts then may come in three styles: plush/velvet, Saxony or Friez??.
Plush-cut pile is a smooth, level texture that produces a formal look. Plush carpets show wear a little sooner, but only whats to be expected, says Elisabeth Stubbs, co-owner of Enhance Floor Trends in Marietta. Saxony-cut pile also is a smooth, level texture, but the tufts are twisted to create a less formal look. Friez??-cut pile features very twisted tufts, which create a curly texture. Friez?? is more casual in nature, Stubbs says.
Level-loop pile consists of even loops that result in an informal look. Many Berber carpets have this level-loop pile texture. Berbers are still good and strong, Provence says. Similar to level-loop pile, multi-level-loop pile features loops at different heights, which create patterns. Finally, cut-and-loop pile is a mixture of both cut and looped yarn.
A third element of carpet is density. Density is based on the amount of pile yarn in the carpet and how close the tufts are to one another. The rule of thumb is, the denser the carpet, the better. The twist of the yarn itself also is important. The tighter the yarn is twisted, the more durable the carpet will be.
Photo courtesy of Carpets of Dalton
A personal choice
Having a basic knowledge of carpeting and rugs will help when youre selecting the best type for your needs. All of the above factors play a role in a carpets performance, durability, soil and stain resistance, color retention and life span. While these factors will help in selecting the right carpet for your needs, other questions also can aid in the decision-making process.
First, consider the lifestyle you and your family have. Are you active and on the go all the time? Do you spend a lot of time at home? Do you entertain a lot? Do you have time to properly maintain your carpet? How long do you plan to keep the carpet?
Second, examine the room where the carpet will go. How do you use this room? Is it a high-traffic area? Does it receive a lot of direct sunlight? Will there be pets in the room? Does it have outside access?
These questions will address the function of your carpet. For example, if youre shopping for carpet for your family room, which has access to the backyard, a highly durable nylon or olefin carpet that will stand up under high traffic may suit you best. Get a product engineered to meet traffic use, Provence says. These carpets also will provide resistance to food stains and dirt tracked in from outside. However, if youre shopping for carpet to go in a formal living room, a polyester carpet may provide the lush, elegant look you want.
To determine which carpet will work best for your space, check the labels and manufacturers warranties that accompany the carpet samples. Most carpet labels give good information on the product, Provence says. Most, if not all, labels contain some type of rating scale to inform consumers where that particular carpet ranks in performance, durability, stain resistance, etc. However, there is no mandated scale, so you may see different rating systems. The two most common are a five-star system and PAR, which uses a five-point scale. Keep this in mind when comparing carpets using different rating systems.
Photo courtesy of Wear-Dated
Another key consideration in carpet decisions is color. Carpet color can accent or complement the decor in any room. It even can become a major component in the rooms interior design. For example, a muted earth tone adds warmth to a room without detracting from the overall design scheme. On the other hand, a jewel tone such as emerald green could be the palette around which the entire room is created. Todays market is really a fashion market, Brumlow says.
Color also comes into play when children and pets are involved. While darker colors may hide food or soil stains better, there are some lighter colorssome with color specks in themthat also hold up well under stains. If there are pets in the home, take the pets coloring into consideration. Keep in mind dark colors will show light pet hair and light colors will show dark pet hair.
Determine your price
Of course, budget always plays a role in making any purchase. However, given the extremely vast choice of products in the carpet marketplace today, finding a carpet to meet your budget could not be easier. The key is to find a carpet that meets your needs, then search for one in your price range.
Although you cant see it once the carpet is installed, the right pad is vital to the carpets performance. A poor pad can make even the best carpet seem second-rate. When shopping for carpet padding, make sure it complements the carpet itself. If you choose a cut pile, a high-level loop, or cut and loop carpet, you will need a thick, firm cushion. Low-pile carpets, such as Berber, require a thin, dense cushion.
In general, there are three main types of carpet pads. A very popular pad, rebond, or reconditioned foam, is available in different thicknesses and densities. It usually is measured by density (pounds by cubic feet). There is a general misconception that a thicker pad is better, Brumlow says. However, -inch is the recommended thickness, he says. The general rule of thumb is, the higher density, the better the pad. For rebond pads, the most common densities are 6 pounds and 8 pounds. Usually, manufacturer warranties require a 6-pound pad, Stubbs says.
Rubber pads are more plush and higher-end than rebond pads. Carpets of Dalton, for example, sells Blue Velvet, a rubber pad made especially for the store. This is a 20-pound pad and usually costs $1 more per square yard than rebond, Brumlow says. Fiber pads, similar to horsehair, generally are used for commercial applications.
When choosing a pad, Stubbs says to understand whats included with the carpet and what other options are available, in case you want to upgrade. Put the money in the pad, she says. Theres no real benefit to not using a good pad. It helps prolong the life of the carpet.
Photo courtesy of Honeywell
Go with a pro
Unless you are a consummate home-improvement professional, you will need to have your carpet professionally installed. After all, good installation leads to good carpet performance. Most carpet dealers either have an in-house installer or can hire the work out to a subcontractor. Make sure you find out who is responsible for the installation. This is imperative, especially if you run into problems during or after the installation. Everybody talks about installation, but not everybody knows how, Provence says.
Find out how much experience the installer has and if he or she is certified by the Certified Floorcovering Installers. While this is not a mandatory certification, the organization is widely respected in the flooring industry. A lot of manufacturers work with the CFI program, Provence says.
Also, make sure the carpet is power-stretched in. This gets more wrinkles out, Stubbs says. During installation, watch for seam placement. Keep seams out of heavy traffic areas, parallel to light and under furniture, Stubbs says. Berber shows seams more than any other carpet.
Keep it up
Like many other home-improvement products, carpet is benefiting from modern technology. With protectants such as StainMaster and ScotchGuard now commonplace on many carpets, cleaning and removing soil and stains is relatively easy. Most spills today are food and beverage, and we get outstanding results, Provence says. However, homeowners should still take steps to keep their carpets healthy. As always, regular vacuuming keeps dirt out of the fibers, preventing long-term damage. If done correctly, you cant overvacuum or overclean carpet, Stubbs says.
Also, a professional cleaning about every 18 months is recommended to remove deep-down soil that consumer vacuums and carpet cleaners cant reach. Look for a company that performs steam cleaning or hot-water extractions. However, make sure your carpet is left damp, not wet, to prevent mold and mildew. Many carpet manufacturers recommend dry-cleaning your carpets to prevent them from rotting over time. The most important part is the person doing the work, Stubbs says. Make sure he or she has the right chemicals and good equipment.
By taking regular care of your carpet, it will last longer and look great. Good maintenance is the thing that extends the life of any product, Provence says. In addition, many carpet warranties require periodic professional cleaning to be valid. Make sure you read the warranty thoroughly to ensure all guidelines are followed properly. Also, check for any exclusions on the warranty, such as bleach, wine, vomit and heavy-duty chemicals. Pay particular attention to what it does not cover, Stubbs says.
An emerging trend in home improvement has meant a higher demand for rugs in recent years. Masoud Pirouz, owner of Caspian Rug Company, says he has seen an increase in rug sales resulting from the increase in installation of hardwood and tile floors in homes.
Photo courtesy of Karastan
Art with a purpose
When shopping for an area rug, many of the same factors apply as those for selecting carpet. Buying a rug is just like buying a piece of artwork, says Ali Inal, store manager for World of Rugs Inc. in Atlanta. The first criterion is to buy something you will enjoy. And f
ll enjoyment of your new rug means considering your taste, your lifestyle and, of course, your budget.
Also, consider the function and placement of an area rug when determining what type and style to purchase. A highly durable rug with a flower design would work well in a hallway or on a staircase, while a wool rug would add a luxuriously soft touch to a formal dining room. Rugs are the finishing touch in completing your decorating look, Stubbs says. However, although it adds a decorative element to the room, dont be afraid to use your rug. Its made to walk on, Pirouz says. The more you use it, the better it looks.
Noor Nusseini, manager of Bijar Oriental Rugs in Atlanta, also says hes seeing a change in color for Oriental rugs. Color schemes are changing toward more light colors, he says. Manufacturers are producing rugs that are old designs in lighter colors.
Like carpet, rugs contain fibers, which play a role in their appearance and performance. There are 10 common fibers, five being the same as carpet: nylon, olefin, polyester, wool and acrylic. Rugs also come in cotton, which offers a soft surface that is easily cleaned. Both hemp and jute are durable, but jute is not stain- or moisture-resistant. Its best to avoid using jute rugs in areas where frequent spills occur (like kitchens) and where moisture is present (like bathrooms), Inal says.
While silk offers a luxuriously smooth feel, it can be hard to clean. Many times, it is combined with wool, which makes it more durable. Because it can be dyed, sisal offers many color possibilities; however, like, jute, it doesnt stand up well to stains or moisture.
Photo courtesy of IKEA
A matter of style
Rugs also come in a selection of styles. These include flat weave, which traditionally is made of cotton or wool and is handwoven in India; braided, which is made up of braided strips of cloth; hooked, which consists of yarn or fabric pulled through a backing; needlepoint, which features woolen yarns stitched on a canvas; and Oriental rugs, which are hand-knotted and named for their place of origin. Many machine-made rugs commonly are referred to as Oriental rugs.
If you cant find a rug exactly like you want, you may want to have one custom made. Lamont Walston, owner of LaNique Designs at Southlake Mall, says he can create whatever the client wants. You can combine different types of materials, he says. It can be installed like regular carpet or can be an area rug. It can be done as a wall hanging.
As with carpets, Nusseini recommends putting a good nonskid rubber pad or mat under all area rugs. It adds life to the rug and gives more cushion, he says. Pads also protect those using the rug. Pads stabilize rugs to prevent bunching and slipping, Inal says. Rugs on hard-surface flooring can be a safety issue, particularly small ones. Without a rug pad, even large rugs pinned under furniture can move and slip, especially on corners. A rug pad will reduce or eliminate slippage. However, before purchasing a pad, make sure the rug needs one. If your rug has latex backing, you will not need a rug pad, he says.
Photo courtesy of LaNique Designs
Preserving the beauty
In general, maintaining area rugs is fairly easy. Regular vacuuming and spot cleaning keep the rug looking good. For more in-depth cleaning, follow the manufacturers instructions. Some machine-made rugs can be laundered in the washing machine. However, handmade rugs may require the attention of a professional experienced with such rugs. Also, Nusseini suggests rotating the rug periodically so it wears evenly.
Ask for help
There is plenty to consider when shopping for carpet and rugs. But if you have an understanding of the basics, selecting the right carpet or rugs for your home can be a little easier. For further assistance, rely on the knowledge and experience of the carpet professionals at your selected dealer.
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