Carpet Shopping – What to Know Before You Go

Many factors go into choosing the right carpet when you go carpet shopping. Most of all you need to consider what is right your your home. It is not a decision that should be made on the spot but one that requires research, thought and planning. I hope to shed some light on the factors that you should consider and the beautiful possibilities that are available.
Some questions you ought to ask yourself before shopping are:
Will the carpet be in a high traffic area?
Is there going to be direct access from the outside?
Is the room going to be the center of activity with children, pets, and spills?
Is the carpet going to see little or no use?

If you have answered these questions before you go shopping, the battle is half won. Sure enough, when you go visit your retail carpet center these will be the first questions the sales person will ask. Educate yourself on carpet types and fibers so you will be knowledgeable on what carpet type is best for your home and situation.


Cut Pile Carpets

Saxony – Made from smooth cut piles with an even surface. Saxony carpet is typically woven very densely and is so soft and is often called plush carpet. This type of carpet is associated with quality and luxury. Works well in formal living rooms, bedrooms, dens or rooms that do not get a lot of traffic. Thick and soft underfoot but leaves footprint and vacuum marks.   Since Saxony carpet types show vacuum marks it is best to vacuum without the beater of the vacuum but regular vacuuming is important since it is such a dense type of carpet.

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Textured Saxony – This cut pile is also referred to as a textured plush. The key difference between a textured saxony and a straight cut saxony is that the fibers are cut and twisted so they reflect the light differently.  This carpet type hides wear and tear, footprints and vacuum marks very well making it a good carpet choice for a busy household. When you go carpet shopping it is a good idea to bring along samples of drapes, furniture, and paint that are going to be in the same room as the carpet.


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 Frieze are characterized by tightly twisted fibers that actually kink at the top and create a highly textured surface. The distinct look of Frieze is achieved by winding the Carpet fibers together several more times than would be done on a Plush or Textured Carpet – the high number of twists cause each fiber to curl and spiral back on itself, giving it a coiled appearance. The resulting visual is a tousled, informal look.  Frieze Carpet needs regular vacuuming to look its best. Over time, soil can damage the coiled fibers, so pay particular attention to high-traffic areas. Vacuum your carpet regularly. In high-traffic areas, you may need to vacuum every day. Before vacuuming you may use a carpet rake to loosen the Frieze Carpet’s fibers as well as any dirt that has settled to the bottom of the pile. In high-traffic rooms that feature Frieze Carpet, set down floor mats at entrance points to help avoid any unnecessary dirt buildup. It typically costs more than Saxony styles. It is a good carpet type for “trendy” casual look.






Loop Pile Carpets

Level Loop Pile – Provides maximum durability for family rooms, basements, and high traffic areas. Hides stains and vacuuming marks. They are often less expensive than a cut pile carpet. The short and densely packed fibers help prevent dirt from penetrating deep within the carpet. A draw back to this kind of carpet is that pet claws can get caught in the loops thus pulling the loops out. When  vacuuming Berber carpet the beater brush should not be used so it is important that you purchase a very good suction vacuum.



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Cut and Loop Pile – This style features a combination of both loops and cut pile yarns to create a patterned design. During the 70’s and 80’s this was a very popular type of carpet. It has come full circle and is popular once again. It is typically more expensive than the same quality of saxonies, friezes, and berbers due to the fact that more work is put into creating and manufacturing the patterns. Because of the distinct patterns which can create stunning visual appeal this is a good carpet type to choose for living, dinning rooms, or family rooms. When you go carpet shopping another good idea is to bring home some carpet samples to see how the colors look in the room with the lighting you have.




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     Carpet Fibers


Nylon – is overall the best choice for carpet fiber. It resists stains best, wears best and there is no shedding. It has a large range of color possibilities and can come in cut pile or straight pile carpets. It is more pricey that some of the other carpet fiber choices. It is the strongest of fibers making it a good choice for high traffic areas.


Polyester – is stain resistant, very soft and luxurious under foot. Is very color fast and will not fade. It is not as durable as nylon, has poor resilient properties and is susceptible to crushing so it is best to keep carpet low pile.


Polypropylene – or it can sometimes be called Olefin. choosing Polypropylene is aPoly good fiber that resists fading but not as resilient as nylon. Polypropylene is a good carpet choice for your home and is most often made into low loop pile carpet like Berber because of it’s excellent characteristics to hide dirt. It has superior resistance to bleaching and sunlight fading.


Wool – is resilient and naturally stain resistant and cleans very well. It offers a deep rich look and feel but is quite costly. Manufacturers have done a good job in imitating the look and feel of wool with synthetics to make it more affordable and more durable. Wool tends to wear down over time and have bald spots where the pile wears away. Since it can hold moisture it is susceptible to mold growth and mildew.


These are the 4 basic fibers that have survived the test of time. As you do some research you will come across many more fibers; cotton, silk, bamboo,etc that are being made into carpets and area rugs.

Once you have done your research as to the carpet fiber and type. You need to spend sometime considering in what room the carpet will be used and what is the function of the room. For example I doubt that you will want to put the same carpet in the master bedroom as you are going to put in your 5 year old twin boys bedroom. Unless you are going strictly for functionality throughout the whole house of course. Let’s take a minute and look at the function of each room and why you might want carpet in that area.

Carpet for the Living Room

Your lifestyle and personal preference is of course your first priority but if your living room is casual and you have children and pets and the room is a center of activity and will be used every day  a nylon frieze or textured saxony carpet would be a great choice.

If it is to be more formal and used less often more for uninvited guests or piano practice, then you may want to go with a smooth cut saxony, something light in color.


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 Carpet for the Family Room

The family room is the place where family and friends can come and kick off their shoes, eat snacks and watch a movie.  Something multi-colored,  stain and soil resistant. A multi-colored looped carpet would be forgiving of all the traffic and spills.



Carpet for the Bedroom

In an adult bedroom, softness and color are most likely to be the top priorities. You might be able to afford a beautiful wool carpet if your room is standard size. If it is an over sized room a nice soft nylon saxony would feel luxurious under your feet.  The best carpet for a child or teen’s bedroom would be a stain and soil resistant polyester carpet. Polyester is more economical that nylon but still gives good wear.



Carpet for the Basement

A man made material would handle the moisture of a basement a lot better than a natural fiber carpet. Polyester or Polypropylene would be the carpet of choice.

This article covers just basic knowledge of carpeting. As you dive more into your research  and start carpet shopping you will realize that choosing the right carpet for your home is complicated. Try not to make it too over whelming for you because what it boils down to are 3 things; what you like, what you can afford, and what will wear good in that room or area of your home.

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