Choosing the Best Type of Carpet for Your Home
Your home should be an oasis. Much of that oasis comes from the comforting textures that fill the space. Walking barefoot across a carpet that is just right for you is one of those comforting moments that we too often take for granted. There are numerous types of carpet, and each works best in different rooms and areas of the home. Choosing the best carpet for you is the key to ensuring an enjoyable stroll through your own house. The right carpet can also ensure functionality and minimize cleaning and maintenance needs. Here’s what you need to know to start the journey towards choosing the best carpet for your needs.
Best Types of Carpet Fibers
Touch any two samples of carpet and you might be surprised by how different they feel. Part of the difference lies in the fibers that make up the carpet. Here are the most common ones as well, as which areas of the home each carpet material works best.
Best carpet for: living rooms
By far the most popular type of carpet fiber in homes today, nylon is very soft, resistant to wear, durable, and difficult to permanently stain. It holds color well, so what you purchase today will likely look much the same in ten years. In fact, it’s not unusual for a good nylon carpet to last for up to 15 years with typical wear and tear in a family home.
Nylon carpet is affordably priced at approximately $5 to $8 per square foot – a lower price point than wool, but a bit more expensive than some other synthetics. It is the best type of carpet for high-traffic areas, such as living rooms, since it is resistant to stains and wear-and-tear. Nylon is also a good carpet material for homes with pets.
Best carpet for: basements and patios
Olefin carpet, also known as polypropylene carpet, is not quite as soft as nylon but still pleasant to walk on. This type of carpet is great for basement and outdoor uses because it has exceptional resistance to mold and mildew.
The fibers are similar to natural wool, which is why it can often be used as a wool substitute. Olefin is also stain-resistant, but it does hold onto oil – and that collects dirt. However, the hardy nature means it can withstand harsher cleaning chemicals, perhaps even bleach. It costs a bit less than nylon carpet, at just $1 to $3.50 per square foot.
Best carpet for: dining rooms or home offices
Acrylic carpet is usually harder to find than nylon or olefin. It is often marketed as “synthetic wool” since it feels very much like wool but doesn’t carry the hefty price tag. You can expect acrylic carpet to come in at an average price of $4 per square foot.
Acrylic is resistant to moisture, mildew, fading, staining, and even buildup of static electricity. But for all those good qualities, it’s not very durable, and so it shouldn’t be used in high-traffic areas, such as hallways. Instead, use acrylic carpets in low-traffic rooms, such as dining rooms or home offices, that few people frequent daily. You must be careful with maintaining and cleaning acrylic, as cleaning products can stain it.
Best carpet for: bedrooms
Wool is a delightfully soft natural fiber with a luxurious feel. An eco-friendly option, wool comes in various grades and costs between $5 and as much as $26 per square foot. Higher grade wool is on the more expensive end, while the lower grades are more likely to stain or hold onto dirt. Given this fact, some manufacturers will create wool blends, where the natural fibers are blended with synthetic ones to create a carpet with more stain resistance and longevity at a better price point.
Those with allergies will enjoy wool, as it is made with no chemicals or additives. However, keep wool in a place with little humidity and moisture, such as the bedroom, as it is prone to mildew. Do not use a wool carpet outdoors.
Best carpet for: guest rooms
Made of fade-resistant, vibrant colors, polyester is a man-made fiber that is usually hypoallergenic. There are also polyester varieties that are made of recycled plastic bottles and are also eco-friendly.
Polyester is an affordable type of carpet, at just $1 to $5 per square foot. In fact, it is often cheaper than both nylon and wool. However, polyester carpets can be easily flattened, which makes it best for low-traffic areas such as guest rooms. Unfortunately, polyester is also known to absorb oils and stains, so make sure to clean them routinely.
Different Carpet Styles
Now that you know what materials are most commonly used for carpet, you likely want to learn about different carpet styles. A carpet’s style has a lot to do with carpet pile, or the density and thickness of the carpet’s fibers. There are two main types of carpet construction: Loop pile and cut pile. Let’s look at both options.
When you look closely at loop pile carpet, you will see that the fibers are bent into tiny loops throughout the carpet. This gives the carpet a low profile, top-notch durability, and stain resistance. At the same time, loop pile will have little cushioning. Here are a few styles of loop pile:
- Level loop, also known as Berber carpet, is quite popular. This carpet leaves the entire loop intact on the surface, which is why it’s sometimes known as “uncut pile.” Level loop pile is designed to withstand to high-traffic areas of the home.
- Patterned loop, also known as multi-level loop, is made of loops of varying height. This gives the carpet a patterned look and texture. As an added bonus, this type of carpet rarely shows footprints or vacuum marks.
- Cut and loop carpet, sometimes called sculpted carpet, is a blend of level and patterned loop pile. Some fibers are looped and some are cut. This can offer visual interest, as well as protection against footprint and vacuum marks.
- Sisal carpet is a loop style in which loops of varying different colors and heights are arranged in rows. This produces a patterned surface with a unique texture.
Cut pile starts like a loop pile, but then the tips are cut so there are no loops. This makes the cut pile carpets denser and softer than loop pile. Depending upon the shearing of the loops, the carpet might have patterns throughout. Because the threads are cut, cut pile carpet is not as durable as loop pile and needs replacement more often. Here are some of the forms of cut pile carpet:
- Saxony pile has very dense, soft fibers that stand straight up. This creates a lush surface. It’s a smooth finished carpet with twisted fibers that make the carpet feel springy under the feet. The downside is that it holds onto vacuum marks rather easily and can be crushed in high-traffic areas.
- Plush pile, also known as velvet-cut pile, has shorter fibers than a Saxony cut. It’s very densely packed, which makes it rather luxurious, and also makes it tough to stand up to footprints and wear. That’s why it’s a good idea to use this type of carpet in formal areas with little foot traffic. Plush pile is usually more affordable than the Saxony cut style.
- Textured cut pile uses fibers of uneven lengths, twisted into spiral strands, to create a textured appearance and feel. It’s often called “trackless” carpet because it doesn’t show vacuum marks or footprints, even after a long period of time. This makes it quite suitable for high-traffic areas.
- Frieze cut is made of yarn that is tightly twisted. It creates a contemporary look, withstands foot traffic, doesn’t show vacuum marks as readily as other types, and can look great anywhere in the home. Frieze cut is sometimes called by other names, such as casual texture, short shag, cable carpet, or even tight twist carpet.
- Cable cut pile is made of long, thick fibers. Since these fibers are longer, it shows footprints easily and is best suited for areas of low traffic, such as formal dining rooms. The feel underfoot is luxurious, so it might work well in a bedroom as well.
As you might imagine, a variety of cuts and styles of carpet can be used to create the feel you want underfoot as you walk through different rooms of your home. Before choosing carpet as your flooring of choice, we recommend exploring the pros and cons of different flooring types.
To learn more about carpet and find the right contractor to install it for you, turn to Modernize. We can connect you with a local contractor who can discuss your choices and install carpet that makes every room in your home feel as comfortable as possible.