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Carpet is both a comfortable and fashionable choice for your home. It is quiet, insulates well from cold, and comes in a wide variety of colors. When choosing carpet, you have many different materials and styles available to choose from, and the decision can be somewhat daunting at times. This buying guide is designed to give you the facts you need to make an informed choice when you decide to carpet your floors.
Carpet fibers are made from either natural materials, like wool, or synthetic materials, like nylon, olefin, acrylic and polyester. Each different material brings unique characteristics to carpet.
Carpet is available with stain-resistant fibers and finishes, which is ideal for homes with children and pets. Treatments are supplemental to the natural resistence of your carpet fibers. The most effective treatments are integrated as part of the manufacturing process. Finishes applied later are not as long-lasting. One example of an effective carpet treatment is heat setting, which is a manufacturing process that reinforces the twists of the yarn plies to add durability.
Cut Pile fiber ends are cut evenly. There are several types of cut pile:
Loop Pile yarns are looped and fastened to the backing. These are very durable carpets and usually a good choice for high traffic areas. There are two types of loop pile carpeting:
Cut and Loop offers a combination of the above, allowing more options of textures and patterns. Cut and loop achieves a sculptured pattern with varied levels of uncut low loops and sheared top loops. The pattern looks as if it's been cut into the carpet and usually features several tones from the same color family. The change in color helps disguise wear and soiling. Cut and loop doesn't necessarily hold up as well as loop pile, but is considerably softer.
Padding is just as important as the carpet itself - in some ways even more so. Although it's not visible, the cushioning layer is critical to a quality carpet installation. Installing the proper backing cushions the foot, insulates from cold and noise, and increases the life of the carpet. Always use a quality backing but remember that thicker is not always better. A floor that's too soft can be dangerous, especially to those whose steps may be a bit unstable at times. When foot testing a carpet in the showroom, test it with a padding sample underneath. Also be sure to follow the manufacturer guidelines as to which padding to choose. Different kinds of carpet require different padding and oftentimes your carpet will not wear properly with the wrong kind of padding.
Peel and stick carpet tiles have become an excellent do-it-yourself flooring method. New technology has provided carpet squares that are easy to install, clean and maintain. The adhesive system keeps the carpet in place and eliminates curling. Homeowners can mix and match colors and patterns to suit their décor.
Area Rugs are also a popular floorcovering alternative. A variety of materials, sizes, shapes, and colors are available to complement your new (or old) floor.