With such a wide array of materials, constructions, manufacturers and fiber types to choose from, deciding which carpet to bring into your home can be a daunting prospect. Add to the equation considerations like room location, lifestyle, family size, aesthetic taste and you’ve got a veritable labyrinth.
Choosing carpet can be simpler though! Whatever your situation, you can pretty much reduce your carpet needs into two categories: durability and style. You want your carpet to both stand the test of time and look good! It might be good therefore, to begin with two basic questions:
Context is king — a lot of your carpet needs are already decided by location. Which rooms will you be outfitting with carpet? How big is your family? A young family’s living room sees a lot more traffic than a couple’s formal dining room. If you’re outfitting the former, you will need a carpet that first and foremost stands up to foot traffic and potential staining. If you’re outfitting the latter, then you have bit more leeway to focus on style. In any case, contemporary carpet runs a wide spectrum when it comes to durability and stain resistance. Fiber material and construction are the main factors here.
The three main types of synthetic material used for carpet fiber are polyester, nylon and Smartstrand. Generally speaking, polyester excels when it comes to stain resistance and nylon excels when it comes to durability. But each material lacks the others forté: because nylon fiber has dye sites, it tends to absorb liquids and stain easier; and because polyester fiber is a bit more frail, it is not as resilient as nylon. Sounds black and white, but quality and price point make for some exceptions. Smartstrand on the other hand is kind of a hybrid fiber that has the best of both worldsit has the stain resistance of polyester and the resistance of nylon.
Definitely a great option if you want a high performing carpet. Otherwise, you can get both attributes in some of the higher end nylon carpets, which are coated by a stain resistant additive like Stainmaster.
No discussion of carpet is complete without mentioning wool. Wool carpet feels natural and luxurious. It is a very lovely addition to any home. It is also practical for three reasons. First, wool fibers are naturally stain resistant because of their structure. They are covered with overlapping scales, arranged much like roof shingles to keep the fiber water resistant. This resistance also repels dirt and potentially staining liquids.
Wool fibers are also naturally curly and so have a resilient bounce back which prevents crushing. Last but not least, wool is a sustainable product, fully made of natural materials.
There are many many types of carpet constructions. Using a variety of binding, looping and cutting techniques, carpet manufacturers have created a plethora of options. Check out HGTV’s list to get the lowdown on most of them. For the sake of making it simple, we can reduce all the types into 4 categories: cut pile, cut and loop, berber and frieze. Generally speaking, loop carpets are more resilient than cut pile carpets, so berber and cut and loop will be stronger than cut pile and friezes. However, density plays a vital role— even within the types, some carpets are denser than others and will thus be harder wearing. As far as aesthetics go, every type of carpet lends itself to a different style and choosing the best look for your home will come down to your décor and personal preference.
Now on to the second fundamental question, what style of decor is in your home already and how would you like the carpet to fit? Again, context is crucial. You want your carpet to compliment your space. This can be done in two basic ways: either by using your carpet as a neutral backdrop like a blank canvas on which to add colour; or by integrating it into the visual interest of the space using pattern and colour. Which carpet you choose to work towards these design goals depends on how your home is decorated. Is it modern or traditional, colourful or neutral, dense or spacious? Let’s go through each strategy.
By and large, most homeowners like to use neutrally coloured and patterned carpet as a backdrop. Cut pile is the most common type and neutrals are the most popular colours. The nice thing about this is look is that it is very versatile. You can decorate your rooms pretty much anyway you like, adding as much or as little colour as you see fit. This makes redecorating easy as well. Since every manufacture makes neutral carpets in all styles, you can choose any quality, fiber material and softness you fancy.
There are many ways to use carpet to add visual interest. You can use it very subtly or very boldly. An example of more subtle carpets are the very popular twotoned cut piles, cut and loops and friezes. In the case of the cut piles, two colours of fiber are staggered throughout, typically one neutral colour and one soft green, blue or grey. With cut and loop, the colours can be staggered or alternated within the loops. Frieze carpets are like a half shag, so if you want a cozy but interesting looking soft carpet with two tones, Friezes are a good bet. In general, if you want to stay on the safe side, but still have some visual interest, a two toned carpet is a great way to go.
To add some bold visual interest, the best way is to use strong patterns and or a mixture of colours. Cut piles are available in mixed colour combinations while cut and loop and berber carpets have woven patterns. Multitoned cut piles definitely have a more modern look and they’re in keeping with the increasing amount of images we’re seeing in contemporary home decor. The geometric patterns of cut and loop and berber carpets have a timeless look to them. They can be very subtle yet sophisticated. Both types come in strong colours as wellgreens, blues, oranges and reds to name a few of the more vibrant shades.
Hopefully this advice gets you started on your journey towards choosing the right carpet. If you still have questions about design or about quality and price (both of which weren’t addressed in detail due to the scope of this blog), come into our showroom and we’ll fill you in on the rest. We have an inhouse designer to advise you in the ways of style and knowledgeable staff who know their carpet inside and out.
Written by guest author Eric Osborne