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How To Recognize High-Quality Carpeting

Your carpet installer is the best person to consult with to determine the right carpet for your home. The best choice will depend on many factors, including your lifestyle, areas of heaviest traffic, etc. Their consultations are normally free.

No matter what carpet you decide upon, there are some quality checks that you can use to make sure that your carpet is well made.

  • Fiber content
  • The best fiber choice will depend upon your family's needs. Generally, nylon is the best choice for most homes. It has the best value for the money.

    The only exception is if you plan to use carpeting in your kitchen or bathroom. Polyester, while less durable, is much more water-resistant than nylon. That makes it a better choice for these rooms.

    Often, you find that carpeting contains a combination of different fibers. For instance, wool/nylon carpeting comes close to the quality of pure wool carpeting but at a cheaper price. Nylon/polyester carpeting is more water-resistant than plain nylon carpeting. And so on. Evaluate these fiber combinations according to the list below.

    Also, bear in mind that there should be at least 20% or so of a particular fiber in the carpeting to realize the benefits of using that fiber. Adding 5% polyester to a carpet won't significantly increase its water-resistance, for example.

    These are the five most common fibers used in carpeting today:

    1. Wool is a very high-quality fiber for carpeting. Its only real drawback is the possibility of allergic reactions.

    2. Nylon is also very good. It tends to be less expensive than wool while still providing excellent value for your money. As a synthetic fiber, it cannot cause or exacerbate allergies.

    3. Polyester is not as long-lasting as nylon, but it has a special advantage. It is water resistant, which makes it a better choice for bathrooms and kitchens.

    4. Acrylic looks and feels like wool, but cannot cause allergic reactions. It is also a good bit cheaper than wool or nylon. However, it does not wear as well, so it is not as good a choice over the long term as nylon.

    5. Olefin is also a cheaper, and less-durable, alternative to nylon. Again, it makes little sense to shave years off the useful life of your carpeting just to save a few dollars right now. Nylon is a better choice.

  • Weight
  • Weight refers to the amount of fibers per square foot of carpeting. This should be noted on the sample label. Generally, the higher the weight, the better the carpet will wear.

  • Density
  • Do the tufts of yarn seem sparse and separate into obvious rows, or are they very closely bunched together? Generally, the denser the tufts, the better the carpet.

  • Twists
  • Check the cut ends of the yarn itself. Do the ends seem tightly twisted, or are they already beginning to unravel and fray? If you see frayed, puffy fibers, don't buy the carpet.

  • Heat set
  • You want to make sure that the tufts of yarn have been heat set. They will retain their tight twists and wear much better than carpets that have not been heat set. This information should be on the sample label.

    If there is no label, and there may not be on a carpet remnant or second, you can check this by untwisting a strand of yarn with your fingers. If it springs back very quickly and very tightly, the carpet has probably been heat set. If it sort of half-heartedly twists back to its original state, or something approaching its original state, the carpet has probably not been heat set and you shouldn't buy it.

    This only applies to cut-pile carpeting. Looped carpeting is usually not heat set because it cannot untwist, as the yarn is attached on both ends.

  • Tightness
  • Turn the carpet, or the sample, over to look at the backing. The yarn tufts should be very tightly woven to the backing. If they appear loose or frayed on the back, don't buy the carpet.

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