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Carpet experts offer purchasing advice

Date Published: Jul 06 2009

Who we talked to

Richie Wells,owner
Richie's Bay Ridge Linoleum Inc. 
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Robert Peoples,co-owner
Peoples Signature Flooring
Austin, Texas

Elisabeth Stubbs, co-owner
Enhance Floors & More
Marietta, Ga.

We spoke with three highly rated companies on Angie’s List to find out what homeowners should look for to ensure they purchase lasting, high-quality carpet.

Richie Wells: You need something with good density. A dense carpet will give you more wear because there’s more yarn packed in per square yard. The higher the density, the more the fibers hold themselves up. It’s packed so tightly that it won’t crush as you walk over it.

Robert Peoples: For a long-lasting carpet, you want nylon fibers, not polyester. Polyester is less expensive by weight, so the manufacturers are pushing them. The polyester is going to feel thicker because it’s cheaper and they can stuff more in there, so customers sometimes think it’s a better value. But it’s not as durable and it tends to crush more quickly. Nylon has a better memory and it bounces back.

Elisabeth Stubbs: Carpet fiber is important because some fibers are more stain resistant than others and some wear better than others. Pile refers to the look of the carpet. There are cut and looped piles and many different styles. Pile is important because different construction methods cause the carpet to perform in certain ways. A loop carpet is going wear better because it’s woven flat to the backing as opposed to a cut pile, which fights gravity every day to keep from matting and crushing.

Peoples: The twist level on the yarn is also very important. When the yarns become untwisted, the tips burst and become tangled with each other, and it looks matted and crushed. More twists mean it’s less likely to untwist and get tangled. You want a carpet with good tip definition. Shorter, tighter tips tend to perform better than tall and fluffy ones. The thick and tall carpets tend to lay down more quickly, especially on stairs.

What about the padding?

Stubbs: The quality of carpet and the quality of padding go hand in hand. You can’t expect to purchase an inexpensive carpet and the most expensive pad, and expect that the carpet will perform twice as long. However, the better the pad, the longer before the carpet begins to show wear.

Wells: You should always use a padding of at least 6 pounds density, and it should be at least half an inch thick. That helps it hold up over time, so in the main traffic area, where people walk the most, you’ll still have padding in 10 years.

Peoples: Most manufacturers will void the warranty if the padding is taller or thicker than their standard, which is usually about half an inch. You want density instead of height. A 6-pound density is the standard to get a warranty, but it doesn’t cost much to upgrade to an 8-pound pad.

What else do I need to know?

Wells: A good carpet will cost $3 to $5 per square foot. Who installs the carpet is also very, very important. A lot of factors go into installing carpet correctly, such as how the different pieces connect and where the molding goes. You can buy the best carpet in the world, but if the company putting it in doesn’t know what they’re doing, it won’t matter, because it won’t look good or hold up as well.

Stubbs: Most importantly, make sure you get something you like. If something isn’t attractive to you, it doesn’t matter how well it wears – you still won’t like it.