Carpet can be tricky to shop for because it is very difficult for the average shopper to tell the quality just by looking at it. There are many “hidden” properties that contribute to the overall quality of the carpet. All of the characteristics of the carpet must be understood and taken into consideration to truly determine the quality.
Below is a list of factors that contribute to a carpet’s overall quality. No single factor should be viewed in isolation. Rather, it is the proper mix of all of the factors that will provide the best performance, durability, and longevity.
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Carpet face weight is the weight of the carpet pile per square yard of carpet, measured in ounces. Unfortunately, face weight has been so heavily marketed that many consumers are given the impression that it is the best way to determine a carpet's durability.
It can be easy to believe that a higher face weight represents a more durable carpet, but this is not always the case because several things influence a carpet's weight.
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Carpet density refers to how close together the fibers are tufted (stitched) into the carpet backing. It is calculated using a specific formula. When comparing carpets that have different densities, but are equivalent in all other ways (same fiber type, style, etc.) then a higher density value indicates a more durable carpet.
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The twist of the fiber is often one of the most overlooked aspects of a carpet, and yet it is one of the best indicators of carpet quality. The fiber twist refers to the number of times that the strands of fiber are twisted together, as measured to within a one-inch length of the fiber. The result is known as a carpet's twist number; it is sometimes referred to as turns-per-inch (TPI).
This is easy to calculate yourself. Measure a one-inch length of the carpet fiber, and count how many turns you see in it. If the fiber is shorter than one inch, measure a half-inch and then double the number of twists you count, to get the twist number.
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Type of Fiber
The type of fiber the carpet is made of is a huge factor in the carpet’s quality. Different fibers have different characteristics, and some fiber types work better in certain situations than others.
Common synthetic carpet fibers include nylon, polyester, olefin (polypropylene) and triexta. Natural carpet fibers such as wool and sisal are used less often, but still, play a role in the carpet industry.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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All carpets come with manufacturers’ warranties. But when the warranty uses terms such as "texture retention," "abrasive wear" and "exclusions," it can be difficult to understand exactly what the manufacturer is offering.
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Style of Carpet
The style of the carpet can influence its performance. The most common residential carpet styles include Saxony, Berber, frieze, and cut-and-loop. Of course, each style of carpet is available in a range of qualities, but some styles are better suited for high traffic areas than others.
As mentioned, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when shopping for carpet. It is no wonder that many shoppers find the process confusing and overwhelming. But breaking down the process into specific points to consider will help you to have a better understanding of what to look for in your carpet. As always, I recommend talking with your carpet sales professional about your needs and household conditions and listening to their suggestions. Most will know which carpets perform well, and which ones are budget-friendly. And, if you are an informed shopper, you will be able to recognize the truth in what the salesperson says, and will not be led astray.