Buying Carpet

What you need to know to be a smart shopper

There are many things to consider when buying a carpet. Once you've learned the answers to all of the basic questions and learned the history of carpets, the different manufacturing processes and the effects a new carpet can have on indoor air quality, it becomes important to learn about the different carpet types that are available. Do you want a soft, velvety carpet that shows every footprint, or a thicker, longer carpet? Is ease of cleaning most important, or is texture, stain-resistance or longevity the critical factor in a carpet for your home?

While a relaxed shag carpet may serve admirably in a casual room such as a bedroom or living room, these looser, plusher and more luxurious carpets tend to be more difficult to clean. On the other hand, a tightly woven frieze carpet is much less plush and enjoyable to walk on, but it holds its texture and character over time and is much easier to vacuum.

Thus, a lower and more tightly woven carpet is usually desirable for high-traffic areas such as entryways, but it also makes for a good basement carpet. As a bonus, such carpets tend to catch the majority of dirt from outdoors before it can be carried to the taller and harder-to-clean carpets in the cozier areas of your home. A frieze carpet or several doormats placed at entry points will reduce the time spent cleaning if your family or guests forget to remove outdoor footwear.

There are other characteristics you may want to consider as well, such as the material the carpet is made of. While some people object to synthetic fibers on environmental grounds, others object to natural materials such as wool, for the possible harm done to sheep in the process of obtaining it. If either of these issues are a concern for you, you will be pleased to learn that most synthetic carpets today release very low levels of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs and must obtain Green Label Plus Certification, which guarantees that carpets are free from 13 toxic chemicals, in order to be sold. And sheep farmers are very careful not to hurt the animals when shearing their wool - the sheep simply get a haircut and then return to the fields to continue eating grass with the flock.

Whether you choose a loop pile or a cut pile carpet - made from natural or synthetic fibers - you will be very happy with it as long as you've done your homework. Take the time to learn about various carpeting choices, so that you can get the carpet that will best suit your home and family.

You can purchase carpeting at many home hardware stores or at retail outlets that specialize in flooring. However, if you're looking for rugs or any carpet that isn't going to be wall-to-wall, then you're better off going to a carpet store. You'll come across a much wider selection of style and sizes there, and you'll be sure to find something that matches your taste.

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