Choosing the right place to buy your carpet is as critical as choosing the right carpet. A well-established business with a good reputation will be more likely to be around in the future should you need help. It's best to find a provider who uses on-staff professionals as opposed to sub-contractors; experienced installers are important even with uncomplicated installations.
Your carpet source should have a large, varied selection with different fiber options. Wool, synthetics, blends, sisal, grass, jute, coir, linen, woven vinyl and even paper each have their own strengths. A variety of patterns is helpful too, to stimulate your imagination and expand your options. A good selection will inspire you!
1. Not all fibers are created equal.
Whether it is wool or a synthetic, the more tightly twisted the fiber, the more abrasion it will withstand. Fiber length is also important. With long individual fibers, there will be less shedding, and the carpet fibers will stay where you want them: in your carpet! Test by digging your fingertips into the pile and dragging them across the surface. If you can scrape up more than just a few carpet fibers, the staples are too short; your carpet may continue to lose density. If very few fibers come loose, that’s good: your carpet will retain its body. Also notice how it feels: poor quality yarn will be coarse, dry and fuzzy; a good quality yarn will feel soft.
2. Wool is naturally an ideal carpet fiber.
Wool stays beautiful for years naturally. Since it is an extremely durable, crimped fiber which springs back into shape after you walk on it, wool carpets won’t show matted-down paths or heavily used areas. Wool’s natural coating makes it easy to vacuum or blot up. stain-resistant and easy to clean. The configuration of its fibers, scale-like as shown in the magnified image on the right, helps to keep soil on the surface making it easy to vacuum or blot. Moreover, wool accepts dye readily, enabling pure and clear reproduction of every color imaginable.
3. Synthetics are better than ever.
Synthetics have enjoyed recent advances, which have produced some very high quality carpet fibers that are stain and crush resistant, reliably color-fast, and “de-lustered” for a more matte, less shiny finish. The best are “Wear-Dated”, guaranteeing their durability. Look for these premium branded products such as Dupont Stainmaster and Anso Crush Resister III and look for a texture retention warranty.
The biggest advantage of synthetics may be their affordability. However, a good value in wool be less expensive than a high-end synthetic.
4. Think practically about color.
Ivory and pale beige are by far the best-selling carpet colors. However, they most appropriate in bedrooms and other light traffic areas. For stairs, entryways and other areas exposed to heavy use or soil, consider taupe or mushroom, which are light, but don’t show soil and stains as readily. Furthermore, darker is not necessarily better. Lint, dust, pet hair, and any other light-colored materials will be very noticeable on deep tones.
5. Consider the texture, too.
Cut pile carpets such as velvets (short pile) and plushes (longer pile) are elegant, but they show footprints and can develop “pooling” areas, which look shaded because the pile nap has been reversed from its natural bend.
Patterned or textured carpets are better at camouflaging footprints, soil and stains. Even a slight variation in carpet color or texture can help to hide signs of use. Probably the most forgiving texture is a mixture of loops and cut pile; it hides most everything, including footprints.
6. Be careful on stairs.
Stairs are the most demanding application; it is critical to select the right type of carpet. Wool carpeting is the ideal material for use on stairs and in high traffic areas. Woven carpet is the best choice for stairs because the woven backing keeps each piece of yarn in place. Cut pile is preferable to a looped pile since spaces between loops are more subject to“grinning”, open area on the edge of the steps.
Density is also important. Try to separate the rows of fibers: can you feel the foundation? If so, the carpet may not be dense enough for use on stairs. An Axminster weave is the ultimate choice for stairs because it has the following attributes: a high density, cut pile, and a woven backing.
7. The old-fashioned way is still the best.
If you choose a carpet with a coordinating carpeting border, consider having it hand-sewn on, instead of heat-seamed. A hand-sewn seam will be more secure, more flexible, and will not be harmed by washing. However, the hand-sewing is more costly than heat-seaming.
Tapestry borders should always be hand-sewn, and the carpet must be low pile to accept the border neatly. At Landry & Arcari we fabricate our own tapestry-bordered carpets by following these steps: sewing the inside edge, latexing the middle, and securing the border with a sewn outside edge. You can't go wrong with a heavy upholstery weight tapestry; your salesperson can inform you about the latest options in leather and other materials.
8. Use a company with their own full-time, experienced installers.
Carpet installation is hard physical labor, and it can be difficult to find meticulous technicians. Be aware that most dealers use sub-contractors, who are usually less skilled and less experienced than full-time employees and more likely to create problems during this pain-staking process. At Landry & Arcari we have several crews of our own experienced, factory-trained experts, who have a very impressive record of customer satisfaction. It’s also best when the company has their own workroom, as we do, for binding and seaming. This allows more control over how and when things are done.
9. Ask about the seams.
Talk with your installer before the installation. You’ll want to make sure seams will be as hidden as possible under furniture or in the least noticeable area of the room. Since most carpet is 12 feet wide, one or more seams will be necessary if your room is wider than 12 feet. With some odd-shaped rooms, you’ll have a choice: you can purchase less carpet and piece it together if you’re willing to have more seams, or you can purchase more carpeting to avoid the need for extra seams. ASK about your options, or your installer may make the decision without consulting you.
An experienced installer will be skilled at making seams less visible, but it is likely you will be able to see the seam if you look for it - it will not be invisible.
10. Your padding shouldn't be too soft.
For padding, we recommend 40-ounce fibercore, made of reconstituted carpet and pad. It is a firm non-allergenic pad; it won’t mold, mildew or mat down, and is guaranteed for 20 years, even when you change the carpeting. For those who prefer more cushion, pure solid rubber (not the compressed foam type) is very good, but more expensive than fibercore. We do not recommend anything softer since a pad that is too flexible will allow the carpet to stretch.