What to Look for When Buying Carpet

Today’s carpeting offers a wide variety of choices in style, fiber composition, and color. The texture, colors, and pattern of the carpet can complement or contrast with patterns of your furniture and window treatments.

To select the best carpet for your home and lifestyle, you should consider:

Carpet Color

Carpet Pile

Carpet Fiber

Carpet Pad/Cushion


Carpet Color
A Rainbow of Choices

Carpet comes in almost every color you can imagine and is a personal choice. You will want to select a color that unites your decorative elements and creates the atmosphere you desire.


WARM COLORSWarm colors can range from the very lightest of yellows to the very darkest of reds. When choosing a warm color we think of oranges, reds and yellows. When applying these types of color choices to a carpet, the warm colors also translate into browns and rusts.


DARKER COLORS - The darker and medium browns and rusts will anchor your room and these darker warmer shades will make the room intimate, especially if you continue the warmer theme on the walls as well. Choosing a darker shade of blue or green will still give you a cool feeling, but the darker the shade, the more grounded your room will feel. The lighter the green color the more open and airy the space will feel.


WARM NEUTRAL COLORS - Warm neutrals can also be achieved by graying down the oranges and the browns. The grayer the warm color the more neutral it becomes. Warm beiges are achieved by lightening the brown and adding gray. These warm neutral carpets are the most versatile.


COOL COLORS - Cool colors also run the gamut from light to dark. In choosing a carpet color in the cool family you will need to consider the lightness or darkness of the color as well. The obvious choices in the cool family are the blues and greens.


NEUTRAL COLORS - Neutral colors can be warm or cool. When we think of warm neutrals we think of beiges and tans and when we think of cool neutrals we immediately think of gray. Both of these color families, tans and grays, are excellent carpet color selections.


BOLD COLORS Applying a bold color choice to a carpet selection may mean a bright red but could also mean choosing a stark white carpet in a darkly painted room. Success is pairing bold colors with the most suitable of partners when it comes to your total combination of carpet, paint, fabric and accessories.


Carpet Pile

Cut Pile:

Still one of today’s most popular constructions, cut pile carpeting achieves its durability through the type of fiber used, the density of tufts, and the amount of twist in the yarn. Highly twisted yarn will hold its shape longer, making it a smart choice for high-traffic areas.


Loop Pile:

Level loop pile carpeting has loops of the same height, creating an informal look. This style generally lasts a long time in high-traffic areas. Many of today’s popular Berber carpet styles are level loop carpeting with flecks of a darker color on a lighter color background. This is a good choice for contemporary to cottage furnishings.


Patterned Loop Pile:

Multi-level loop pile carpeting usually has two or three different loop heights to create pattern effects. It is often referred to as patterned carpeting. It is a great choice for both casual and traditional rooms. This type of carpet fiber provides good durability and hides stains easily.


Cut and Loop Pile:

Cut-and-loop pile carpeting combines both cut and looped yarns. It provides a variety of surface textures, including sculptured effects of squares, chevrons, and swirls. The multi-color effect does a great job of hiding soil and stains and works well in high traffic areas.



Carpet Fiber

The type of carpet fiber used and the way the carpet is constructed determine how well the carpet will stand up to spills, pets, and daily traffic. The better the carpet fiber and denser it is packed, the better the carpet will perform. All carpets result from the manipulation of raw fiber and with a few exceptions, this fiber goes through a spinning process to turn it into carpet yarn. This batch of yarn is then twisted, pulled and woven to make carpet with three main methods – weaving, tufting and bonding.


All carpets have something special to offer, whether it is luxurious warmth, being easy to clean, having a whole load of resistance to carpet flammability, standing up to footfall, or even just pure and simple good pricing.


The fibers available for manufacturers to blend fall into two distinct categories – natural and man made fibers. The basic types of carpet pile fibers are:


Nylon Carpet Fiber 

Nylon is the most popular carpet fiber type and represents two-thirds of the pile fibers used in the United States. Nylon fibers are wear-resistant, resilient, and provide brilliant color. Nylon is also a great choice for the home because its great at resisting stains and soil.  Having an extremely hard wearing fiber makes nylon the industry standard within commercial contract locations.


Olefin (polypropylene) Carpet Fiber

Olefin carpet fiber is strong, resists wear and permanent stains, and is easily cleaned. Olefin resists static electricity and is often used in both indoor and outdoor carpet installations because of its resistance to moisture and mildew. Polypropylene is a good choice if budgets are tight.


Polyester Carpet Fiber

Polyester carpet fiber is noted for its luxurious, soft “hand” when used in thick, cut-pile textures. It has excellent color clarity and retention, cleans easily, and is inherently stain resistant.


Wool Carpet Fiber 

Wool carpet fiber is noted for its luxury and performance. It is soft, has high bulk, and is available in a wide variety of colors and carpet patterns. Generally, wool is somewhat more expensive than synthetic fibers.


Carpet Pad/Cushion:

A firm and resilient carpet pad is necessary to form a good foundation for your carpet, increasing its comfort and extending its life by acting as a shock absorber when someone walks on the carpet. The pad helps buffer sound and provides increased insulation, making a room both quieter and warmer.


Carpet pads are made primarily from polyurethane foam, fiber, or rubber. They are available in a variety of styles and constructions to fit your needs. The type and thickness you need varies according to traffic levels and patterns. Your Floor Coverings Direct carpet professional will consult with you and recommend the pat that best fits your individual needs.


Types of Padding: 

Waffle Rubber - This type of padding is still being used today but often improperly. Despite claims to the contrary, the rubber used to make these paddings is held together with clay type binders that break down with use.


Foam Padding - This type of padding is made from urethane foam and is available in different densities and thickness. Generally this type of pad is referred to a “prime foam”, but, regardless of the thickness, is not recommended for heavy traffic of any kind.


Rebond - This type of padding is used most often by the floor covering industry. It is made from of scraps of the high density foams used in furniture making that are bonded together. The density is rated at so many pounds per cubic foot. For example, a 5 lb rebond pad would weigh 5lb per cubic foot.


Slab Rubber - For the more luxury and long wear one could use 100 ounce 19lb density slab rubber padding. Unlike the waffle rubber padding, slab rubber does not contain big ripples of air. This pad feels much like 7lb rebond, but will resist furniture indentation and crushing for a much longer period of time.


Fiber - These pads are used when one wants to limit the movement in a piece of carpet. This pad can be made from jute, or hair mixed with jute, or synthetic fiber, or recycled textile fiber


Berber Pad - Only some Berber carpets require special padding. The general rule is the bigger the loop in the Berber the firmer the padding should be.


Frothed Foam - The ultimate padding on the market is Frothed Foam. This pad is a super dense urethane and is made 7/16ths inch thick. It is extremely durable. This pad has virtually no VOCs (off gassing), can be used under all carpets, will reduce furniture indentations, and prolong the life of your carpet better than any rebond, fiber, waffle rubber or prime foam. It cost about the same as a good slab rubber padding and will last longer.