What You Need to Know About Choosing a Carpet
The three issues to consider in carpet selection are fashion, durability and price. They are three distinctly different things. Durable carpet isn't necessarily expensive, and expensive carpet isn't necessarily durable. Fashionable carpet is most often more expensive and less durable. The first step is to evaluate where your project fits into that triangle and what will best work with your needs.
Getting the most out of your carpet starts with a design that considers what the area will be used for in addition to how you want it to look. The heavier the traffic load, the more impact it should have on the material selection.
Wear on carpet escalates as the following conditions increase:
- The more people in the area.
- The more hours per day they are there.
- The smaller the area.
- The more furniture.
- The more often it is cleaned.
- The more pets run on it.
- The more wheeled devices roll on it.
In absence of any of the other factors, two working adults would constitute a light load. A family with three children in a 1,200 square foot house would be a heavy load. Add some extra furniture and a German shepherd and you have a carpet nightmare!
Don’t forget to evaluate your future plans when choosing a carpet. A quality carpet will be with you for many years to come. A white carpet may look beautiful in the dining room of a newlywed couple choosing carpet today for their first home but could prove to be a stain magnet with young children a few years down the road.
Carpet seldom wears until the yarn disappears. Long before that it will become stained, matted or both. If you have a bad traffic situation, your choices of material can help mitigate the problem.
Yarns that are dyed while they are a liquid like polypropelene or olefin will clean much better than yarns that are dyed after they are extruded from plastic to yarn. The down side to olefin and polypropelene is they are softer and will matt more quickly than nylon when made in a cut pile construction. They are good choices for low, tightly woven loops like Berbers and commercial loops. They are bad choices for cut pile materials that must stand up to maintain a good appearance.
Stains and Matting
If staining will be an issue, carpets with low profile loops made of Polypropelene or Olefin work well. Theses short, dense materials also help to avoid matting problems.
Cut pile carpet performs better when made of nylon, yet stains are more difficult to remove. If you must have a cut pile in a high traffic area, choose low pile height, dense construction to avoid matting.
Stains are less predictable and more variable than the matting problem, so they are more difficult to deal with from a decorating perspective. Multi-colored carpet hides stains better than solids. If you have any idea what might get on the carpet, minimizing the contrast between the stain and the carpet will lessen the problem. If you run a pizza parlor, a red, green and brown multi-color would be a good choice. If you are carpeting an office where there is crushed concrete in the driveway, shades of gray would make the dirt less noticeable. If you hallway is routinely tramped across in baseball cleats and tennis shoes, you might want to opt for a pattern with terra cotta colors.
Stain resistant carpets can minimize the potential for damage, but all products are not created equal. Fluorocarbon stain treatments have been on the market for a few years and have been highly promoted by the chemical companies that make carpet yarn. We put six common household stains on the leading brands. They were cleaned using the manufacturer's suggested procedure. While the treatments were an improvement against some kinds of stains, they did not come close to what would be expected after seeing the advertisements.
Only one of the carpets in the test cleaned well enough to say it "passed" the test, and it has no stain treatment at all. The Olefin not only did not show the stains, it withstood bleaching too.
If you are concerned about lessening your negative impact on the planet and reducing your carbon footprint, there are many environmentally friendly flooring options.
Shaw runs its Green Edge Initiative to help negate its impact on the environment. Shaw keeps 30 million pounds of waste out of our landfills each year through its nationwide carpet recycling program and by reducing packaging by as much as 98% (plus they then recycle the remaining packaging). Shaw offers carpets made from recycled materials, hardwood floors from certified sustainable sources, and converts waste products into an energy source for some of its factories. Mohawk designs carpet made from recycled PET plastic bottles and doormats made from old tires. Mohawk has been given the Evergreen Award by the United States General Services Administration for its commitment to reduce emissions and waste is all aspects of its manufacturing process. Beaulieu offers its Second Nature line of beautiful carpets made from recycled plastic.
At Carpet Mill Outlet, we specialize in the sale and installation of products from Shaw, Mohawk and Beaulieu as well as beautiful, durable and renewable source bamboo hardwood floors.
Padding makes a difference in durability, and it might not be what you think. Padding adds softness and comfort to your carpet, but it is not always a case of the softer the better.
Carpet padding works like the shock absorbers on your car. A good quality pad will lengthen the life of a cut pile carpet by about 30 to 40 percent. Denser padding will have a firmer feel under foot and will usually last longer.
Padding adds softness and comfort to the carpet. It insulates the floor and eliminates dampness caused by warm moist air circulating over a cold floor.
There are a number of types of padding sold. The two main types used for residential purposes are prime urethane and bonded urethane. They are available in thicknesses between 1/4 and 9/16 of an inch.
Today's carpet is made with plastic backing. With a pad thicker than 1/4 inch, furniture legs will stretch the backing down into the pad and make a permanent indentation in the surface. Too thick a pad will cause the backing of the carpet to break down and separate – a terminal condition for your carpet. If you like to rearrange the furniture from time to time or you intend to sell the property without replacing the pad, use 1/4 inch 8 pound pad.
Prime urethane pad is a solid mat of the same density urethane. It generally delivers a softer walk than bonded pad but will not hold its density as long. Bonded pad consists of pieces of dense urethane bonded together evenly to produce a consistent density. In thicknesses of 1/2 to 9/16 an inch it tends to spread out horizontally. Bonded pads are available with nylon webbing on the top to help it hold its shape. We strongly recommend padding with the webbing in the heavier thicknesses.
For loose laid (not installed wall to wall) rugs the thicker pads cause the carpet to "crawl" due to the depth of compression. For these rugs it is best to use a 1/4 inch heavy (6-8 lb.) pad to minimize the crawl.
There are four kinds of installation:
- Carpet glued directly to the floor with no pad
- Carpet stretched over a separate pad
- Carpet with pad attached glued to the floor
- Carpet glued to a pad that is glued to the floor
The ripple effect of wheeled traffic rolling over the surface will cause the carpet backing to delaminate. Any area where wheeled devices will roll over the carpet should be glued down directly with no pad. The carpet should be of very short and dense construction.
Stretch-ins are limited to areas smaller than 25 feet in length because it is nearly impossible to stretch carpet tightly enough to prevent buckling in larger areas. Larger areas with no wheeled traffic must use options 3 or 4 above. Option 4 is expensive.
If it is a commercial area, direct glue down with no pad is by far the best choice. We don't recommend putting carpet over pad in public access buildings.
Common Concerns when Buying and Installing Flooring
Addressing common concerns early in the process of choosing flooring can eliminate many headaches later on. Here is a sampling of problems routinely faced when buying and installing carpets. If you have additional concerns, please contact us, and we will do our best to advise you or help you find a solution.
My room is over 25 feet long.
Areas less than 25 feet on both sides can be either stretched over pad or glued directly to the under floor. Due to the comfort issues, most residential carpet is stretched over padding. Runs longer than 25 feet cannot be stretched tight enough to prevent wrinkles.
If the area absolutely must have a pad, the options are enhancer back or double stick installation. Enhancer is normally available in commercial styles only.
Double stick installations involve gluing a special padding to the floor and then gluing the carpet to the pad. The down side to this installation is cost. The padding is more expensive, and the labor runs about twice the cost of regular glue down.
Direct glue down is the most popular choice for business or office use. Commercial, tight looped Berbers and short dense cut piles will perform well when glued directly to the under floor. Without padding the cost is less, and it can be taken up and replaced easily. However, it does not have the softness under foot that padding has.
I cannot be there when the installation is done.
It is not necessary for you to stay on site while the work is being done. It is helpful if you can be there when the installer starts to answer any questions he may have about how you want the work done.
If the order is to be paid C.O.D., then you must be present when it is completed to pay the final invoice. If this will not be possible, please discuss the issue with the salesperson when you place your order, and we will see what arrangements can be made.
There will be wheeled devices rolling on the carpet.
If rolling carts or wheel chairs will be used in the area, the carpet should always be glued directly to the floor. Padding will make it more difficult for wheels to move over the carpet, and the ripple effect of the wheels imbedded in the materials will cause delamination of the carpet backing. Pivoting wheels on padded carpet destroys the pad.
I expect the seams to be invisible.
There are a number of variables that determine how visible seams will be. The style and color of carpet and the amount and direction of the light all play a major part. The installer will do his best to minimize the visibility by cutting the seam without losing yarn from the surface, securing the two pieces together snugly and trimming the seam.
You can go a long way toward reducing the visibility of the seams by your choice of material.
- If the carpet is a loop material, purchase enough material to install the job without cross grain seams.
- If you have flexibility in style remember multi colors, multi levels and patterns show seams less than solid colors.
- Light colors make the seams more noticeable because they reflect light rather than absorb it.
- If you have a strong light source or direct sunlight coming into the area, make sure the seams run into the light source not at a 90 degree angle to it.
Discuss the issue with the salesperson and let them know your preferences.
There will be no electricity available for the installation.
It is possible for glue down carpet to be installed without electricity if there are no stairs and no upholstery work. It is also possible for a single room to be stretched in if there are no seams, stairs or upholstery. Otherwise there must be electricity available.
If power has not been connected, often a neighbor will allow plugging a drop cord into their system. That should be arranged in advance. The last option is a portable generator. If a generator is the only option, please make the salesperson aware of this at the time of purchase so that arrangements can be made and the additional costs be included in the quoted price.
The material amount is based on my measurements.
We have had good success with installing carpet and flooring based on customer's measurements. If you are confident that your measurements are correct, we will use them. If you are not, we will be happy to send someone out to measure free of charge.
It is important to understand that we can only accept responsibility if we measure. Any additional material and labor will be billed to you if the job is done using your measurements.
No heat will be available for the installation (winter only).
Carpet made today becomes very stiff at temperatures under 60°. It cannot be properly stretched unless the backing is relaxed. Ideally the temperature should be 72° or greater to get a tight stretch.
Also, glues used to put carpet down do not set right in cold temperatures. If the job is outdoors on concrete the temperature should be above 60° for three days in a row before the installation.
I expect the installer at a specific time of day.
The only jobs for which we can accurately predict an exact time are the first jobs of the day. If you must have the installer arrive at a specific time, please request the first appointment of the day. You might have to wait a little longer to get on the schedule since those slots are usually taken first.
We give the installer a telephone number to call and notify you when he is leaving his previous job.
There is furniture to be moved.
If you plan to move the furniture yourself:
It is best to get all of the furniture out of the area to be covered. However, we understand that sometimes this is not possible. In those situations, you can have people available to move the furniture as rooms are completed or you can do the job in sections. The sections should be scheduled so you have time to move furniture back into the newly carpeted rooms and out of the next section by the scheduled appointment.
If you will be moving the furniture, there must be a sizeable section with nothing in the area when the installer arrives so he can start to work immediately.
If you contract with us to have the furniture moved:
This service involves moving the furniture only. It is your responsibility to remove small breakables and unload shelves and cabinets. Stereo and computer equipment must be disconnected and reconnected by the customer.
If the job is a rental unit, the tenant must be prepared for the installation the same as a homeowner.
My spouse/partner will not be involved.
All households and businesses operate differently. We have no problem dealing with only one half of the team if that remains the situation throughout the entire process. However, what sometimes happens is one person makes the arrangements and after the installation is completed the partner raises questions about the material selection or how the job was done.
Please make your partner aware that if they intend to be involved, the time to do so is when the arrangements are first being made.
There have been moisture problems in the area.
There are two sources of dampness in floors:
- Warm moist air hitting a cold surface and the moisture in the air turning to liquid.
- Water seeping through the foundation from the water table under the house.
Signs that water is coming from the air are:
- It occurs when it hasn't been raining.
- It always happens when the floor is cool.
Indications that the problem is caused by seepage are:
- It becomes worse with increased rainfall.
- The floor temperature has no effect.
If the problem is water coming from the air, carpet (especially over padding) will insulate the floor preventing the warm air from contacting the cold surface, and the problem will go away.
If seepage is the problem, it must be corrected before any kind of finished flooring is installed.
There are gas appliances to be moved.
Most states require a license to connect gas equipment due to the severe ramifications if such equipment is hooked up incorrectly. If your job has gas appliances that must be disconnected to install the carpet, you should arrange in advance to have a qualified person disconnect and reconnect them. The carpet installer cannot perform this task.
There are direct wired appliances to be moved.
Equipment that cannot be unplugged must be disconnected and reconnected by qualified people. Your carpet installer cannot perform this task.
There is an ice maker on the refrigerator.
If your icemaker has a cutoff and a standard bolt-on connection, the installer will remove and reconnect it.
There are brick, masonry or metal steps to be covered.
Carpet can be glued to and stretched over concrete floors since the glue does not have to support the weight of the material. On vertical surfaces everything changes. Multipurpose carpet adhesive will not hold the weight of carpet on a vertical surface. Masonry (brick, concrete block) surfaces are very porous and the surface tends to dust off. When contact cement is used, often not enough of the adjoining surfaces make contact to bond correctly.
If the job is indoors the best solution for carpeting metal and masonry steps is to box them with plywood before the carpet is installed. Metal circular stairs must be wrapped top and bottom so bolting a piece of plywood to the bottom of each step will allow the steps to be wrapped and secured on the bottom.
This is not to say that carpet absolutely cannot be laid over brick or masonry steps. But, it cannot be done at anywhere close to the same cost as putting the material on wood.
The under floor is marble or slate.
If the surface is fairly smooth, carpet can be glued to these floors. Make sure the salesperson is aware of the floor type. The installer will need special high tack glue for this installation.
Stretch-in installations cannot be done over these floors without damaging the existing floor beyond future use. The floor will have to be drilled and the tack strip bolted to the floor with lead expansion anchors. Expect a higher labor bill on this type of installation.
Installing new flooring over parquet.
Carpet should not be glued over parquet if there are any loose tiles. They should first be secured. If any of the parquet blocks are loose or not tightly glued to the floor, the carpet cannot be stretched. Unlike commercial tile, the tack strip only attaches to the tiles, not the under floor. Once a stretch is applied to loose flooring it will rise from the floor and it will then have to be removed or completely re-glued.
Your options would be to:
- Remove the entire floor now.
- Re-glue the loose tiles.
- Consider a glue-down installation.
There is a shoe molding attached to the baseboards.
Stretch-in carpet cannot be properly installed with the shoe molding down. The mechanics of the carpet locking on the tack strip require a 90 degree tuck at the wall. The curved shape of shoe molding allows the carpet to sometimes work loose, releasing the stretch on the carpet. It should be removed.
The shoe molding should be taken up before painting and cleaning begins to allow re-finishing the baseboards down to the floor. If this is not done it will most often leave a dirty looking line around the perimeter of the room at the edge of the carpet.
For glue down carpet, shoe molding is optional. A good installer can cut the carpet accurately enough that molding is not needed.
Shoe molding is needed for sheet vinyl, tile and laminate flooring. If you are taking up molding you want to replace, remove it carefully. Old molding is dry, brittle and often breaks. Start at a break point and number the back of each piece as it is removed.
Safety concerns about carpeting on stairs.
If there is carpet on the upper level, it must roll over the top step in one piece. The carpet on the stairs must be terminated under the lip of the top step or with the stair nosing. It cannot be stopped on the upper floor.
The edges against the wall of carpeted stairways can be:
- Tucked to the wall.
- Finished away from the wall by turning the edges down and stapling.
- Have binding sewn to the edges to make a runner.
Outside edges can be:
- Finished by turning the edges down and stapling.
- Have binding sewn to the edges to make a runner.
- Have the outside edge of the step covered (called capping).
Typically the carpet is pulled over the nose of the step and dropped directly to the step below. If the tread overhangs the riser, the carpet can be form fitted to the step (called upholstering). Berber and looped carpet should not be upholstered because the tighter turn angle makes the yarn rows gap even more.
In older homes you often see pie shaped steps that are cut in triangles to turn the direction of the shaped stairs. There are usually three steps per 90 degree turn. It is possible to carpet these irregularly shaped steps.
There are extra labor charges for capping the ends, upholstering, cutting through pickets, and covering pie shaped steps.
There are pet odors in the area.
Pet odors cannot be washed away. The odor may disappear temporarily, but on a warm humid day it will return. The solution is to paint or seal the floor.
Remove the old carpet and pad. You do not have to remove the tack strip around the edge but you should paint over it. If there are staples in the floor remove them.
Any paint or floor sealer will work. If you use a sealer, pay strict attention to the warnings on the can. Open the windows, shut the electricity off in the house, unplug the telephone and don't light a match!
We do not want nails in the under floor.
There are options for putting the carpet on the floor without damaging the existing floor. If the under floor is wood, the carpet can be stapled with thin wire staples that make holes so small they are difficult to see after the staple is removed. If the under floor is tile, the carpet can be attached with double sided tape. We call that kind of installation a custom cut.
This is not the same as regular carpet installation and as such is not subject to the same workmanship guarantees. The carpet will wrinkle and have to be straightened out from time to time. Custom cuts are not guaranteed against wrinkles nor against it coming up.
Gluing to painted and waxed floors.
If there is paint, wax or any other surface covering the under floor, the carpet or tile is being attached to it, not the under floor. If the substance is not solidly attached, your floor will not be either.
Any such surface should be stripped or removed in order that the glue can properly attach.