How to Choose The Right Carpet For Your Home
Tile and hardwood are much more popular flooring choices today than they were 20 years ago, but in American homes carpet remains a constant. Decorative and functional, carpet fulfills many purposes and comes in a dizzying number of colors and patterns, as well as construction options (pile, Berber). Carpet prices vary widely, but more than 90% of carpets are synthetic for easy cleaning and affordability.
Carpeting creates a warm, homey atmosphere and can serve as a style foundation, complementing or contrasting furniture and wall treatments. It can soften sound in the house by providing a noise- absorbent cushion (ask any condo or apartment dweller who lives below someone with tile), and it's easy to maintain. It's also an excellent all-weather insulator that can help keep your energy bill low. Of course, anyone who's ever stepped out of bed with bare feet on a cold winter morning can tell you how much more inviting carpet is than tile or wood.
If you're thinking about new carpeting, here are a few things to consider while you search:
Probably the biggest factor should be traffic. The use and abuse of your carpet will dictate both color (obviously a white carpet in a hallway is not the best idea) and construction. Carpet construction can loosely be categorized as cut, looped, or both cut and looped. Generally, looped carpets tend to wear better than cut.
Bedrooms, living rooms, and studies would do well by a plush top-of- the-line pile, which is smooth and dense but shows every footprint. A higher-traffic area such as a family room or entryway would be better served by a denser carpet, such as a trackless cut pile. The twisted fibers of a cut-pile carpet resist the telltale signs of vacuuming and foot traffic.
Cut-and-loop pile is also an easy maintenance choice, and the patterns created by its construction can create a little visual variety in a one-color carpet. The patterning of cut-and-loop pile mimics that of sisal rugs, but as it is not a natural plant fiber, it is much easier to clean than sisal.
Berber carpet is made with uncut level loops, and is typically more expensive than other carpets. Berber can be a good performer in high trafficked areas, because it is a high-level loop with a slight nubby texture. A nice camouflaging choice is a multi-color Berber in brown earth tones, with cream and grey. This color combination also blends well with most decors.
Solid color carpets come in every shade imaginable, but prints and patterns are also becoming more prevalent. A good choice for French- or English-style country homes are low-pile floral patterns, while a plaid pattern (another good dirt-disguiser) is an excellent choice for a family room, rec or craft room, or home office. A light, small- scale pattern can add texture to a carpet and interest to a room without making the carpet a focal point. A large pattern, on the other hand, highlights the floor.
Take along samples of fabric, if you have them, from cushions or drapes, or bring home swatches of the carpet you're most interested in. Check the colors in all types of light to really test the color matching. It'll probably be underfoot for a while, so take your time and be thorough.