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There is so much to know about carpeting, it can be a little overwhelming.  This guide will help you determine what will work best for you and your family.  As an added resource for you to explore please visit Shaw Floors, one of our major flooring suppliers for in-depth information about facets off carpet.

When discussing carpet there are several defining characteristics:



  • What is the function of the room?
  • What is the size of the room?
  • What is the activity level of the room?
  • Does the room have access to the outdoors?
  • Do you have indoor pets?
  • Does the room have natural light?
  • What style furnishings do you have?
  • What’s the design mode of the room?  (Contemporary, Traditional, Cottage Chic, etc.)
  • Will the room need to accommodate a wheelchair?
  • Would you like the room to appear casual or more formal?
  • What colors are you already using in the room?


This informal self-survey will help you determine the function of the room as well as the aesthetics you are looking for.  The answers to this brief survey will be invaluable as you work with a flooring professional to guide you through the selection process.  Purchasing a beautiful carpet with the built-in characteristics that meet your function requirements is always a win/win situation. 


There is a powerful triad of construction features that work together to build a quality carpet:

Pile Density:  Refers to the amount of pile yarn in the carpet, pile height, and the closeness of the tufts.  Higher density ratings always improve comfort and performance.  Be aware that if you can see the backing of the carpet through the tufts, it has a low pile density and will not be a high performing carpet.  Bend the carpet sample to see if the backing is visible.  Remember, this is how it will look on your stairs as well.  Tufts should be tightly packed together.  High traffic areas and rooms require higher density carpets so you do not compromise performance. 

(HINT:  Many carpet styles are available in multiple pile densities.  If budget is a consideration, install the higher pile density in your high traffic areas and family room, and use it’s “sister” style (lower pile density carpet) in secondary bedrooms and lesser traffic areas.)

Face Weight:  Refers to the number of ounces of yarn per square inch of carpet.  More ounces per square yard will always be better for performance and comfort.

Twist Level:  Several plies of yarn are twisted together and heat set to retain the twist level.  Each yarn twist should be neat and well-defined AND the twist should be continuous from yarn base to as close to the yarn tips as possible.  The higher the twist levels, the more durable to high traffic the carpet will be.


Before we can actually talk about the style of a carpet, we have to delve into fiber types, because that is the building block of any carpet.  (Click here for Fiber Comparison Chart).

NYLON:  Almost 75% of today’s carpet is made from nylon.  Nylon’s greatest strength is its resilience or ability to bounce back, making it a great choice for high traffic areas. Because of its excellent durability and styling versatility, nylon is still the number one fiber choice.  Although it is resistant to water-soluble stains, it will be stained by oil or grease.  Today’s advanced fiber technologies have increased colorfastness of nylon, but some fade will occur in prolonged exposure to sunlight.

OLEFIN (Polypropylene):  Olefin is a fiber that is extruded with the color built right into the extruded fiber (rather than post-dyeing after the carpet is tufted).  This gives Olefin carpets excellent colorfastness and resistance to any kind of permanent staining.  However, Olefin carpets do not have the soft, natural feel that can be had with nylon carpets.  Also, it is likely to crush, especially if constructed in large, loop pile styles.  If budget is a consideration, Olefin is less expensive than nylon, but remember that it is the least resilient of all the carpet fibers on the market.

POLYESTER:  Polyester fiber can be manufactured from recycled plastic soda bottles.  It is less expensive than nylon carpets and it has good stain resistance.  It comes in an array of vibrant colors and resists fading.  However, it is not as resilient as nylon and is prone to crushing in higher traffic areas.  Most polyester carpets come in soft, luxurious, high-fiber weight styles, and seem to offer a better value than nylon carpets, but be sure to take into consideration where the carpet will be installed, especially since it is less resilient than nylon.

WOOL:  Wool carpets have a long and prestigious reputation in the world of carpet.  100% wool carpets are the most expensive carpet choices on the market, but the durability, natural stain resistance and luxurious look and feel justify the expense.  Today’s styles are sophisticated and innovative.  Wool does require more frequent professional cleaning to keep it looking new.

BLENDS:  Fiber blends offer not only the best attributes of combined fibers, but also more affordability.  In the case of wool/nylon blends, you get the excellent aesthetics and comfort of wool, with the durability of nylon.  You might also see nylon/olefin or nylon/acrylic blends.  Again, adding nylon to any blend adds durability for better performance. 


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