Free Carpet Information and Buying Guide
Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert / Consumer Advocate - Retired after 30 years, do not sell or install carpet.
How to Choose the Right Carpet
Carpet, like everything else we buy today, is not made nearly as durable as it once was. Carpet manufacturers have learned how to cut corners wherever they can to save money.
Now they provide a wider range of carpet quality levels to meet the needs and budget of every consumer. The secret is knowing how to choose the right grade of carpet that can meet your needs and goals.
The type of fiber you choose also is very critical. Nylon is always a better choice over Polyester if you want your carpet to last a long time and not mat down quickly.
Free Carpet Durability Chart
Check out my free Carpet Durability Guide Chart to get a better idea about how to compare carpet specifications and understand what makes one carpet more durable than another.
I designed this Carpet Durability Chart to help homeowners who are hoping to select the right grade or quality of carpet to meet their needs and goals based on known carpet manufacturing specifications.
First, locate a carpet you are interested in buying, then obtain all the carpet specifications from your carpet retailer. Then use this chart to help determine the level of durability for that carpet.
Carpet Stain Resistance
Stainmaster branded carpets are well known for using the Antron Nylon 6,6 Fiber. However it no longer uses the Teflon® infused technology that become controversial. It has switched to a topically applied anti-stain system called The DuraTech® soil resistance formula.
This is similar to Shaw's R2X topically applied solution to help resist stains and for ease of cleaning. Both of these sprayed on chemicals wear off over time and can be reapplied by a certified carpet Cleaning Technician. The same is true for carpets with Scotchgard® applied.
Sixty years ago, virtually all carpets were made to last a lifetime if cared for properly. Not anymore! Today you must choose a grade of carpet that is specifically designed to meet your needs, goals and lifestyle, or else you might end up with a carpet that wears out way faster than you expect!
Pic: Berven Carpet Rug Mills, Fresno California early 1970's
During the 1960's and 70's, most residential carpets were made of Nylon. There were basically three grades of nylon carpet to choose from, good, better and best. Even the lowest grades of carpet could last a long time if cared for properly.
The lowest grade of nylon carpet was designed to last 10-15 years or more before it would show any signs of wearing out. Medium and higher grades could easily last 20 to 30 years or more, even in heavy traffic applications!
Many of these vintage nylon carpets are still in use today in homes all across America. Many still look pretty darn good, other than the gold, green or orange colors!
We still see heavy gauge nylon carpets in homes that were originally installed in the 1960's and 1970's. Back then, carpets were mainly made with a thick Nylon strand. It was not very soft, but it was extremely durable.
Pic: The rear dock at Berven Carpets in the early 1970's
All homeowners had to do was give the carpet a good cleaning every few years and it would look almost like new again, decade after decade.
Residential Carpet Grades Explained
Here is a basic explanation of the various Carpet Grades and how to choose the right quality level to meet your needs, goals and budget. The fiber you select will determine durability and cost.
Your 4 basic carpet fiber choices are: 1) Nylon, 2) Polyester 3) Olefin 4) Smartstrand. Nylon is the most durable and it is also the most expensive fiber. More about Carpet Fibers
1. Low-End Grades of Carpet
There are at least 6 grade levels of low-end carpets designed for apartments and rental property and is typically called "builder-grade" or "apartment-grade" carpet.
These low-cost carpets are only designed to last 3 to 5 years at best. The face- weights are generally 22 ounces to 28 ounces. Prices range from $10 - $20 per square yard for the carpet only.
The cheapest way to go is to buy from a locally- owned carpet store who carries rolls of carpet in-stock. Colors and styles are limited to stock on hand and there is no manufacturer's warranty available.
Bring a truck, some rope and a tarp if you want to have your own independent carpet installer do the install. It's more difficult to obtain manufacturing specifications on in-stock rolls of carpet. Carpet Installation Cost Fees Charges.
(If you are a landlord with apartments or a rental property owner or manager, visit my Landlord website which is designed to help rental property owners save on carpet, padding and vinyl flooring replacements and repair costs.)
2. Medium Grades of Carpet
There are at least 12 medium-grades of carpet configurations for those who want to have carpet last for 6 to 12 years. Your foot traffic plays a huge role in how long your carpet will look like new.
Face-weights range from 30 to 45 ounces. Prices range $20 to $40 per yard for the carpet only. The fiber, pile height, tuft twist and pile density are the main four factors that determine how long the carpet will last and prices increase according to durability and degree of softness.
Everyone wants a soft carpet but that softness comes at a price. Creating the feel of softness means making the fiber strand thinner. I believe that compromises durability and resiliency of the fiber strand.
Softer carpets are more easily damaged by abrasion and are more prone to matting and crushing of the pile. Choosing a carpet with a standard denier will yield increased durability and resiliency which in turn will make your carpet last longer. What is Carpet Denier?
3. High-End Carpet Grades
There are at least 6 high-end grades of carpet quality for those who want their carpet to last 12 to 20+ years and are willing to pay dearly for it.
Face-weights range from 45 to 80 ounces. Prices range from $40 to $85 per square yard and up for the carpet only. Wool Carpets are most costly, usually well over $100 per square yard.
Higher Grades of Carpet Provide...
Costs will be higher too - $45 to $85 per square yard for carpet only. Pad and install is extra. Expect to pay more for installation because higher quality carpets are usually much heavier and more difficult to install.
I've just mentioned 12 different grades of carpet to make it simple. But in reality, there are dozens of grades of carpet to choose from, all at varying prices and warranty levels. A higher price does not always mean it is a better or longer lasting carpet.
Softer carpets always demand a higher price but softer usually means less durable. You will pay more and get a less durable carpet, but you will certainly enjoy the softer feel.
Carpet Durability Factors
Three carpet specification facts to consider:
1. Carpets with a pile-height under 3/4" are less prone to matting and crushing of the pile.
2. Carpets with a higher Pile-Density Rating are more durable.
3. Face-weights over 60 ounces are not always more durable.
Here is a handy chart of common branded carpet styles and what carpet fiber they are made from. This information can help you determine the durability of a carpet and its suitability for a particular application. This chart also shows what type of anti-stain treatment has been applied.
Carpet Fiber and Stain Treatment Chart
(Click on image to view or print)
Combine using this chart with my Carpet Durability Guide Chart to discover more information you need to make wise and informed choices.
The Carpet Professor Says....
Choosing the wrong grade of carpet is one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make. Why? Because the carpet you buy MUST meet or exceed your needs and goals or you will not get the long-term results that you desire.
Why spend thousands on new carpet that won't last as long as you anticipate?
1. How long do you want your new carpet to last?
2. What is your level of foot-traffic in your home?
These are 2 key questions that you need to consider and answer carefully. Then you can discover the answer this question: What Grade of Carpet Should I Buy?
Not only must you obtain qualified carpet installation, you must also choose the right grade of carpet and padding too. Just as important is making sure you buy from an honest and reputable carpet and flooring dealer. That's the secret to buying new carpet like a pro! See who I recommend near you.