Advice & Information > Carpets
Carpets are a quick and easy way to cover the floors in your home. They come in many designs and colours. If installed correctly most quality carpets have excellent wear properties, which means that many years of comfortable service can be expected. With so much choice, getting the right carpet for the right place in your home can be an extremely daunting prospect. Luckily the way carpet is made today means there are very few really poor carpets.
A fitted carpet plays an important role in sound insulation, virtually eliminating impact noise through sound absorption. Carpets can make a measurable contribution to retaining the warmth in a room and therefore saving energy. Carpets have low heat conduction and are natural thermal insulators creating a heat barrier.
The underfoot safety of carpets is an important feature, both in the home and the workplace. The consumer benefits from reduced slippage, especially when wet, and a decrease in stress on joints. The soft resilient fibres of a carpet provide a cushioning effect. Infants and the elderly in particular benefit from the non-slip aspects of carpets and, in the event of a fall, the soft resilience of the carpet lowers the risk of injury.
With their superb dust-trapping properties, carpets are conducive to a healthy living environment. Dust settles quickly and is then securely held by the pile fibres of the carpet until it is vacuumed again. The dust is not disturbed by incoming air draughts, and this means that the dust content of the indoor air is kept low. This is particularly important since dust particles also act as carriers for germs, allergens and other air contaminants. Allergies due to carpeting are unknown. The myth that carpets promote dust-mite allergies is untrue, because these are attributable to the faeces of the house-dust mite – the actual allergen itself. Bedding and bed linen contain up to 70% more house-mites than carpets. Regular vacuuming and cleaning, together with adequately ventilated and dry rooms, means that it is virtually impossible for a carpet to contain, entrap or transmit allergens.
The length of time a carpet will last depends on several factors and each one must be considered at the purchasing stage. The carpet pile itself, the fibre, the weight of the fibre and the density of the pile will all contribute to a carpet’s suitability for your chosen location. The rule of thumb in selecting a carpet is choosing the right suitability for the right area. You will find that it pays dividends to spend slightly more for higher quality carpets for areas of high wear such as hallways, stairs and main living areas, but you may well be able to save some money where the wear is not as high such as spare bedrooms. All carpets have suggested area suitability. You can find the suitability in the product specification.
Types of Carpet
There are essentially two types of carpet, Tufted or Woven. Tufted carpet is much quicker and easier to make. It is made on big machines and is suitable for all types of yarn and fibres. It can be made into a variety of finishes. A Woven carpet can be either an ‘Axminster’ or a ‘Wilton’. Axminster carpet is predominantly patterned with unlimited colour potential. Wilton tends to be plain. The manufacturing methods for both are traditional and labour intensive (the front and back of the carpet are woven together simultaneously). They are generally very hard wearing and suitable for very high wear areas.
There are a variety of carpet styles and surface texture options available, all of which affect the appearance, feel, and importantly, performance of your carpet. Generally the more luxurious the surface, the more care it will need. Shorter pile carpets usually wear better than long pile carpet and look good for longer, but is not as luxurious. The most common styles are:
- Twist Pile Carpets – Have a coarse, rugged finish.
- Velvet Pile Carpets – Have a smooth luxurious appearance, rather like suede. Much like a twist pile but a lot smoother looking.
- Loop Pile Carpets – Replicate the look of natural flooring such as coir and sisal.
- Saxony Carpet – Have a deep pile with a pronounced sensuous feel. Most popular in bedrooms, they do flatten in the walkways so bear this in mind when purchasing.
What Should I Buy?
How carpets look and perform depends largely on the fibres they are made of. Improvements in fibre technology and carpet construction techniques mean that even the less expensive carpets will wear well if they are put in the right place and fitted correctly. Different fibres and constructions will lend a carpet certain properties - wool carpets, polypropylene carpets, nylon carpets or a blend of fibres will each react differently within the same location. When it comes to carpet fibres, wool has long been recognised as the best. It is soft and warm, resilient, naturally flame retardant and has long appearance retention so looks better for longer. It is also an environmentally friendly and sustainable fibre and is biodegradable. It is often blended in an 80/20 or 50/50 mix with other ‘man made’ fibres to enhance performance.
Synthetic fibres tend to be cheaper than wool and are certainly hard wearing although they are not as sumptuous in appearance as wool. Polypropylene also has the added benefit of being ‘stainfree’ and easy to clean.
Plain or Patterned?
Choosing a plain or patterned carpet is entirely down to your personal preference.
Plain carpet is safe and will suit any room or decorating style. It also gives you greater flexibility with wallpaper and soft furnishings. Using the same colour throughout does give a feeling of space and link rooms. Plain carpets come in just about every hue. Deeper colours create a mood of intimacy and sophistication while lighter colours make a room feel airy and spacious.
There are a wonderful variety of patterned carpets, from small scale well defined designs to larger scale geometrics and plaids and tartans. Patterned carpet does not necessarily mean old fashioned or pub style carpet! Striped carpet is very popular at the moment, particularly in hallways and on stairs. Stripes can give an area a lift and make a small space seem larger. They also co-ordinate well with plain carpet.