Things You Should Know: Shopping For Carpet, Part 1

We all love a beautiful hardwood floor, but some rooms just call for carpeting! It’s warm, cozy, and has the ability to really transform a space. So which carpet should you get? Well, like anything else, carpeting can be an investment so it’s important to do your research and choose the right type for your home. After all, no one wants to be replacing carpet year, after year.

The Fibers

The first decision you will likely need to make when it comes selecting carpet is what material you want to go with. This will ultimately dictate two important things: the cost and the quality. Your options:

  1. Nylon – A synthetic fiber known for being easily cleanable and resilient to soil and mildew. Great for high traffic areas, nylon is used in approximately 65% of the carpet sold in the U.S.
  2. Wool – A natural fiber known for its gorgeous colors, rich look and feel, resilience and durability. Being pricey to both purchase and maintain, wool can be found in less than 1% of carpet.
  3. Polypropylene (Olefin) – A fiber segment growing in popularity due to its affordability and stain resistant properties (with the exception of oil based stains). While polypropylene is used in approximately 30% of U.S carpeting today, this fiber offers limited color selections due to dye methods and is significantly less resilient which often leads to crushing.
  4. Polyester – A synthetic fiber known for being fade and stain resistant, non-allergenic, and producing beautiful colors. While more affordable than wool and nylon alternatives, polyester is susceptible to crushing, pilling and shedding.

While the ones listed above are the most common, other fiber types you may also come across include: Lyocell (Tencel), Acrylic, Bamboo, Viscose Silk, Cotton, Linen, Jute, Seagrass, and Sisal. Just like the other fibers, each of these come with their own set of characteristics you’ll want to take into consideration before making any big purchases!


The Colors

The type of fiber you select, is only one piece of the puzzle. Equally important, is the color you decide to go with. This is where carpet selection can get a little more tricky. Regardless of the fiber, all carpeting first begins as yarn. During the manufacturing process, the yarn is woven using various techniques to create the many carpeting selections available today. Understanding this, logic would suggest that white yarn would produce white carpeting, and blue yarn would produce blue carpeting; but, what if I told you that was not always the case.

This is where the type of dyeing method (used to give carpeting its color) comes into play. Why should you care? Well, lets just say not all blue carpeting is created equal. When it comes to dyeing carpet, there are four main processes that are commonly used: solution dyed, yarn dyed, piece dyed, and print dyed; and each of them take place at a different point in the manufacturing process.

  1. Solution Dyed – Pigment is added to synthetic fibers (nylon, polypropylene, polyester) during the liquid stage. Basically, color is added to manmade fibers before they even take the shape of yarn. Since this method takes place so early in the process, solution dyed fibers are usually very high performing (long lasting).
  2. Yarn Dyed –Dye is added after the yarn has been twisted.
  3. Piece Dyed – Fibers are spun, twisted, heat set, and tufted as a white fiber (no color) and then dyed as a “piece.” Smaller lots with heavier face weights are typically beck dyed, while larger lots are dyed in a continuous process.
  4. Print Dyed – Colors and patterns are printed onto a finished piece of carpet.

Generally speaking, the later in the process the dye is added, the more affordable the carpet will be and more color options available. This can often contribute to shorter lead times, meaning you wont have to wait too long for your carpeting to come in stock,  but can also mean that the carpet color will wear more quickly over time. Likewise, carpeting that is dyed earlier in the process (like during the yarn stage for instance), is often times more resistant to stains and less likely to fade. Sometimes this means waiting a bit longer for your carpeting to come in stock or paying a little extra, which may or may not help sway your decision of which carpeting to go with, one way or another. Of course, I’m talking in generalizations and this will of course vary from product to product and vendor to vendor, but given the great impact it can have on how well the carpet will wear, I think its an important part of the shopping process to understand.

Of course, carpet construction, padding, installation and maintenance will also come into play when selecting the best type of carpeting for your home, so tune in next week for part 2 of, Things You Should Know: Shopping For Carpet.

xx Linnie


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