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Everyday Cheapskate: What You Need to Know About Buying Carpet

Mary Hunt on

It's not something you buy every day. But when it's time to buy carpet, you need to know your stuff. Make a bad decision and you'll pay dearly for a long time, and I am not just talking about the money. You'll pay a significant price in dissatisfaction and disappointment.

STYLE OF CARPET

Plush: Usually one solid color with even, smooth pile height. Varies from lightweight (apartment-grade) with fewer tufts per square inch to heavier weights that are very dense. Comes in a vast range of colors. Shows footprints and vacuum marks.

Frieze: Very tightly twisted tufts of yarn. More expensive than plush but wears much longer -- 15 years is not unusual. Frieze comes in a variety of pile heights, from short all the way to super shag. Durable and holds up to heavy use without matting or showing traffic patterns. Rebounds well.

Berber: A popular choice in recent years, Berber has nothing to do with color (though it usually comes in light earth tones) but rather with construction. Berber carpet is made of short looped yarn that is aligned in rows for a uniform look. The loops can snag and run easily, like a pair of hose. When that happens, it is nearly impossible to repair.

Commercial: Known for its small, low-level loops and short-cut pile. Usually glued to the floor. Not typically used in residential areas, as it's not soft underfoot. Look for description with "uncrushable."

 

PADDING UNDER CARPET

Each carpet manufacturer recommends a specific pad for a specific style. That is most likely your best bet; go with that recommendation

Foam: This is the type of padding that usually comes included. Don't accept it. It will not hold up to traffic, and it will flatten quickly. It is not recommended for residential use.

Rebond: The most common for residential installations, rebond is made of recycled urethane foam. It is usually multicolored and looks like lots of little pieces stuck together, which is what it is. It comes in a variety of densities and thicknesses to accommodate all manufacturers' specifications.

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