Ah, the virtues of carpet. It’s warm and comfy under bare feet, absorbs sound and can tie together a decorating scheme.

As people spend more time at home, the importance of comfort has kept wall-to-wall carpet at the forefront of flooring options, particularly in bedrooms. No element of a room takes as much wear, conveys personal style and requires regular upkeep than what’s under foot.

That’s why, when choosing carpet, experts says lifestyle should be top-of-mind. Begin by thinking about where it will go and then answer the following questions. Is it a high-traffic area? Is there direct access to the outside? Are there pets and children who will track in dirt or leave messy food spills? Will the carpet receive direct sunlight?

Once you have the answers, it’s time to get the look you’ve always dreamed about.

Style & texture

Carpet retailers carry a wide range of carpet grades, styles and textures, as well as a choice of materials and fibers. Mark Butler of the Home Depot, recommends first reading the Performance Appearance Rating on the back of carpet samples.

“Carpets are graded on a scale of one to five – five is the most durable – according to how they maintain their like-new appearance under normal use,” said Butler. “Buy the best carpet you can afford, but don’t forget to budget for pad and installation.”

Natural & synthetic

Natural and synthetic are the two types of carpet fiber. Wool is the primary natural fiber used in carpet but is generally more expensive and may not wear as well as synthetic fibers. Wool is commonly used in fine area rugs but not wall-to-wall carpet.

Synthetic fibers include nylon, polyester and olefin. Nylon, the best-selling carpet fiber, is the most resilient and durable option and comes treated for stain-resistance, said Butler.

Olefin/polypropylene is affordable, has superior stain resistance and is suited for indoor/outdoor and commercial carpets, as well as for family rooms, bedrooms and the basement.

Polyester provides stain-resistance, is very soft to the touch and is an excellent choice for bedrooms and other low-traffic areas. Some carpet styles combine more than one of these fibers. Berber, for example, often combines olefin and nylon.

Cut & looped

Loop pile and cut pile are the two basic types of carpet. In loop pile carpet, the surface of yarn passes through the backing, is looped over, and then passes back through the backing. For example, Berber is a looped carpet made with thick yarns. The tops of the loops are trimmed off in cut pile to create a plusher-feeling carpet.

Cut pile includes two styles, saxony and plush. Saxony is dense and has twisted fibers that make it

firm. Plush styles have longer fibers, but are

not as dense as saxony, which gives the carpet

feel. Because of the open fibers and cut ends, cut-pile carpets tend to get dirty more quickly, said Butler.

A level loop pile is one where all the loops are at the same height, creating a smooth, dense surface that cleans easily. Because it’s wear resistant, it is a good choice for high-traffic areas.

A multilevel loop, on the other hand, has both long and short loops, creating a random, textured pattern. It tends to retain dirt because of the texture and probably won’t wear as well as level loop. Cut loop has patterns created by clipping off the top of some of the loops and is slightly less durable than multilevel loop.

Tufted & twisted

When checking on performance, it’s important to know about tufted and twisted fibers.

“Average tufted face weight refers to the ounces of fiber per square yard of carpet,” said Butler. “The higher the number, the heavier the carpet.”

Density refers to the tightness of the tufting. High-density carpet is best for high-traffic areas.

Twist refers to the number of times a carpet tuft is twisted. Tightly twisted fibers are very durable and perform extremely well in high-traffic areas.

Finally, choosing the right padding is very important because it increases the life of the carpet. Padding is made from a variety of materials, including urethane foam, rubber and felt. Carpet manufacturers may require appropriate padding as a condition of warranty, so ask for advice before making any decisions.

The best pad is neither the thickest nor the most cushioned, said Butler. In fact, thin and dense padding is generally better because it provides the best combination of firmness, support and cushioning.

Most carpet retailers install carpet, which generally adds between 15 and 30 percent to the entire cost, depending on the price of the carpet. When purchasing carpet at Home Depot, be sure to check on installation available through the retailer’s At-Home Services program.

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