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Carpet Buying - a Beginners Guide

The reason why carpet is so popular with homeowners is pretty obvious: it provides a home a certain warmth and beauty without being too expensive. It radiates luxury and coziness and provides what most naked floors can't: noise reduction and thermal insulation that give a room a certain quiet and comfort.

Buying carpets
Before setting out to buy carpeting, consider first where you will be putting it. Consider light-colored carpets for areas like bedrooms and studies where there is less traffic or foot use. For areas which will receive heavier use, choose medium shades like taupe or dark beige. Dirt and stains will not be too noticeable with these colors.

Dark-colored carpeting provides an intense, dramatic look, but they will also show stuff like dust, lint and pet hair more readily.

You'll want carpeting that can last for years and withstand wear and tear, so look for carpets with firmly twisted fibers. These carpets can withstand more abrasion and will last longer, regardless of whether they are made from synthetic or natural materials.

Look for long fibers or 'plushes' these won't shed too much and you won't need to worry about carpet fibers flying about or finding their way on other surfaces. To test for shedding, dig the surface of the carpet with your fingers and drag them across. If you find very few fibers sticking to your fingers, that means the carpet will retain its body and that it's a good buy.

'Cut pile' carpets have shorter fibers and can be very stylish, but they can easily reflect usage like footprints, for example. The fibers also have a natural bend and if they are brushed in the opposite direction during use, some areas may show a different, darker shade.

Your fiber options
There are numerous choices for carpet fibers made from natural and/or synthetic materials. Which one you buy will depend on what look you want, where you will use the carpet and your budget.

Natural wool is your best choice. It's not only durable, but it's also soft to the touch and offers good cushioning. It is also the most expensive material for carpets and can cost from a low of to over 0 per sq.yd. This type of fiber will withstand constant use even in heavy traffic areas. It's also easy to clean because it's naturally stain- and dirt-resistant. You won't have any problems with color since it is easily dyed.

Synthetic fibers are also very popular choices for carpeting. These are usually acrylic, polyester, olefin and nylon. Acrylics are sometimes used with natural wool because they have similar characteristics. Polyester is a cheaper choice and are quite durable and luxurious to the touch. Olefin, also called polypropylene, is a great choice for outdoor carpeting because it is resistant to mildew and moisture. Nylon, like olefin, is also mildew and moisture-resistant and is another popular choice for carpet fiber because of its resilience and durability.

Carpet cushions
Most homeowners prefer to install cushions under their carpeting for more resilience and softness. Cushions come in natural, synthetic and urethane materials, but be careful about buying cushion that is too thick because it would result to a carpeting that is too soft. Look for firm, dense material that is about 3/8 of an inch thick or even less.

Carpet replacement
Carpets which receive regular wear and tear need to be replaced every five years or so, maybe less if there is too much wear on the fabric or difficult to remove stains. These are carpets located in heavy traffic areas like the kitchen or living room. Otherwise, most carpets won't usually need replacement up to 10 years.

About the Author: Bob Janeway is owner of All about carpet cleaning and much more.

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