When you decide to purchase carpet for your home, there are many different types of carpet to choose from including Saxony, Plush, Berber, Shag, Frieze, and Loop.

Tufted carpet, as opposed to woven, is the most popular kind of carpet today. It accounts for about 90 percent of all carpet manufactured in the United States because it is durable and relatively inexpensive to produce. In the manufacturing process large machines armed with hundreds of needles sew and knot the nylon yarn fibers into a synthetic backing. Wool is sometimes used as well.

Carpeting is divided into two basic categories: cut pile and uncut pile. Cut pile is the most popular choice for decades because of its durability, density of the tufts, consistency, smoothness, and the amount of twist in the yarn: the loops of yarn are cut, leaving individual yarn tufts. Uncut, or loop pile, is not as popular because the loops can be irregular – how irregular is determined by the surface and texture of the pile. Shag is a good example of loop pile carpet.

Frieze carpets are great for high traffic areas, maybe a child’s playroom, because of its durability and its ability to hide traffic patterns. However, the irregularities in the yarns and their severe twists create a knobby, textured surface.

Saxony, not as durable as Frieze, is a prime example of cut pile carpets. It is smooth, soft, and versatile in performance and appearance. It is favored in a traditional or formal setting. Plush, a close relative of Saxony, has a sheared surface which makes it more velvety and elegant. Both types tend to show footprints and vacuum sweeper marks.

Uncut or loop pile carpets are made from yarns that are looped into the backing – hence the name. These are found primarily in commercial settings but sometimes in residential settings. Level loop carpets have a smooth, consistent surface and its lightly textured appearance comes from coloration and the play of light on the pile. Berber carpeting is made with non-allergenic, non-toxic wool and is named after a handmade, bulky textured wool floor covering made by a tribe of the same name in a region of North Africa. Like Frieze, it's durable and has a knack for hiding tracks and footprints.

Care & Maintenance

There are certain general things everybody should do to keep your carpet looking fresh and new for many years. Most of it is common sense. Vacuuming your carpet every week is a good idea to keep it lively and clean. Routine vacuuming on low traffic areas requires at least four strokes back and forth, more for doorways and other high traffic areas. Clean up spills immediately!

The quicker you get them up the less time they have to set in and how you clean them up depends on the spill and type of carpet. The first thing you want to do is scrape food up – if there is any – gently with a butter knife. Blot up the stain with a towel – work from the edge to the center. Do not scrub the area. Red wine can actually be neutralized with white wine. Club soda is effective on most spills. If you want to use a mild detergent, try non-bleach laundry soap: use only a 1/4 teaspoon to 32 ounces of water.

If you can’t decide a spill cleanup method, salt can also be put on spills; it will keep the stain from setting in and give you time to choose the best method.

One of the most important things to with carpet care is preventative maintenance. The best way to clean up stains is to never have them! Try putting mats or runners down at high traffic areas like entryways. Use furniture coasters to distribute the weight of heavy items to prevent damage, especially for furniture with wheels. Closing drapes or blinds during hours of direct sunlight can extend the beauty of your carpet. Avoid strong chemicals as they can permanently discolor or dissolve carpet fibers. This also means clean them often, as stronger and stronger chemicals are necessary the dirtier the carpet is and the more set in the stains are.

Purchasing Carpet

There are many different factors to consider when purchasing carpet: the colors they’re available in, the types of carpet and the differences between them, how much to buy, how much traffic the area you’re carpeting will encounter, and, of course, price.

Firstly, determine how much traffic the area will have, or already has. Light traffic areas would do well with a kind of carpet that’s soft and comfortable like Saxony or Plush. High traffic areas will require more durable and stain resistant types of carpet like Frieze or loop pile carpets like Berber or sculpted carpet. Color is also an important consideration. For example, a light hue visually expands a small space and a dark one can cozy up a large room. Sunny colors can warm a room visually that’s short on natural light.

Set up a budget next. Estimate the amount of carpet you’ll need. Multiply the length of the room times the width and calculate the square footage. Divide the product by nine to get square yardage. Always add 10% to account for room irregularities.

Once your budget is set, search for a place to buy it. Get a detailed quote from the dealer of your choice with carpet, padding/cushion, and installation priced separately. Installation and cushion could probably cost about $5 to $6 per square yard. Ask if there is an additional charge for moving furniture or removal and disposal of your old carpet. The final quote should include all pertinent specifications including: fiber, face pile weight, warranty, etc. Don't be afraid to negotiate the price if you feel it's necessary. Before you make the purchase, though, take samples home to make sure it is the right color and style for your home/room. And have the retailer and/or installers make final site measurements. It might be necessary to revise the required amounts of material and adjust the price accordingly.

Post-installation evaluate the quality of the work. The carpet should be stretched tightly in place so you cannot notice the seams. The pile should run in the same direction in places where two or more pieces intersect.

If all went well, and you maintain your carpet properly, you should have a beautifully carpeted room - or house - for many years, and hopefully decades, to come.