At home With La Maison Chic

The right flooring for your home – Part two — carpet

Buying carpet for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Negotiating the seemingly endless variety of colours, styles, and brands can a daunting task for the first time carpet buyer. Fortunately it's really not as difficult as it may first appear.

I recommend that you first choose a carpet style. Although some people select different styles for different rooms (formal plush in the bedrooms, textured cut pile throughout the rest of the house ), most carpet buyers select one style and colour for the entire house. One benefit of sticking with the same colour and style of carpet is that the seams will be less visible.

First we'll introduce the main styles of carpet.

Cut pile carpet includes everything from the standard textured cut pile carpet that you'll see in most apartments to the very formal plushes you'll find in elegant master bedrooms. A textured cut pile has alternating lengths of fibres that help mask footprints and vacuum marks. A textured cut pile is a great all round carpet.

A berber carpet isn't a brand name as some people believe. Berber is any carpet with loops. A standard berber carpet consists of repeating tightly looped fibres of the same length. Berber is very strong and track resistant due to its strong loops. Berber holds up especially well on stairs and in hallways. Another plus is that it will not show footprints or vacuum marks.

A frieze carpet is a cut pile carpet with fibres that have been twisted and then crimped somewhere along their length. This causes the carpet to look wild and squiggly, various strands bending randomly in different directions. Frieze carpet is one of the most durable carpets that you can purchase.

Nylon is the most popular carpet fibre made today. More than 70 per cent of carpet is made from nylon. This is because nylon is soft and very stain resistant. Chances are your feet are resting on nylon right at this very moment.

Wool, being a natural fibre, is much more expensive than any other carpet fibre. It's also much softer and durable. Wool is the softest, most durable, carpet fibre that you can purchase. The only drawback to wool, besides its hefty price tag, is that it is also the least stain resistant. Wool sucks up spills like a sponge and it can be difficult to remove some stains from wool carpet, so be careful.

Carpet quality

The main aspects of carpet quality involve carpet density, twist, and pile height. Denser carpets will last longer and feel more comfortable underneath bare feet. The denser and higher a carpet is, the more material the carpet requires which thus inflates the price.

Carpet density is simply how closely a carpet's individual tufts are packed together. Carpets with a high density will resist crushing, matting, and overall wear much better than carpet with a low density. To determine a carpet's density bend the sample back. A high quality carpet will show very little, if any, backing when bent.

A denser carpet will feel much more luxurious and soft when walking across it barefoot. Carpet density is the first thing you should look for when considering a particular carpet. Don't try to save money in this area!

Carpet twist refers to how many times a carpet's fibre has been spun before being heat set. The more revolutions the twist has, the better the carpet is. A more tightly twisted carpet will withstand wear over time better than one with less twist. Most carpet consists of at least two piles (individual carpet strands ) that are twisted together before being heat set. The twist on formal plush carpets should be particularly tight and level.

Carpet pile height is how far the carpet extends above the primary backing, basically, how tall the carpet is. Obviously the higher a carpet extends, the more material it contains, which in turn bumps up the price. Viewing a carpet's pile height in addition to its density is critical in determining carpet quality. While you might want a lower carpet pile on your stairs, generally the higher the pile the better.

Laurent Billiet www.lamaisonchic.ie [email protected]

Member of the Irish Association of Interior Designers

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