Carpet is one of the oldest and most popular choices for floor covering. It is easy to see why: A textile flooring made of natural or synthetic woven fabric and stretching from wall-to-wall, carpet reduces noise, traps allergens, softens falls and insulates. You can choose from among literally thousands of colors and styles, allowing you to customize your living space.
Types of fiber and related costs
When you shop for carpeting, you will generally see it priced by the square foot. Consumer Reports provides this overview of carpet prices in square yards for these popular carpet fibers: (To convert to square feet, divide by 9.)
- olefin: $10 to $22
- polyester: $12 to $15
- nylon: $14 to $30 or more
- wool: $30 to $60
Local retailers' prices may vary from these averages. Dalton Carpet in Athens, Ga., for example, lists some synthetic carpets starting at less than $1 per square foot (less than $9 per square yard), while their most expensive carpets range upwards to around $9 per square foot ($81 per square yard).
Carpet padding is also required for installation. Padding and installation costs are extra, but keep in mind that a higher density padding provides more support for the carpeting, even if it costs a bit more.
Popular carpet brands
Nylon is the most popular fiber with brands including Anso from Honeywell, Stainmaster from DuPont and Wear-Dated from Solutia. The same carpet products can be marketed under different brand names; for example, some of the more popular carpet lines include Martha Stewart, Laura Ashley and Mohawk. Look to both the carpet and fiber brands to find the combination of design and reliability that suits your needs.
The way in which the carpet yarn is looped creates the variation of textures among carpets:
- Cut pile: Made of yarn attached to the backing and trimmed at the top, cut pile has a luxurious feel but crushes easily. This option suits low-traffic areas like bedrooms
- Level loop: Yarn is looped over with both ends attached to the backing. This style is not especially soft, but the relatively smooth surface wears well and facilitates effective vacuuming. Choose level loop for high-traffic areas like stairs and family rooms
- Berber: A variation on level loop with a thicker yarn, genuine Berber is made of wool
- Multi-level loop: Short and long loops lend an especially textured look, but create problems with vacuuming
You can get carpet in almost any color imaginable. For an integrated and calming effect, many consumers select a neutral color in the beige family throughout their homes. But you can also choose an unique shade for singularity and drama.
Durability involves a fabric's ability to maintain both its shape and color. Wool maintains shape particularly well as it does not crush as easily as a synthetic; however wool is porous, expensive, and can also present an allergy problem for some people.
For the greatest durability, make sure any carpet you choose has solution-dyed carpet fibers and has been treated with both stain and soil repellents. Home Depot offers a performance appearance rating that correlates well with the Consumer Reports wear-test score. For a moderate-to-high traffic area, you want a carpet with a performance appearance rating (PAR) of 4-5.
A carpet's ability to insulate your home will vary based on the carpet's thickness and construction style. The product label may offer an insulating R-value, and the underlay label may also bear one. If the carpet R-value is not available, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) suggests multiplying the total carpet thickness measured in inches by a factor of 2.6 to get a number close to the carpet's R-value. Shag nylon and plush wool generally have the highest values.
Where to buy/how to get started
Check with your local retailers for up-to-date prices and to schedule an in-home consultation. To get started immediately, you can fill out the form on this page.