Shopping for carpet can be tricky. For an average shopper, quality can be difficult to tell just by looking at it. For some, heavier carpets would mean more durable and high-grade. While density really matters in gauging the quality of a carpet, there are numerous properties contributing to the integrity of the product and its overall caliber that should be taken into consideration.
Here are some tips on how to evaluate carpet quality properly:
- Choose A Suitable Carpet Fiber
In terms of carpet fiber, you can choose between natural and synthetic fibers.
The two primary options for synthetic fibers in both commercial and household uses are nylon and olefin. These are deemed the best in terms of soiling resistance and strength. However, there are certain applications where natural fiber is a must, with wool being the best option.
When it comes to carpets, nylon is the most trusted and established material. Its hard surface characteristic offers excellent resilience, wearability, flexibility, as well as chemical and oil resistance. Plus, moisture can’t easily penetrate nylon fibers.
Next in line to nylon is the olefin carpet fiber. It’s way cheaper than nylon, but not as hard or crush-resistant. In order to compete with nylon, manufacturers of olefin carpets limit their pile height and increase the number of fibers to reduce crushing and improve wear-resistance.
Olefin also has the advantage of being highly resistant to moisture and stain. Thus, it’s often used for indoor and outdoor carpet tiles. Unfortunately, olefin tends to accumulate more dirt and debris than nylon fibers. So, frequent cleaning of olefin carpets is required in order to avoid damage to its fiber surface due to dirt stockpile.
Natural wool fiber is the most premium among all carpet fibers. It’s highly durable and both mat- and crush-resistant. While it has the ability to endure moisture, it tends to shrink when the water becomes too saturated in it.
Wool fibers don’t stick to soil. Thus, it’s very easy to clean. However, due to fiber construction, wool does hide dirt really well and tends to scatter light. So, although not visible, wool carpets require more frequent washing than synthetic fibers since embedded dirt can easily reduce the reliability of the fiber surface.
- See The Impact of Color On Quality
Carpet fibers are colored in two ways—stock dyeing and solution dyeing.
When carpet fibers are stock dyed, the color pigments are added to the manufactured yarn before they’re turned into spun yarn. This is a more low-cost process than solution dyeing, however, the price may indicate a slight decrease in performance. On the good side, you get to choose a wider range of carpet colors.
Solution dyeing, on the other hand, involves the adding of the carpet’s color pigment during the manufacturing process. As a result, the color spreads throughout the fabric material. This offers vibrant colors to the carpets, as well as outstanding resistance to fading. Even when the carpet is exposed to harsh detergents or sunlight, the discoloration won’t easily occur.
- Measure Carpet Pile and Fiber Twist
In terms of the pile, carpets have two types—loop and cut pile.
In a cut pile construction, the fibers are cut at the carpet’s top surface instead of being looped back into the backing. This results in tufts of yarn standing up. The fibers can be cut at various heights for a textured surface or cut at the same level in order to produce a non-textured, flat finish.
Meanwhile, in a loop pile construction, the individual yarn strands are looped through the carpet backing. The loops can be set at different levels or the same level to create unique patterns. When subjected to pressure, these loops can flex in order to return to their previous position. Such rebounding ability makes these carpets well-suited for high-traffic areas.
For all piles, the integrity and performance of the carpet depend on the fiber twist and density of the pile.
Carpet fiber twist refers to the number of fiber strands twisted together on a vertical inch of fiber. This twist number is often referred to as TPI or Turns-Per-Inch. The higher the number, the better durability the carpet has.
- Decide On Carpet Backing
The backing materials used in the carpet can also determine its performance as they provide stability and strength to the product.
Almost 90% of commercial carpets are attached through tufts. This means that the yarn is stitched through the backing fabric and affixed and coated properly. In order to provide extra strength, additional backing materials are also added such as jute or polypropylene. Both are resilient, durable, and strong; however, the latter offers better defense to mildew. Thus, it’s better suited for applications in high humidity or damp areas like the basement.
There are carpet backings that offer a moisture-barrier feature in order to keep liquid spills from seeping through, creating conditions that support mildew growth or causing damage to your flooring. Carpets with moisture backing are best for areas where spills are more likely to happen, such as the dining area.
As you can see, shopping for a carpet should not be confusing nor overwhelming. With the above information, you should be able to make a sound purchasing decision, getting a carpet that should last you for years to come. Always remember to choose a suitable carpet fiber, examine the color’s impact on a carpet, look at carpet pile and fiber twist, and finally, go for a carpet backing that provides stability and protection to your carpet, especially against mold and mildew build, or dust accumulation.