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How to Choose Carpet Like a Pro?



Wall-to-Wall Carpet or Carpeting, like everything else we buy today, these textiles are not made nearly as durable as they once were. Rug manufacturers have learned how to reduce costs and cut corners in mysterious ways. 


Currently the carpet industry provides a much wider range of quality levels to meet the demands type of every type of application. 


The secret for carpet shoppers today is knowing where to buy without getting ripped off and how to choose a carpet that can meet all their needs, goals, lifestyle and budget.


The type of carpet fiber consumers choose makes all the difference. For example, nylon is always a better choice over polyester for those who want carpet that can last a long time and not mat down quickly.


Other fibers available have their good and not-so-good qualities to be mindful of. More about Carpet Fibers



Free Carpet Durability Chart


Carpet Durability Guide ChartCheck out my free Carpet Durability Guide Chart to gain a better idea about how to compare carpet specifications and understand what makes one carpet more durable than another. 


I designed this Carpet Durability Chart to help homeowners who want to select the right grade or quality of carpet to meet their needs and goals based on known carpet manufacturing specifications. 



(click on the image to view or print)



Before making any final carpet selections, consumers would be wise to obtain the carpet specifications from the carpet retailer.  


Then use my carpet durability chart to help determine the level of durability for each carpet. 


This can help narrow down the best carpet choice if there is any question about which carpet to select.


Don’t forget to take my Free Carpet Foot-Traffic Test to help determine what grade or quality of carpet you need for your home. 


Learn more about Carpet Specifications and Durability.



Carpet Stain Resistance


Stainmaster branded carpets have always been known for using the Antron Nylon 6,6 Fiber. However the fiber is no longer associated with the use of Teflon®


It has been replaced with a topically applied anti-stain system called The DuraTech® soil resistance formula.


This is similar to Shaw's R2X topically applied solution to help resist stains and for ease of cleaning. 


Both of these sprayed on chemicals wear off over time and can be reapplied by a certified carpet Cleaning Technician. The same is true for carpets treated with Scotchgard®.


Nylon Carpet Durability and Longevity


Berven Carpet Mill, Fresno California 1970Today you must choose a grade of carpet that is specifically designed to meet your needs, goals and lifestyle, or else you might end up with a carpet that wears out way faster than you expect! 


Pic: Berven Carpet Rug Mills, Fresno California, early 1970's


During the 1960's and 70's, most residential carpets were made of Nylon. There were basically three grades of nylon carpet to choose from, good, better and best. Even the lowest grades of nylon carpet would last a long time and tolerate heavy foot traffic.


The lowest grade of nylon carpet was designed to last 10-15 years or more before it would show any signs of wearing out. Medium and higher grades could easily last 20 to 30 years or more, even in heavy traffic applications! 


All homeowners had to do was give the carpet a good steam cleaning every few years and the tufts would spring back upright and make the carpet appear like- new again.


Be prepared for sticker shock when you discover what it will cost to buy a high-quality nylon carpet that can tolerate heavy foot- traffic for 20 years or more.


Many of these vintage nylon carpets are still in use today in homes all across America. Many still look pretty darn good, other than the gold, green or orange colors!



Spool of Nylon fishing lineAsk Any Fisherman About Nylon Filament. Anyone who enjoys fishing knows how strong the nylon fiber is. 


Fishing line, called filament, is rated by a line's “pound test,” or the amount of pounds of pressure it can withstand before breaking.


Monofilament fishing line first appeared in the 1950s and was made from nylon. Nylon is 10 times stronger than steel which is why you shouldn't use your teeth to cut a nylon fishing line. Nylon is also used to make parachute cord.



Softness vs. Durability


Carpet Fiber Denier Example - Carpet ProfessorEveryone wants a soft carpet but that softness comes at a price. Creating the feel of softness means making the fiber strand thinner. I believe that compromises durability and resiliency of the fiber strand. 


Softer carpets are more easily damaged by abrasion and are more prone to matting and crushing of the pile. Choosing a carpet with a standard denier will yield increased durability and resiliency which in turn will make your carpet last longer. What is Carpet Denier?





Residential Carpet Grades Explained


Here is a basic explanation of the various Carpet Grades and how to choose the right quality level to meet your needs, goals and budget. The fiber you select will determine durability and cost. 


Your 4 basic carpet fiber choices are: 1) Nylon, 2) Polyester 3) Olefin 4) Smartstrand.  Nylon is the most durable and it is also the most expensive fiber. More about Carpet Fibers



1. Low-End Grades of Carpet


There are at least 6 grade levels of low-end carpets designed for apartments and rental property and is typically called "builder-grade" or "apartment-grade" carpet. 


These low-cost carpets are only designed to last 3 to 5 years at best. The face- weights are generally 22 ounces to 28 ounces. Prices range from $10 - $20 per square yard for the carpet only.


Rolls of In-Stock Carpet at a locally owned carpet storeThe cheapest way to go is to buy from a locally- owned carpet store who carries rolls of carpet in-stock. Colors and styles are limited to stock on hand and there is no manufacturer's warranty available. 


Bring a truck, some rope and a tarp if you want to have your own independent carpet installer do the install. 


It's more difficult to obtain manufacturing specifications on in-stock rolls of carpet. Carpet Installation Cost Fees Charges


(If you are a landlord with apartments or a rental property owner or manager, visit my Landlord website which is designed to help rental property owners save on carpet, padding and vinyl flooring replacements and repair costs.)



2. Medium Grades of Carpet


There are at least 12 medium-grades of carpet configurations for those who want to have carpet last for 6 to 12 years. Your foot traffic plays a huge role in how long your carpet will look like new. Face-weights range from 30 to 45 ounces. Prices range $20 to $40 per yard for the carpet only. 


The fiber, pile height, tuft twist and pile density are the main four factors that determine how long the carpet will last and prices increase according to durability and degree of softness.





3. High-End Carpet Grades


There are at least 6 high-end grades of carpet quality for those who want their carpet to last 12 to 20+ years and are willing to pay dearly for it. Face-weights range from 45 to 80 ounces. Prices range from $40 to $85 per square yard and up for the carpet only. Wool Carpets are most costly, usually well over $100 per square yard.


Higher Grades of Carpet Provide...


  • The Best Quality Fibers - Antron Nylon 6.6 or Anso Nylon 6.0. These fibers are both made very well, easy to clean, more resilient, resist fading, great color choices, most durable, many styles to choose from. Most carpet experts believe Antron's Nylon 6,6 fiber is superior.

  • A Better Backing System. The backing will have a tighter weave and heavier construction, better materials and is more durable. This also helps prevent wrinkling and delaminating.

  • The Pile Density will be higher, often more than 3000. Higher density carpets can tolerate higher traffic applications and and increased ease of cleaning.


  • The Tuft-Twist Rating will be higher (in the 5 to 9 range). 

  • Tuft Twist Example Higher tuft-twists make carpets retain their like-new appearance longer. 

  • Frieze styles have a very high tuft twist rating, usually above 7.



  • Costs will be higher too - $45 to $85 per square yard for carpet only. Pad and install is extra. Expect to pay more for installation because higher quality carpets are usually much heavier and more difficult to install. 


I've just mentioned 12 different grades of carpet to make it easy to understand. But in reality, there are dozens of grades of carpet to choose from, all at varying prices and warranty levels. A higher price does not always mean it is a better or longer lasting carpet. 


Softer carpets always demand a higher price but softer usually means less durable. You will pay more and get a less durable carpet, but you will certainly enjoy the softer feel.





Carpet Durability

Three carpet specification facts to consider: 


1. Carpets with a pile-height under 3/4" are less prone to matting and crushing of the pile.

2. Carpets with a higher Pile-Density Rating are more durable.

3. Face-weights over 60 ounces are not always more durable.



Which Fiber Is Your Carpet Made From?

Here is a handy chart of common branded carpet styles and what carpet fiber they are made from. This information can help you determine the durability of a carpet and its suitability for a particular application. 


This chart also shows what type of anti-stain treatment has been applied.

Carpet Styles, Fiber Types and Stain Treatment Chart

(Click on image to view or print)

Combine this chart with my Carpet Durability Guide Chart to discover the information you need to made wise and informed choices.



The Carpet Professor Says....


Choosing the wrong grade of carpet is one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make. Why? 


Because the carpet you buy MUST meet or exceed your needs and goals or you will not get the long-term results that you desire. 


Why spend thousands on new carpet that won't last as long as you anticipate? 


1. How long do you want your new carpet to last? 

2. What is your level of foot-traffic in your home? 


These are 2 key questions that you need to consider and answer carefully. Then you can discover the answer this question: What Grade of Carpet Should I Buy?


Your Key To Carpet Success

Not only must you hire a qualified carpet installer, you must also choose the right grade of carpet and padding too. 


Just as important is making sure you buy from an honest and reputable carpet and flooring dealer. That's how to buy new carpet like a pro!



Learn More: 






About The Carpet Professor:

Looking to buy new carpeting but feeling overwhelmed by all the choices, options and potential scams? The Carpet Professor's website is a free unbiased carpet information resource and buying guide for consumers. Alan Fletcher is a retired 30-year industry expert and consumer advocate. He maintains a special hand-picked list of locally-owned carpet and flooring stores to recommend to his readers.


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Locally-owned Hand-picked Carpet and Flooring stores near you!


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Recommended Carpet and Flooring Dealers"I Only Recommend Locally-Owned Stores with Superior Service, Quality Products and Qualified Installers."


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