How Much Does
Read Over 200
Deals on new
Buy New Carpet
How To Select
at Lowe's or
Use My Free
Carpet Specifications Revealed
By Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert and Consumer Advocate
About Carpet Specifications (What to know Before You Buy New Carpet)
Buying new carpet is a major homeowner expense and many homeowners end up buying the wrong grade of carpet and end up making costly mistakes. If you want to make a wise carpet selection and be sure to get your full monies worth, you need to know what carpet grade or quality level of carpet you need to buy for your home.
Understanding Carpet Specifications is the ONLY sure-fire way for you to know if the carpet you are buying is able to tolerate the level of foot traffic you have in your home and about how long you can anticipate it will last and retain its like-new appearance.
Buy the wrong grade of carpet and it WILL certainly wear out faster than you anticipate and you will not be happy with the outcome. Take my free Carpet Foot-Traffic Test to see where you stand in your home.
Understanding Carpet Specifications
Sometimes locating all the carpet specifications you need to help you make wise and informed carpet-buying choices can be difficult, if not nearly impossible, depending on where you live and where you plan to shop for carpet. Some carpet manufacturers are reluctant to freely provide carpet specifications to their dealers and their customers.
When it comes to Pile Height, Pile Density and Face-Weight...this might not be a big problem if you can find or even closely guesstimate two out of three carpet specs, then you can easily figure out the third specification...Using simple mathematics!
Below I explain in detail what you need to do, and how you can quickly and easily figure out all the carpet specifications you need to acquire, even if the dealers refuse to give you hardly any information at all!
First lets explain the three main carpet specifications that are typically hardest to find:
1. Selecting the Right Carpet Pile Height:
A few important facts no one else will tell you...
If you want your carpet to last longer, I recommend a Carpet Pile Height of less the 3/4". On stairs, I recommend a Carpet Pile Height of 1/2" or less and a Carpet Padding thickness of 7/16" or less and a Pile Density Rating of at least 8-pounds.
The Pile Height measurement is not usually shown on the carpet sample, however all you need is a tape measure. Don't include the carpet backing, just the soft fibers from the backing up. Convert the measurement into a decimal for calculating purposes.
Example= One half inch (1/2") is equal to (.5) decimal.
See Chart Below:
I generally recommend a pile height of less than 3/4" to help reduce the chance of matting and crushing of the pile. Why? A shorter Pile-Height makes for a much more durable carpet, it makes the carpet much easier to clean and makes the carpet more stain resistant and less prone to matting and crushing of the pile.
For example, we all know that commercial grade carpets usually have a very short pile height and have a dense pile. They can tolerate heavy foot traffic for decades and are easily cleaned time and time again. This is the recipe for success used in offices, airports and banks all across America.
Understanding Looped-Berber Carpet Styles
Looped Berber styles are best when the loops are smaller and tightly packed together. Large loops tend to fall over and look worn out very quickly. Inexpensive looped Berber styles tend to have larger loops and are typically made from Olefin, which a durable fiber but hard to keep clean fiber (it tends to attract dirt).
Better grades of looped Berber styles are typically made from Nylon and have smaller loops and are much more durable and easier to keep clean. Nylon Berber styles are often 4 times as costly as a Berber made from Olefin, however a Nylon Berber will easily last at least 4 times longer and retain its like-new appearance much longer too. A good quality Nylon looped Berber style will cost about $20 to $35 plus pad and install.
Berber styles require a special padding that is more dense with a lower profile. For example a good quality Rebond padding, 1/4" to 3/8" thickness and a density of at least 8 pounds. Some prefer a rubber pad or a synthetic fiber or wool pad for basements.
How to Choose the Right Carpet Pad
2. Selecting the Right Carpet Pile Density:
Pile Density is a mathematical calculation based on fiber Face-Weight and Pile Height. Think of a heavily wooded forest. The more closely packed together the trees are, the more dense the forest is. The same goes for carpet. You want a carpet with the tufts packed tightly together. This helps the carpet resist matting and crushing of the pile and increases longevity. Pile Density is the most important factor next to Fiber Type.
3. Selecting the Right Carpet Face-Weight:
Face-weight is the actual weight of the fiber used to manufacture the carpet pile, but does not include the weight of the carpet backing. Fiber Face-weight is not the same as Total Carpet Weight, which includes the weight of the carpet backing and the fiber face-weight.
Most carpets have a face-weight somewhere between 20 ounces and 100 ounces, but the average face-weight for a residential carpet is about 35 to 60 ounces. A higher face-weight does not automatically mean the carpet is a better grade; is a higher quality; is more durable; or is more costly.
Fortunately, these three carpet specs are mathematically related which is good news for you. If you can figure out one, or two out of the three specs, then you can easily figure out all the other specifications using the formulas I reveal below! Don't worry about the number 36 or what it means, as it is a constant industry factor with all these calculations.
4. Selecting the Right Carpet Tuft Twist
Carpet fibers, also called yarn, is either extruded or twisted to form a single strand or "filament", These filaments are similar in size to a human hair. A bunch of filaments are grouped together and twisted together to form Tufts. While these strands are twisted, heat is applied to "set" them permanently, hence the term "heat set" or "perm".
This is very similar to the way women might use a curling iron to create and set curls into their hairstyles. The tighter the tufts are twisted together the longer the carpet is able to maintain its "like-new" appearance.
It is not difficult to guesstimate the number of Tuft-Twists of a carpet you are considering. Tuft-Twist is really quite simple. When you look at a carpet you can look closely at the tuft and easily count the number of twists yourself. You just need to know that it is based on the number of twists per lineal inch of tuft.
Why is Tuft Twist So Important?
The Number of Tuft Twists is an important key to making sure your carpet retains its like new appearance longer. Frieze styles tend to have a higher tuft twist (over 6 per lineal inch) and is why they are well-known for their durability and retaining a like-new appearance longer than many other styles. When you look at a potential carpet to buy you can look at the tuft and count the twists yourself. Looped Berber carpets have twisted tufts too, but it is very hard to count them with the naked eye. Most looped Berber styles will state the Tuft Twist Rating posted on the back of the carpet sample or shown on the manufacturer's spec sheet. (ask for it)
Learn more about Carpet Padding
Carpets with a lower Tuft Twist Rating (of 3 to 5), tend to untwist or “blossom” at the tuft tips more quickly, thus creating a worn out, frizzy looking or matted down appearance. Carpets rarely wear out from the loss of fiber, they just start to mat down; gradually lose the luster and shine; and just start to look bad or ugly. Once the tufts have blossomed and become matted down, it cannot be reversed or repaired.
Learn more... Carpet Manufacturing Specifications Explained
Learn more about Carpet Fibers - What Consumers Need to Know
What Homeowners Need To Know About Carpet Fibers:
5. Selecting the right Carpet Fiber is the most important factor of all.
Figuring Out Carpet Specifications by Yourself
Carpet Specifications Revealed...
Where to locate Carpet Specifications