Free Carpet Information and Buying Guide
Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert / Consumer Advocate - Retired after 30 years, do not sell or install carpet.
What Makes One Carpet More Durable Than Another?
Carpet Quality and Durability is determined by several key factors including: the materials used; the fiber face-weight; and how well the carpet is constructed overall.
Here is KEY information all homeowners need to know before you begin shopping for new carpet and before you make your final carpet and padding selections.
Let me explain more about Carpet Specifications and where you can locate or obtain all the crucial information you need to know as you begin shopping for new carpet for your home, office or rental property.
What is the " PAR" Carpet Rating System?
Many carpet manufacturers have a durability scale they use to inform consumers. It is usually based on a number from one to five, with five being the most durable. I don't like their rating systems because I don't think it is an accurate true-to-life calculation. I suggest you take my free carpet foot traffic test to see what grade of carpet you might need for your home. Carpet Foot-Traffic Test
What is the "Carpet Specification" label?
On the back of almost every Carpet Sample there should be a manufacturer's label that shows the name of the manufacturer; the Type of Fiber used to make the carpet pile; the limited warranty information and the carpet style and color names.
The label might also reveal which anti-stain or anti-static treatments have been applied. It may also include the Pile Density Rating, Pile height, Face-Weight and the Tuft Twist rating, but in most cases these specifications are NOT listed on the manufacturer's carpet label.
Why? They don't want you to ask too many questions. They just want you to choose your new carpet based on the color, the style, the feel and the price. Which is, from my perspective, the absolute worst way for any homeowner to choose new carpet. Choosing new carpet this way will likely end in you being unhappy with your carpet performance a some point down the road.
5 Main Carpet Specifications
(You need to be most concerned about!)
These 5 main "Carpet Specifications" are the most critical information you must have when shopping for new carpet.
Carpet Specifications help you determine how durable the carpet is, and whether or not it would be a good choice for your unique needs, goals and lifestyle.
Sadly, some carpet manufacturers refuse to place a complete list of specifications on their carpet samples. Some Carpet salespeople may intentionally refuse to provide this critical information to you.
Don't be the victim of a Carpet Scam! Learn how to combat this common carpet scam and learn how to gain access to all the carpet specifications you require.
How to locate all the Carpet Specifications you require?
Once you find a carpet you like, you need to have full access to the specification before you buy. If the label is missing, or does not provide all the information you need, then you need to ask the salesperson to provide you with a manufacturers "Carpet Spec Sheet".
The Spec Sheet is a one-page report from the carpet manufacturer that provides all the carpet specifications regarding the carpet style in question. The carpet salesperson may have to call the manufacturer to ask for it, find it in their computer database or call their local carpet mill representative to request the specifications you need.
This can be difficult, time consuming, frustrating and challenging. If all else fails, you can call the carpet manufacturer yourself. Sometimes that works. Here is a list of carpet manufacturer toll-free 800 numbers and their websites.
Q. What Grade of Carpet Should I Choose for Heavy Foot-Traffic?
If you want your new carpet to last as long as possible you need to choose a Carpet made of Nylon. It is the most durable synthetic fiber available today. Carpet Fibers - What Consumers Need to Know About Carpet Durability
Take My Free Carpet Foot-Traffic Test to help determine what grade of carpet you need to buy to meet your needs, goals, lifestyle and budget! It is absolutely critical for you to select the grade of carpet (and padding) that is capable of withstanding your unique level of Foot-Traffic you have in your home. Do you have low foot-traffic or heavy foot-traffic or somewhere in between?
Why is it so difficult to Comparison Shop for New Carpet?
Most carpet stores carry the exact same carpet brands, styles and colors as other nearby carpet stores. Some carpet retailers may not be willing to provide you with the carpet specifications to make it harder for you to comparison shop.
They don't want you to shop for a lower price on the exact same carpet down the street. In their mind, it's not fair for their salesperson to spend hours helping a customer find the perfect carpet... then for that customer to buy the exact same carpet down the street because it was a few dollars cheaper.
While I do understand their frustration with dealing with customers who want to shop around for the best deals, I believe all consumers deserve to have full and complete access to the carpet specifications and prices. Be aware that getting a cheaper price on carpet may not result in the best overall scenario for you.
Some dealers have lower prices but their customer service is not as good. Some dealers have lower prices but have less qualified installers. Some dealers have lower prices but don't return your calls when you have a problem or complaint. This is why I have my own preferred list of carpet dealers that I recommend to my readers. Don't become the victim of a carpet scam! See who I recommend near you!
If your carpet retailer is not willing to provide you with all the carpet specs you ask for, then you might consider shopping somewhere else. Bear in mind that the salesperson will often have to call the carpet maker to gain access to the "spec sheet" and it could take a day or two to gather all the information for you. Be patient!
The Smart Way To Shop For New Carpet?
You should take your time shopping for carpet and gradually narrow down your selections to just a few carpets that you really like. Choose those styles that may be most suitable for your needs first, and second, are within your price range.
You might want to consider doing your new carpet project in stages if the grade of carpet you require is more costly than you anticipated. Perhaps you can do the bedrooms and stairs first, then do the living areas when more funds are available. This way you can make sure your carpet will be able to last as long as you intend. If you go with a lower grade, your carpet will not last as long as you intend and you may need to replace tour carpet much sooner than you think.
Then before you make your final choice, ask the salesperson to provide you with a spec-sheet for each of those carpets you are considering. Now you can compare them side by side based on their specifications. Print out my free Carpet Durability Chart to learn about choosing new carpet wisely!
What are "Private Labels" on Carpet Samples?
One problem you may encounter when shopping for carpet at home improvement stores like Lowe's or Home Depot, is that they have placed private labels on all their carpet samples. They have deliberately changed the style and color names to prevent you from being able to comparison shop at other local carpet stores.
What this means to you is that if you find a carpet that you really like, you will have a very hard time finding the exact same carpet at another carpet store. This is a sneaky trick that prevents you from determining if their prices are fair and reasonable. I consider "private labeling" a Carpet Scam!
Chances are good that the same carpet is available at other local carpet stores in your area but are selling under a different style and color name. Using private labels is how they prevent you from comparing their prices with other nearby carpet retailers.
This is also how they can get away with charging you more for the carpet, padding and installation. They try very hard to take away your right to shop around to find the best deal. Are their prices fair?
How would you know if you are unable to comparison shop? For this reason and many others, I do not recommend buying carpet or flooring from any home improvement store. Common Consumer Carpet Buying Mistakes
Carpet Tuft Twist
What is a Carpet Tuft?
Carpet fibers, strands or "filaments" are grouped together to form tufts and twisted while heat is applied to "set" the fibers permanently, hence the term "heat set". The tighter the filaments are twisted the more durable the carpet will be.
This tuft has 7 twists and is a sign of a well-made carpet. I have used green and white to better show the twisting of the tuft. In this example the tuft is one-inch long (tall).
This tuft only has 4 twists and is not as good and is a sign of a lower grade of carpet
The Number of Tuft Twists is an important key to making sure your carpet retains its like new appearance longer.
Frieze styles always have a higher Tuft Twist rating (usually over 6) and is why Frieze styles are well-known for their durability and retaining a like-new appearance longer than most other carpet styles. (I am referring to Frieze styles made of 100% Nylon)
What Makes Carpet Look Bad?
Carpets with a low Tuft-Twist rating (3 to 5) are more likely to untwist or “blossom” at the yarn tips more quickly... thus creating a worn out or matted down appearance.
This example shows a single tuft that has unraveled thereby making the carpet look matted down and ugly looking. Nothing can be done to repair a carpet when this happens.
Tufts cannot be re-twisted. Carpets with a lower Tuft Twist rating tend to "blossom" more quickly and as a result will appear worn out much more quickly.
This is why it is important to choose a new Carpet with a higher Tuft-Twist rating. It will resist untwisting of the tuft; retain its like-new appearance longer and tolerate a higher level of foot traffic. When comparing new carpet side by side, you must consider the Tuft Twist to help determine which carpet may be the better choice.
Study this simple chart to better understand how carpet quality is determined in part by the number of twists each tuft has. Most frieze styles have a high tuft twist rating of at least 6 or more. That's one reason why frieze carpets tend to wear better and last longer than many other styles.