When it’s time to replace your carpet, consider environmental impact. For example, carpet composed of Anso nylon fibers is completely recyclable into new carpet. Carpet made from postconsumer materials (such as plastic soda bottles) or from readily renewable agricultural resources (such as corn) has less of an impact on the environment than carpet that can’t be recycled. Just like any carpet, these environmentally friendly products feel soft underfoot and make an excellent flooring choice for gathering rooms, bedrooms, and home offices.
Most residential carpets made in the United States feature tufts of yarn stitched through a backing fabric. A latex coating sets these tufts in place and anchors them to a secondary backing. Tufts pulled through the backing can either be looped or cut, producing various textures. Here are the most popular styles:
Saxony: Level-cut pile is made up of closely packed tufts; luxurious surface good for formal settings.
Plush: Also called velvet; yarn is longer than a saxony, but is less dense; good for informal rooms.
Frieze: Twisted tufts that curl at the surface create a textured look that hides footprints; suitable for high-traffic areas.
Level Loop: Uncut pile contains loops of yarn of the same height; hides dirt well in high-traffic areas.
Multilevel Loop: Two or three levels of tufts form a random, sculptural look for informal and formal rooms.
Cut-and-Loop (or Cut-Loop): Higher tufts of cut yarn combine with lower loops for informal settings.
Fiber: Although the overall choice here is either synthetic or natural, several fibers are available in the synthetic category.
Wool: Noted for its soft, luxurious feel, but may be less resilient than synthetics, and carpets usually costs more.
Sisal: Made from plant fiber, and popular for its textured look.
Nylon: The strongest, most resilient carpet fiber; good for all traffic areas.
Polyester: Soft to the touch, but less resilient than nylon; resists water-soluble stains; carpets better suited for low-traffic areas.
Olefin: Resists moisture and mildew; suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications.
Acrylic: Often used in plush or level-loop carpet; offers the luxurious appearance and feel of wool at a lower price.
In addition to noting the fiber, pay attention to how the carpet is manufactured. Check the following:
Yarn Twist: All yarns in cut-pile carpeting have been twisted and heat-set to retain the twist. The tighter the twist, the longer the carpet will keep its original appearance. Typically, carpets feature yarns with 2.5-6.0 turns per inch, with most in the 3.5-5.0 TPI range.
Pile Height: Shorter nap resists crushing and looks newer longer.
Density: The amount of yarn used and the closeness of the tufts has a large impact on performance. Denser carpets will be more crush-resistant. To determine density, bend the carpet. Less backing will show in denser carpets.