Monday, 17 November 2003 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Wall-to-wall carpeting is an investment that can set the stage for your home's decor. Your choice should last at least 7 years, so here's some info to help you select a carpet that works with your family and lifestyle.

The Basics

  • There are a few options to choose from for your carpet’s fibre:

    • Wool, which is extremely resilient to crushing and matting. It’s soft underfoot, durable and usually the most luxurious, and more expensive, choice.

    • Nylon is popular especially for high traffic or abuse areas that need regular cleaning. Even after cleaning, it maintains its original loft, whereas an olefin will not.

    • Olefin, also known as polypropylene, is cheaper than nylon and is sold for its stain and fade resistance. It doesn’t hold up too well cleaning. Olefin stands up to humidity, moisture and water damage, but loses its like-new appearance much faster than nylon and wool carpeting. It is a good choice for a basement or playroom.

  • Once you’ve chosen a fibre, you also select construction style:

    • Loop carpets have each end of the strand attached to the backing, creating a loop, and withstand traffic and dirt much better than cut pile carpets. There are different types of looped: Level loop, where all the lengths are the same; multi-level loop, where loops are different lengths, providing a more textured look, and berber style, a thicker, denser level loop technique.

    • Cut pile carpets only have one end of each strand attached to the backing. The thicker the pile, the more luxurious the carpet. Cut pile is best for low-traffic areas like bedrooms.

  • The density of a carpet refers to the amount of pile (strands of fibres) in the carpet and how closely the tufts are together. The higher the density, the better the quality. Test the density by pushing your fingers through the carpet to the backing: the harder it is to touch the backing, the higher the density and the stronger it will stand up to foot traffic.

  • In cut pile carpets, take a close look at the yarn to make sure each strand has at least 4 to 6 twists. Anything less and it will start to unravel and look fuzzy.


Other Considerations

  • The padding underneath the carpet is also important. Sometimes retailers include padding in the price of the carpet, but that usually means it will be a cheap grade. Choose a medium to high density padding made from a prime urethane to provide the best support for your new carpet.

  • Generally, you make arrangements through the retailer to install the carpet you’ve just bought. Make sure you work out all the details beforehand, and get them in writing. Find out how to prepare the room(s): ask if they move the furniture and how much extra it costs. It can save you a lot of money if you move it yourself.


We tested clean-up, style and comfort of these carpets to see how different fibres and construction styles held up.

  • Loop Olefin: $15 per square yard
  • Loop Wool-Olefin Blend: $30 per square yard
  • Loop/Cut-pile Combo Nylon: $25 per square yard
  • Loop/Cut-pile Combo Nylon: $47 per square yard
  • Cut-Pile Polyester: $19 per square yard

Style & Comfort Test

  • Unfortunately, the loop olefin was voted least stylish.
  • The two loop/cut nylon carpets and the cut pile polyester were also low on the style scale
  • The loop wool-olefin blend passed our comfort underfoot test and was the most preferred style by our testers

Clean-up Test

We’re pretty sure no ordinary household would put a carpet through the mess we did. Here are the results:

  • The loop olefin carpet stood up the best and came out the cleanest.
  • The nylon and polyester carpets cleaned up a close second.
  • The wool-olefin blend did a pretty good job of cleaning up.


We chose the wool-olefin blend because it was the most comfortable underfoot, it did a pretty good job of cleaning up, and it looked good too.


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