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Consumer’s Guide: Carpet FAQ's

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Carpet FAQ's

I heard that new carpet can make people sick? Is this true?

Most of today’s carpets are made from harmless materials found in clothing and other everyday fabrics, such as polyester, nylon and olefin fibers, which don’t trouble most people.

Carpet is also wrongly linked to high VOC levels. Studies show that new carpet is one of the lowest emitters of VOCs into the indoor environment, and that these emissions dissipate very quickly.  The low-level VOC emissions and the harmless odor from new carpet disappear within the first 48 to 72 hours after installation with proper ventilation.

The Carpet and Rug Institute offers Green Label testing and certification to indicate carpet, carpet backings, cushions and adhesives that emit low VOCs.

What kinds of carpet should I be looking for?

Although a knowledgeable salesperson will help guide you through the carpet-buying process, it’s important for you to look for a durable carpet product. Durability depends on three important factors — the type of fiber — nylon is the strongest, most resilient carpet fiber used today — yarn twist and pile density. You should find the right balance of all three.

Isn’t the color I choose for my carpet a totally personal choice?

Of course, it is, and if it’s snowy white you want, snowy white you shall get. However, you should know that light-colored carpets will show more soil and require more maintenance than darker colors, which are more effective in high-traffic areas. Also, multi-colored and patterned carpets are especially effective in hiding soil.

Do I really need to know about carpet fiber?

The performance and quality of a carpet is directly related to the amount and quality of the fiber that goes into the pile. The better the fiber and the more densely it is packed, the better the carpet will perform. Thin, less dense carpet will lose its surface appearance faster. So the answer is, in a word, yes.

What are the average costs I should expect?

Although carpet prices vary considerably with quality and style, generally carpet can cost anywhere from $8 per square yard for basic styles up to about $30 per square yard for luxury products (not including installation).

What’s this I hear about a corn-based carpet fiber?

Well, hold onto your scarecrows! Mohawk has introduced the first bio-based fiber that’s made partially from corn sugar. SmartStrand, made with DuPont Sorona polymer, represents a breakthrough in carpet fiber technology, producing a superior type of carpet fiber that combines exceptional durability with permanent, engineered in-stain protection that won’t wash or wear off, while, at the same time, offering environmental benefits such a reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions vs. petroleum-based carpet fiber.

Will my sales representative let me take samples home?

But, of course! It is important when selecting your color carpet that you take the time to look at samples, preferably large ones, in your home both by daylight and lamplight in the evening. The color you choose will look different under different lighting conditions.

What about padding? Should I ask for a better pad?

Often, a certain level of padding will be included in the quoted installation price of your carpet, and you will have the option to upgrade.

What about carpet cushion?

The cushion under your carpet is one of the most important considerations when buying new carpet. It is the base that helps the carpet retain its texture and appearance. A cushion is sold by its thickness and density. A pad that is too soft will adversely affect the performance of the carpet, and a pad that is too thick interferes with the anchoring of the carpet. For residential installation, a cushion of no more than 7/16-inch thick and no less than 1/4-inch thick with a 6 pound per cubic foot of density or equivalent is recommended. (A cushion of 3/8-inch thickness with a 6 pound per cubic foot of density or equivalent is recommended for berber style carpets.)

Will there have to be a seam in the room?

A seam may be required during the installation of carpet, depending on the dimensions of the room. If there must be a seam, it should run perpendicular to windows in order to minimize the light that reflects off of it.

What is the difference between shading and color fading?

While shading is simply the result of the change in direction of the carpet pile due to pressure from footsteps and vacuuming, color fading is more serious. Color fading of carpet occurs when particles of oily soil deposited on carpet fibers cause gradual but significant dulling of colors — the color is not lost, but hidden under the film. Cleaning your carpet regularly will help avoid color fading.

My carpet looks like it is shedding. Is this normal?

Some shedding is common in new carpet with a cut pile. The loose fibers are easily removed with regular vacuuming. This should not affect your carpet’s quality and should diminish after a few weeks or months depending on vacuuming frequency.

Why are some carpets measured by square yard and others by square foot?

Although carpet once was measured solely by the square yard, measuring carpet by the square foot has become standard and puts it in line with the measurement of other floor coverings, such as ceramic tile and hardwood.


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