Carpets and flooring are specialist products, and are susceptible to accidents every so often! So it's important to not only choose the right look to suit your style, but also pick the carpet and flooring which is best suited to your lifestyle.
Read our guide below to ensure you make the best decisions before you buy your carpets and flooring, as well as when you're living with them.
Tufted or woven?
These are the two most common types of carpets which are available in the UK. A tufted carpet is quicker, easier, and therefore cheaper to produce, and is manufactured by pulling fibres through a backing material to form your carpets.
Woven carpets are, as the name suggests, manufactured through a traditional weaving process where the front and back of the carpets are produced simultaneously. Woven carpets are either "Axminster" (heavily patterned with many colours) or "Wilton" (usually plain, but can include more than one colour).
Different carpet styles are a result of different surface textures, which give a different feel, appearance, and performance.
Generally speaking, luxurious carpets will require more care. Shorter piles will normally wear better than long piles, but you may lose that luxury feel. Consider your personal taste, as well as what the room will be used for. Here are some of the most common styles you will come across:
Twist Pile - The pile of the carpet is twisted in the manufacturing process giving a course, hard wearing finish.
Loop Pile - The pile is looped giving a natural looking finish. Aggressive brushing and cleaning, as well as pets, can pull the loops out and cause unnecessary, premature wear on a normally durable carpet.
Velvet Pile - A smooth, suede-like surface with a luxurious appearance.
Saxony - A deep pile option which provides a soft, almost bouncy finish. Saxony carpets are likely to flatten, so are not usually recommended in areas with heavy traffic.
Patterned - Most commonly a smooth surface, with a multitude of patterns available.
Tiles and Sheet - Carpets tiles can be laid in checkerboard style or in a single direction. Sheet carpet is manufactured in widths such as 2m, 3m, 4m, and 5m, and your supplier will help you to ensure that the correct length is ordered to ensure as little waste as possible.
Natural or man-made?
Wool is the traditional choice for carpet manufacturers, thanks to its soft touch, resilience, flame retardance, and ability to maintain its look for a substantial time.
However, synthetic alternatives, including polypropylene, are cheaper, hard wearing, and easier to clean; stain-free in many cases.
So you will find many natural wool carpets, many man-made carpets, and many which contain a blend of both wool and man-made fibres, often in 80/20 or 50/50 ratios, which provide the benefits of both materials without too much compromise.
The choice is yours! Consider how you plan to decorate your rooms, and whether you're looking for subtlety from your flooring, or a more overstated, bold look. There are many, many patterns available on the market, as well as stripes which are proving popular through narrow areas such as hallways and stairs.
Consider how your colours and patterns will flow from room to room, especially when buying for hallways, entrance ways, and other adjoining areas. The colour and pattern of your carpets, combined with those of your other decorations, can and will set the mood for not only your individual room, but the room next to it too.
Carpet manufacturers are setting themselves up to be increasingly more versatile with their processes. Ask your supplier about bespoke colour carpets to get that absolutely perfect look.
Different areas of your space will receive different levels of traffic; spare bedrooms will have fewer (and less dirty) visits compared to an entrance way or stairs, whereas a commercial property is likely to receive higher traffic still through its common walkways.
Although factors such as the pile type (see Carpet Styles) and fibre type (see Carpet Fibres) will still have a significant effect on durability, the weight per area of a carpet provides an additional indication of the quality, durability, performance, and feel of that carpet.
Weights of carpets are often still seen in ounces per square yard, when you can expect to find weight from 25 oz/yd2 to 80 oz/yd2. The same type and style of carpet is often available in different weights so you can have the same look through different rooms, with better performance where required.
Some manufacturers also provide a grading system comprising of "Medium Domestic", "Heavy Domestic", "Very Heavy Domestic" and "Commercial". In reality, these will reflect various weights, but provide more simple terminology. However, be aware that a grading from one manufacturer of "Heavy Domestic" could be different to the same grading from another manufacturer, and so aren't always directly comparable.
A chance to add your touch of luxury! You will want to feel the soft, plush carpet as you get out of bed each morning. However, your bedroom is not likely to be a well-trodden area of your house, so there is no need to invest in a heavy-weight, enduring carpet. If your chosen colour and style is available in different weights (qualities), then you can choose the lower weights for your bedroom.
Your living room will need a hard-wearing carpet, so it can take the day to day stress that constant use will put on it. You should consider choosing heavier weight carpets here. Also think about who uses this area of your house. Pets and children may encourage you to choose a carpet with a higher proportion of man-made fibres, which have stain resistant properties. Alternatvely, some suppliers may be able to offer you a stain shield, which is applied after manufacture, and will add to any carpet's stain resistance. Read our section on Pets, Children and Other Hazards.
Perhaps your greatest opportunity to divulge your imagination, occasional rooms such as the dining room can be finished in any style, colour, material, or weight which you prefer. Unleash your creativity!
As with your living room, your hallway is a well-used area of your home. Less susceptible to spills and stains, you should opt for a carpet with greater durability, which is found in carpets with higher wool content. Consider the style of flooring on your stairs also, as these two areas are likely to be adjacent.
Stairs and Landing
Another area of high wear, you should choose a carpet with high wool content here. Consider your choices for the halls and landing, as although you will want them to compliment each other, you don't have to be so conservative on the stairs as it is an area defined by its unique long profile. There are a number of striped carpets available, from subtle to expressive. If you're not looking for a full-carpet look, a runner (leaves a gap at each side to reveal floor boards) may be a good option for you.
If you're looking to carpet your kitchen, you should consider man-made fibres which have high stain resistance properties. Many people nowadays choose hard flooring over carpet in their kitchen, due to its practicality as well as the variety of looks it can achieve. Take a look at both sheet vinyl flooring, as well as laminate tiles; both of which can give your kitchen a lift with highly effective and realistic wood textures, stone appearances, mosaic designs, and other modern and traditional creations.
Don't be led to believe that you cannot have a carpet in your bathroom. You will find a wide range of carpets that are made suitable for use in bathrooms with a foam backing. However, in no circumstances should these be soaked, so if you have young children, and the bathroom is likely to become a water park every so often, you should approach with caution! Many vinyls are now produced with non-slip properties, and although should also not be soaked, can provide a diverse range of appearances, from wood-effect to stone-effect to mosaic-effect.
Pets and children spend a lot of time on floors, so must be considered when choosing your carpets. You will find a wide range of suggestions, but we've provided the keys points.
Stain resistance - Unless you have very clean pets and/or children, stain resistance is likely to be a high priority for you. Carpets which are manufactured using man-made materials provide fantastic resistance, but you may also consider post-manufacture protection. Speak to your supplier about stain guard options, and you may find that this is a great solution for your pets and children.
Durability - Pets and children spend a lot of time in single areas of the house, so you'll ideally look for a heavier weight carpets to allow for more wear in these areas. Heavier wear is normally associated with wool and wool-blend carpets, and although you should consider man-made fibres (alternative to natural wool) for their stain resistance, if your pets and children are less likely to produce stains, you can opt for durable, wool-blend options, perhaps with a stain guard solution. Also consider the style of carpets - some pets, such as cats with long claws, have a tendency to pull at loop-pile carpets. Instead, look at open-fibre carpets such as twist piles.
Colours and patterns - Use some common sense here. Darker colours and heavier patterns are less likely to show stains, should any accidents happen. A compromise may be to look at carpets with a slight fleck, which break up the consistency of a carpet, and provide a camouflage to stains. Velvet pile carpets have a characteristic of uniformity, which is often considered the epitome of oppulence, but is not likely to be practical with spills and accidents looming.
We would normally recommend you fit new underlay when you're having new carpets. In some circumstances, such as if the underlay is still very new, or the carpet's backing doesn't warrant an underlay (foam-backed carpets, normally for bathrooms), we can advise that new underlay is not required.
Underlay provides a cushioning for your carpets and improves the general wear, giving a better look and feel for longer. By retaining the pile for longer, it also makes cleaning the carpet easier; a major factor when considering the build up of dust particles and germs in carpets if not cleaned properly. And finally, underlay provides an additional insulation layer; not only helping to keep your heating bills in check, but also providing greater sound insulation from other rooms, or neighbours.
If you speak to your supplier, you will find that there are a number of different types of underlay to choose from; and within those types, you will find a vaeriety of different qualities.
Options range from sponge, rubber, felts, and paper. You will find some are made from recycled materials, and others from new materials. Bear in mind that some carpets and flooring will be better suited to certain types of underlay.
With the vast array of options available, discuss the choices your supplier offers, and you'll be able to decide what is best for your carpet type, needs, and budget.
When measuring for a new carpet, you need to identify the widest points of the room. Consider any recesses that may be around, as you don't want to be left short.
Sheet carpets and flooring are produced in long rolls, and can be available in widths of 4m, and 5m (often dependent on the manufacturer. Vinyls are also available in 2m and 3m widths). Lengths are then cut off these rolls to suit your sizes. You'll need to choose which way the carpet can be laid to leave as little waste as possible. This is determined by measuring which width is closest to (but under) one of the manufactured widths. You can then measure the other way to determine the length required (usually in 10cm intervals). You should leave approximately 10cm to 20cm in each direction to allow for cutting.
As the measuring of your space is vital to getting the carpet laid properly, it is recommended that an expert does your measuring. Some suppliers will offer a visit, on which they can both measure and advise on options available to you. Some suppliers can offer this visit free of charge, so speak to them to find out.
Suppliers of carpets and flooring come in all shapes and sizes. As well as finding a supplier that has the wide range of options you want at a good price, you'll also want to consider some of the following.
Experience - Having a new carpet is a costly process, so you'll want to know that you're in the capable hands of a specialist. Don't just consider the length of time the supplying business has been around for, but also ask how long the person who is giving you advice, and the carpet fitters, have been in the industry. Every new carpet situation is unique, so the value of experience in this industry is priceless, and can save you both money and heartache in the future.
Qualifications - Aside from experience, qualifications can give you the assurances you need that you're trusting the right people. Carpet fitting is a craft, just like many other professions, so ask your supplier what level of skill their carpets fitters work to.
Breadth of offering - The breadth of a supplier's range of carpets isn't the only variety you need to consider. Look for suppliers who are able to advise, measure, supply, fit, and offer maintenance advice on your new flooring. These suppliers have a complete understanding of the full process, and will save you time and money through the breadth of service they can offer. Consider the supplier's experience and qualifications in each of these service areas.
Care and attention - Once you've ticked the boxes above, there's only one thing left... how do you feel about that supplier? Can you trust them to do the job properly? Have they paid attention and taken care in all the right places? Buying your carpet is the first step. Choosing the right supplier can mean the difference between a bad experience and a great experience as you live with it for years to come.
For your free, no obligation quotation, get in touch and we can arrange a time to visit your domestic or commercial premises to measure and discuss your requirements.
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