Before embarking on a carpet purchase, it is helpful to get a sense of the different options that carpet manufacturers might offer, as well as the ways in which they price their products. Additionally, some knowledge of how carpet is actually manufactured can be useful in determining which product will be best suited for a particular room or home.
Fiber and Fabrics: Low to Mid Quality
Carpet manufacturers will typically produce carpets in more than one material. The least expensive kinds are crafted with manmade materials like polyester and nylon, with nylon being the most common material used, as it is the most durable. It can also be crafted in different grades, which are set at different price points. Polyester is less resilient than nylon, and it can tend to produce a strange sound when walked on, but it is stain resistant and can be made in an eco-friendly fashion with recyclable materials (which are responsible for the occasional plastic noises).
Fiber and Fabrics: High Quality
The best carpets are of the plush or textured varieties, which are typically of a higher quality. These carpets are more expensive, but they are soft and smooth, with noise-cancelling properties, close-knit fiber density, high face weight (i.e., ounces of fiber per square yard), and tight twists all of which make the carpet more durable. (As a general rule, the harder it is to see the carpet backing, the better the density and twist, and the more resilient the carpet). Many carpet manufacturers also offer the option of having these carpets made with hypoallergenic fibers.
Color and Durability
Sometimes the array of available colors offered by carpet manufacturers can be overwhelming, particularly in the case of higher quality carpets. This is because manufacturers will typically offer more variety as carpet price point increases, so while the cheapest carpets may only be available in up to ten colors, the upscale choices may come in up to twenty-five different color options. The best carpets will boast a durability that ensures they will not lose their color vibrancy over time. Those whose carpets will see a lot of foot traffic should ask for a durability rating of at least 3.5.
Carpet manufacturers use a variety of methods to create their products. The most common is the tufting method, which uses an apparatus similar to a giant sewing machine. These machines typically use colortec technology to loop fibers of a wool-nylon blend or another man-made material together. Woven carpets, on the other hand, are manufactured with one of two updated versions of a traditional loom: the spool axminster loom or the gripper axminster loom. These machines are a bit more labor intensive, and tend to produce a pricier carpet.
As a general rule, the best and longest lasting carpets will have a twist level of 4.0 and above, a density of approximately 4,000 fibers, and a face weight of about 40 ounces. It is important to ask a carpet manufacturer to provide these numbers, along with any information about color, installation, sale price, and warranty (the best companies offer a 25 year+ warranty on carpets) to ensure that you are getting the best carpet possible.