Carpeting can make a great investment for your home. While it might take additional maintenance compared to other flooring options like laminate or tile, nothing compares to the warmth, comfort, and sound absorption of a carpeted floor.
Whether you love the luxurious feeling of carpet under your feet or you want a safe place for kids to play, carpet is a quick and effective way to upgrade your home and completely transform the look of any space.
But before you start your carpet buying journey, you’ll need to consider a number of factors. Depending on the material, style, price, and performance, some types of carpet can be the perfect match for your home — while others fall short of your needs.
Understanding the basics of carpeting will help you move forward with confidence. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to help you choose the right carpet for your home.
Carpet Selection Guide: 4 Things to Consider
Engineered hardwood, laminate, luxury vinyl tile, luxury vinyl plank — there are so many flooring options in front of you as a homeowner. The flooring you choose can set the overall tone of your home.
When you need an extra layer of comfort, the right carpet can add a soft, luxurious appeal to any room. That being said, it isn’t easy knowing which type of carpet is the best match for your home. From style to material, there’s no shortage of options. And you need to consider factors like allergies, pets, your family’s lifestyle, and the rooms that get the most traffic.
If you want to choose carpet that suits your household, you need to know all the factors that go into your decision. Here are four things to consider before you jump into your carpet selection.
1. How Much Do I Need to Cover?
First things first, you need to calculate how much space you need to cover with your carpeting.
To start, measure the length and the width of each room in which you’re planning to install carpeting. Make sure you have a clear space between the two opposite walls you’re measuring. Then, secure one end of your measuring tape against the wall — pressed as close to the floor as you can get it — and then keep the measuring tape straight until it reaches the next wall.
Once you have your measurements, it only takes a simple equation to figure out the room’s square footage: length times width. For multiple rooms, add all the square footage together.
Another important note: You’ll need to set aside about 10% of the carpet that might be lost as you cut the carpet to the right shape. Multiply your entire total by 1.1 to include the additional 10% you’ll need.
Finally, multiply that number by the cost per square foot of the carpet you’re looking to buy. This should give you an estimate as to how much the entire roll of carpeting will cost. If you’re struggling with the numbers, a carpet calculator can help you double check and verify your work.
2. How Much Can I Budget?
A lot can go into the pricing for carpeting: material, weight, thickness, durability, pile height, and style.
The main factor that goes into price is the weight of the carpet. A heavier carpet will cost more per square foot — as will more durable carpeting with strong fibers. While these carpets cost more initially, it’s important to keep longevity in mind. A more expensive investment can pay off in the long run if it means the carpet stays in good condition for a long time.
To make the most of your budget, choose the right carpet for every room. For example, it might be worth the money to invest in a high-quality, durable, and stain-resistant carpet for a busy family room or playroom. For a guest room or low-traffic area, more affordable carpeting might work better.
3. What Suits My Lifestyle?
To select the right carpet, you need to first consider whether or not it fits your lifestyle.
Take each room into careful consideration. Why are you adding carpet in the first place? What purpose will it serve?
For a busy living room, you might want a carpet that’s durable and stain-resistant. A bedroom might be better suited for something luxurious and low-traffic, like wool. Some bedrooms or family rooms might need to be hypo-allergenic or pet-friendly, depending on who spends time there. For flooring right next to windows, fade-resistant materials like nylon or olefin might be your best bet.
The look of the carpet can be equally as important as feel. Do you want a carpet that adds a soft accent to your furnishings? Or a style that can easily hide dirt, debris, and day-to-day wear?
Knowing your lifestyle needs will help you choose the right carpet type, material, and color for each room.
4. What Are My Maintenance Requirements?
Carpet can offer softness and a luxurious feel that you can’t find with other flooring options. However, some types of carpet will require more maintenance than others will.
That means you need to know your basic maintenance requirements before you settle on the right carpet. Maybe you’re more hands-off and you’d rather simply install a carpet and forget about it. If you have young children or pets, you can make sure your carpet is easy to clean and stain-resistant to help you avoid the frustration of spills.
More high-end carpet options may require more cleaning time, or even special tools to keep the material in top shape. If you don’t have the extra time, skip carpets with more extensive maintenance requirements.
What Goes into Choosing the Right Carpet
Now it’s time to look at the carpeting itself. Each type of carpet can offer different pros and cons, depending on the needs of your household.
Let’s walk through the features of each type of carpet, from fiber type to density.
What the carpet is made of can tell you a lot about whether or not it will make a good fit for your home. Here are some of the fiber options you have to choose from.
In terms of durability and resilience, nylon outlasts all the other fiber options. Easy-to-maintain and long-lasting, this carpet is great for high-traffic areas and homes with pets and kids. With a high-quality nylon, you can expect your carpet to last a decade or longer.
As with any other fiber material, some nylon is higher quality than others. You can expect the cost to range from $1 to $10 per square foot.
Polyester might not be as durable as nylon, but it has a very soft and luxurious feeling underfoot. It’s also stain-resistant and comes in a variety of vibrant colors. However, it’s not quite as durable as other options are. It also takes more maintenance to keep the carpet clean, and it tends to shed.
This material is best used in low-traffic rooms, like the bedroom. Polyester carpeting typically costs between $6 and $15 per square foot.
A newly classified fiber, this carpet is known for its powerful stain-repellent properties, even without being specially treated with stain protectors. It also has good resilience, although it still falls short of nylon’s durability.
Because of its stain resistance, this carpeting option is a good choice for high-traffic areas with children or pets. The average cost is about $3 to $8 per square foot.
Olefin, also known as polypropylene, is an inexpensive fiber known for its strength and fade-resistant properties. While not as resilient as nylon, it has good stain, mildew, and UV resistance. The weave can also conceal dirt, making it a good choice for high-traffic areas like family rooms or play areas.
You can expect olefin to cost between $0.50 and $8 per square foot.
Cotton is a natural material that absorbs moisture well and resists heat. It also don’t generate any static electricity and is easy to clean. While the length and thickness of the fibers can vary, cotton tends to be very soft underfoot.
However, cotton is also more prone to damage from the sun or prolonged mold exposure. They also crease easily and can attract dirt.
As its more expensive than synthetic materials, you can expect the average cost of cotton carpet to be about $6 to $10 per square foot.
Another natural fiber, wool is considered the standard of carpet materials. Wool has a natural shine that’s highly resistant to wear and tear. It’s not flammable and acts as a natural sound absorber.
Unlike most synthetic carpets, wool doesn’t generate static electricity or pick up bad odors. As a highly resilient material, wool can naturally remove excess moisture and re-collect itself if crushed or disturbed underfoot. It’s also easy to clean with natural soap.
While it comes with many attractive features, wool is a more expensive carpeting option. The average price per square foot is about $6 or $7, although it can go all the way up to $20 per square foot.
Style of Carpet
While material plays an important role in the quality of any carpet, the way it’s woven is also very important. Each style has its own look and performance conditions.
Here are some of the top carpet styles you can expect to find on the market.
Saxony, also called velvet or plush, is a cut pile style that’s known for being deep, soft, and luxurious. While it’s quite soft to the touch, it tends to show footprints, imprints, and vacuum tracks. It’s not a great choice for high-traffic areas and does best in bedrooms, formal dining rooms, and some low-activity living rooms.
Textured cut pile is known for its varying tuft heights and mix of colors. The two-toned appearance does a great job at covering dirt, reducing tracks, and minimizing vacuum marks. This makes it a better choice for more active lifestyles or homes with kids and pets.
Shag or Frieze
Frieze carpeting, also known as shag carpeting, is both durable and expensive. It’s characterized by long fibers with a high twist, creating a dense and nubby texture.
These long and loose fibers aren’t just good at hiding dirt — they create a deep, soft feel that springs back into place with each step. Due to its resiliency, it’s a great choice for high-traffic areas.
Loop pile carpet is known for its tight, compact loops that create a high-density and durable surface. These loops are stain-resistant and can handle even the most high-traffic areas, although they don’t have as much cushioning.
Here are a few loop pile carpet options to choose from:
- Level loop: Also known as Berber carpet, this carpet leaves the entire loop intact, or “uncut,” to create a dense, soft feel.
- Patterned loop: Also known as multi-level loop, these loops come in varying heights, which gives the carpet a patterned texture.
- Cut and loop carpet: Also known as the sculpted carpet, this is a blend of level and patterned loop pile, which creates visual variety and a unique texture.
Density and Weight
In addition to fiber and style, you’ll also need to keep the density and weight in mind. These don’t only affect the price — they can also play a role in the carpet’s overall feel, quality, and durability.
As a general rule of thumb, carpeting with a higher weight tends to be higher quality. This is because it’s much more densely woven with more strands of yarn per square foot. These carpets will be much more durable as well.
Density and weight are measured in ounces, usually ranging from 25 to 50 ounces per square foot.
Regardless of the style, some carpets can be treated to make them more low-maintenance. This coating — either built into the carpet material or added during installation — can make the surface easier to clean. Treatments built into the carpet tend to last longer than those added on during installation.
Depending on the treatment, you can expect some features like resisting stains, repelling water and other liquids, protecting against dander and other allergens, and blocking the build-up of dirt and debris.
While you might not see it, your carpeting relies on padding — an extra layer of support and cushioning underneath your flooring. The carpet padding can play an important role in the overall feel of your carpet, providing comfort, protection, and insulation.
Typically made from rubber, foam, or fiber, the carpet padding goes along the subfloor to conceal imperfections and make sure the carpet installation is as smooth as possible. It can also insulate your home and absorb noise.
Most importantly, padding supports your carpet to minimize wear and tear. The higher the quality of your padding, the longer you can expect your carpet fibers to last.
For high-traffic areas, you’ll want to opt for thick, dense carpet padding. Low-traffic locations might need less protection. If you’re rolling across the floor, whether in a wheelchair or if you’re just using an office chair, thinner padding (along with low pile carpeting) might work best.
Carpet padding typically costs between $0.35 to $0.65 per square foot. However, you should plan for as much as $1 per square foot — or even $1.20 for high-quality, thick padding.
Best Types of Carpeting for Each Room
While we’ve covered each type of carpeting, from material to style, it isn’t always easy to narrow down the best options for you. To help guide your decision, here are some of the top recommendations for each room.
For high-traffic areas, like living rooms and family rooms, synthetic materials are always the top choice. You want to find a carpeting material that doesn’t require too much maintenance and is resistant to wear, stains, and odors. Frieze and Berber loop are great options for these areas.
For bedrooms, you want something both durable and soft. Nylon or wool is a great option for long-lasting durability and comfort. Look for long pile or high-level loops and add a thicker pad underneath.
While bedrooms can be low-traffic areas, this might not be the case for kids rooms. For a child’s bedroom, you want something soft and comfortable that can still handle the wear and tear of daily play.
Look for a loop pile in a synthetic fiber. This style is comfortable while still being easy to vacuum and spot clean for any spills or accidents.
While carpeting isn’t recommended for kitchen areas, some people opt for a carpeted dining room. A more formal dining room lends itself well to a deep, plush option like Saxony, or something easier to clean, like cotton. Be sure to keep a washable rug over areas that might be more likely to experience spills.
A carpeted hallway can make for a comfortable transition between rooms, but these high-traffic areas must have durable carpets. A Berber style carpet provides long-term durability and the ability to trap dirt.
Stairs and Landing
Something like nylon short pile is a good choice for stairs or landings. Easy to clean and less likely to mat, this material is durable and can provide grip for those going up or down.
Installing Your Carpet: DIY vs. Professional
If you’re thinking of installing or replacing carpet, you might wonder if the installation process is worth doing by yourself. After all, carpet and padding materials can come with a significant price tag, depending on the materials and square footage.
While you might save money with hands-on installation, you could do more harm than good if you pursue the DIY route.
To find out which is the best choice for you, let’s break down what you need to know about DIY carpet installation and professional carpet installation.
Install it DIY
To save money on professional installation, you can always install your own carpeting. That being said, it takes some expertise — and the right tools — to get it done right.
If you do decide to tackle the job yourself, here are the basic steps you’ll need to take.
- Clear the space and pry up any old carpeting
- Clean the subfloor and remove all doors from their frames
- Install tackless strips against the walls (avoiding the doorframes)
- Lay down the padding
- Staple pad seams and trim padding around the edges so they’re flush against the wall
- Trim the carpet to size (leaving 3” on the sides) and then lay down the carpeting
- Glue the seams together and attach the carpet to the tackless strips
- For areas without tackless strips, fasten a binder bar to the carpet to cover the edge
- Trim away the excess carpet
To follow these steps, you’ll need a few specialty tools. You can buy them, but it may be cheaper to rent some of the larger equipment.
Carpet installation tools include:
- Tackless strips: Strips of wood with angled pins that hold the carpet in place.
- Knee-kicker: An 18-inch tool with “teeth” that grip the carpet and allow you to wedge the carpeting into the edges of the room.
- Carpet stretcher: A device used to stretch the carpet to make sure it’s even.
- Seam roller: A smooth, spiked, or starred roller that presses down on the carpet to ensure it sticks to the adhesive.
Consider Professional Installation
While you can install carpet DIY, it can be a challenge for those with no installation experience. If you make a mistake and you’ve already cut into the carpet, you’ve voided the warranty and will need to purchase it again.
It might be an investment to get your carpet professionally installed, but it means you’re safe from costly mistakes. A professional installation company has all the tools and expertise needed to ensure that your installation goes smoothly.
Before you buy, consider looking into carpet installation. Some companies that sell carpeting also offer installation as an additional service.
How to Choose the Right Carpet for Your Home
Before you begin your carpet buying journey, you need to know the options ahead of you. With the right knowledge in hand, you can buy carpet with confidence knowing you’ll get the best product to suit your needs.
Choosing the right carpet is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Speaking to a flooring professional can help guide you in the right direction.