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Carpet flooring - Installation costs, features, advantages and downsides

Carpeting floors have long been in use, taking their origin in the Middle East, around 3.000 B.C. The first carpets were used to make sitting on the ground more warm and comfortable. These days, though, they have a much wider application, serving as the element decors and solid flooring coverages in residential and commercial properties. The soft, durable, and stylish carpeting surface feels comfortable underfoot, acting as a good insulator. Contemporary carpets come in multiple materials, from rugged and aesthetic wool to lasting and stain-resistant nylon. Knowing the difference between them is essential to make the right pick regarding fiber composition, style, beauty, and price. This detailed buying guide will help you navigate the best carpeting options and avoid expensive mistakes.

Carpet flooring - Installation costs, features, advantages and downsides

Things to know before carpet flooring installation

The carpeting coverage is made from textile materials formed into pile yarns dyed and sewn to a backing and then glued with the help of synthetic rubber latex to a secondary backing. A multi-layer carpeting structure enhances the stability and strength of the padding and carpeting itself. The carpet backing can be made of jute or polypropylene.

Most of today's carpets are made from synthetic polymers that give the feeling of natural fabric while having olefin or plastic as their basis. Only around 5% of all carpet floors are made of woven wool, which is more costly and does not stand up to traffic like synthetic carpeting. Carpets made of synthetic fibers are highly resistant to moisture, stains, and abrasion. Their service life ranges from 10 to 15 years, depending on the type of fiber and the amount of foot traffic they're exposed to.

What are the key elements of carpeting flooring?

Every carpeting coverage features four elements: fiber, pile, grade, and backing. Together, these elements determine the performance of the carpet and its longevity. Let us take a closer look at each of these elements to become more knowledgeable in the matter:

  • Fiber. As we said before, carpeting fibers can be both natural and synthetic, with the latest being more widely used due to their affordability and performance features. Moreover, fibers used for carpeting can be of different thicknesses, determining their longevity and wear resistance. The thickness is achieved by spinning strands of yarn fiber together with others. The more plies are used, the thicker your carpet will be.
  • Pile. The method of fiber arrangement in the carpet is called a pile. It determines the wear-resistance properties of the carpet as well as its visual appearance and water resistance. There are dozens of carpet piles, varying by properties and cost. The popular ones include a loop pile with fibers arranged in loops, a low pile with a multi-level loop finish, and a cut pile, ranging from the hardwearing frieze to the elegant Saxony.
  • Grade. The quality and longevity of a carpet are equal to its grade, determined by fiber, face weight, and construction. A grading system should not be accepted as a standard system but rather as a self-labeling system. It's not always a necessity to fit the highest-grade carpeting flooring in your premise. Sometimes, it might be even smarter to invest in low or mid-quality carpeting and replace it in 5 years.
  • Backing. The back of the carpet also affects its density and longevity. Every carpet has both the primary backing, where the fibers attach and the secondary backing, which creates a barrier between the floor and the carpet padding. There are countless types of backing made either of natural or synthetic materials.

What types of carpet flooring should be distinguished?

Carpets come with different levels of firmness, softness, density, moisture, and stain resistance that affect their service life and cost. With multiple types and styles of carpet floors, choosing the right one for your home might be challenging, especially if you are doing that for the first time. Not to fail, you need to consider the room where your new carpet is being fitted. Everything from the room's purpose to its interior and the expected foot traffic level should be considered. Some carpets have a low density to be installed in high-traffic areas like hallways and living rooms. Your carpeting choice should also be based on the available budget and the time you want your flooring to last. If you seek low-upkeep carpet flooring with long service life, get ready to make a considerable initial investment.

Here are the types of carpet flooring according to the fiber that forms their basis: 

  • Wool. This natural origin material is one of the first ones used for carpeting. It is made from woven construction and offers abundant designs, colors, and patterns. Due to the woven fibers, carpets of this type always have a distinctive look and add value to the home. Wool carpets have good stain, moisture, and dirt resistance and can withstand high wear. Besides, they have inherent antibacterial and flame-retardant characteristics. Carpeting floors made of natural wool require a higher initial investment than their synthetic counterparts. Nevertheless, their durability will allow you to save on maintenance and replacement. 
  • Polyester. This carpeting material is tough and durable, with a soft texture and varied design. Polyester carpets come with a thick pile, adding a style and luxury feel to the home. Thanks to their resistance to stains and wear, floors made of polyester can be installed in kid rooms, hallways, and entrance areas. They are soft and easy to care for. All you need to maintain them is vacuum them at least twice a week and treat stained areas. 
  • Nylon. This carpeting material closely resembles wool by feel and performance features yet comes at a lower cost. Nylon is solid and resilient material with unmatched soil resistance. It bounces back, not warping even under a high foot traffic impact, and suits high-traffic areas like offices, hallways, and living rooms. On top of that, nylon comes in plenty of styles and patterns, from cut loop to shag and frieze, making it a great addition to almost any interior. The downside of this carpeting floor is static electricity it causes by interacting with other objects. This issue can be partially solved by utilizing anti-static items.
  • Polypropylene. Also called olefin, this solution-dyed synthetic carpeting material is extremely durable, making it suitable for indoor and outdoor spaces. Polypropylene is not vulnerable to moisture, stains, dirt, and sunlight and can easily withstand intensive foot traffic. This synthetic carpeting material appears and feels like wool yet has a lower price and better durability. It is less resilient than nylon, so it's recommended to be installed in a loop pile. 
  • Triexta. This synthetic carpeting material matches the features of nylon and polyester, suiting homes with pets and kids. It's highly durable and features ultimate resistance to moisture, staining, dirt, and wear. Besides, Triexta is simple to clean and colorfast, making it a good flooring material for virtually any room in the house, including high-traffic areas like stairs and hallways.
  • Acrylic. This synthetic carpeting material resembles wool in appearance and properties. It is resistant to moisture and stains, being less static than other similar options. Acrylic carpets placed in high-traffic areas can show their wear and tear quite soon. That is why they are better to install in bedrooms or closed-off living rooms.

What are the different carpet styles?

All carpeting fibers fall into three main groups - cut, looped, and mixed (cut and looped). Knowing the difference between them will help you make a more informed decision about the carpeting option for your home. 

  1. Cut pile

Carpets of this style are considered durable and resilient, suiting high-traffic areas. They are also extra soft due to the density of the tufts and the amount of twist in the yarn. Cut pile carpets can be of two types - high-cut and low-cut ones. Both options look luxurious and can add value to the property. 

Here are some of the most sought-after cut-pile carpeting variations:

  • Plush (velour). Smooth and dense carpeting variation with an even-cut pile that creates a luxurious feel in the room. It's not recommended to be installed in high-traffic areas as it easily shows footprints. 
  • Textured plush. This is one of the most vivid carpeting options that suits high-traffic areas of the home. Due to the textured surface, the signs of footprints are hardly seen on this carpeting surface.
  • Frieze. Cut-pile carpets of this type feature yarns that are twisted, creating a textured surface. Thanks to the dense structure of frieze carpets, neither vacuum marks nor footprints are seen on them.
  1. Loop pile

Carpets with level and multi-level loops don't expose yarn tips, which makes them good for areas with high foot traffic, like living rooms, halls, and playrooms. Level loop pile carpets have a smooth and uniform look, featuring loops of the same height. Multi-level loop pile carpets are made of loops of different heights that create a pattern effect. 

  1. Cut-loop pile

This carpeting represents a mixed pile style, matching cut, and looped yarns. It comes in different textures and patterns, from swirls to squares and chevrons, adding style and accenting effect to the interior. The multicolor effect makes cut-loop pile carpet less exposed to stains and wear.

What are the best rooms for carpet flooring installation?

Carpet is a universal floor coverage that enhances the home's comfort and adds softness under the foot. Nevertheless, not every room is matched with this flooring option. If you want to avoid your new floor becoming a real headache, check out the rooms that are best fit for carpets.

  • Stairs. Carpets are made to fit on stairways, especially if kids or elderly people are in a home. They minimize the risk of painful falls, injuries, and cuts, making a house safer for the whole family.  
  • Playrooms. Other areas in the home that are highly recommended to be covered with carpeting are kid rooms and playrooms. Carpets make these rooms warmer, cozier, and safer, allowing you to enjoy hours of the carefree game.
  • Bedrooms. Carpet is a smart solution for a bedroom as it enhances space comfort, adding coziness and warmth. Besides, this flooring option feels soft and quiet underfoot, allowing you to enjoy complete relaxation. 
  • Basements. Carpeting floors have one of the best insulation properties. That is why they can work well in living basements, insulating the home's bottom surface from the cold ground.

What are the critical carpeting flooring upkeep requirements?

Fitting carpeting flooring in your residential or commercial premises is always about investment and responsibility. That is why it makes sense to learn about carpeting floors' spending and upkeep needs before installing them. Here are a few tried-and-true methods on how to keep your carpet floors in tip-top condition for years to come: 

  • Regular vacuuming. Once you decide to install carpeting flooring, consider getting a powerful vacuum cleaner. A carpet, especially with a thick pile, is a magnet for debris and dirt. To keep it clean and prevent particles from embedding deep into fibers, you must vacuum your carpet flooring a couple of times a week. 
  • Wiping up spills. Any spills on the carpeting surface should be addressed immediately to prevent stubborn stains and discoloration. Blot the spill with a towel but do not smear it on the surface. Only apply stain remover if it's necessary. Make sure to avoid random bleaches. Instead, use a detergent approved by your carpet manufacturer. 
  • Clip snags. Never pull the threads out of the carpet. If you see some snags or pulled-out threads on the surface, clip them with sharp scissors.

How much does carpet flooring cost?

The cost of carpet flooring ranges significantly and depends on the material type, pile style, pattern, and weave. Besides, carpet costs per square foot vary among manufacturers and retailers. Not to say that carpet installation costs vary widely depending on the location, installation area, subfloor condition, and installer's expertise. To get the most accurate price for your case, you need to consult a local flooring contractor dedicated to installing carpeting floors. Besides, visiting the local showrooms and online stores specialized in carpets won't go amiss. That will allow you to compare costs from different manufacturers and leverage special offers. 

The national average cost to install carpet flooring starts at $2.50 per square foot and can go as high as $14 per square foot. Get ready to spend $1 per square foot for installing underneath padding and around $3.50 for preparing the subfloor. 

Synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and olefin are always more affordable than natural ones like wool. The cost of wool carpets averages $8 - $12 per square foot for the material only. Upkeeping spending is also high. If you want to get the appearance of wool carpeting at a lower price, set your sights on nylon, polypropylene, and acrylic carpets. For instance, the average cost of sought-after carpets made of nylon starts as low as $3 per square foot while their properties greatly exceed wool.

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