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Carpet Buying Questions & Answers (Q & A)

By Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate

Q) We just completed a new family room to our home and wanted to put in carpeting.  Our main concern is sun exposure.  The room has three very large windows and we get direct sunlight for about three to five hours a day depending on the season. We plan to install some type of window shades but haven’t decided on any yet. What type of carpet fiber do you recommend for a lot of direct sunlight?

 

A) All carpet fibers fade with exposure to sunlight. Fading effects will begin after about 40 hours of exposure. I recommend you select a Nylon carpet (most durable), select a lighter color and install window coverings to reduce the exposure to sunlight. A lighter color will not show the fading like a darker color will, but the real concern is carpet disintegration where the carpet can dry-out and literally fall apart after a few years of exposure. Carpet will last the longest if the right padding is used, if the carpet is installed properly, and the carpet quality is sufficient to handle the foot traffic. Getting a fair deal is also important. 

 

Q) We are looking to buy a new carpet and one of the dealers talked us out of a polyester carpet and told us to buy nylon. He said that they last longer and do not wear out as fast. We were wondering if this was true. What he is trying to get us to buy Horizon by Mohawk.

 

A) Take his advice and buy a nylon carpet. Polyester or PET is the worst fibers used to make carpet. Learn more About Carpet Fibers, Nylon, Sorona, Polyester

 

Q) I'm considering replacing the carpet in our den area.  The problem I'm faced with is a dog who is getting slightly incontinent in her old age.  This combined with the fact that she was never very well house trained (I claim innocence on this part) to begin with has made for a few 'accidents' as of late.  I've made decent strides with her training, but I've had to come to grips with the 

fact that it will never be perfect.

My question is, is there a good carpet recommended that will 

help prevent stains from setting before I can get to them? Also, I've noticed that in some cases the stains have soaked through to the padding.  Is there any manner of liquid-proof layer that can be placed between the carpet and padding, and is there any padding better suited for this?

 

A) There is a padding available that has a plastic layer over the top and it will prevent liquids from being absorbed. There are several different names for it (moisture barrier) but most retailers will know what padding you are looking for. I generally don't recommend this type of padding. It is more expensive and may not be worth considering in your situation. Read more about Carpet Padding - Moisture Barrier Pad

As far a carpet goes, I recommend you select a Nylon that has anti stain treatment applied. If you choose dense carpet with a shorter nap, like a commercial cut-pile style, any accidents will tend to bead up on top of the carpet and not soak in as fast. Stay away from Berbers and thick-pile plush as they are more difficult to clean up "accidents" and as you know, Berbers can snag easily. 

 

One more thing: No matter what the salesperson says, don't buy polyester carpet. Read about Carpet Fibers, Nylon, Sorona®, Polyester Smartstrand®, Stainmaster®

 

 

Q) Vinyl Composition Tile (V.C.T.)

I am in the process of opening a day care center, and of course health and safety of the children are my main concern.  I have purchased some V.C.T. and I was going to purchase some 100% olefin from one of the mills in Dalton, Ga. They recommend I get the gentry padding which has a moisture barrier.  The carpet comes in 20 oz and 26 oz.  

 

I am concerned about moisture in the room since the floor is concrete.  I am planning on having a third of the room in V.C.T. and the other part carpet.  Please help me to make the right decision on completing this room.  I would like to know exactly what kind of carpet I need including oz. Also padding and is the V.C.T. going to be okay. I cannot afford to make the wrong decisions when it comes to the welfare of the children in my care.

 

A) Congrats on your new business! The carpet you are referring to is a commercial level loop carpet, that typically comes in 20 and 26 ounce face-weights. The carpet is fairly thin and will last the longest if glued directly to the floor, but in your case, I assume that you want a softer floor for the children. Padding that is designed to go under this carpet is 1/4 inch thick, and a density of 6 to 8 pounds. I do not recommend using a moisture-barrier type of padding as it does not allow the carpet and pad to "breathe". If in fact you do have moisture emanating from your concrete floor, the last thing you want to do is trap that moisture under a "moisture-barrier" type of padding. Trapped moisture turns into mold and mildew and you surely do not want that to begin to grow under your padding. If there is moisture in the room, I suggest you frequently operate a dehumidifier to remove any moisture and thus eliminate any problems that could be caused by the moisture. Pad: I recommend using a felt padding, 1/4 inch thick. Cleaning: I recommend using Chem-dry when you need to clean your carpets. Never use a steam cleaner, too much moisture. 

As far as your V.C.T., it is designed to last for many years. It is a utilitarian flooring and should be professionally waxed about 2 weeks after it has been installed. Don't buy self sticking tiles, use true Vinyl Composition Tiles installed by a professional. Installation varies widely with V.C.T. depending on the size of the job.  You are doing GREAT! Good luck.

 

Q) I wanted to thank you for a very informative web site. Learned a lot about carpets. I am thinking about carpet for the stairs and was hoping that you can shed some light as to which one would be an ideal choice. I have 2 small kids and no pets.

 

A) There are many good choices for you. I suggest you go to a local family-owned carpet store (like Frank's Floor Covering) and tell them you want to buy a plush Nylon carpet for your stairs. Don't buy a carpet made of polyester or Olefin, only Nylon. Buy the best quality you can afford and be sure to put a dense pad under it. Be sure it is installed by an experienced installer. If you don't yet have a copy of my eBook.  It will help you make all the right decisions and not be ripped off. 

 

Q) Could you tell me if G.C.O. carpet is good carpet? It is a discount carpet company chain and they carry their own brand (Georgia Carpet Outlet). The carpet I am looking at is warranted by G.C.O. Carpet Outlet for 15 years against wear more than 10 percent within 15 years. What do you think?

 

A) You mentioned that the carpet you are considering has a limited warranty stating that the carpet will not lose more than 10% of its fiber content of a 15 year period. Ready for the truth? No carpet will ever lose more than 10% of its fiber content. It may mat down and look worn out but it will still retain more than 90% of its original face-weight. The warranty you are relying on to protect you from excessive wear will not protect you from the one thing you really need. Read about Carpet Scams

 

Q) We put Gulistan carpet down 2 years ago.  We have had the carpet layers back several times to have ripples or wrinkles taken out.  What is the cause of this?  Would having the wrong setting on the sweeper have anything to do with this problem?

 

A) No, your carpet sweeper/vacuum cannot be the cause of wrinkles. It is usually caused from bad installation, using the wrong padding or over-wetting the carpet (during a cleaning).

 

 

Q. What is the best material in carpets to guard against matting, and please explain BCF?

 

A) Nylon is the most durable fiber and resists matting better than all the other fibers. BCF stands for bulked continuous filament. It basically is a way to make a continuous filament nylon fiber thicker, or fatter by fluffing it up.  It makes the carpet look beefier without adding more yarn.

 

Q) Thank you so much for your website. I found the information extremely helpful. I never realized buying carpet could be so complicated.

I have a question I was hoping you could answer for me. I need to purchase carpet for our rec. room which measures roughly 14.6 feet by 24.6 feet. Would I be better off purchasing 12 foot or 15 foot goods? There are far fewer quality choices in the 15 foot goods. The carpet I really like is a Tactesse that I have only found in 12 foot goods, which would put a seam directly in the traffic pattern to enter/exit the room.

 

A) A qualified carpet installer can seam up your carpet nicely and you should not suffer any problems with 12 foot goods. Using 15 foot wide material would eliminate all the seams, but like you mentioned, not many choices. I would go with the 12 foot if you want to go with the Tactesse. The Tactesse fiber has only been available for a couple of years. It is supposed to have the look and feel of wool. It really is a nice carpet but I haven't been able to rate it because it is so new. I can't tell you if it will perform as well as they claim it will. 

 

Q) A friend of mine gave me his carpet, which was not old. The carpet was fine in his apartment. We both have wooden floors, both with poly. When I took the carpet home, almost immediately I noticed the backing smelled, a bad rubbery odor. This was definitely not noticeable in his apartment. In mine, it was so bad, I threw the carpet out. Both apartments are dry, clean apartments, seemingly similar. Why would the backing be fine in his, with similar ventilation to mine, but horrible in mine? It was so noticeable, all my friends could smell it, even in the hallway. Thanks.

 

A) I understand something here, as a result of my just buying a condo. It is a thirty year old condo with carpet that was at least 20 years old. When we first looked at the condo we thought the carpet was fine, no pet odors, no musty smells, we thought that it was a good carpet to keep, maybe just clean it. Next we noticed that the padding was deteriorated and in the traffic areas it was not spongy anymore. We decided that we would just replace the old pad and then reinstall the old carpet. 

 

Since I am an installer too, this would be no big deal. Then we pulled up the old carpet. Yikes! We opened a big can of worms! The pet urine odor, the mustiness, and the stank was horrible! These smells were completely unnoticeable until the carpet was disturbed. Then they seemed to come to life! Big life! We had to replace ALL the carpet and pad. Had we not moved the carpet, we would have never known these odors were in there. This sounds like what has happened to you. You inherited the stank from your friend, a bad rubbery smell from who knows what.....pretty strange huh?

 

Q) I've looked through your website and are still confused. We have an unfinished basement that we are finishing. It is a walkout basement. We will be using it at a play area for my kids, aged 5 and 8. The room is about 36' x 27' and there are 12 stairs to the basement. Stain resistance and wear are our top two priorities. 

Now for the questions. Would a low-loop Berber be a good choice? If not, what would be a good choice? I have read in other sources that Olefin is naturally stain resistant. However, you seem to say that it is not as good as Nylon. Why the difference of opinion? Thanks in advance for your help.

 

A) I never recommend a Looped-Berber carpet for a basement, unless it is completely dry and children and pets are not involved. Berber carpets snag, and snag easily. Kids, and pets will cause damage to Berbers that is difficult and expensive to repair. I do recommend commercial level-looped carpets for this type of application. They are built to last, easy to clean (unlike Berbers), survive severe abuse and are inexpensive. They can be installed over 1/4 inch 8 pound pad, or glued directly to the floor without pad (my recommendation). 

 

Your choices for fibers are nylon or olefin, and the newest advanced generation olefin (polypropylene) fibers are both durable and easier to clean. This only applies to commercial looped carpets, not to Berber carpets. Commercial level-loop styles are so tightly packed together that they do not mat down or snag easily. Olefin is a strong fiber, but has poor resiliency. The larger loops in Berbers fall over quickly and mat down, and cleaning a Berber carpet does not often revive the once like-new appearance.

My opinion here is based upon the culmination of over 30-years of actual hands-on, in the field, dealing with the end-users of all types and styles of carpet. Not only have I personally installed virtually every type of new carpet, but I have removed all the old worn-out carpet and padding too. 

 

 

 

 

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