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Home > Ideas & Tips > choosing flooring: carpet

choosing flooring: carpet

Carpet normally brings luxury, fashion and comfort to mind. It’s quiet, insulates well from cold and the colour options are numerous. There are many materials and styles available, enough that you might need a little help choosing. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.

Types of Carpet

Select carpet based on:

  •   • Fibre —the carpet material itself. Single fibres are spun together to create two, three or four-ply yarn, which is then attached to a woven backing.

  •   • Pile—the height of the fibre.

  •   • Density—the amount of fibre tufts per square inch. Carpet weight is measured in ounces per square yard. When using weight to compare carpets, make sure you’re comparing like materials (ex: nylon to nylon, not nylon to polyester).

  •   • Texture— the style in which fibres are looped, twisted or cut provides texture.

Carpet Fibres

Carpet fibres are either natural or synthetic. Wool is the natural fibre used in carpet; cotton and other natural fibres are widely used in rugs. The major synthetic yarns are nylon, olefin, acrylic and polyester.

  •   • Wool offers a deep, rich look and feel with excellent resilience and durability. Although it’s naturally stain resistant, it requires a high level of maintenance, including mothproofing.

  •   • Nylon is the most common carpet material. It’s the strongest fibre, making it an excellent choice for heavy traffic areas. It’s also the most durable of the synthetics, easy to clean and maintain. Nylon is soil- and mildew-resistant, resilient and non-allergenic. Some nylon may pill and be prone to static.

  •   • Olefin (Polypropylene) was originally for outdoor carpeting and basements due to its resistance to moisture, mildew, water damage, staining, pilling, shedding and static. Now it’s more widely used for its durability and wool-like feel and appearance. Olefin is dyed before it’s made into a fibre and therefore is colourfast. Some olefin can flatten and fade in direct sunlight.

  •   • Polyester is not as durable or as nylon, but still quite wear-resistant. Polyester offers a wide selection of textures and colours. While it’s susceptible to pilling and shedding, it’s non-allergenic, sheds moisture, resists moths and mildew and cleans easily.

  •   • Acrylic is the closest to wool of any of the synthetics. Acrylic is manufactured primarily for commercial use. It offers soil resistance, excellent cleanability and resistance to static, moths and mildew. Acrylic is available in a wide choice of colours, and is less likely to fade in bright sunlight than nylon or polyester.

Carpet Treatments

Carpet is available with stain-resistant fibres and finishes, welcome news to homes with children and pets. The most effective treatments are added as part of the manufacturing process. Finishes "applied" later are not as long-lasting. Heat setting is a manufacturing process that reinforces the twists of the yarn plies to add durability.

Carpet Pile

Cut Pile carpets fibre ends are cut on a level face.

  •   • Saxony is a popular carpet of dense, level-cut pile with loops clipped to about 1/2" high. The closely packed yarns give a soft smooth surface which is perfect in formal settings. A smooth- finished saxony is sometimes referred to as plush.

  •   • Textured is also a cut pile, but isn’t as densely tufted as a saxony. Two-toned yarn and an uneven surface gives it a casual look suited for any room. Its tight-twist construction helps resist soil, so it’s often a good choice for family rooms and kitchens.

  •   • Frieze carpets have a short, durable, twisted pile fibre well suited for busy areas.

  •   • Loop Pile yarns are looped and fastened to the backing.

  •   • Berber features large, uncut loops of natural-tone fibres, usually of olefin. Berber is very durable and a good choice for high-traffic areas.

  •   • Level loop refers to tufted, uncut loops of equal height. It’s durable, and a great carpet for high traffic areas and informal rooms.

Cut & Loop offers a combination of the above, allowing more textures and patterns. Cut and loop achieves a sculptured pattern with varied levels of uncut low loops and sheared top loops. The pattern looks as if it's been cut into the carpet and usually features several tones from the same colour family. The change in colour helps disguise wear and soiling.

Carpet Padding

Padding is just as important as the carpet itself — in some ways even more so. Although it’s not visible, the cushioning layer is critical to a quality carpet installation. Installing the proper backing cushions the foot, insulates from cold and noise and increases the life of the carpet. Always use a quality backing but remember that thicker is not always better. A floor that’s too soft can be dangerous, especially to those whose steps may be a bit unstable at times. When foot testing a carpet in the showroom, test it with a padding sample underneath.

Carpet Tiles

Peel and stick carpet tiles have become an excellent do-it-yourself flooring method. New technology has provided carpet squares that are easy to install, clean and maintain. The adhesive system keeps the carpet in place and eliminates curling. Homeowners can mix and match colours and patterns to suit their décor.

Another Option

Area Rugs are also a popular floorcovering alternative. A variety of materials, sizes, shapes, and colours are available to complement your new (or old) floor.


Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use.

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