Educational Consumer Tips
Carpets and Rugs
Carpet can add beauty, color, quiet, and value to your home. As you begin considering carpet you will find a tremendous selection of construction, textures, colors, and fibers from which you may choose. Your Better Business Bureau has a few tips to help you prepare for the purchase of your new carpet.
Here are some questions you should be able to answer before you buy:
- Where is the carpet or rug to be installed?
This is important because if it is a high traffic area, you will want a construction and fiber that will wear well. Carpet for kitchen, family room or bath should be an easytoclean variety because it will be constantly exposed to spills and stains. However, you may select a less durable carpet for your bedroom where there is far less traffic.
- What is the composition of your family-young children, active teenagers or adults? What are your living habits?
If you have small children or pets you should get carpet that is stain resistant and easily cleaned as well as sturdy.
- What are your future plans? Are you settling into a home to stay or are you likely to be transferred soon?
Wall-to-wall carpet may be a good investment if you stay to enjoy it. However, if you are living in an apartment or plan to move in a year or two, it might be advisable to buy room size or area rugs that you can take with you.
- How much carpet will you need?
- How much can you afford to spend on carpet?
The Deal And The Dealer
Buying carpet is a promising field for unscrupulous dealers to take advantage of unsuspecting customers. Check with friends or relatives who have bought carpet recently, and find out if they were completely satisfied with the retailer they used. Also, check the reputation of the dealer you are considering with your local Better Business Bureau. Remember that a dependable dealer will help you make a satisfying and economical purchase.
Any warranty should be in writing and specify exactly what it does and does not cover, as well as what the warrantor will do if a problem develops. Remember that the warranty on wall-to-wall carpet may apply to its installation, and to face fiber loss, rather than to the quality or performance capability of the carpet itself.
A contract or sales agreement for carpet should list exactly what you are buying, including the brand name, name of manufacturer, style, color, and size.
This listing should also include the total square yards, the price per square yard, a full description of the carpet cushion and the total price of the purchase, including installation, and the finance charge, if any. Some carpet may require additional stretching after installation because of humidity or other conditions. This service also should be in writing.
The Textile Fiber Products Identification Act requires every rug and roll of carpet have a label attached where consumers can read it. It must give this information:
- Name of manufacturer, or distributor, or Federal Trade Commission registration number (identified by prefix letters of RN or WPL).
- Country of origin, if imported.
- Names of fibers in the pile.
- Percent of each fiber over 5 percent.
However, if your carpet is cut from a roll, the law does not require that the cut portion be labeled as long as the roll is. If samples and swatches are too small to be labeled, fiber content information must be available to you in literature or catalogs. Be sure to have all this information written on your sales receipt. Ask for a sample of the carpet you select so you will be sure the rug or carpet you receive is the one that as actually ordered.
A Simple Quality Test
A good carpet, regardless of how it is constructed, has a closely packed pile that is firmly secured into the backing.
Though the height of the pile is important, the density or closeness of the surface yarn is more important for long wear. When selecting a carpet, check pile density by bending back a corner of the carpet. This "grin test" does not apply to shag carpets; the longer tufts are constructed so they will be far apart to produce a more casual look.
A fluffy pile may have a luxurious feel when new, but may crush noticeably within a short time. A medium height, dense pile is an especially wise choice if you plan to use the carpet in a living room, hallway, stairway, or other area that gets a great deal of traffic. You'll find that a short, dense loop pile with high twist yarns will best disguise crush marks.
All carpet consists of "pile" and "backing" constructed in one of the following ways:
- Tufted. A machine with hundreds of yarnthreaded needles operates at high speed. As the needles and yarn are pushed through a backing fabric and pulled out, loops or tufts are formed and held in place by a primary backing. An adhesive coating, usually a latex compound, is applied to anchor the tufts permanently. In some carpet constructions, a secondary backing is adhered to the carpet to provide additional strength, stability and body. Because it is a rapid, economical method, tufting is the most common carpet construction method.
- Woven. Surface and backing yarns are intertwined to make a single construction.
- Knitted. Knitted carpet is similar to woven in that pile and backing yarns are interlocked in one operation.
- Needle punched. A core of fiber sheet and layers of loose fibers on each side are interlocked by a machine punching thousands of needles through them.
The best way to judge the quality of a rug or carpet is to:
- Examine the depth, thickness and density of the pile;
- See how the pile fibers are locked into or attached to the backing; and
- Examine the quality and sturdiness of the construction and backing.
Your choices are going to include Wool, Nylon, Olefin, Polyester, Acrylic and Corterra . In addition there are some cellulose fibers like cotton plus Sisal, Coir, Sea Grass, Abaca, and Raffia. Corterra is newer and is worthy of consideration too.
Texture And Pattern
In addition to the differences of fiber content, the look and feel of your carpet or rug will also be determined by its texture or pattern. Terms used to describe different textures and patterns are: plush, twist, cut pile, loops, tipsheared, sculptured, carved, and felled.
Plush or cut pile carpet has the appearance of fur and tends to make a room look luxurious. Uncut loop carpet is suited for high traffic areas such as recreational or family rooms; a tweed or pattern will show less soil and hides the effects of heavy traffic.
In each case, let your taste, use, and your own decorating ideas determine your selection of texture and pattern.
- There are three basic color families: warms, neutrals and cools.
- Warm colors such as reds, oranges and yellows are exciting and friendly. They make a large room seem cozier.
- Cool colors such as blue and green are quiet and relaxing. They make a room seem larger.
- Dark colors make a room smaller; light colors give a feeling of space to a small room.
- Light colors show soil more than medium tones; dark colors show lint.
- Neutrals, which include the "earth colors" (browns and tans) go well with both warm and cool colors.
- Choose a color and pattern that will go with your walls, draperies and upholstery.
- For informal rooms, modern or traditional, textured effects, tweeds or heathery mixtures are excellent choices.
- For formal rooms, modern or traditional, look for plain or carved effects or formal repeat designs.
- Horizontally stripped carpet adds width to narrow rooms or hallways.
Tips To Remember
- Select retailers with care. You should feel free to depend on their counsel and advice when selecting your carpet.
- Check with your local Better Business Bureau for a reliability report on the retailer you are considering.
- Consider the areas in which you plan to use your carpet or rug. Make preliminary measurements to estimate size.
- Beware of "fantastic" bargains, and don't buy carpet that isn't labeled with fiber content.
- If possible, take a carpet sample home and evaluate it in relation to your room.
- Once you've found the color and texture you like, consider performance in relation to your own needs.
- Don't choose a rug or carpet on the basis of fiber content alone. Consider the quality of construction.
- Don't skimp on quality for carpet and rugs which will see constant duty underfoot.
- Read your contract or sales agreement for all essential information before signing it.
- When a warranty is offered, determine exactly what is covered and who is the warrantor and get it in writing.
- Plan to give your new carpet or rug good care.
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