Buying a new carpet requires many considerations. It can be costly and inconvenient getting a carpet replaced, so most people will be looking for one that is durable, easy to maintain and repels stains, but also looks good in a particular room.

Understanding the finer details and components of a carpet can help to ensure that the right type of carpet is chosen. In most cases, all you need to know is on the carpet label.

Read the Label

Most of us are probably swayed by colour and style when choosing a new carpet, but it can prove invaluable to take some time to study the manufacturer’s details on the carpet label. Most labels can be a minefield for the average person but understanding carpet labels should be straightforward. There are certain things to look out for on the label that will ensure you can buy in confidence.

Room Use

Some carpet labels may specify which room the carpet is most suitable for and its size. This is an important aspect to consider, because some rooms will be subject to higher traffic levels than others and so may require a more robust type of carpet. A kitchen or hall carpet, for instance, may be made differently than a carpet destined for a bedroom. Decide which room you want your carpet for, and check the label to see if there are any specifics outlined with regard to this.

Durability

A key feature on most people’s carpet wishlists is durability, and a label can offer great insight into how durable it may be. Density and twist are two crucial components relating to durability. Density refers to how close together the fibre strands are per square inch. Denser carpets tend to be more durable as they are better at withstanding impacts and preventing dirt and stains from getting caught in the fibres. Twist refers to the number of times a strand of fibre is twisted per inch. The higher the twist, the less likely it will be to unravel, which makes it more durable. Be aware, however, that the face weight, which is the amount of fibre per square metre, will not alone tell you much about durability.

Fibre Material

One of the most important aspects when choosing a carpet is knowing what type of material or fibre it is made from. This can influence all sorts of things; cost, durability, how easy it is to clean and maintain and its resistance to fading, staining, moisture and static to name just a few. The most popular types of materials include nylon, polypropylene, polyester, acrylic, olefin and wool — usually categorised as synthetic or non-synthetic materials. Polypropylene tends to be the most popular choice as it is reasonably priced, durable and is good in terms of stain and fade resistance. Wool is the most expensive type. Most good carpet shops should be able to explain the differences, but it is also worth reading up on the different properties of each type and weighing up the pros and cons before making any carpet-buying decisions.

Method of Construction

How the carpet was made is normally stated on its label and it can help form an important part of decision-making. Tufted is the most common type — the fibre yarn is inserted into a primary backing and then attached to a secondary backing with latex. Some carpets are woven on looms with continuous fibres without the need for a secondary backing. Fibre-bonded types are made from sticking fibres to the backing, either individual or pushed and pulled into a web.

Cut Pile Type

Carpet labels also normally advise on the type of cut pile. This can often be identified by appearance. Frieze, for instance, is tightly twisted and very textured. Saxony can be very smooth or textured and varies in appearance. Plush is a very formal type which is dense and level-cut. Loop pile is uncut loops of yarn rather than cut tufts and can be level, multilevel or both cut and loop.

Names

Check the label for the manufacturer’s name, which can often give a clue to quality standards. Some labels state the collection name, which is a line of similar-styled carpet. You may wish to choose one of these if you want similar styles from the same collection in different rooms. Carpet shops will be able to offer information on different brands.

Standards and Quality

Look for the British Carpet Manufacturers’ Association (BCMA) Carpet Grading Scheme logo on the label. It offers consumers independent checking of pile weight and density, as well as the testing of quality standards. This can reveal how well it will maintain its appearance and suggests room suitability. These tests take into account carpet construction, pile material, weight, density and height above the backing. Labels may also offer a Performance Appearance Rating, or PAR, on a scaled level. Some may also detail an R-Value, which is a thermal resistance rating on how effective an insulator it is. A Green label suggests the carpet has low chemical emissions. A carpet label can also reveal any warranty information, although warranty details are not necessarily an indication of quality levels.