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Wool – Generally used for high-quality carpets, youʼll pay more for natural materials, but youʼll get a great looking floor covering that is made from sustainable fibre, is resilient and highly durable. It gets top marks for insulation, too – good for reducing heat loss and noise – and retains its appearance remarkably well. Wool also feels beautiful and soft underfoot!
Wool-mix – Some consider a mix of 80% wool, 20% man-made fibres such as ( polyamide or polyester), as the best combination for an all- purpose carpet.
Polypropylene – This man-made carpet fibre is a popular choice, because itʼs hardwearing and resistant to stains. It can be cleaned using a part-bleached cleaning solution, although always check with the manufacturer or retailer first. However, Polypropylene is flammable and not self-extinguishing.
Polyamide (also known as nylon) – Available in a wider range of hues and vibrant clear colours that canʼt be reproduced in wool. A good all- rounder for family homes, good-quality polyamide or nylon carpets come with built-in stain-resistant treatments and score high marks for wear ability.
Polyester – Often used for textured or shag carpets. Polyester is most like wool in appearance and feel, and is remarkably soft, durable and stain resistant. Most often used as a blend, rather than on its own.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
As well as working as a shock absorber, adding cushioning and comfort underfoot, a good underlay helps keep in heat and could help reduce your energy bills. Invest in a good underlay, if you can, whatever the budget for your carpet. A heavy-duty one will extend the life of your carpet and may even outlast it. Underlay helps a new carpet to sit properly and wear evenly. It reduces pile compression and enables a carpet to keep its appearance for longer.
Look out for an underlay with good acoustic qualities for areas with heavy footfall, particularly if you have teenagers living in the house! Underlays come with a tog rating – the higher the tog, the better the insulation. If using underlay with underfloor heating, you wonʼt need anything above a total rating of 2.5 tog.
Waffle – Takes its name from the bubble pattern on the underside of the underlay. It can squash in areas of high-traffic, and is best for rooms that are less well used, such as a spare bedroom.
Flat – More compact and hard-wearing, to provide an even higher level of support and noise reduction.
Crumb – Made from recycled used car tyres, which are granulated into rubber particles. These are bonded together to create a highly durable, firm underlay suitable for any room with high traffic. Itʼs also worth using in a room with heavy furniture to avoid those annoying indentations.
Crumb/felt – Made from a combination of rubber and felt, this style is less common than rubber waffle, but is a hardy underlay most often used for woven carpets to minimise rucking.
(Polyethylene aPE) -– An entry-level, budget underlay made from closed-cell polyethylene foam.
(Polyurethane aPU) – A form that is 80% recycled, made from granulated foam that is compressed and thermally bonded together, itʼs very widely used and suitable for most carpets.
Jute – With a felt or rubber top, this natural fibre doesnʼt flatten, crumble or dry out.
Recycled felt – A greener option, but will compact more easily and is best used for rooms that see less use, like a study or spare room. Good heat insulation makes this a great choice for concrete flooring.
Felt and rubber – The best of both worlds, these create an underlay that is comfortable underfoot but has the firm support of rubber for high traffic areas.
Woven or tufted?
There are two types of carpet most commonly sold in the UK: tufted and woven carpets. Woven carpets, such as Axminsters and Wiltons, are made using traditional loomed methods, and are labour intensive. Youʼll get a premium finish, but these carpets, widely regarded as the top-end choice, also come at a premium price.
Tufted is the most popular carpet type today and is made by a row of needles punching the pile yarn into a base material. Itʼs easier to manufacture, and can be made using all types of yarns with a variety of finishes. Tufted carpet can be looped or cut aor both).
Axminster – Made a bit like an oriental rug, with fibres woven in and out through the surface backing on an Axminster machine. Axminster
carpets are known for their rather grand, intricately patterned designs, quality and durability – and they are expensive. Until recently, most Axminsters came in a velvet finish, but now manufacturers are using twisted yarn as well, to reduce shading.
Wilton – Another luxury, quality carpet, it derives its name from the type of loom used, which weaves the yarn in a continuous strand. Available in a wide range of patterns, Wilton carpets have a smooth, velvety, woven surface.
Twist – Hardwearing carpets with yarn which has been twisted tightly together, creating a one-way pile direction. Twist carpets are the most popular type of carpet currently being produced and come in plain colour or in a combination of complimentary shades to create a ‘heatherʼ look, which helps hide build-up of dust or animal hairs. Itʼs also a good choice for places where tread always wears, such as hallways and stairs.
Berber or looped pile – Originally named after carpets made by the Berber tribe in Africa, a Berber or looped pile carpet is made from uncut continuous loops on the surface and has a distinctive knot appearance. Carpet can be looped, with a low-profile pile construction, which is known for maintaining its appearance, or have loops of different heights to form a textured pile. For a busy room, choose a Berber with smaller or tighter loops, which easily bounce back and decrease the chance of loops crushing and matting with wear and tear. A good all-rounder, however, not a great choice if you have pets, particularly cats, as they may pull up the loops with their claws.
Flatweave – A good choice for stair runners, flatweave is created by interlocking warp avertical) and weft ahorizontal) threads. Although itʼs looped, it gives the impression of being completely flat and feels firm underfoot.
Saxony – A deep-pile carpet that is popular for bedrooms, it has a cut pile with long tufts giving it a gentle, soft feeling underfoot and a luxurious look. Its long pile makes it easy to flatten, however, so wardrobe and cupboard feet marks wonʼt necessarily spring back as you might wish.
Shag – An opulent, luxurious deep shagpile. It has extra long tufts to give it its super shaggy look. Not ideal for areas with high-traffic, but a fantastic choice for a warm, gentle way to wake-up when you first step out of bed in the morning.
Velvet – A short, dense pile and a good choice for a luxurious floor covering in a bedroom, velvet pile has a smooth, cut pile finish and is usually available in solid colours.
New carpets tend to shed fluff. It wonʼt harm a new carpet to vacuum it as soon as it has been laid, which will take up any short loose fibres. Vacuum at least once a week and use a barrier mat in areas that are
most likely to soil, such as by the front door.
Stain inhibitors and treatments, such as Scotchguard, make it easier to wipe off spills, but they are not a magic solution. Deal with spillages and stains as soon as they occur.
Do not rub or over-wet the carpet. Remove solids by gently scraping with a knife. Greasy residue can be treated with an oil/grease remover sprayed on to an absorbent cloth. Blot but do not rub. For liquid spills, blot up as far as possible with a paper towel then use a carpet stain remover recommended for your carpet.
For deep cleaning, shampoo the carpet following the manufacturerʼs instructions or, for best results, hire a professional carpet cleaning company.
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