There can be few home decor questions as daunting as how to choose carpet for your house. A carpet is an unavoidable aspect of any room in which it’s been laid, and not only affects the aesthetics of a room but the feel of it, both on your feet and in a more philosophical sense. A good carpet can add atmosphere, warmth and style to your home, but it has to suit the room in terms of its functionality and its looks. A new carpet is a significant investment in terms of both time and money, which is why matching the right carpet to the right room is so vital.
Deciding on a new carpet is also a decision that you probably won’t be able to make again for at least a few years and with the variety of carpets to choose from, it can be difficult to ascertain exactly what carpet belongs where, particularly if you’re furnishing a brand new home and need to make sure the rooms are coordinated, without feeling like they’ve been copy and pasted. Hopefully, our guide can help soften the burden and help you understand which carpets to choose, how to choose them and why.
How Much Does Carpet Cost?
Online carpet retailers have made buying carpet much cheaper than it used to be. Carpet prices range from £4 per square metre to £10 per square metre and above depending on quality and the material used.
Ultimately, it depends on what level of comfort you’re looking for and this is where choosing the right carpet for the right room factors into things. You might want to spend a little more, for example, on the living room carpet than you would do for carpet in the kitchen or in the hallway, where there are bound to be more spillages and stains and a greater level of heavy footfall.
Remember, many retailers will allow you to order a sample before making a decision and will also factor measuring and fitting into their final price. Before you even start shopping around, however, make sure you’ve worked out approximately what you need and how much it will cost. You can do this by quickly measuring the longest parts of each room that requires a carpet, adding at least 10cm of trim to each measurement. However, there are other costs to factor in, such as the carpet gripper, the cost of removing old carpet (if you haven’t done so already yourself) and the underlay.
Types of Carpet
There are hundreds of different type, colour, texture and material combinations to consider, but the two primary types of carpet are woven and tufted.
Woven – Woven carpet is a luxury product that weaves (or looms) the fibres and colours into the backing, often by hand. Most commonly made from 100% wool, the look and feel of woven carpet is tough to beat, but you will be paying for the privilege. You’ll often find woven carpets broken down into two distinct categories – Wilton and Axminster; the former is formed from a continuous strand of wool, whereas the latter has fibre being woven in and out through the surface backing.
Tufted – The more popular type due to its greater affordability, ease of production and the wider variety of styles, the “tufted” title refers to the way the carpet is made – by using needles to punch (or tuft) the pile into a backing fabric. The piles are then either looped or cut off at the end, leading to either a ‘loop pile’ or ‘cut pile’ design.
Which carpet to choose will also depend largely on your preferences as far as material is concerned. Every carpet will have a unique style, level of thickness, weight and pile height, which will largely be dependent on the material used to weave of tuft the final product. Note that, generally speaking, the shorter and denser materials will last longer, whereas longer pile carpets will feel softer, but will reveal signs of wear and tear sooner. Common materials used for modern carpets include:-
Wool – Wool is the classic carpet fibre and will look and feel remarkable. Wool is also wonderful for insulation and is incredibly durable, but you’ll always pay a premium for more natural materials. A more affordable way to get the wool look and feel without paying through the nose for it is to opt for a wool-mix, which combines wool with man-made fibres.
Polypropylene – A popular man-made choice that is stain-resistant and generally durable. It is also, however, quite flammable, so might not be the best choice for a home with an open fire.
Polyamide (Nylon) – This material has grown in popularity in recent years due to its flexibility when it comes to the number of colours that can be achieved. Not only are nylon carpets hard-wearing, but they are often treated for stain resistance and can produce colours and pattern combinations that would be simply impossible with wool.
Polyester – The man-made fibre that looks and feels almost like wool, polyester is very soft and is often used in deeper pile carpets. You will rarely find a 100% polyester carpet, as it’s often blended with another material – either wool or another man-made fibre.
How to choose a carpet colour will depend on your individual circumstances and the rooms you’re looking to carpet. It will also depend on the material you opt for, as certain colours and pattern combinations are simply not possible with wool, for example, whereas man-made fibres are generally more flexible. Your colour choice will depend not only on the functionality of the room but on who is living in your home. For example, if you have pets that shed dark fur, a darker or more heavily patterned carpet is recommended as it won’t show up the hair as much and will also be kinder to stains and imperfections.
Darker colours are also recommended in higher traffic areas. Lighter, plain carpets, meanwhile, can really make a room feel more welcoming and can accentuate the light in a really warm and inviting way, which is why they are so popularly used in living rooms and bedrooms. Note that we would always recommend trying out a few carpet samples before deciding on a final colour. The colour of your carpet is ultimately just as important as the colour of your walls, so make the same considerations you would do when choosing a shade of paint. Also, there are manufacturers that will offer a dying service if there’s a more unique colour you have your heart set on.
How to Choose a Carpet for a Bedroom
We spend roughly a third of our lives in bed, which means the bedroom is technically the room in which we’ll be spending the most time. It’s also a room with little footfall and is the room in which you’re most likely to be walking with bare feet, which means you should be thinking less practical and more comfortable. Opt for rich and soft Saxony carpets with soft colours and textures to nurture a feeling of warmth and to ease the mind into a sedative state. A deep pile will also provide great comfort underfoot and help you to ease yourself into bed after a hard day.
The other consideration you might want to make, however, is if you’re choosing a carpet for a child’s bedroom. For kids, think more practical, as not only will they be spending more time in their rooms than you will, but there are more likely to be spills and stains to contend with, not to mention those notorious pre-bedtime tantrums! Ultimately, carpets for bedrooms are going to be more about what you personally find comfortable and relaxing for yourselves and what you think will last through childhood and into the teenage years for your children.
How to Choose a Carpet for a Living Room
The living room is so-named because it’s where we do the vast majority of our actual ‘living’ but it’s also a room that will see a lot of footfall. So, the key is to find the perfect balance between function, fashion and comfort. Carpets for living rooms are a perfect fit because of their innate warmth, their feeling underfoot and the number of options available. Of course, a living room is not only one of the most heavily used rooms in your home, but needs to be flexible enough to allow you to relax in front to the television, entertain guests, make space for your morning yoga or even act as a dining room in some cases.
In any living room situation, wool is always a superb choice if you can afford it as its a great insulator and feels incredible underfoot. However, wool-mix carpets are perhaps more practical and if you live in a home with a lot of young children or pets, a man-made fibre might be the safer option. When it comes to the colour of your carpet for lounge use, it’s always the best bet to go with a lighter, neutral shade, as it will make the room feel larger and more inviting. You could also offset it with a darker, patterned rug and a lighter shade will always work best with furniture.
How to Choose a Carpet for a Kitchen
The kitchen is often seen as the heart of the home, and you should always treat your heart well. It might not seem like the obvious choice to opt for a carpet in the kitchen and dining room, as they are ‘messy areas’ prone to staining. However, there are plenty of modern options that are built to be more durable and to contend with the drips, drops and food spillages that will inevitably come to pass in the years you spend cooking, cleaning, dining and living in your kitchen.
A carpet for kitchen requires a material that can keep up with the demands of everyday use, as you will be using it frequently. You also need to focus not only on stain-resistant fibres but on those that are easy to clean and are resistant to moisture. This is why so many opt for laminate or vinyl flooring in the kitchen, but laminate and vinyl can be slippy (which is very unsafer when you’re working with knives and hot stoves) and don’t offer the same level of comfort as a decent carpet. For kitchens it is best to stick to short piles and rugged, textured carpets.
How to Choose a Stair Carpet
The halls, stairs and landing are going to be some of the areas that receive the most footfall in your home, so you’re going to want to opt for a decent compromise between practicality and function. Patterns are a great choice here as they are kind to marks and stains and can have a really strong impact, particularly on the stairs. Although your first consideration here should be durability, you should never underestimate the importance of style. Stairways and halls, in particular, can be dull, but they are often the first rooms people see upon entering your house, so see the carper as an opportunity to brighten up the homestead and create a bold first impression.
When it comes to carpet for stairs, there are also concerns around safety to consider. If the pile is too deep, it can wrap around the edge of your stairs and act as a slight ramp for your feet, leading to potential slips, which on the stairs can be incredibly dangerous. Stick with shallow pile carpets that are strong and resistant. Regarding colour, many homeowners might prefer a lighter, neutral shade to lighten up a dark hallway, but this will bring out stains and accidents. A good compromise would be to opt for a light, patterned carpet, that still offers warmth and light, but also masks any serious blemishes.