Woven or tufted? Wool-mix or polypropylene? Twist or Berber? The Stones or The Beatles? (that last one may not be relevant, just trying to keep it interesting).
We’ve decided to stray from our usual topic of mattresses to cover the almost-as-interesting question of which is the best type of carpet.
We were led down a confusing path when we were attempting to carpet three bedrooms in our house, so we read dozens of carpet guides and produced this summary.
But let's get to the point because you don't really want to read all this waffle.
I reckon the best carpet for most people is...
- an 80/20 wool mix for stairs, corridors and other high traffic areas such as the lounge.
- pretty much whatever you want in a bedroom. So, a deep pile synthetic carpet if you want warmth and comfort for a low price or an 80/20 Wool Mix carpet if you want to spend a bit more.
- avoid a carpet made of lots of little loops of material if you've got a cat or dog (a 'looped' pile).
If you still haven't lost interest...
...here are 10 conclusions I reached whilst reading all those carpet guides. Don't worry, there isn't a test at the end.
- Carpets are either wool or synthetic, or a mix of both. You probably knew that already, but I won't think less of you if you didn't.
- Wool doesn't flatten as easily as a synthetic material. if Iain Dowie sold carpets he might say wool has bouncebackability.
- Wool carpets are harder to clean than synthetic carpets, which can cope with powerful cleaning products. However, synthetic carpets are more flammable. So, the question for any parent to ask is: "Is my child more likely to draw on the carpet with felt tips or set fire to it?" Parents of graffiti artists are better with a synthetic carpet, parents of pyromaniacs should go for wool.
- Wool carpets come in a smaller range of colours. If you want neutral colours (browns, whites, greys) then wool is fine. If you want a montage of Disney Princesses or Jedis on your carpet then you'll need a synthetic one.
- Lots of guides and experts suggest an 80% wool, 20% synthetic mix is ideal as the 'best combination for an all-purpose carpet' (Good Housekeeping). One other guide suggested that this was 'originally done to cut costs on the more expensive wool fibres' (Tony Mustoe Carpets). Honestly, I've gone round the houses on this one and haven't completely decided if 100% wool is better. However, the general concensus seems to be that an 80/20 mix is the one to go for in 'heavy traffic' areas.
- Carpets come in various styles. For high traffic areas you want to get a shorter 'pile' so it doesn't look squashed within 5 minutes. Longer piles such as "saxony" feel nicer so you can have them in bedrooms or rooms you don't use a lot (such as the third drawing room in your mansion or the room you reserve just for wrapping Christmas presents).
- The most expensive type of carpet is a woven Axminster or Wilton carpet. You mostly find these in pubs and restaurants as they are super hard wearing. They cost a lot to produce and come in fussy patterns so they are ideal if you want your house to resemble a recently refurbished Wetherspoons. If you're interested I'm sure you can find a diagram showing how they are made. But honestly... who has the time?
- Everyone in the industry has a view on the best 'face weight' of a wool carpet, which is 'the actual amount of fiber per square yard' according to The Flooring Group. In the carpet world it's a debate with as much fury as the controversial topic of which is the best biscuit for dunking. There doesn't seem to be a definitive answer but I've read loads of guides and concluded that the best weight of wool carpet for a high footfall area is probably somewhere around 40-45oz. Some carpet companies don't actually say what their weight is but most do.
- If you're really getting into this now (and why wouldn't you) then you can start looking at the type of wool which is used in the carpet. 'New wool' is considered better than something that has been re-spun from an old material. Again, some sellers don't give this level of detail.
- If you've got a cat or dog you want to avoid getting a 'looped' carpet, which is one made up of loads of little hooks of fabric. Their claws get caught in it and they'll use the whole carpet as a giant scratching post.
And finally - because it's such a confusing topic, most people just decide to wander round a showroom poke a few carpets and say "ooh that one feels nice". These care-free people are probably more likely to live a contented life, even if their carpet doesn't last as long.