Flooring and Carpeting/Carpet?

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QUESTION: We are looking to carpet our newly finished basement. It is a rather large area around 1350 sq. ft. I prefer nylon carpet to poly for durability, but the cost is looking to be too high for us. My kids are older, and we currently have no pets, so I was wondering if a better grade poly might be ok. I worry about matting. It seems everywhere we have looked has mostly poly, with very few nylon choices. Just looking to get the best for our money. Thanks for any advice.

ANSWER: Hi Susan:
  This is going to be wordy, but I will try to be as brief yet informative as possible :)
Generally I would go with a nylon carpet but of course pricing is a consideration. Please understand to maintain my impartiality as an inspector I cannot recommend specific names. With that in mind, ere are some guidelines:

Polyester or Olefins are great in stain resistance but tend to ugly out in traffic lanes quicker (packing).  The best performing construction for low end polypropylene carpets is a very tight loop in a low-to-mid pile height. By the way, the true definition of matting is the entanglement of face fibers. Many mills have no mat warranties but compacting and crushing and even tuft tip blooming are usually excluded. Through advancements in carpet technology polyester has improved with P.E.T. polyester fibers. The fiber is made from P.E.T. chips and some from recycled plastic containers. P.E.T. fibers are much stronger than the old polyester and offer much better performance and stain resistance.
An off shoot of this fiber family has been created called Triexta, PTT polmer, and supposedly offers better durability, softness and stain resistance. Fibers made from Triexta are also used in apparel, fabrics and automotive flooring.

Remember. there are two styles of carpet available; cut pile and loop. The down side of cut pile is that it tends to show traffic lanes a little more than loop style and can show variations in shading (light/dark depending upon the angle which it is viewed. Loop carpet will show less traffic patterns and will usually not show shading variations  BUT can get pulls and runs  (like in a stocking). So if you have low traffic & no pets and like the loop style that is the one you should pick.  If you have more traffic and/or pets I would go with a cut pile. There are also cut and loops that have the combination of advantages & disadvantages, but again if you have any pets I would stay away from looped styles. For colors, earth tones and multicolors or flecks will tend not to show soil as rapidly as solid and non earth tones such as blue.

Another factor is what is the wear rating?  Density has a lot to do with wear ratings, and the lower the density the lower the wear rating.  Also what is the manufacturer's warranty with regard to texture retention? I would not buy any carpet without at least some texture retention warranty (this is NOT the same as "wear' warranty)

IMPORTANT TIPS THAT THE STORE WILL NOT TELL YOU:
1. Regardless of fiber type, look for the densest pile you can afford and the shortest pile that still appeals to you. The longer the pile the more it will compress and is harder to vacuum & clean. The denser the pile the better the performance and less it will compress with traffic. Bend a sample to see how much of the backing you see through the pile. That will give you an indication of its density.  
2. Always take a sample home (the biggest you can get) to see how it will look in your lighting. Place the sample down at your feet while you sit on the couch and twist your foot into the sample for about 10 minutes. Does it show any pile distortion? If so pick something else.
3. Look for BCF or bulk continous filament rather than staple yarn. Staple yarns will shed and may do so for an extended time.
4.Do not opt for a thicker pad to make up for the lack of carpet thickness. Maximum would be 1/2", thicker can cause the backing to separate in traffic areas. I personally prefer thinner, around 1/4" or so.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I was told to stay away from loop or shorter pile because it would show seams more than something thicker ( our area is well over the 12ft rolls) I think I am leaning towards a lesser quality nylon that was in the same price as the better polys. Again, what would you recommend.

ANSWER: If the carpet is seamed correctly then it should be virtually invisible. Meaning that unless you are on your hands & knees you should not see a seam.  Sounds like they are looking for an excuse not to do a first rate job. Yes I would lean toward the nylon as long as it has a stain protectant.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I don't think anyone was looking for an excuse to do a bad seaming Job??? Several different places all said the same thing. We had loop carpet years ago and it did show seams more than what we have now, which is much better quality non loop carpet. Both done by same place. I will say I get different advice from different people, so that's making this process more difficult. Thanks for your opinion.

Answer
Susan: Again, the industry standard is "virtually invisible". This is not an opinion. Sadly there are many installers that do not follow proper procedures in seaming. I know, I am an inspector and have been one for 30 years and have seen many horror stories. Prior to that I was an installer. Seam making is not always easy and the type of carpet makes for variables in the seaming process. By the way, be sure that the installer uses seam sealer on the carpet edges (many do not). This is required by ALL manufacturers in order to keep seams from fraying.  

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R Adams

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Certified Installer 1966-1976, Certified Carpet Cleaning Instructor 1976-1985, Certified Commercial and Residential Floor Inspector since 1985 is available to answer questions on problems with carpet or other flooring, and carpet cleaning. I can guide you as to whether you may have a valid claim against a manufacturer/installer/dealer/cleaning company.

Experience

Floor covering Installer 1966-1976 Carpet Cleaning Instructor 1976-1985 Floor Covering Inspector 1985- present

Organizations
Floor Covering Inspector Training School; FCITS Floor Covering Inspection Technical Services; FITS Certified Claims Inspectors Association; CCIA

Publications
Hartford Courant

Education/Credentials
B.S. Chemistry 1971 A.S. Physical Science 1969 Armstrong Certified Installer 1972 3M Certified Carpet Cleaning Specialist 1976 FCITS Certified in Carpet and Hard Surface, Commercial and Residential

Past/Present Clients
GE, Phoenix Insurance Group, McDonalds Corp, WTNH, US NAVY, Xerox, Time Warner, Pitney Bowes, Conair, Yale New Haven Hospital, UCONN, Price Waterhouse, Pepsico.

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