Warm, comforting and quiet underfoot, it’s not surprising carpet’s popularity holds strong. It is suitable for most rooms – though it is usually best avoided in wet rooms – but the type of carpet you choose should be influenced by the amount of traffic the area is expected to receive. Stairs, hallways and living rooms will usually require ‘heavy’ or ‘extra-heavy domestic’ carpet, while bedrooms and lesser-used rooms can be fitted with a lighter-weight design.
How Much Does Carpet Cost?
While you can pay as little as £3/m² or as much as £100/m², average cost for a synthetic carpet is about £20/m² or £30/m² for wool, plus underlay and fitting.
Tufted or Woven?
There are two types of carpet. Tufted is the more economical choice as it is less labour-intensive to make: yarn is sewn into a woven backing fabric, then a secondary backing fabric is applied. There is a large variety of colour, pattern and texture, as well as materials.
Woven carpets are time-consuming to produce, as they are made by weaving the front and back of the carpet at the same time. They are expensive, but high quality and will hold their appearance and pile well. Look out for Axminster (patterned) and Wilton (plain).
Which Carpet Material?
There are a variety of materials that can be made into carpet, each with different properties. Natural wool is a great choice — it’s fairly hardwearing and keeps its looks for years. However, it is more expensive than a wool blend, which uses synthetic fibres to create a more durable product. Many cheaper carpets are made entirely of a synthetic product such as nylon, polypropylene or polyester. They tend to be stain-resistant and hardwearing, but are unlikely to look as good as a carpet containing natural fibres.
For something a bit different, try a natural fibre such as coir (from coconuts), seagrass (grass soaked in seawater), sisal (from the leaves of the Agave sisalana plant) or jute (from the Corchorus herb). They look great, come from sustainable sources and contain fewer chemicals. Some cannot be dyed, and not all are ideal for areas of high traffic or wet rooms — ask the supplier.
Multiple carpet textures are available, but not all are suitable for every application. Generally, velvet (smooth finish) and twist (textured and short) piles are suitable for any room, while Saxony – a softer, high pile – may flatten in areas of heavy traffic. Loop piles (right) emulate natural flooring but can feel a little coarse, while berber, a hardwearing loop pile, is made of naturally pigmented fibres and is suitable for use in most rooms.
Getting a Carpet installed
The underlay, which starts from £4/², makes all the difference: a good-quality underlay will reduce the compression on the carpet and help it last longer. It is possible to fit carpet yourself, but many companies will throw in the fitting if you buy over a certain amount. If you do go down the DIY route, ask a friend to help you and get the right equipment — e.g. a knee kicker.
Underfloor Heating and Carpet
Underfloor heating can work effectively under carpet, but the tog is critical: the carpet/underlay need a combined thermal resistance of less than 2.5 togs.
(All prices were correct as of February 2013)