Your Guide - New Carpet
Your home can be given an instant makeover by replacing an old, tired carpet with something new and soft underfoot. Choosing a new carpet can be baffling when there are so many different factors to consider including the fibre, pile and mix. So if you don't know your woven from your tufted, here is our simple guide which will help when choosing your new carpet.
What are the different types of fibre to choose from?
There are a variety of fibres available, here are the most popular:
Wool is the premium and best option as it is easy to dye, holds it's shape well, fire resistance and also cleans well. Wool is also a great insulator, which is brilliant for both heat loss and also noise. Wool is often mixed with a man-made fibre (something like 80% wool and 20% nylon is a great option) for optimum performance and it is recommended not to go below 50% wool mix. Wool is also an environmentally friendly choice and a sustainable natural fibre.
A natural fabric, sisal is really smart and looks great in both contemporary and traditional homes. It is soft underfoot and is a really good option on the stairs. Sisal, however, can be marked easily with water and liquids, so think carefully before fitting it.
Nylon is a man-made fibre that is highly stain resistant and holds its appearance well (not as well as wool) but doesn't flatten like Polypropylene or Polyester. As mentioned above, it's a great option to mix with wool.
This is a good option if you are on a budget or if you don't plan on living in your property for long so don't want to invest a fortune. Polypropylene is "stain free" and is easy to clean, however it is a flammable fabric and also flattens quickly, so it's not a great investment if you want your carpet to look great for years.
This a warm fabric that wears well and also cleans well, however it does flatten easily. Polyester is a popular choice for textured and shag carpets.
Try and avoid a pure man-made carpet and look for a wool blend.
What types of carpet are there?
There are two main kinds of carpet in the UK, these are tufted and woven.
The majority of carpets purchased in the UK are tufted. A tufted carpet is where the fibre is punched by needles into a pre-made backing fabric, and the simpler manufacturing process makes it cheaper. Tufted comes in all fabrics and finishes, so it's a great option.
Tufted pile options
There are 3 popular choices of pile to choose from for tufted carpets in the UK. Your choice of pile should be influenced by the room you are carpeting. Here are the main choices:
1. Twist pile
This is a cut pile carpet made from twisting the yarn and is the most popular choice of tufted carpet in the UK. It is a hard-wearing carpet and is a good option if you want the same carpet throughout your living space as it will take a lot of wear. Twist carpet normally comes in one block colour or with flecks throughout. It is coarser underfoot, so you may want to opt for something with a more luxurious feel in your bedroom.
2. Velvet pile
As the name suggests, this is the most luxurious and soft underfoot. This is a softer cut pile than the twist pile and is therefore best suited to bedrooms and formal living spaces, however you can use this throughout your home.
3. Loop pile
The loop carpet is made by a continuous uncut loop of yarn and is a great choice throughout your home as it holds its appearance well and it will bounce back easily. It doesn't feel as luxurious underfoot but it will look good for a long time. There are many different styles of loop with Berber being one of the most popular. Do avoid loop if you have animals as it will catch and snag.
The saxony and shag pile are both popular choices in the UK, particularly in bedrooms. The saxony is a deep cut pile so it is really soft and luxurious underfoot however over time it will have a tendency to flatten. The shag pile has extra long tufts with a "shaggy" look, extremely popular in the 70's. This is not an option for high traffic areas and should be only considered in areas of low traffic such as the bedroom.
Woven carpets are less common and are more expensive than tufted carpets. Woven carpets are made using traditional looming methods and normally made with 100% wool or 80% wool and 20% nylon mix. These carpets have a premium finish and the price is higher to reflect that.
Woven pile options
The two main choices of Woven carpet are Axminster and Wilton.
Axminster carpets have loads of colour and pattern options available, known for being more opulent in design. Axminster carpets tend to come in a velvet pile finish however recently some are made with a twisted yarn.
Wilton carpets tend to be plainer with fewer choices of colour and have a smooth velvet pile finish, rather than being patterned.
What do I need to know about carpet weight?
Some wool twist carpets come in a range of weight, therefore you can have the same carpet throughout your house but with a different weight depending on the room. For example go for a 50oz in the hallway, 40oz in your lounge and 30oz in your bedroom. A higher weight will take more wear over the years.
What is the best carpet by room?
Hall and staircase
Areas such as the hall and stairs take the most wear, so you need something that is hard-wearing in these areas. A loop or twist pile is a good option here and go for a wool mix which will not flatten easily and will also be easy to clean. Choose a carpet with a pattern or a strong fleck in it for this area so you won't notice marks and stains as easily.
Lounge and family rooms
It is unlikely that you will have muddy boots in this space, however there is a lot of wear in this part of the home. A twist pile works well in this space as it will have a soft feeling underfoot and try to choose a wool mix to maintain the look. Loop carpets also look really smart in the lounge however do avoid if you have pets.
Bedrooms and entertaining rooms
For areas in the home where shoes are rarely worn and do not take as much wear and tear, you can go for a finish such as velvet, saxony or shag. A pure wool would also be a lovely warm and luxurious feeling in a bedroom.
Remember there is no real rule, so if you love a loop carpet then it can look great throughout your home. Just avoid carpets that go flat quickly in high traffic areas.
What about underlay?
It's recommended to buy new underlay when you replace your carpet, rather than using the existing underlay. Always buy as good an underlay as your budget allows as it's an integral part of the carpet. A good underlay will reduce heat loss, reduce noise (particularly good if you have children!), make the carpet feel softer underfoot and will help the carpet last longer as it acts as a shock absorber.
There is a variety of underlay to choose from with the most popular made from rubber or polyurethane foam. Polyurethane foam is a light underlay that feels really soft underfoot and is perfect for the bedroom or lounge. Rubber has been around for years and tends to lose its springiness quickly if its cheap quality, so you have to invest in underlay with a high rubber content to improve performance. Crumb rubber recovers really well from furniture marks and is great for areas of high footfall such as the hall and stairs.
How much should I pay for a new carpet?
The cost of carpet varies greatly depending on a range of factors including the manufacturer, fabric and design. Expect to pay from around £10 per metre squared for a budget carpet, £15-£20 for a medium quality and anything from £40 per metre squared for a quality wool carpet. However, you can pay over £100 per metre squared for a high-end designer carpet.
Other costs to consider are:
- Expect to pay between £3-£4 per metre squared for carpet fitting. Remember labour costs can vary depending on where you live in the UK.
- Underlay will cost from £4 per metre squared for a budget underlay to £10 per metre squared for a premium thermal underlay
- Your carpet fitter may charge you to dispose of your old carpet. Other additional costs include replacing the plywood floorboards if they are in poor condition.
Remember the area in your home you are carpeting will make a difference. For example, stairs with turns will be far more complicated than a square room, so you may pay more.
What else should you consider when choosing your carpet?
There is no point in investing in pure wool if you are considering living in the property for a short while. Similarly, if you have young children or are considering renting your property, you should choose something that will take a lot of traffic and be resistant to stains.
Lastly, before you choose your carpet, always ask to borrow a sample of carpet to take home. Test how the carpet feels underfoot as well as the colour as the light in your home can impact how it looks.
Published: November 8, 2023