If you have kids, consider darker shades of stain-resistant carpet to camouflage spills.

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Flooring isn't just another element of home d├ęcor. It's the one you'll actually have the most interaction with. Unless you can levitate, you'll be touching your floor from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night.

For many rooms, the most comfortable choice of flooring is carpet. It puts warmth and softness under your feet. It brings beauty to your rooms and helps with both sound and temperature insulation. It cushions falls, can recover from most spills and is designed to hold up for years, even under the stress of kids and pets. Plus, research by The Carpet and Rug Institute, along with independently gathered data, shows that new carpet has the lowest level of volatile organic compound emissions (which can cause eye, nose and throat irritation) as compared to other types of flooring, which makes it one of the best choices for minimizing indoor air pollution.

Before you head out the door to shop for new carpet, there are a few things you should know. The following pages clue you in on the language of carpet, the types available and how to figure the quantity you'll need.