Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Buy Carpet for Your Family Home


Types of Carpet

Long ago, carpets were woven in intricate patterns with many colors of wool. Today, most homeowners buy tufted pile made of synthetic fibers. These durable, affordable carpets feature a wide variety of styles:

  • Plush is the softest carpet. Unfortunately, it's the worst for showing footprints.
  • Textured plush has fibers cut to different lengths, which is better at hiding footprints and dirt.
  • Velvet or velour carpets have a smooth, close-cut pile.
  • Sculptured carpets feature both high and low piles.
  • Saxony has long, shaggy fibers and a textured look.
  • Frieze is also known as hard-twist pile. The fibers are so twisted they curl.
  • StainMaster carpets have a neutral electric charge that resists dirt, static electricity and dyes from spilled liquids.

Carpet comes in a variety of materials. Wool is the softest and most expensive choice. Moisture- and fade-resistant olefin is best for indoor/outdoor carpet. Other synthetic materials are soft to the touch and colorfast. Nylon lasts a long time. Polyester is bright and easy to clean. Triexta is a new polyester-type fiber that's engineered to be stain-resistant. PET carpets, made from recycled plastic bottles, offer strength, rich colors, stain-resistance and low static.

Now that you know the types of carpet and their lingo, on the next page, learn how to measure your rooms for carpet.