What’s under your feet (or however you get around) is as important as anything when it comes to home. That’s why this fall, we collaborated with The Home Depot on an A to Z guide that’ll give you the confidence to make flooring choices you’ll love. Check out the A to Z handbook here.
Think of wall-to-wall carpet, and you’ll likely remember the orange shag your aunt had in her basement growing up; the florescent space-themed flooring of an old bowling alley; the impersonal grey carpet in your first rental apartment. It’s all a little dated.
Fortunately, carpet is making a comeback in a big way, and The Home Depot stocks it all, whether you are looking for a specific color, texture, or feel.
“In years past, carpet was always seen as this plain, neutral flooring underfoot,” says Carisha Swanson, Market Director for House Beautiful. “But if you actually think about why you like standalone rugs, more than likely it’s because it has a great pattern in it. You can also get that great pattern now in a wall-to-wall carpet.”
Let us change your mind about just how refined the material can look—no shag required.
Get your footing with terminology
You wanna talk carpet, the first thing to understand is pile. The pile of a carpet—another word for the height of the carpet fibers—are typically categorized as either low, medium, or high.
- Low-pile carpet has short, dense fibers, which makes it difficult for dirt to get trapped, and is ideal for high-traffic spaces that might require frequent cleaning, like a living room, playroom or entryway.
- Often a popular choice for bedrooms, medium-pile carpet has slightly taller, less dense fibers, adding to under-foot comfort while maintaining a relative ease-of-cleaning factor.
- And then there’s high-pile carpet—the most lavish, with tall, loose fibers—that works best for less busy parts of the house, or for a smaller space that’s aching for a little bit of luxury.
Next up: choose the carpet construction that’s right for you, which will generally fall into the categories of cut pile or loop pile.
- Cut pile refers to carpet where loops of yarn have been cut or shorn after being attached to the backing. The result is soft, and its fibers move more freely, which creates an underfoot experience perfect for a bedroom or family room where you’ll often hang out, sans socks and shoes. Within this category, you’ll find cut pile carpet types like “plush” (extremely soft, but shows footprints), “twist” (in which the yarn pieces are twisted for greater resiliency—currently extremely popular) and “frieze” (in which longer piles are twisted tightly several times so that they create a dense texture—soft and comfortable, but can be hard to clean).
- Loop pile carpet, on the other hand, means that a carpet’s yarn loops are not cut after being attached to the backing, making it generally less gentle on feet and better suited to a heavily-trod area like an entryway or staircase. Level loop refers to when the loops are all one height, and “pattern” carpet means the loops form intricate patterns within the carpet’s design. One of the most common loop pile carpets is Berber carpet (which Swanson recommends), a style often made out of nylon and based on the traditional handwoven carpets of Berber peoples in North Africa.
Carpet according to room use
As with most flooring, using your space as a guide to dictate your carpet-of-choice can ensure that you’ll find just the right combination of pile height and construction to meet your needs.
For example, carpet works well for creating cozy warmth for a child’s playroom—but that isn’t the place for a plush, all-white carpet that’s just asking for a slice of pizza land on it.
For busier spaces that require durability, go with something lower pile that’s built for rough-and-tumble energy, like Lifeproof carpet that has a lifetime warranty against stains and a 25 year warranty against wear. For a more elegant, natural look, explore a higher-pile, yarn-dyed carpet (where the fibers are dyed before being attached to the backing) that will set the mood and provide a touch of low-key sophistication, like many of the options from the Home Decorators Collection.
“Some people think that when they’re making an investment in wall-to-wall carpet that it’s something that they can’t ever change out,” says Swanson. “But if you’re making an investment in a really good area rug, you’re not going to change that either, and wall-to-wall prevents any awkward layouts within a space or rug slippage.”
Leave installation to the professionals
After you’ve landed on the dream carpet for your space, next comes installation. General contractor Mark Clements of My FixItUp Life recommends calling a professional, a far safer bet than trying to measure, cut, and stretch the carpet on your own. “It’s the kind of thing where you’ll say to yourself, ‘Why am I doing this myself, exactly?’” he says, noting that a person tackling the project themselves would have to rent, among other things, a carpet stretcher and install tack stripping—the strips along the edges of a room into which carpet is tacked—to ensure the carpet doesn’t wrinkle.
He does, however, recommend taking up the old carpet on your own, which will save money in the long run. “The trick there is to cut it up into manageable squares—I usually recommend two by three. You use a sharp knife, you cut it into squares, stack them up and carry them out.”
Clements also suggests exploring carpet tiles to create the wall-to-wall carpet look with a little bit more flexibility—and if you want to try your hand at a DIY installation. “Carpet tiles are very easy to deal with, they’re beautiful and long-lasting,” Clements says. “Some are solid, some have really cool patterns in them, and you can create any designer pattern you want. They’re easy to cut, to carry, to transport. If one gets stained, you just peel it up and stick down another one.”
And whether your carpeted room becomes the snuggle-on-the-floor, well-loved center of your children’s life, or the high-end bedroom oasis of your dreams, one thing’s for sure: this isn’t your grandma’s carpet.