Angie's List: Carpets are still America's preferred floor covering

Hardwood floors are growing in popularity, but many homeowners still prefer the look and feel of carpet. In fact, carpet is still the preferred floor covering in American homes, and it is not even close; 60 to 70 percent of American homes have carpet.

Chances are, if your home has it, it will someday need replacing. So how do you know when it is time to replace your carpet and what can you do to make it last?

If your carpet is looking less than magical these days, it may not necessarily be time to pull it up and let it fly into a dumpster.

Consumer expert Angie Hicks says, "Your carpet may not actually need to be replaced when you think it does. A lot of times consumers think it needs replaced sooner than it does because they haven't had it professional cleaned, for example, where they (professionals) can take out dirt and stains. If you find that your carpet fibers are really matted, or stains just aren't coming out, it's probably time to replace. Normal carpet lasts anywhere from 10 to 20 years."))

But if your carpet is ready for the rag bag, there are many things to consider.

"The first thing you want to do if you're thinking about buying new carpet is to really evaluate how you use the space you are going to be carpeting. Is it a high traffic area? Is it in the dining room where you are going to be eating? Or do the kids play on the carpet? Once you have that in mind you'll be prepared to go to the showroom, talk to the salesperson about what type of carpet you need because for a high traffic area, you're probably going to need a more high quality carpet and that way you make sure you buy the right carpet for your needs," Angie says.

At $12 a square yard, a typical bedroom would cost about $250 for the carpet alone and another $100 to have it installed.

So you might be thinking about installing it yourself.

Angie says, "Installing carpet is really not the best DIY project because you really need to have an experienced installer to make sure you get the longevity out of the carpet, otherwise you won't get it laid properly, you won't get it stretched properly, and it will wear a lot quicker."

Do your homework when it comes to installation.

Look closely for hidden fees. Some companies offer whole-house installation for one low price, but tack on charges for extra services, like removing old carpet or moving furniture.

Once you have had it installed, in order to help your carpet last for as long as possible, you should vacuum at least once to three times a week for optimal results.

Vacuuming helps keep dry soil from settling it and making the carpet look dirty.

Have your carpet professionally cleaned once a year, with high-traffic areas getting cleaned twice a year. Embedded dirt can actually wear carpet out faster.

Avoid too much exposure: bare feet on carpet can transfer body oils and contribute a considerable amount of grime, so keep your feet covered by slippers or house shoes whenever possible.

Angie's List Tips for Buying and Installing Carpet:

Consider the room and your lifestyle:

Consider high quality carpet for a high traffic area such as a family room - you'll want a carpet that is durable and holds up well against stains. Take into factor whether you have children or pets when picking out carpet. A light, solid colored is more likely to show dirt than carpet that is multicolored or speckled.

Test the sample:

Look at the yard strands on carpet samples. You want a nice twist on the yarn - this makes the carpet more durable. When you lose the twist, it starts matting and crushing quicker.

What's popular?

Highly-rated carpet installers tell us frieze carpet is the top choice for most homeowners. That's because it hides stains and heavy wear well.

Eco-friendly flooring:
Some carpet manufacturers are coming out with environmentally friendly carpets made from post-industrial fiber, corn, and other recycled products. Wool carpeting is eco-friendly, but comes with a higher price tag.

Padding: Consider a padding of at least 6 pounds density and at least half an inch thick.

Installation: Look closely for hidden fees. Some companies offer whole-house installation for one low price, but tack on charges for extra services, like removing old carpet or moving furniture.

DIY: Inexperienced homeowners should not attempt to install carpet themselves. It can be a challenge to cut and seam the carpet correctly and you could void the warranty.

Price: Experts tell us a good carpet will cost $3 to $5 per square foot. You can buy the best carpet in the world, but if the company putting it in doesn't know what they're doing, it won't matter, because the carpet won't look good or hold up as well.

Angie's List Tips for Keeping Your Carpet Looking Great:

Vacuum regularly: Vacuum at least once a week - three times a week for optimal results. Vacuuming helps keep dry soil from settling it and making the carpet look dirty.

Professional cleanings: Have your carpet professionally cleaned once a year, with high-traffic areas getting cleaned twice a year. Embedded dirt can actually wear carpet out faster.

Avoid too much exposure: Bare feet on carpet can transfer body oils and contribute a considerable amount of grime, so keep your feet covered by slippers or house shoes whenever possible.


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