Tips for Selecting the Right Carpet for Your Space

From durability and softness to maintenance and pattern scale, here are 11 tips to shed light on wall-to-wall carpet selection.
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Shag

The term "shag" refers to carpet that has extra-deep pile, resulting in a shaggy appearance. Made popular in the 1970s, shag was originally available only in earth tones such as harvest gold, avocado green, burnt orange and brown. Reintroduced in the early 2000s with more up-to-date colors, shag has gone mainstream thanks to its plush softness and textural look. Although not a smart choice for areas geared toward eating such as dining rooms, shag is ideal for private spaces like bedrooms and playrooms. Shag's thick texture hides flaws and is extra comfortable for lounging on, making it a great option for homes with kids and pets. In order to properly care for wall-to-wall shag, homeowners will need a heavy-duty vacuum because the thick fibers tend to shed a lot during the first month after installation and can quickly clog the filter on a standard vacuum.

Solid Cut Pile

Hands down, the most popular choice for builders and contractors is wall-to-wall solid cut pile carpet. The term "cut pile" refers to the carpet's flat look resulting from looped fibers being cut to the same height to create a flat surface underfoot. Cut pile is also prized for its soft appearance, making it attractive to families with young children. Since cut pile tends to be very dense, it provides a cushiony feel while the lack of open loops makes it a good choice for homes with pets because there's nothing for paws and claws to get snagged on.

Cut and Loop

Almost as popular as solid cut pile, cut and loop carpet is a better fit for homeowners interested in subtle patterns. Cut and loop carpet achieves its sculptural look through varied levels of sheared top loops and uncut low loops. Often patterns appear to have been cut directly into it, and made with contrasting colors from the same palette. This slight variation in color helps camouflage everyday wear and tear. Cut and loop is drastically softer than solid cut pile, but less durable. Unlike solid cut pile, cut and loop carpet is not ideal for homeowners with pets since claws and paws tend to snag on the loops.

Modular Tiles

When it comes to durability, modular carpet tiles may actually be the best possible choice for active families. Available in hundreds of colors, textures, patterns and design styles, these tiles are easy for DIYers to install, eliminating hefty fees from carpet installation pros. Should a tile become soiled, just take it up, rinse it clean in the sink, then replace the tile once it's dry. Should the tile become permanently damaged, another can be ordered and stuck in its place. Something to consider before choosing modular carpet tiles is their lack of padding, often resulting in a less cushy surface underfoot.

Textural Stripe

Wall-to-wall textural stripe carpet is a nice choice for introducing a subtle yet graphic pattern to a space. Depending on the carpet's orientation, the textural contrast can be played up or played down. The key to playing up the contrast is to run the carpet parallel to a room's entry.

Hemp and Sisal

These natural fibers are a great carpet alternative for giving a space a casual, coastal vibe. Loved by designers and homeowners alike for their organic look and massage-like feel underfoot, hemp and sisal stain easily and are not the best choice for homes with pets or small children. To use wall-to-wall hemp or sisal effectively, stick with hallways, landings or bedrooms.

Large-Scale Geometric

This striking flooring is best for homeowners with bold taste. Used by designers to add high-energy impact to spaces lacking architectural detail or a real focal point, the boldness of large-scale geometric patterns can be played up or played down depending on contrast. One of the biggest mistakes made when installing wall-to-wall large-scale geometric carpet is cutting off its pattern repeat by using it in too small of a space — this graphic carpet is best used in oversized rooms.

Small-Scale Geometric

More subdued than large-scale geometrics, these smaller patterns may simply read as a slight textural contrast from far off; however, close up, the pattern's full effect is clearly visible. When used in large rooms, small-scale geometrics can look cluttered and busy, making this flooring a better choice for small areas such as landings, staircases, hallways and bedrooms.

Mohair

Mohair carpet is a popular option for homes that need an extra layer of warmth, particularly those in cold, harsh climates. Although ideal for making a space feel cozy and warm, mohair is known for its tendency to shed, which will require frequent vacuuming using a carpet brush or similar attachment. Before considering wall-to-wall mohair, test its itchiness by holding it up to arms, legs and necks to see if your skin has a negative reaction.

Tone-on-Tone Pattern

This carpet gets high points for longevity. While many patterns achieve their effect through contrast in color, tone-on-tone patterns simply rely on the carpet's weave and resulting difference in texture. To get the most bang for your buck, stick with neutrals which are likely to coordinate well with a variety of different palettes. A few colors to consider: dove gray, charcoal, blue-gray, mossy greens, greige, dark brown and taupe.

Woven Hide

Woven and/or stitched-hide carpet is one of the most expensive wall-to-wall styles. Sculptural and artistic in construction, hide is just as durable as it is beautiful. Although it stands up to high traffic and also ages well, hide is meant for dry spaces and works best when used in a masculine or rustic space.

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