Discover everything you need to know before buying carpet.
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Fiber floor coverings have come along way since getting their start as tapestries. Today there are four main types of carpet: chenille, velvet, Axminster and Wilton. Here's what you should know about them:
• Chenille carpets are very soft and often have a 1-inch pile height. Luxurious, custom-made carpet rugs are often made of this.
• Velvet carpet is so named because with the heavyweight fiber and closely cut pile, it looks like velvet.
• Axminster, which is the least expensive carpet to produce, comes in almost-unlimited combinations of colors and patterns. The Axminster comes closest to the versatility available in a hand-woven carpet.
• Wilton, considered the most durable of all machine weaves, is woven with a special loom attachment called the Jacquard. Wiltons are limited to five or six colors per pattern.
When selecting a carpet, the following points should be considered:
• Of all carpet dyes, blue is the most vulnerable to fading caused by sunlight.
• Cut pile has a formal look, while looped or knotted surfaces are more informal.
• Patterned rugs will visually decrease the size of the room.
• Wall-to-wall carpet will visually increase the size of the room
• Poor-quality carpet will show wear quickly.
As for underlayment, there are three types: felt, which is the least expensive; rubberized felt, the most popular choice; and pure rubber, considered to be the best. The purpose of underlayment is threefold:
• To create resilience for the foot
• To absorbs a certain amount of dirt that would otherwise mar the floor beneath
• To protect the carpet from abrasion. Without padding, the carpet could wear out from the back through constant rubbing against coarse wood or concrete.
Most important, remember that with both carpet and underlayment, you get what you pay for.
Rosemary Sadez Friedmann is author of Mystery of Color.
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