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Design Tips for Selecting the Right Carpet

From durability and softness to maintenance and pattern scale, here are some insights into selecting wall-to-wall carpeting.

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The term "shag" refers to carpeting that has an 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. 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.

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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.

a guide to different carpet types

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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.

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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.

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