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Buying Guide

Carpet Styles

There are a variety of carpet styles and surface texture options available, all of which affect the appearance, feel, and importantly, performance of your carpet.

By and large, the more luxurious the surface, the more care it will need. Shorter pile usually wears better than long pile carpet but is not as luxurious. It all comes down to personal taste and room usage. The most common styles are:

Twist Pile Carpet – These carpets have a coarse, rugged finish.

Velvet Pile Carpet – Have a smooth luxurious appearance, rather like suede.

(On a like-for-like basis the only difference between Twist and Velvet is aesthetic)

Loop Pile Carpet – These replicate the look of natural flooring such as coir and sisal. Cats and anything with long claws are not a good idea with loop pile carpet.

Saxony Carpet – Has a deep pile with a pronounced sensuous feel. Though popular in bedrooms, they do flatten so are not recommended in heavy traffic areas.

Types of Carpet

There are essentially two types of carpet sold in the UK  – Tufted or Woven carpet.

Tufted carpet is much quicker and easier to make. Imagine a very large sewing machine – and you have Tufting! It is suitable for all types of yarn and you can make a variety of finishes. The overwhelming majority of carpet sold in the UK is Tufted.

Woven carpet can be either an ‘Axminster’ or a ‘Wilton’. Axminster carpet is predominantly patterned with unlimited colour potential. Wilton tends to be plain but can use up to 5 colours. The manufacturing methods for both are traditional and labour intensive (the front and back of the carpet are woven together simultaneously) – but they are the ‘carpet man’s carpets’.

Types of Carpet Fibres

How carpets look and perform depends largely on the fibres they are made of. When it comes to carpet fibres, wool has long been recognised as the best. It is soft and warm, resilient, naturally flame retardant and doesn’t ‘ugly out’, so looks better for longer. It is also an environmentally friendly and sustainable fibre and is biodegradable.

Wool is often blended in an 80/20 or 50/50 mix with other ‘man made’ fibres to enhance performance.

Synthetic fibres are certainly hard wearing and in the case of Polypropylene also have the added benefit of being ‘stainfree’ and easy to clean. Significant advances have been made in synthetic fibres to give a more silk-like appearance.

Plain or Patterned Carpet

Plain or patterned carpet? The choice is entirely yours!

Plain carpet is safe and will suit any room or decorating style. It also gives you greater flexibility with wallpaper and soft furnishings so can be easier to build schemes around. Using the same colour throughout does give a feeling of space and link rooms.

Plain carpets come in just about every hue. Deeper colours create a mood of intimacy and sophistication while lighter colours make a room feel airy and spacious.

While most of us have plain carpet, there are a wonderful variety of patterned carpets, from small scale well defined designs to larger scale geometrics and plaids and tartans. Patterned carpet most definitely does not mean 1970’s swirly, pub style carpet!

Striped carpet is very popular at the moment, particularly in hallways and on stairs. Stripes can lift spirits and, on a practical note, make a small space seem larger. They also co-ordinate well with plain carpet.

Top Tips on Buying Carpet

Here are our top tips on buying carpet. You don’t buy carpet very often and you will walk on it every day, so it is worth ensuring you buy what is right for you.We recommend you think about:

The room

A bedroom, for example, takes far less wear than a stair carpet.

Your colour scheme

A bedroom, for example, takes far less wear than a stair carpet.


A bedroom, for example, takes far less wear than a stair carpet.

Your budget

A bedroom, for example, takes far less wear than a stair carpet.

Plain or patterned

A bedroom, for example, takes far less wear than a stair carpet.

Other important things to keep in mind:

Measuring the room

Leave it to an expert! Doing it yourself you could end up ordering too much or too little.

Samples of carpet

Use samples to actually see the carpet you like in-situ with natural lighting etc.


Just as you wouldn’t buy a new car without new tyres, so you should always buy new underlay with new carpet.

The fitting of your carpet

Fitting is a skill – and there is no such thing as ‘free fitting’! All carpet should be fitted in accordance with BS5325, the British Standard for the installation of textile floor coverings.

Buy from a Carpet Foundation Member

Service and ‘back up’ are all important. All Carpet Foundation Retail Members operate under a Consumer Code of Practice approved by the Trading Standards Institute.

Keep the remnants and off-cuts

They can be used as doormats in doorways and you never know when they might be useful.

Room by Room Guide

Bedroom Carpet

In the Bedroom, there is nothing like getting out of bed and your feet touching the warmth and comfort of carpet rather than chilly floorboards. It is a very personal space and you can do what you want here i.e be unashamedly decadent; be sophisticated – the choice is yours! In terms of wear, it is the room that will take the least so you can save money here. A bit of carpet buying advice here is that if, for example, your preferred carpet comes in more than one weight, you don’t need to buy the heavier weight as it will not be subjected to heavy wear.

Living Room Carpet

The Living Room, as the name suggests, is often the ‘hub’ of the household so, here again, a hard wearing carpet is needed. We would suggest either an 80% wool/20% nylon mix or, if you have a young family then stain resistant polypropylene might be the answer.

Dining Room Carpet

The Dining Room is often a ‘decorating centre’ and the focus of much effort and expenditure as a ‘showcase’ room. The choice is entirely yours when it comes to the carpet – plain, patterned or loop pile. They will all look attractive.

Hallway Carpet

The Hallway is the first thing people see of our home – and we all like to create a favourable impression. For this reason a stripe is a great way to inject colour and make a statement. It is also an area that takes a lot of wear and tear so your carpet needs to be durable so we recommend a wool mix carpet.

Stairs and Landing Carpet

The Stairs and Landing take a lot of wear as well, so again, a wool rich carpet is strongly recommended. Combining a stripe on the stairs with a contemporary plain carpet in the hall is a clever and practical way to add interest to a functional area. A stair runner is also a clever means of introducing colour and pattern.

Bathroom Carpet

It is a common misconception that you cannot have carpet in the Bathroom – not true. It is only a ‘no no’ if there is the potential for it to get soaked on a regular basis, such as if you have young children.

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