Selecting the Right Carpet

Selecting the Right Carpet

Woman Shopping for Carpet

ANCHOR – Selecting the Right Carpet

How to Select the Right Carpet for Your Home

From the Store to Your Floor

You’ve decided that carpet is the best flooring choice for your home. Now what? There’s a lot to consider and many great options from which to choose. Today’s carpet offers a wide variety of choices in style, fiber composition, and color. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) is here to help you find the perfect carpet for your needs.

Where to Start

Before purchasing carpet, answer the following questions:

  • How is the room going to be used?
  • Will it experience heavy or light foot traffic?
  • Will the room be the center of activity for family and entertaining?
  • Is there direct access to the room from outside, or is there distance between the carpeted area and the outdoors?
  • Will the carpet receive direct sunlight?

Your answers will help narrow your carpet options and allow you to select the color, carpet construction, and cushion that best meets your needs. If you still have questions, ask your carpet dealer for guidance.

Here are a few additional factors that will influence your carpet selection:

  • Will elderly individuals access the carpeted area?
  • Do you have pets in the home?
  • Will the carpet be used with heated flooring?
  • Will you use the carpet indoors, outdoors, or in an area with both elements like a screened-in porch?

Learn more: Choose the Right Carpet for Your Home

Woman Shopping for Carpet

A Rainbow of Choices

If a room is your interior design canvas, carpet is your palette. You may choose a neutral carpet to maintain focus on the other visual elements in the room. Alternatively, you may select a bold carpet that itself becomes a focal point of the room. Because carpet comes in nearly every color imaginable, the choice is yours.

The always-popular beige carpet makes a room look open and spacious. For a bolder statement, match your carpet to a common color in your furniture and draperies. Environmental colors, like blues, deep greens, rosy quartz, and stony neutrals are becoming increasingly popular. Warm colors turn up the heat in a room that lacks light, while cool greens and blues have a calming effect. Lighter colors make the room seem larger; darker colors provide an extra level of comfort.

There are also practical considerations in color selection. New stain and soil-resistant technology make today’s lighter color carpet easy to clean, bringing confidence to those who want light flooring. Medium and darker colors, tweeds, and textures are good at hiding soil and dirt in your home’s high-traffic areas.

One final consideration: the color of your carpet will look different under different lighting conditions. Make sure to bring carpet samples home to look at them under your home’s unique lighting conditions.

Learn more: 6 Reasons to Choose Carpet for Your Next Remodel Project

Couple with interior designer

ANCHOR – Carpet and Rug Construction

Carpet and Rug Construction

Types of Carpet

Carpet is not one-size-fits all! In addition to several construction techniques you can choose from, carpets are made using a variety of fibers. Understanding the strengths and differences of each will help you make the right choice for your lifestyle, home, and budget.

Carpet Construction Options

Cut Pile: One of the most popular constructions, cut pile achieves its durability through the type of fiber used, density of tufts, and the amount of twist in the yarn. Highly twisted yarn holds its shape longer, making it a smart choice for high-traffic areas.

  • Textured Plush – Decorative and versatile textured surfaces help hide footprints and vacuum marks while adding casual beauty to any room. Textured plush carpet is ideal for busy, high-traffic households.
  • Saxony – This refined surface works well in traditional living and dining rooms.
  • Friezé – Casual, informal frieze forms a “curly” textured surface with its twisted yarns. The unique texture helps minimize footprints and vacuum marks.
  • Plush (velvet) – Best for low traffic areas and formal rooms, plush carpet has a dense, luxurious feel, but shows footprints and vacuum marks easily.
Cut Pile
Loop Pile

Loop Pile: Same-height loops create a uniform look that holds up well in high-traffic areas. Many of today’s popular Berber styles are level-loop styles featuring flecks of a darker color on a lighter background.

Multi-level loop pile:  This style usually includes two to three different loop heights to create pattern effects, while providing good durability and a more casual look.

Patterned Loop
Cut and Loop

Cut-loop pile:  This carpet style combines cut and looped yarns. It provides a variety of surface textures, including sculptured effects of squares, chevrons, and swirls. The multi-color attribute is effective at hiding soil and stains.

Understanding Carpet Fibers

To get the best performance and most enjoyment out of your carpet it’s essential to select a carpet fiber that fits your needs. The majority of the carpet produced in the United States contains one of five primary pile fibers: nylon, polyester, polypropylene (olefin), triexta, and wool. Synthetic fibers represent the vast majority of the fiber used to manufacture carpet in the U.S. Each fiber type offers somewhat different attributes of durability, abrasion resistance, texture retention, stain and soil resistance, colorfastness, ease of cleaning, and color clarity. Manufacturers, retailers, specifiers, and designers are valuable resources in helping you determine the most appropriate fiber and carpet construction for your needs.

Learn more: 3 Steps to Consider When Shopping for New Carpet

ANCHOR – Selecting the Right Cushion

Selecting the Right Cushion


The cushion that sits between your baseboards and the visible carpet is an unseen but essential part of your carpet system experience. It’s well worth the time to ensure you’re picking the best option. A firm and resilient carpet cushion forms the foundation for your carpet. The right cushion acts as a shock absorber to increase comfort and extend the durability of your carpet. It also improves acoustics and provides increased insulation, making a room quieter and warmer.

When selecting cushion, check the carpet manufacturer’s requirements for thickness and density. A general rule of thumb for most residential carpet applications is to choose cushion no more than 7/16 inch thick and no less than 1/4 inch with 6 pounds per cubic feet density. If the carpet is a berber or a low-profile carpet, choose a cushion no more than 3/8 inch thick with 8 pounds density.

The type and thickness of cushion you need varies based on your traffic levels and patterns. For example, bedrooms, dens, lounge areas, and other rooms with light or moderate traffic can use thicker and softer cushion. Living rooms, family rooms, hallways, stairs, and other heavy-traffic areas require thinner, firmer cushion.

The wrong carpet cushion can negatively affect the carpet in several ways, including diminished appearance, wrinkling, buckling, separation of the carpet seams, and breakdown of the carpet structure itself. Improper cushion selection also may void warranties from the carpet manufacturer.

A Quick Cushion Guide

Residential cut pile, cut-loop, or high-level loop carpet requires a resilient, firm cushion with a thickness of 7/16 inch and no less than 1/4 inch with 6 pounds per cubic feet density. Types of cushion may be comprised of fiber, rubber, or various polyurethane foams including the very common bonded foam product often referred to as “rebond.”

Berber carpet, thinner loop, or cut pile carpet is made with large, wide loops, and functions best when supported by a stable, low-flexing, cushion. A thicker, softer cushion is not recommended. Cushion thickness should not exceed 3/8 inch for these products. Check with your carpet manufacturer to determine whether your carpet selection requires a specific cushion.

ANCHOR – Green Label Plus for Indoor Air Quality

Carpet and Indoor Air Quality

Green Label Plus Indoor Air Quality Testing Program

The Green Label Plus Symbol

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is an area of growing importance because of the amount of time we spend indoors as well as concerns about asthma, allergies, and VOCs. Green Label Plus is a voluntary, industry testing program for carpet, adhesive, and cushion products that establish the highest standard for indoor air quality (IAQ) ever set by the carpet industry.

The program sets a higher standard for IAQ and ensures that customers are purchasing the very lowest emitting products available.

The Green Label Plus program has such a positive impact on the indoor environment that it is recognized by third parties for its testing requirements. Additionally, the Green Label Plus program’s tough standards exceed the green building requirements dictated by California schools.

Read the Green Label Plus - Fact Sheet (3.17 MB)

If you are concerned about asthma, allergies, or VOCs, be sure to ask about Green Label Plus carpet, cushion, and adhesive options for your home.