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Carpet Buying Questions & Answers

By Alan Fletcher Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate


What's the difference in 6 pound vs. 8 pound Padding?

I wanted to know, is there really a difference in 6 lb padding vs. 8 lb padding? I am getting a home built and I choose the 8-lb padding. 


But will I be able to tell when walking on it or will a 6- lb density be thick enough for a new home?


Alan's Response:


This (Lb.) rating system defines the density of carpet padding. 8-pound padding is stiffer to walk on than 6 pound, which is a bit spongier underfoot. 6-pound padding is plenty dense for use with most residential carpet and falls within most carpet warranty guidelines. Most people prefer the 6-pound. In your case, it could save you some money to use the 6-pound pad. 


Either pad will serve you well and allow your carpet to wear properly. Some commercial carpets or frieze styles require 8-pound density padding to keep the warranty in force. Always check the carpet manufacturers warranty requirements. Don't assume that the carpet retailer will automatically make the correct padding choice for you. 



Buying a home with Berber Carpets, is this good or bad?

Hello, I need some information regarding what questions I should ask the seller of a house I am looking at buying. All the carpet is a looped Berber. What should I ask them about it? 


Alan's Response:

Here's what you need to know about Berber:. If you buy this house you have two options. Either keep the Berber or replace the Berber. Why would you want to replace the Berber you ask? If you have kids or pets you might want to replace it, or at least tell the sellers that you will have to replace it soon. Why? Berber carpets snag easily. Kids and pets can easily snag looped Berber carpets. It doesn't matter what brand it is, or what style it is, they all can get snagged. If you have kids or pets, you will end up wanting to replace the Berber before too long. Perhaps this is a good negotiating point.

On the other hand, if you don't have kids or pets, and never plan to, then you might like having a Berber carpet. Here are some facts about Berber that no one else will tell you.

Most Berbers are made of olefin; some are made of Nylon (better). Some have large loops some have smaller loops (better). Some have no pattern and some have a repeating pattern (better). So ideally, to determine the quality level of your Berber, a better grade of Berber will be made of nylon, have smaller loops and a repeating pattern. 

That means if your Berber has large loops (they tend to fall over, mat down and look bad faster), is made of olefin (a strong fiber but not very resilient), and has no noticeable pattern, then it is probably a relatively inexpensive Berber carpet. If the wrong padding was installed, Berbers may stretch out prematurely and need to be re-stretched. It is expensive to have this type of carpet repaired or re-stretched. 



Best carpet for a young family with two small children?

I am a new homebuyer. I would like carpet throughout a majority of my home (including the stairs). My family (which includes a 2.5 year old and a newborn) walks around barefoot all day everyday. So we would like our carpet to be as soft as possible, but also very stain-resistant as well. Can you please help me figure out the best carpet and carpet pad for my situation? I would like the carpet to last 10-15years and I am willing to spend up to $30/yd. please help!


Alan's Response:


You do need help. Practically everybody does, because the retail carpet business is full of scams. If you are not wise to all their tricks you could lose hundreds. As far as selecting a carpet, there is only one type of carpet that will survive your growing familyís needs. Nylon! You must buy a Nylon carpet if you want it to last. But that's only the first step in a four part effort to be sure you get the whole job done right, including carpet selection, correct padding, professional installation and a good price.  


Best carpet for home with unchanging high traffic lanes?

Iím so glad I ran across your website! We're getting ready to invest in carpeting our entire house (about 2,000 sq. feet). My brother's builder (consistent high end Parade home winner) referred us to his supplier and buyer. He gave us a quote for $ 17.00 per yard for carpet, pad, and installation for Mohawk's Horizon carpet. It's kind of like the frieze' (I call it a twist-short shag). I love it, but I do have kids and we show Dobermans. I don't have a housebreaking problem with the dogs and they are kept in our indoor kennel room 60% of the time, so they don't create excessive wear.

My problem is that we have high traffic patterns. Our house is a typical ranch home that's about 20 years old (original carpet). You almost walk the same exact pattern every where you go. Is this a good traffic carpet and do you think it's a good price. I can't seem to find a durability rating for it anywhere. Trying to find it at Home Depot or Lowe's for a comparison is very difficult as they all have different names and colors.

Any help is appreciated. I've never had to purchase carpet and it's so confusing! Thank you for being so helpful to everyone. I was relieved when I found you!


P.S. Half of my sq. footage is basement. Would this be a good carpet for a finished very dry basement? Would you suggest a pad over concrete for the basement? I have Berber now and I hate it! I want something more softer and elegant as we use it for our family room, den and office (dog kennel is there too, but I will keep the Berber in that room).


Alan's Response:


Wait! Don't buy anything yet! There is so much you need to know. The frieze you mentioned would be all right for you if it were a nylon, NOT a polyester. I suspect the carpet you have selected is a polyester, but I am only guessing from the price you mentioned. Inherently, a good quality frieze will tolerate a lot of abuse, but only when it is made from Nylon. A polyester (P.E.T.) carpet will mat down in a hurry, especially in traffic pattern areas.

Good padding ($3-4) and installation ($4-5) will cost about $7 to $9 per yard combined so this frieze carpet you mentioned is only $10 per yard carpet. You can't buy a good quality Nylon frieze carpet for $10 per yard. At least not one that will last very long. Whatever you do not buy a polyester carpet! But I believe I can help you.

My advice: Order my E-Book.  Armed with this insider information you will keep from becoming a victim of all the carpet scams and you will be sure to end up with a carpet that will suit your needs. Buying carpet is so complex anymore, proper selection, correct padding, quality installation, accurate measuring, not to mention getting a good price is the four step process that all must be done right in order for you to be successful. Otherwise, you will end up not satisfied with the outcome and you will have lost hundreds or worse. In addition to all the useful information you'll get in my book, I am also here to answer all your carpet questions from start to finish. Just e-mail me.



Would Berber carpet work well in a Day Care?

I run a Day care in my lower level. So the carpet gets a lot of traffic. Was thinking of a Berber but was told it would snag if the children would run toys across it. What would you suggest? We also use it for our own family so would like something that looks nice (not commercial).

Alan's Response:


Berber for you is a no-no! I know you say you don't want commercial carpet but your options are quite limited if you expect your carpet to last. I suggest you consider a short nap, cut pile, commercial carpet installed over hair pad. This type of carpet really looks nice! It will clean easily, last forever, tolerate a lot of abuse and it is reasonable priced. For the best price, stick with a basic style, no pattern, single color, and be sure it is made of NYLON. Get your hands on a copy of my book and you'll be sure to get the job done right from start to finish!



Best carpet and pad for a dry concrete Basement?

I am thinking about putting a room addition in my garage. Can I put carpet and pad directly on the concrete? Do I need to put a treatment on the concrete first? Is there a type of carpet or pad that will help keep room from having what seems to be a cold floor? 


Alan's Response:


Carpet for concrete floors. As long as your concrete floor is dry you do not have to seal the floor. If your concrete is moist you may need to have the concrete sealed. You can call a waterproofing company to do the job or you can seal the floor yourself. Home improvement stores have products for this purpose. Some people think putting down plastic sheeting over a concrete floor will help prevent moisture from coming up through the carpet but this is a bad idea and could cause mold and mildew to form under the plastic. Good airflow is important in all rooms that have moist concrete floors. Ceiling fans are inexpensive and very effective at preventing mold and mildew from forming by distributing heat more evenly. Using a dehumidifier is another good way to help remove excessive moisture from the air during rainy or humid periods.


Best pad for basements. Any carpet and pad you choose will help your garage floor feel warmer underfoot, but the best results will come from using a higher density padding. Using at least an 8-pound density (Rebond type) padding will do the trick economically, but you could opt for a 10-pound density pad if you want to get better results. Pad density and pad thickness are not the same thing. Thicker pad is not better pad, your pad thickness should not exceed 7/16" or you risk voiding your carpet warranty and shorten its lifespan. 


Choosing a carpet with a higher face-weight will help too. This puts more fabric between your feet and the cold concrete. Look for at least 35-ounce face-weight, that is where most plush style carpets start to have decent quality. You can choose any style and color carpet you like but I suggest choosing a carpet made with a Continuous Filament Nylon carpet if you want your carpet to last the longest.

Check out my free carpet buyer's information and guide on my website to learn more about choosing the right carpet and pad, saving money on carpet, and how to get qualified carpet installation.


How Berber Carpet should be installed on stairs to avoid the "smile"?

I love your website! If you could give us some general comments on our proposed purchase we would be most grateful. We are looking at buying 192 yards of Mystic Trace by Shaw. It is a DuPont Xtra life Tactesse, BCF Nylon, short looped Berber carpet. Face weight 46.8oz. Tufted pile height .437 inches. . Density is 4434. Total weight is 82oz. We are buying the carpet from a local family store in Houston. We are buying it for $28.40 installed with a 3/8 8lb density and rebond pad. We are having this carpet installed over stairs. We are a little worried about the "smile" - a cracked appearance where the carpet bends. Will this be an issue? Can a good installer avoid this? Is this a good mid-grade carpet? We do have a kid and plan to have more but really love Berber.


Alan's Response:


I'm afraid that your love of Berber will soon turn into a disheartened relationship. Not only do I see the damage caused by children and pets on a frequent basis but I also get plenty of emails from folks with kids or pets who purchased a Berber carpet only to discover un-repairable snags and runs showing up all over the place. If you were older and all your kids were grown I would say great choice! But you are just going into the family zone where everything you hold dear will soon be ruined, stained, snagged, broken, lost, mistreated or mutilated. I know because I have had 6 children and 4 are still at home.

If you decide to buy Berber anyway, there is a right way and a wrong way to put Berber on stairs. It all boils down to laying it in the right direction. A good installer will know how to deal with the "smile" you mentioned. The padding is right and the price is reasonable. 


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