How to Save Money on Apartment Carpet & Flooring Replacement Costs. Tips and Strategies for Landlords, RE Investors and Property Managers.
There are literally dozens of smart ways a savvy rental property owner or manager to reduce carpet and flooring replacement and repair costs.
Here are ten money-saving strategies revealed by Alan J. Fletcher, a flooring consultant, and author of “Landlord Flooring Management”
1. Choose a Carpet that meets your needs
The carpet you install in your rental units must be able to endure the normal wear of your typical tenant. You also need to consider the frequency of your current carpet replacement schedule and whether or not you accept pets.
Install a lower grade of carpet if you need to replace it more often due to pet damage or excessive wear. Install a better grade carpet if you do not allow pets and your tenants are generally not overly rough on your carpets.
The trick to saving money here is to select a grade of carpet with a life expectancy equal to or exceeding the lifestyle and average length of stay of your average tenant. Many factors may contribute to this approach including the average age of your tenants, number of children, average income, occupation, pets, local climate, etc.
Spending an extra dollar or two per yard on a carpet upgrade can add several years to the life expectancy of your carpets. It could be well worth the added expense if you do not allow pets and your average tenant stays for at least 5 years. It may be a waste of money if your average tenant stays less than 5 years or you allow pets.
2. Select a Continuous Filament Nylon Carpet
Nylon is the recommended carpet fiber for rentals. Nylon outperforms all other fibers and is the most durable and easy to clean. Using a Continuous filament Nylon (BCF) carpet will help eliminate the shedding, fuzzing and pilling that is often observed with staple fibers. Carpet samples of continuous filament Nylon may be labeled BCF (bulked continuous filament) or CFN (continuous filament nylon)
3. How to Save 10 to 15% or more on your padding costs
In most cases, installing new carpet requires about 10 to 15% less padding than carpet.
For example: If your 3-bedroom rental unit requires 100 yards of carpet, you probably only need 85 to 90 yards of padding to complete the job. Unlike carpeting, padding can be turned in any direction and even the most modest scraps of padding can be utilized. It may require a few extra minutes of work for the installer or his helper, but you will enjoy significant savings.
It has long been the industry standard to charge for equal yardage amounts of carpet and padding. Some flooring retailers or vendors may be reluctant to negotiate with you regarding this area of potential savings.
4. Know all your padding options
The lifespan of your carpet depends on using good quality padding. What type of padding are you currently using? How much are you charged for it? There are many types of pad available and you may not be aware of all your padding options. With typical apartment-grade plush carpet, a 7/16″ inch, 6-pound, Rebond padding is commonly used in rentals.
5. Consider re-using all or part of your existing pad
When its time to replace the carpet in a rental, consider reusing some or all of the existing padding. Depending on the age, quality and condition of your existing padding, you could save a significant amount of money by replacing only the areas that really need replacing. Of course, someone will have to make the judgment call after inspecting the condition of the padding.
Most often, the hallways and main traffic areas will show the most wear and replacing those areas may be a good idea. Padding in other areas may still be in good condition and you could install the new carpet right over the top. Prices for new padding vary according to thickness, density and type so if you are able to reuse 80 yards of padding, you could be saving some serious money over time.
6. Choose the Right Padding
If you allow pets in your rentals it makes good sense to use a less-expensive padding since your chances of reusing the padding are greatly reduced. You could use a less expensive padding and save yourself some money.
You might consider using a 3 or 4 pound 3/8″ inch, Rebond padding and only spend as little as possible. The overall savings would add up quickly and you won’t lose as much money when the carpet and padding needs to be replaced again in a year or two.
7. Remove your old carpet & padding yourself
Most carpet installers charge between fifty cents and two dollars per yard to remove and haul away your old carpet and padding. If you do remove it yourself you could be saving $40 to $160 on a typical 2-bedroom, 80-yard unit.
Consider having your maintenance people do the removal prior to the carpet installers arriving and perhaps use an onsite garbage dumpster to dispose of it.
8. Communicate and make your wishes known
Keep your flooring contractors and vendors well informed and you can save time and money. Confusion can quickly undermine even the best-laid plans. When scheduling carpet replacements, be sure to inform your flooring provider of all the pertinent information they may need to know.
For example, notify them in advance if there are any signs of pet damage, water damage or dry rot. This would help the flooring installers to arrive well prepared and to be able to complete the installation in a timely and efficient manner.
9. Educate Your Tenants
Your tenants can help you save money too if you let them know what you would like them to do. For instance, to make carpets last longer they need to be vacuumed regularly.
Inform your tenants about this basic rule of thumb for vacuuming carpets: Vacuum as many times per week as the number of people living in the home. For example, if there are three people living in the household, vacuum three times per week.
Educate your tenants on a frequent basis by using a simple one-page newsletter or simple flyer posted on their door to convey useful and important information.
10. Inspect Carpet & Flooring installations before the installers leave!
Before the carpet or flooring installer leaves, M\make sure the correct carpet style and color has been installed, check for proper installation, and look for any defects in the carpet itself. Early detection of simple problems is the best way to help avoid delays in renting your units.
Make sure the Carpet installers check in with you before they leave. Take the time to inspect their work and make sure the job was done properly.
It is very important to inspect your new carpet or flooring right after it has been installed. It only takes a few minutes of your time and could save you precious time and money if you detect a problem.
If there are any obvious installation issues or problems, such as ugly carpet or flooring seams or the flooring material was installed improperly, then you need to let your flooring installer know before he leaves so he can fix the issue immediately, or contact your flooring service provider to come out and inspect the floor and arrange to have the problem fixed as soon as possible to obtain the quickest remedy for the problem.
Let’s face it, sometimes a carpet or flooring installer does a lousy job. You can’t let this go! It can cost you hundreds or even thousands over the long run! It’s your job as a savvy landlord or a trusted onsite property manager to make sure you don’t end up stuck with a lousy carpet or flooring installation that you should have quickly identified and made proper arrangements to have the issue corrected at no cost to you!
If you fail to recognize these key issues, then your new flooring will not last as long as they were designed to last! If your new flooring should last for 10 years, but due to being installed poorly, only lasts for 5 years, then what is the end result to your pocketbook! Times this to how many poorly installed floors?
How to Save BIG on Carpet & Padding Costs
By Alan J. Fletcher – Carpet buying expert and trusted consumer advocate
“When you need to replace the carpet in an apartment or rental home you will often need new pad too. But there may be times when you can save money on padding by reusing some or all of the pad if it is still in good condition.”
The purpose of installing padding under carpet is to provide a soft cushion of comfort when walked on, to support and protect the carpet from excessive wear and abrasion, and prevent the carpet from losing its “stretch” prematurely.
Padding is rated two ways, by thickness (height) and by density (weight).
The thickness of padding does not represent the quality. The quality of pad is always determined by density, and is measured in pounds. The more dense a pad, the better the quality (For example A 6-pound pad is better quality than a 3-pound pad). A dense padding has more matter and less air, and provides more support.
Installing a higher quality pad can extend the life span of any carpet significantly, and may allow you to save some money in the long run. Low-density padding contains more air and less matter, and will only last a year or two before it becomes noticeably deteriorated and becomes flat. Padding prices will vary depending mainly on the basis of density, not by thickness.
Sometimes it is possible to reuse the old pad that is under your existing carpet if it is in good condition, provided it has not deteriorated, and it has enough resiliency or density left in it to support your carpet properly. You or your maintenance person can easily determine if your existing pad is re-usable. Don’t rely solely on a carpet installer or retail salesperson to determine this for you, as they may not have your best interests in mind.
If your padding has noticeable odors from pet urine that have soaked through, you will have to replace the pad. It would also be a good idea to seal the sub-floors with a paint/sealer product designed to help cover the odor permanently, prior to installing new padding.
In order to you to determine if your pad is reusable, you must be able to completely inspect it. After the old carpet has been removed, carefully inspect the pad, especially in the high traffic areas.
You are looking to see if the pad has deteriorated. It is supposed to be spongy under foot. Step on the pad. It should feel like it has some spring left in it.
If it has become flat and lifeless you will need to replace some or all of it. Areas that have limited signs of wear can be used again.
What Causes Carpet Wrinkles?
Do You Have Carpet Buckles, Waves, Ripples or Wrinkles?
Here are my Top 10 causes for carpet wrinkles and how to deal with the problem.
What is a Carpet Wrinkle?
Carpet wrinkles are the result of your carpet not being stretched in tight enough to prevent wrinkles from forming over time. All carpet installed over padding must be stretched in tightly from one wall to another using a mechanical tool called a “Power Stretcher” this tool is uses leverage instead of knee force.
A power-stretcher usually requires the use of long metal poles that go from one wall to the other wall and uses leverage to help stretch the carpet and affix it onto the tackless strips.
A Knee-kicker is a hand-held tool used while the installer is down on his knees. He uses one knee to physically “kick” or move the carpet into place.
Here is a photo of a knee kicker in use.
When a wrinkle develops on your carpet it should be major cause for alarm. If not dealt with quickly it could end up ruining your carpet permanently. If your carpet is still covered under warranty then you might be able to contact the carpet retailer where you bought the carpet and hopefully have your carpet re-stretched at no cost to you.
However, if your new carpet warranty has expired or if your carpet installation warranty has expired, you might have to hire an independent carpet installer to come to your home and re-stretch your carpet for a nominal fee.
A simple re-stretch of your carpet may fix your carpet wrinkle problem once and for all and hopefully avert any permanent damage to your carpet. However, your final outcome may depend on the reason why your carpet developed wrinkles in the first place. In the next five pages I will provide you with the ten most common reasons why carpets develop wrinkles and what you can do about it.
Here’s what you need to consider…
Typical Carpet Re-stretch and Repair Costs
If you can determine the exact cause of your carpet wrinkles, and your carpet is no longer covered under any warranty, then maybe a simple and inexpensive carpet “re-stretch” is all you need to have done. This is where you hire an experienced carpet installer to come to your home and basically “re-install” your carpet to re-stretch and remove any wrinkles. They will use a machine called a “Power Stretcher” to stretch your carpet tightly from wall to wall. Here is a photo of the head of a power stretcher.
What will it cost to have your carpet re-stretched? If it’s just one or two rooms, then maybe it might cost a hundred or two to hire a carpet installer to re-stretch your carpet.
However, if your whole house needs to be re-stretched, then it could easily cost more than it did to have your carpet installed in the first place.
Call a local carpet installer and ask for a free estimate. Get several estimates if you can and be sure to get local references.
Learn more about How to Verify a Contractor’s License
If your home happens to have wrinkles near floor vents like the one shown here, then it can become even costly to fix your wrinkle problem because it will require more time and more effort for the installer properly to re-stretch the carpet and might possibly require some additional carpet seaming.
Who or What May be the Cause of Your Carpet Wrinkles?
If your carpet is still under warranty, begin your carpet complaint by contacting the retailer where you purchased your new carpet. You want them to come to your home and inspect your carpet. You need to give them sufficient time to investigate and come to some conclusion as to the probable cause of your carpet problem and hopefully figure out who may be responsible for your carpet wrinkles.
The dealer will also contact the carpet manufacturer, if they feel your problem may be caused by a carpet manufacturing defect.
In this case the manufacturer may send a carpet representative or private carpet inspector to inspect your carpet. If it is determined that your carpet is still under warranty and it is a manufacturing defect, then you may receive some form of recourse.
If your new carpet warranty has expired or they deem your problem is a result of carpet abuse or a bad installation, or some other issue not covered under their warranty limits, then your claim will be denied.
Most new carpet warranty claims are denied when it comes to wrinkles. They usually blame the cause for the carpet wrinkles on the installer not installing the carpet properly.
Why Do Carpets Wrinkle – Reason #1
Improper Carpet Installation
Any new carpet can quickly develop wrinkles if the carpet was not stretched in properly. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, all carpet must be installed according to certain guidelines as outlined in the CRI 104 and 105 standards which provide installers, retailers, specification writers and building owners with detailed principles and guidelines for carpet installation.
Most carpet installations are guaranteed for just one-year, sometimes two-years and some carpet retailers may provide a lifetime carpet installation warranty. Lifetime here means the typical life-span of the carpet, not your lifetime.
In order for new carpet to be installed properly it requires that a power stretcher is used to help mechanically stretch in the carpet tight enough to help prevent wrinkles from forming over the typical life-span of the carpet. If a power-stretcher is not used, then the carpet has not been installed properly.
Some carpet installers do not use a power-stretcher and these installers should be avoided. Some areas to be carpeted are too small to use a power-stretcher, like small closets or small odd shaped steps or other areas, however these small areas rarely develop wrinkles. In these situations the use of a knee kicker is suitable. See photos above.
Proper carpet installation also requires that the tack-less strips are installed correctly and do not come loose from the floor. If the nails that fasten your tack-less strips to the wood or concrete floor in your home happen to come loose, then it may be the fault of the installer.
What are Tackless Strips?
All carpet installed over padding needs to be stretched in tightly over the top of the tackless strips that have been nailed down all the way around the perimeter of the room.
Tackless Strips are designed to hold the carpet securely. Each tackless strip has many sharp nails that point upward and toward the wall and hold the carpet tight once the carpet has been physically stretched over them with a knee kicker or power-stretcher.
If your carpet happens to come loose from the tackless strips or if the tackless strips happen to come loose from the floor, then your carpet will no longer be stretched in tight enough and your carpet can develop wrinkles over time.
Carpet Manufacturing Specifications Explained
By Alan Fletcher -Carpet Expert and Consumer Advocate aka The Carpet Professor
Understanding Carpet Specifications is the key to buying new carpet wisely! Here is what homeowners need to know about choosing new Carpet by understanding the importance of obtaining Carpet Specifications. This is “critical information” that every homeowner needs to know to help determine how durable a carpet is; to help determine value; and able to meet their needs, goals and lifestyle.
The Carpet “Specification” Label
On the back of almost every retail Carpet Sample there should be a manufacturer’s label that shows the Type of Fiber used to make the carpet pile; the Pile Density Rating; the Face-Weight of the pile; and the Pile Height.
This is must-have information that every homeowner needs to help determine how durable the carpet is, to help determine its value; and determine whether or not it would be a suitable choice to meet all your needs, goals and lifestyle.
There should also be other information shown on the manufacturer’s label too, such as: the type or brand of anti-stain treatments that may have been applied (e.g., Scotchgard); The manufacturer’s brand name (e.g., Shaw, Mohawk, Beaulieu); the carpet style name (e.g., Enchanted Evening II) ; and the color name or color number (e.g., Emerald Forest Green or EFG-124). You will also find the warranty limits. Carpet Stain Warranties – What Consumers Need To Know
Carpet Specifications are often hard to locate. How to find them!
Once you find a carpet you like, you need to have full access to the specification before you buy. If the label is missing, or does not provide all the information you need, then you need to ask the salesperson to provide you with a manufacturers “Carpet Spec Sheet”. This is a one-page report from the carpet manufacturer that provides all the carpet specifications regarding the carpet style in question. The carpet salesperson may have to call the manufacturer to ask for it, or call their local carpet mill representative to request the specifications you need. This can be difficult, time consuming, frustrating and challenging. (This is why I have built my own special hand-picked list of recommended carpet dealers)
Question from a reader: I’ve tried to follow your advice and look for the right Face-Weight, Pile-Density and Tuft-Twist to last 10-15 years. The only places that I can find who have these specifications listed on their carpet samples are the big box retailers. The local carpet retailer near me doesn’t list the carpet specifications on their samples. The salespeople might know the face-weights but often don’t know the Tuft-Twist or Pile Density. Why don’t all carpet dealers post carpet specifications on their samples?
Many locally owned carpet dealers do list all or some the carpet specs on their carpet samples, but some do not list any at all. They might think the customer should select their new carpet based on price, color and perhaps a durability rating like Shaw’s PAR Rating System. I firmly believe it’s very important for homeowners to have complete access to all the carpet specifications. It’s the only way to determine the grade or quality level of the carpet in question, and to be able to determine if the carpet would be a good choice based on the homeowners individual needs, goals, lifestyle and budget.
Take my Free Carpet Foot Traffic Test to see what grade of carpet you should buy.
Not all locally-owned dealers are honest and reputable, I am sorry to say, and some carpet salespeople are reluctant take the time to provide their customers with carpet specifications because it can be a “hassle” to do so. The problem is partly due to private labeling, retail competition, and partly due to salesperson laziness.
Some carpet retailers simply don’t want you to be able to shop around for the lowest price (comparison shop) so they limit the amount carpet information available to the customer. They may even change the style and color names to make it difficult to compare prices with other local retailers.
Three (3) ways Carpet dealers can easily obtain Carpet Specifications for you:
1. Dealers can call the Carpet manufacturer directly – most carpet mills are happy to fax or email the carpet ” spec sheet”. You can also call the carpet manufacturer yourself as long as you have all the key information about the carpet in question. The manufacturer; the style name; the color name; or color number.
2. Dealers can login to their online carpet mill account to access carpet specifications. This may require a store manager to login to obtain the information you want. It is easy for them to do, if they are willing to take the time to do it.
3. Dealers can call their Carpet Mill Representative to obtain the information you need. Every carpet retailer has the cell phone number to reach their carpet account representative. It may take a day or two for their mill rep to provide the carpet specs you want, but they can provide it if they are willing to take the time. If they don’t, then I suggest you buy from another dealer who will!
It’s true that the carpet manufacturers are not putting the detailed construction information on their carpet samples like they used to in the past, but any decent carpet salesperson should be willing to get you the information you seek. However, you have to ask for it and be patient enough to wait for the information to be acquired, and it may take a day or two for the salesperson to get it.
Most homeowners take several carpet samples home for a few days and narrow their carpet selections down to three or four good choices and then ask for the spec sheets for them all to compare them all side by side. Take your time making your final selection and don’t be afraid to take a week or two to think about it. Never let any salesperson pressure you into buying right now for any reason. It’s common for salespeople to urge you into buying right now by saying the sale will be ending soon or that the current prices are about to increase.
The salesperson says Carpet Specifications are not available?
This is not true! There’s only one carpet manufacturer that I have ever known to refuse to provide carpet specifications to their dealers and to consumers, and that mill is Karastan. However, lately they have been providing specs to consumers. I have a list of phone numbers you can call to ask for carpet specs here.
All other carpet makers are willing to provide carpet specifications to their dealers; and often to homeowners directly either by phone, by fax, snail mail, email or on the internet. You may need to be patient and give the salesperson sufficient time to call and get the information for you. (It may take a few days)
However, if your carpet salesperson absolutely refuses to obtain all the carpet specifications you ask for, then you might want to shop elsewhere. You can also call the carpet manufacturer yourself and ask for the carpet specs as long as you have the manufacturer’s brand name and the carpet style name. Here is my List of Carpet Mill Websites and their phone numbers.
Can’t find or locate Carpet Specs? Find out how to figure them out for yourself. How to Figure Carpet Specifications
How is Carpet Graded?
Carpet is graded by the quality and configuration of the materials used including; the Fiber Type; the Fiber Face-Weight; the Tuft Twist Rating; the Pile Density Rating; the Pile Height; and how well it is constructed overall (Including Dye methods; Backing systems; and Manufacturing processes). Determining which carpet is the absolute best choice for a particular application can be quite difficult for even a seasoned carpet professional.
How to Choose the Right Carpet Fiber
The most critical factor for every homeowner to consider is the Fiber Type. I have created a detailed web page that covers everything you need to know about Carpet Fibers, Nylon, Sorona®, Polyester Smartstrand®, Stainmaster®.
The Pile Density Rating is the Key to Carpet Durability.
The Density rating is determined by pile yarn weight, pile thickness and pile height. Think of it like a densely wooded forest where the trees are thick and packed closely together. Dig your fingers into the pile of the carpet. Are the fibers tightly packed or can you easily see the carpet backing? The more densely the tufts are packed together the more durable the carpet will be. Pile Density is the key to having a carpet retain its like-new appearance longer.
Pile Density ratings range from 1000 to 6000 and is determined using a mathematical formula based on the Pile Height and the Fiber Face-weight.
Here is the formula: Fiber Face-Weight x 36, divided by pile height (in decimal form) = Pile Density.
For example: a 35-ounce face-weight carpet with a half inch (1/2″) pile height would have a pile density rating of 2520
(35 x 36 divided by .5 = 2520). Learn more Figure Carpet Specifications
What grade of carpet may be the best choice for your home application and level of foot traffic? Take my Free Carpet Foot-Traffic Test to find out!
What is Carpet Face-weight?
Face-weight is the actual weight of the fiber used to manufacture the carpet pile, but does not include the weight of the carpet backing. Fiber Face-weight is not the same as Total Carpet Weight, which includes the weight of the carpet backing and the fiber face-weight.
Most carpets have a face-weight between 20 ounces and 100 ounces, but the average face weight for a residential carpet is about 45 ounces.
A higher face weight does not automatically mean the carpet is a better grade; is a higher quality; is more durable; or is more costly. Pile Density is the most important factor next to Fiber Type.
What is Carpet Pile Height?
The Pile Height measurement is not usually shown on the carpet sample, however all you need is a tape measure to determine a close guess. I generally recommend a pile height of less than 3/4″ to help reduce the chance of matting and crushing of the pile.
What is Carpet Tuft-Twist Rating?
The Tuft Twist is a major key to having your carpet retain its like-new appearance longer. With plush styles of carpets, the tufts of fibers are twisted in the same way that people curl their hair. The carpet fibers are grouped together into tufts and twisted while heat is applied to “set” the fibers permanently, hence the term “heat set”.
Carpet fiber, also called yarn, is either extruded or twisted to form a single strand or “filament”, These filaments are similar in size to a human hair. A bunch of filaments are grouped together and twisted together to form Tufts. While the strands are twisted, heat is applied to “set” them permanently, hence the term “heat set”.
This is very similar to the way women might use a curling iron to create curls in their hairstyles. The tighter the tufts are twisted together, the more durable the carpet will be, and the longer the carpet can maintain its like-new appearance.
This tuft has 7 twists and is a sign of a well-made, more durable carpet. Frieze styles have tufts similar to this.
This tuft has 4 twists and is not as durable. This is a sign of a lower-grade carpet. Inexpensive Plush and Textured Plush styles often have tufts similar to this.
The Number of Tuft Twists is an important key to making sure your carpet retains its like new appearance longer. Frieze styles tend to have a higher tuft twist (over 6) and is why they are well-known for their durability and retaining a like-new appearance longer than many other styles.
The Tuft Twist Rating is based on the number of twists per lineal inch of the tuft.
The Tuft Twist numbers usually range from 3.0 to 7.5
Alan’s Carpet Durability Chart
I designed this Carpet Durability Chart to help homeowners who are hoping to select the right grade or quality of carpet to meet their needs and goals based on known carpet manufacturing specifications.
First, locate a carpet you are interested in buying, then obtain all the carpet specifications from your carpet retailer or from other sources. Then use this chart to help determine the level of durability for that carpet.
Don’t forget to take my Free Carpet Foot-Traffic Test to help determine what grade or quality of carpet you need for your home. Learn more about Carpet Specifications and Durability.
Carpet Durability Chart – CarpetProfessor.com
Now add up all your points to determine the durability of any carpet you are considering buying.
Less than 120 = Poor 120 to 149 = Fair 150 to 199 = Good 200 and up = Best
Why does a Good Tuft-Twist Rating Matter?
Carpets with a low Tuft Twist Rating (3 to 5) tend to untwist or “blossom” at the tuft tips more quickly, thus creating a worn out, frizzy looking or matted down appearance. Carpets seldom wear out from the loss of fiber, they just start to mat down; gradually lose the luster and shine; and just start to look bad. Once the tufts have blossomed and become matted down, it cannot be reversed.
For this reason a Carpet with a higher Tuft-Twist (5.5 to 7.5) will retain its like-new appearance longer and tolerate a higher level of foot traffic. When comparing similar quality carpets side by side, you must consider the tuft twist rating to help you determine which carpet is the better choice.
Carpets with a lower tuft twist rating tend to “blossom” more quickly and as a result will be less durable and will appear word out sooner.
Study my free Carpet Durability Chart to better understand how carpet durability is determined in part by the number of twists each tuft has. Frieze styles typically have a very high tuft twist rating of at least 6 or more. That’s the main reason why frieze carpets tend to wear better and last longer than many other carpet styles.
Learn The Facts About Carpet Fibers, Carpet Specifications and Carpet Durability. This is the Practical information homeowners need to make wise and informed Carpet buying choices.
What Carpet Fiber is Best for Kids and Pets?
Which Carpet Fibers to Avoid and Why.
Nylon v. Smartstrand, and Nylon v. Polyester
How to Select the Right Carpet Fiber for Your Home.
The type of Carpet Fiber you select will determine how long your new carpet lasts, how soft it feels, what colors are available, how easily it cleans and how much it costs. This is one of the most critical factors when choosing and comparing new carpet.
You must compare apples to apples. For example, you cannot compare a NYLON carpet to a POLYESTER carpet, or a WOOL carpet to an OLEFIN carpet. This would be like comparing apples to oranges. You have to compare similar carpets and narrow it down to the one that best meets your needs and lifestyle as well as meeting your budget.
New names for the same old fibers
All fibers can be modified in many ways to make them look or feel different. Some fibers are “bulked up” to make them look and feel thicker. Some fiber strands are made thinner so they feel softer. These changes are common in the fiber industry and have been so for decades. This is nothing new. Still, the main characteristics of the fiber hold true. For example, a polyester fiber is not very resilient. This means it will mat down easily in moderate to heavy foot traffic areas in your home. This is especially true in hallways and on stairs.
Nylon is the most durable and the most resilient fiber and does not mat down so easily. It is the best choice for moderate to heavy foot-traffic applications. There are several other fiber to choose from, but all have their good and bad qualities. Carpet makers are constantly trying to convince consumers that there is a new and improved carpet fiber that is worth buying. This is where I have to warn you, don’t believe everything yo hear about a newfangled carpet fiber or manufacturing process that makes an old fiber better than it was in years past.
These altered fibers are often marketed under fancy new names. They are still the same fiber as before with the same limitations they have always had. The superficial changes do not allow them to perform much or any better than before, but the fiber manufacturers surely want you believe so. In fact, making the strand thinner may make the fiber feel softer, but it may also make the fiber less resilient and less durable. However the price you pay will certainly be higher!
Learn more about Carpet Styles
Nylon is a generic name or designation for a family of synthetic polymers first produced in 1935 by the DuPont Company. As far as fibers go, Nylon is the most durable and the most resilient of all carpet fibers. A resilient fiber is defined as having the ability to return to its original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.
Nylon is the most resilient fiber used to make carpet. This is what keeps a nylon carpet looking like new longer than any other fiber. Nylon is one of the more expensive fibers second only to wool. I would consider choosing a Nylon carpet if you have a lot of foot traffic and longevity was my biggest concern.
Nylon is a synthetic fiber that outperforms all other fibers. It wears exceptionally well, is very resilient, resists abrasion, resists stains and is easy to clean. Carpets made of nylon tend to look like-new longer than any other fiber. Nylon comes in virtually all styles and colors. What more can you ask for? Nylon is the best wearing, most durable fiber available.
Insist on a Carpet made of Nylon to reap these benefits over all other available fibers:
Most resilient of all fibers (doesn’t mat down easily)
Maintains a new appearance longer
Easy to clean
Can be color-dyed
There are two types of nylon fiber, one is referred to as Type 6 and is made by Anso® and the other is Type 6,6 also known as Stainmaster®, made by Antron®.
Personally I prefer the Stainmaster 6,6 Nylon and think it is a better fiber, but how much better? Not so much that I would pay a lot more to get it, however if all specifications and price were about equal then I would certainly opt for Stainmaster. Stainmaster is more well known because of all the advertising they have generated since 1986.
More Info: The difference between Type 6,6 and 6 nylon
Take my free Carpet Foot-Traffic Test to help determine what grade of carpet you need for your home.
“Q. Do Tactesse, Caress, Lisse’ and other branded “Soft Nylons” hold up as well as a regular (non-soft) Nylon fiber?”
This is an excellent question. From my experience, I have found that “soft nylon” fibers are not quite as resilient or durable as a standard (non-soft) denier nylon fiber. The higher the denier, the heavier the filament. The way they make a standard nylon fiber softer is to make the strand thinner. By doing so, I believe that some of the resiliency is lost. This thinner strand creates a carpet that is softer to the touch but may be more susceptible to matting and crushing. Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not steering you away from buying a soft nylon, but if you want to have the absolute most durable and most resilient nylon for the money, I suggest you buy a carpet made with a standard denier nylon fiber.
What is Fiber Denier? Denier is the measurement of strand diameter.
Fiber denier is easiest understood for those who gone fishing and used a nylon filament fishing line. The thicker the line is, the stronger it is. When fishing for Trout most fishermen use a thin 4-pound test line. For bigger fish like Steelhead or Salmon, a thicker 8 or 10-pound nylon test line may be selected. Denier is the measurement of the diameter of the extruded fiber strand.
Some carpet fibers are purposely manufactured thinner to make a carpet that feels softer to the touch, but in doing so some of the strength, durability or resiliency may be sacrificed. Therefore I believe a carpet made with a standard (heavier) Denier Nylon fiber will be more durable and more resilient than a carpet made from a thinner strand as is commonly used in today’s branded “Soft Nylons”.
What does “branded” mean? A branded product is one made by a well-advertised or well-known maker with label or name attached to it. When it comes to carpet, a specific type of product can be branded and advertised and marketed to attract consumers. Soft nylon styles have been branded under certain names and advertised to market the product to consumers who are interested in having a carpet with soft qualities similar to those made from a carpet made from wool, but not as costly. The cost of “branded” products are more costly because of their characteristics and marketing.
Sorona® – PTT – Triexta – (AKA Smartstrand® by Mohawk™)
If you want a carpet that is durable, soft and resist stains, Sorona® may be the fiber you are looking for. Sorona has permanent stain resistance that is engineered into the fiber and will never wear or wash off. But remember, no carpet is completely stain proof.
Sorona, also known as Triexta or PTT was developed by DuPont™. It is a polymer derived from corn. It is said to have the best anti-stain properties and cleans easier than any other fiber. They also say it is very durable.
Sorona™ is clearly more durable than PET or Polyester, but is it as durable as Nylon? I do believe that Sorona resists stains and cleans easier than Nylon, but the durability and resiliency of Nylon is hard to beat. Either way, Sorona may be the fiber you need for your home and stain resistance is your main concern. Bear in mind, I would not suggest this fiber for those with heavy foot- traffic applications, especially if you expect your new carpet to last more than 10 years.
Sorona™ to be manufactured at a comparable cost to Nylon. Mohawk™ has a line of carpet styles using the Sorona fiber and they have branded it and call it Smartstrand®TM.
Learn more about Carpet Specifications
Sorona / Smartstrand UPDATE April 2016
My Latest Opinion Regarding Sorona® (Smartstrand™ by Mohawk)
Q. Sorona has been around for many years now, do you think it is as good a fiber as they claim it is?
What I have come to believe at this point is that Sorona IS a durable fiber, it also cleans easily and resists stains a little better than a Nylon. However, it is imperative that you choose the right quality or grade in order to be satisfied with the overall performance. This is true with any carpet no matter what fiber it is made of. This means having enough face-weight, pile density and adequate tuft-twist to meet or exceed your needs, goals and lifestyle. It is also important to keep the pile height below 3/4 of an inch or risk potential matting and crushing of the pile in medium to heavy traffic areas. (stairs and hallways)
Knowing what grade of carpet to buy is the key and many folks end up buying a carpet that is incapable of tolerating their level of foot traffic. This always ends in frustration and makes for an unhappy customer. That’s why I created a free and simple Carpet Foot Traffic Test so folks would have some idea about where they stand and what grade of carpet to consider buying.
This is my take so far and I still firmly believe that Nylon is more durable and has better resiliency than Sorona, but Sorona does seem to resist stains a little better than a nylon to some degree, how much is debatable.
Thanks for your question I will post this information (and date it) so everyone can be updated on this subject. Most of the information about Sorona (on the internet) is written by the manufacturer or the authorized Sorona dealers. You just don’t get the whole story from those sources.
Polyester is one of the least expensive synthetic fibers to manufacture. A thick polyester carpet may feel nice and soft, but it is not a resilient fiber, and it does not a make a long-lasting carpet. Polyester carpets mat down in a hurry, and that has always been the problem with carpets made from this fiber.
When you walk on a carpet, with every footstep you bend and compress the fibers and soon they begin to fall over. Once polyester fibers are crushed, they won’t spring back to their original position. This is why warranties for polyester carpets do not cover claims against matting or crushing.
Don’t be fooled by salespeople who recommend carpets made with polyester. It may be acceptable to buy a carpet made with polyester as long as you know what to expect and don’t pay a lot of money for it. I wouldn’t expect to get a life span of more than 5 years on a polyester carpet, regardless of its tuft twist, density rating or warranty claims. I might consider choosing a carpet made of polyester if I wanted to spend as little as possible on a carpet that looks nice for a very short amount of time. How much does carpet cost?
Some carpets are made with a blend of Polyester and Nylon. Usually a small amount of nylon is added to the mix. They do this to try to make a polyester carpet a little bit more resilient and durable. While this may have a benefit in some situations, I personally do not believe it makes a worthwhile or more valuable product. It’s like putting a Mercedes hood ornament on a Ford Fiesta. It doesn’t make much sense to me. But carpet makers have long tried to come up with a way to make Polyester more durable because it is so cheap to make.
Olefin (also called polypropylene)
Olefin is a very strong synthetic fiber. It is often used to make Berber carpets, commercial carpets and outdoor grass carpets. Olefin wears well and has good stain resistance when anti-stain treatment is applied. Olefin also has good anti-static properties. However, Olefin is not easy to keep clean and tends to look dingy when soiled. It has poor resiliency so smaller looped Berber styles wear better than do larger looped styles. Read My Article: Lifestyle Often Dictates Best Carpet Choice for those with kids or pets.
Commercial looped carpets wear very well, as the loops tend to be very small which leaves little room for the loops to become matted or crushed. Wheelchairs roll easily over commercial level loop Olefin carpets that are glued-down without padding and may be a good choice for handicapped areas, hospitals and retirement home applications. When comparing Berber carpets made of Olefin smaller loops, in a tighter weave will yield a longer wearing carpet. About Berber Carpet – How to Choose Berber Carpet Wisely
All about Carpet Comparison
Wool and Wool Blends
Wool is a natural fiber and should not be compared to a synthetic fiber. Some carpets are offered with a blend of nylon and wool in varying amounts. Usually I see 20% nylon and 80% wool. This gives wool some of the characteristics of nylon like increased resiliency and durability as well as lower cost. This can be a very good blend to consider having.
Wool carpets are considered the most elite of fibers and are the most expensive of all carpet fibers. Wool is a natural fiber and is very soft. It has excellent insulating qualities and is naturally fire resistant. However, wool carpets must be professionally cleaned by specialized carpet cleaning methods and is more expensive to maintain and install than synthetic carpet styles.
Comparing wool carpets based on price and quality can be more difficult because well known brand names can increase the cost dramatically and the quality may be more difficult to determine. If you can afford wool carpets it would be an excellent choice for most people. However, children and pets can be very hard on any carpet so careful consideration should be taken if you have small children or pets prone to having accidents.
What Does BCF Mean?
I am confused about carpet specifications. I see these initials on the back of some carpet samples but not others? What does BCF mean? BCF stands for Bulked Continuous Filament. You might want to buy a carpet made from a Continuous Filament fiber if you hate vacuuming. Why do some carpets shed and fuzz?
The word “Bulked” refers to a process where the manufacturer makes the strand of fiber beefed up, or bulked to create a fatter and more beefy feel. Think of it like using a volumizer on your hair. It makes it feel thicker and fuller.
The “CF” means the strand is formed in one long strand. When they make carpet from a CF fiber is virtually eliminates the shedding and fuzzing that you experience with carpet made from a Staple Fiber.
What is a Staple Fiber?
A “staple fiber” is short lengths of fiber strand, usually 3 to 10 inches long, that are spun (twisted) together to form a tuft. When carpet is made from a staple fiber, the carpet will shed and fuzz for up to a year after installation. Every time you vacuum, your vacuum bag will fill up quickly with carpet fuzz. This is to be expected, but if you select a carpet made from a continuous strand, (aka BCF) then you will not have the shedding or fuzzing issues that you encounter with a carpet made from a carpet made from staple fibers.
Learn more: Carpet Shedding and Fuzzing
What is a Continuous Filament Fiber? – Does it say BCF or CF OR CFN?
If the Carpet Sample does not indicate that the fiber is made from a Bulked Continuous Filament strand (BCF), then you can assume that the carpet pile is made from staple fibers and therefore will shed and fuzz for a period of time after installation. The amount and duration of shedding and fuzzing is determined by the quality of the carpet and the length of the staple fibers used in construction. There is no way to know for sure how long a carpet will shed and fuzz in your home.
Unless you like vacuuming three times a day, and filling up your vacuum bag with loose fuzz, then I suggest you buy a carpet made from a Continuous Filament fiber.
Some Carpet Samples might use the abbreviation of CF, for Continuous Filament, or CFN for Continuous Filament Nylon. If a carpet sample is simply marked “100% Nylon” you should assume it is NOT a “Continuous Filament” fiber.
Why is Vacuuming Your Carpet So Important?
Proper Care and Maintenance is the #1 main key to keeping your new carpet looking like-new longest!
Vacuuming your carpet frequently and thoroughly is an absolute must if you want it to last as long as possible.
Most folks don’t vacuum enough, and this causes increased abrasion that makes your carpet lose its shine and wear-out more quickly than it should.
The Carpet Professor Says…
Most Carpets don’t wear out, they “Ugly-Out!”
“Ugly-out” is a common term for a carpet that loses it’s shine and mats down, especially in heavy traffic lanes.
Once your carpet fibers lose their shine, they start to look dull and ugly, and that makes your new carpet appear worn out. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to make your ugly, dull carpet look like new again.
Dirt and grime is the key reason why carpet fibers lose their shine. It’s the grit from embedded dirt and dust that grinds into the carpet pile that causes of the loss of carpet shine.
Frequent vacuuming, and regular professional cleanings is the key to keeping your carpet looking like new as long as possible!
Visit my Carpet Care Guide to learn how to make your carpet last years longer.
Question: How Often Should I Vacuum?
A. How many people live in your home?
That’s how many times you should vacuum each week, especially in high traffic areas, stairs, and in heavy traffic lanes! Do you have four people living in your home? Then you should vacuum your carpet about four times a week! Some folks might need to vacuum everyday! More people means more vacuuming. This is the minimum you should vacuum per week and more vacuuming may be necessary if you:
Have active teenagers, or active children under the age of 5
Live in a dusty or rural area,
Have allergies or asthma
Live in a moist or humid climate
This means you should be vacuuming everyday. But vacuuming everyday won’t help if you don’t have a good quality vacuum or if your vacuum is not operating at it’s peak efficiency. If your vacuum is not doing a good enough job, the dirt that penetrates the nap of your carpet will begin grinding away at the fibers. This leads to dulling of the color and matting and crushing of the pile, which in turn makes your carpet look worn out faster. And once your carpet starts looking dingy, nothing can be done to make it regain it’s original like-new appearance.
There’s more to maintaining your carpet than just dealing with the problem of dirt and dust penetrating the nap of your carpet, small children and active teens can significantly increase the daily wear and tear on your carpets. Running, jumping, dancing, and other common activities are very hard on carpet. Rigorous activities force dirt and debris deep into the nap, often too deep for some older or less-powerful vacuums to remove.
This is why having a good quality vacuum with enough suction power is important. Abrasion is also a main cause of carpet wear. You can see the effects of abrasion most obvious in the hallways or other main traffic lanes. Carpet fibers can only tolerate a certain amount of abrasion before they show the effects. While diligent vacuuming won’t undo damage caused by active kids, it will help reduce the damaging effects by removing the majority of gritty sand-like dirt and debris.
Sliding heavy objects like furniture across the carpet can also be very damaging to carpet. It’s better to lift heavy objects or use a dolly to roll items into place. Just like the skin on your knees, your carpet can get a “rug-burn” which can actually melt the carpet fibers causing permanent damage.
Which Vacuum Should I Buy?
Depending on the carpet style you buy, some carpet manufacturers might suggest that you use a vacuum without a beater bar or roller brush. They fear that carpet will become damaged by the revolving brushes. This is true with some Berbers and other looped style carpets. The carpet warranty will be void if you do not follow their carpet care instructions to the letter.
Some carpet manufacturers warn against using a vacuum with too much suction and will not cover any carpet damage if this should happen. I think that if a carpet can be sucked apart with a vacuum, the carpet is not made very well and should be avoided. Who wants to buy a carpet that will fall apart just from using a good quality vacuum? Not me!
There are many good quality vacuums available today and while I don’t personally recommend any one model or brand in particular, I have a friend in the business who can help you make a wise and informed choice. You have to decide which vacuum will meet your needs and goals (and pocketbook!)
Learn More About New Carpet Stain Warranties
FYI: In my own home….
I own a Dyson Vacuum. I cost me $549 at Bed Bath and Beyond. It has been a very useful and a very powerful vacuum for our family of four kids, including two black cats.
Check your carpet warranty! Some carpet manufacturers say the Dyson is too powerful and can cause damage to the carpet pile. I think this is hogwash! Carpet manufacturers can deny any carpet defect claim they want and as they often do, most homeowners are usually left holding the bag, meaning that their claim is denied
It has easy to use attachments and my wife just loves it too. With four teens and two cats in the house, we needed a super duper powerful vacuum to deal with all the hair and tracked in dirt.
Dyson has several new models to choose from, including models designed for homes with pets, that’s the one I purchased for my family. Be prepared to spend several hundred on a good quality vacuum because it’s a wise investment. You have to consider the cost compared to the increased lifespan of your carpet. How much does new carpet cost? A good vacuum can literally help your carpet last years longer. Using a bad vacuum or not vacuuming enough can cause your carpet to lose half of it’s intended life span. Ouch!
The New High- Tech Vacuums
Gone are the days where all a vacuum had to do was suck up loose dirt. Today’s new technology allows the vacuum to help clean the air, remove pollutants, pollen, mites, and even kill bacteria with the new UV light feature. Still, there are two main features that your vacuum must be able to perform well:
One: To beat and/or brush the carpet to help loosen dirt, dust and debris. This is why it is important to have a beater bar / roller brush on your vacuum. Many canister type vacuums do not have a beater bar and therefore do not do a sufficient job of removing dirt.
Two: To have sufficient suction to remove all the dirt and debris trapped in the carpet pile. The suction power of vacuums is determined by the motor amperage or amps. Older model vacuums used to get plugged up and lose suction power when the bag became full. New models now have a cyclonic effect that prevents the vacuum from losing it’s suction power.
Features, options, benefits and more…
Beyond these two basic functions, every other added feature you may opt to have on your vacuum just makes using your vacuum more fun, easier to use, and makes you feel better about what it cost you. You don’t have to spend more for features you don’t need so consider your situation carefully. It’s like buying a car, you can pay extra to get air conditioning if you want, but you may not need to if you live in Alaska. Here are some of the options you may want to consider having on your next vacuum:
Best Hepa filter
Cyclonic or wind-tunnel design
Extra powerful motor (measured in amps)
Self- propelled or power assist
Pet or animal-hair models
Vacuum Maintenance and Repair
No matter what the vacuum maker says in their ads, all Vacuums require regular care and maintenance and unless you can do this yourself, you need to have your vacuum serviced on a regular basis. In my home, my daughters all have long hair and it gets wrapped up around the roller brush / beater bar. I have to remove the hair several times a year.
Finding the right vacuum cleaner is very important. The best vacuum will have features that suit your needs as well as have the capability to do a good job of cleaning you carpets, furniture and other household duties.
You need to have a vacuum that is simple and easy to operate and has the features you need to help you get the job done properly and efficiently. I have found that if a vacuum is too complicated to use or too heavy, no one will enjoy using it. And if everyone in your household dislikes using it, your carpet will not get the deep-cleaning it requires.
Your Vacuum, Carpet Care and Your Carpet Warranty!
You must follow your carpet manufacturer’s carpet cleaning guidelines to the letter if you want to keep you carpet warranty in force. You can clean your carpets yourself if you keep all the receipts for cleaning solutions and detailed records. Before and after photos would be nice to have too. Otherwise, you should hire a professional to clean your carpets every 12 to 18 months. Keep the sales receipts! Read your carpet warranty and follow the carpet maintenance suggestions to the letter. Visit my Carpet Care Guide to learn how to make your carpet last years longer.