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By Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate
What is a Good Carpet Choice for Kids Dogs Cats and Pets?
Question: I am looking for a good quality carpet that can withstand children, cats, dogs and heavy traffic. I have a formal living room that you land in upon entering my house. To get to any other part of the house at that point, one needs to walk through the living room. My biggest problem is the traffic marks from the front door, across the living room and down the hallway to the bedrooms. This gets dirty fast.
A Nylon Frieze is one of the most durable and best-wearing carpet styles. There is only one type of carpet fiber and style that I recommend that can withstand kids, pets, and tolerate heavy foot-traffic traffic, it's a 100% Nylon, Frieze-style carpet. Why? Frieze styles have the highest tuft twist rating, often above 6 tuft twists per lineal inch. Nylon is the most durable fiber and the most resilient. These two characteristics are why a nylon frieze style is my choice for the best carpet choice for any application where homeowners want the longest lifespan and the most durable product for the money.
If you want to buy a carpet that resists stains and cleans the easiest, then you might want to consider going with a carpet made from Smartstrand (Mohawk). I think you will sacrifice durability with Smartstrand, but you have to decide what is most important to you.
Depending on how long you want your carpet to last, you need to choose the right fiber accordingly.
I suggest you take my free Carpet Foot Traffic Test and follow the prompts until you determine what face-weight and pile density might best meet your needs and goals.
For example: A 100% nylon frieze carpet style with a tuft twist of at least 6, a face weight of 38 to 45-oz, and a pile density of at 1800-2200 is designed to withstand 10 to 15 years of medium to heavy traffic. Frieze styles wear so well because they have a higher tuft twist and nylon is the most durable fiber.
Points to consider:
You need to vacuum frequently and have your carpet cleaned on a regular basis - at least once every 12-18 months by a Certified Carpet Cleaning Company. You might want to consider laying down a plastic runner or throw rugs in the heavy traffic areas, stairs and hallways.
Is a Looped Berber a Good Choice for Children or Pets?
Question: How well does Berber withstand high traffic areas? Is it easy to keep clean and what kind of padding is the best? I am going crazy trying to decide if I want a plush carpet or Berber. I have a newborn son and know I will soon have lots of messes to clean up!
Don't spend a lot on carpet if you have small children! Children are very hard on carpets. They spill everything imaginable and parents are often too tired to clean up messes quickly enough to keep up with the demand. For this reason and many others, looped Berbers made from the Olefin Fiber are hard to clean, snag easily and are not recommended for folks with small children or accident prone pets.
For folks without children or accident prone pets: Berber may be a good choice.
Most Berber styles are made with loops. Some have loops and cut loops, Some have patterns and some do not, while other Berber styles have no loops at all and are called "Cut-Berbers" (also known as a California Berber) Berber carpet is often made from Nylon or Olefin, and of the two, Nylon would be the better choice. Nylon costs more but it lasts much longer and cleans easier than Berbers made from Olefin.
Are you looking for the best carpet deals? Read on...
Berber Carpet Cleaning Complaints
Question: Why do some Berber carpets attract dirt and are hard to keep clean?
While Berber styles are elegant and beautiful when new, there is a common complaint from homeowners with Berber carpets made with the Olefin fiber. Consumers often report that within a week or two after a professional cleaning, previous spots and stains tend to reappear as if they were never cleaned at all. This is because the Olefin fiber is inherently oily and often makes Olefin hard to clean and prone to attracting dirt like a magnet. Old stains tend to reappear like magic.
Question: Why do Some Olefin fibers attract dirt?
Here's why... During the manufacturing process the Olefin fiber is naturally oily. Fiber makers use a special process to clean the Olefin fibers to try to remove these oils, but often cut corners in order to reduce costs. Some manufacturers put their Olefin fibers through a "three-phase" cleaning process to try to remove most of the oils. To make a better product, the fiber maker will use a "five-phase" cleaning process which removes much more of these oils from the fiber. This makes a significantly less-oily fiber that cleans much easier and doesn't attract dirt nearly as much.
Using the five-phase process to removing excess oils from Olefin is a more time consuming and costly procedure, manufacturers must charge more for these premium fibers and therefore you will pay more for a carpet made from these premium olefin fibers. Unfortunately consumers have no way of knowing which Olefin fibers have been cleaned with the "five-phase" process and those that have only had the three-phase cleaning.
Carpet Buying Rule of Thumb:
I think it would be reasonable to assume that most Berbers priced under $13.50 per yard ($1.50 sf) would be made using the "three-phase" process. You might have to spend $18 per yard or more to get the better grade of olefin fiber.
Most carpet salespeople have no knowledge about this manufacturing process and asking them questions about it might be futile. However, perhaps you could ask them to call the carpet manufacturer and see if they can tell you which cleaning process was used in the Berber carpet you are considering. Good luck with that.
Fact: Cheap Berber carpets snag easily and wear out quickly
Inexpensive looped Berbers also snag easily. Don't fall for those cheap Berber prices and think that this carpet will last for you. It surely won't if you have active kids or pets. If a Berber carpet is priced under $15 per yard, then it is likely a cheaply made carpet only designed to last a couple of years at best. You'll be plagued with lots of snags, runs and stains that will not be easily cleanable.
Berber is a bad choice for folks with kids or pets. A good quality Nylon Berber would clean easier, wear better, and retain its new appearance much longer than would an Olefin Berber.
If you decide buy a Berber carpet and want it to last, be sure to select one with smaller loops, as the bigger loops tend fall over quickly and look worn out sooner. As far as pad goes, an 8-pound minimum density, and a 1/4" to 3/8" thickness is required for all Berber styles.
Some Berbers are made from wool, which is an excellent natural fiber, but are very costly. For this reason, I do not recommend wool Berber carpets for folks with children or pets.
The Benefits of Carpet made of Nylon
Nylon Fibers are not inherently oily like Olefin Fiber are and therefore do not have the problem of attracting dirt. Berber carpets made of Nylon are more expensive but offer a longer lifespan, look like new longer and have ease of cleaning. Nylon is considered to be the most durable fiber that offers the absolute best value for your money.
How do I choose the Right Carpet Fiber? What is BCF?
Question: I have four kids and three dogs. I need a carpet that is able to take a beating. My question: I am confused about carpet specifications. What is BCF? I see these initials on the back of some carpet samples but not others? What does this mean?
BCF stands for Bulked Continuous Filament. You want to buy a carpet made from a continuous filament fiber. The work "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 a carpet made of a staple fiber.
What is a Carpet Staple Fiber? What is a Continuous Filament Fiber?
A Staple Fiber is short lengths of fiber, usually 3 to 10 inches long, that are spun together to make a strand. When carpet is made from a staple fiber, your carpet will likely shed and fuzz for up to a year after installation. You might think your carpet will be completely bald within a month or two... So unless you like vacuuming three times a day and filling up your vacuum with loose carpet fibers every time you vacuum, then I suggest you be sure to buy a carpet made from a Continuous Filament Fiber.
Staple or Continuous Filament?
If the manufacturers label pasted on the back of the carpet sample does not explicitly indicate that the fiber is made from a Continuous Filament Strand (CFM, BCF or CF), then you must assume that the carpet pile is made from a Staple Fiber and therefore will shed and fuzz for a long period of time after installation in your home. Some carpet samples might use the abbreviation of CF, for Continuous Filament, or CFN for Continuous Filament Nylon. If a carpet sample is marked "100% nylon" you can assume it is NOT a continuous filament product.
"The amount and duration of shedding and fuzzing is determined by the quality of the carpet you purchase and the length of the Staple Fibers used in the construction of your carpet."
There is no way for you to know for sure, in advance of your new carpet purchase, to know exactly how long your new carpet will shed and fuzz. Just assume it will take up to a year for the shedding and fuzzing to subside. This is not considered a manufacturing defect and you likely have no recourse for shedding and fuzzing even if the salesperson fails to inform you about it prior to your purchase. It is considered to be the accepted nature of the product you selected.
About Carpet Rating Systems
Some carpets are rated with a number between 1 and 5 to give consumers an idea about how durable the carpet is. I don't put a lot of trust in these rating systems. Should YOU rely on the P.A.R. Rating to help you select the right carpet? Check out my Free Carpet Durability Rating Chart
What is the PAR Carpet Rating System?
It's getting harder to find a reputable carpet dealer these days! That's why I've created a special hand-picked list of over 400 locally owned Carpet Dealers who offer Free estimates, Knowledgeable staff, Honest measuring, Fair prices and Qualified installers. See Who I Recommend Near You!
What are Carpet Specifications and where do I find them?
Take my free Carpet Foot - Traffic Test to help determine what Grade of Carpet you need to buy.