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Shoppers' Guide to Carpet Buying

The Following is a guide to selecting the best carpet for your money. Surprisingly, Rule Number One is to forget color. Concentrate on the construction and learn how to judge quality. Here are some suggestions:

HOW TO JUDGE QUALITY
Density: This is measured in tufts of yarn per square inch, ranging from 4 to 10 and depending on the thickness of the yarn. As with thread counts for sheets, the higher the better. (Don’t confuse density with thickness or height of the pile.) Test a sample by bending it back and noting how close the tufts are and how much backing can be seen through the tufts. You don’t want to see much of he white backing.
Twist Level: How tightly is the yarn twisted? The number of turns per inch if yarn is called the twist level. The tighter the twist, the better. Look for neat tight ends that do not “blossom” and ask if the twist is heat-set, a finishing treatment that holds the shape.
Height: The height of the pile has nothing to do with the quality of the carpet. Densely woven, tightly twisted carpet may have lower pile and be of better quality than carpet with a deep pile and loose weave (remember 1974’s hot seller, shag that practically buried your feet?).
Fiber: The kind if fiber alone – from wool to nylon to polyester to olefin – doesn’t make a good quality carpet. Choosing a fiber is subjective and depends on the look you want and, since fibers wear differently, where the carpet will be laid. Carpet construction – from the twist of the yarn to the tufting – is most important.

GLOSSARY
Carpet: Floor covering either woven, tufted, knitted, flocked or needle punched, made from a variety of fibers.
Crushing: Irreparable loss of pile height caused by heavy foot traffic.
Fiber: The starting block, the fundamental unit of textile raw material, including cotton, wool, nylon, and polyester.
Matting: When heavy traffic or soil causes the tufts of yarn to stick together; usually irreversible.
Tufted Carpet: Pieces of yarn embedded in backing material.
Yarn: An assemblage of fibers or filaments twisted together to form a continuous strand.