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  • About Hardwood Installation Methods and Warranties

    How Hardwood Floors Are Installed

    One of the other factors to consider when purchasing a floor is the installation method. This can potentially affect cost, since some types of installation are best left to people with experience. If you are not experienced, you may have to hire someone who is, which can cost a lot in both money and time. Other forms of installation are much more friendly for those who have little experience installing hardwood floors.


    First, for nearly all solid hardwood flooring, using nails to attach each board to the subfloor is the only option. This usually requires a professional nail gun, nails, and a lot of other special tools and experience. Solid floors should be installed by a qualified hardwood professional experienced in installation.


    For engineered floors, there are usually more options. Many engineered floors are far too thin to be nailed to the subfloor, but they often can be installed using a stapler and special staples. Usually this type of installation must be done on a wood or plywood substrate, but can be an excellent choice for many hardwood floors and is much more friendly to amateurs than the nail-down method. However, it still requires skill with a staple gun to do properly.


    Another option for engineered floors is to use glue to attach the boards to the subfloor. It is the only method for installing an engineered floor over concrete, but can be preferable to staple-down installation on a wood or plywood subfloor as well, since it thoroughly attaches each piece to the substrate. This can be relatively simple to do, but if you have an uneven subfloor, it may not be the best method to do yourself. In other words, attempting to glue down an engineered floor on an uneven surface without the proper equipment and knowledge can severely reduce the life of your floor. If you don't have both of those things, hire a professional.


    But by far the easiest installation type is the "floating" method. This is most often found on engineered longstrip floors, but can also be found in some planked floors, and even some thinner, specially designed solid floors. This installation method is very simple and can be used over any subfloor, so if you don't want to pay the money to hire an installer but lack the experience to use glue or staples, this is your best bet. In fact, even those with plenty of experience prefer a floating floor simply because it saves so much on time and equipment. This type of installation will require you to use an approved underlayment, a tool resembling a crowbar called a tapping block, some small pieces of plastic called spacers, and unless it is advertised as a "glueless" installation, will require a small amount of glue on the edges to hold the boards together. It may also be a bit more expensive than other engineered floors. But compared to the cost and risk of a do-it-yourself staple-down or glue-down installation, it is by far the better choice for non-professionals.

    Hardwood Warranties

    The final consideration to use when deciding between floors is the warranty. Warranties are different for every product, so be sure to check with the manufacturer for your specific product to see terms and conditions. In general, though, you'll find the same basic warranties for hardwood products:


    The most common of hardwood warranties, this warranty states that your floor won't wear down from everyday traffic. This warranty can be anywhere from 1 year to a lifetime, but usually, they'll range between 10 and 25 years. Typically, this warranty only covers wear caused by normal household foot traffic, and won't cover damage from improper care and maintenance, damage from installation or manufacturing defects, any damage from external problems like insects, a pet's nails, moving heavy objects without proper protection, fading from exposure to the sun, damage from heels or spiked shoes, water damage, etc. It also requires that you follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions, and will likely be voided by using a vacuum without brush or wand attachment, cleaning the floor with soap and water, oil or ammonia based cleaning products, or mopping with water.


    This warranty usually warrants against severe structural damage that shouldn't occur under recommended conditions, like warping, buckling, cupping, or other damage. Another guarantee only provided for engineered hardwood states that the plies that form the core of the product won't separate under normal humidity and usage. This will probably be voided if you don't follow the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer or if your floor is poorly installed. Make sure you know the humidity level limitations and ensure that the area installed stays within those limits. If you don't fully protect the floor against subfloor moisture damage, the warranty will likely be voided as well.

    Manufacturing Defects

    Sometimes called a Pre-Installation warranty, this warrants against any strongly noticeable defects in the appearance of the floor. The first thing you need to remember is that once this floor is installed, this warranty will usually be voided, so be sure to check your flooring thoroughly for any problems before proceeding with the installation. Relatively minor differences in grain or color won't be covered, since they naturally occur in any wood floor.

    Adhesive Bond

    Guarantees engineered floors installed using a glue-down installation won't lose their bond with the subfloor when all installation instructions are followed. This means that your subfloor must have been thoroughly dry without any history of moisture problems and that you used the proper adhesive specified by the manufacturer.

    Moisture Damage

    Guarantees that glue-down engineered flooring will not experience structural damage from moisture eminating from the subfloor. This is dependent upon following all installation instructions to the letter and upon the subfloor having met all requirements set by the manufacturer.

    Radiant Heat

    Guarantees that floating floors installed over heated subfloors won't experience severe structural damage when properly installed. Doesn't protect against cracking from seasonal changes, gaps that develop between boards or delamination.


    Guarantees that your floor can be resanded a specified number of times without wearing through when done properly. Most often applicable to solid floors.

  • How to Find a Hardwood Floor That Stands Up to Wear

    While the construction of the hardwood determines its durability and strength, how well the floor stands up to everyday usage largely rests on the floor's finish. On unfinished floors, you can choose the finish that you apply to the floor, but on most floors, the finish is applied and cured at the factory. Typically, the finished board is taken (after all stains have been applied) and given multiple coats of a special coating and then cured to the wood.

    Check the Finish From the Start

    Almost all prefinished hardwood floors made today use a finish made from polyurethane, either acrylic- or water-based. This urethane finish is often mixed with scratch resistant particles like aluminum oxide, ceramic, acrylic or other similar materials, although most use aluminum oxide. Then this finish is applied in several coats and most often cured using special ultra-violet light, which transfers the urethane to the wood much more thoroughly than simple heat.

    Some hardwoods use other materials for the finish, though, most often a combination of oil and wax. These floors are designed to resemble decades-old flooring, and will sometimes even be applied by hand. They do not perform quite as well as polyurethanes, but usually have a more natural appearance with less sheen.

    The finish is usually the property most associated with the warranty. Other factors like construction can correlate with other parts of the warranty, but the number of years listed on the warranty in product specifications most often refers to the number of years for the finish warranty.

  • Realism, Edges and Other Aspects of Hardwood Appearance

    The texture, width and edge type are not as important as species in color in selecting a floor, but are still one of the most important factors, considering how important appearance is in selecting a floor.

    Hand-Scraped Hardwood Flooring Makes History

    One reason a lot of people want hardwood floors is because they evoke a sense of quality and timelessness that you don't find with any other type of flooring. Hardwood flooring is distinctly American and a proud part of our national heritage. Because of this, a lot of people may want a floor that resembles older floors as much as possible.

    One trend that has emerged that provides this look in a way not previously available from major manufacturers is the hand-scraped distressed appearance. This method uses the same technique used on some of the very first wood floors to create a flooring that appears to be weathered flooring that has lasted for generations. These floors are rustic and informal, so they are not for use in all areas of the home, but they are one of the most popular types of floors available now. Typically, hand-scraped floors are much more expensive than other floors, but some inexpensive engineered options have begun appearing on the market. But if one of these floors are out of your price range, there are other options you can use to maximize the decor of your floor.

    Using Plank Size to Decorate the Room

    Every floor has a plank width that strongly affects the look of the floor. Most floors are available in 3" planks or 2 1/4" strips. The planks will work just about anywhere, and the strips work in most areas, but generally look best in areas where the decor is fairly modern or contemporary. In informal areas, one option you might consider would be wide planks that normally range anywhere from 5" to 6". Planks that size are what was first installed in older homes, so their appearance definitely can make a floor look better in an informal setting.

    One important type of width comes from floors that are longstrip. These floors are almost always engineered, and are fairly wide, very long planks that "float" over the subfloor. Typically, these pieces will be 7" or wider and over72" (6 feet) long. However, most longstrips do not appear as one piece. They usually appear to have multiple pieces across each board. These are usually referred to as 3-Strip (around 2 1/2" per piece) or 2-Strip (around 3 1/2" per piece). Some longstrips can be found with slightly narrower pieces that appear as one plank, but they are harder to find and are mostly recommended for anyone looking for a simple installation with a wide plank.

    Control How Your Floor Looks at the Seams

    Edges affect not only how the floor looks, but can also affect the installation.

    Several floors offer square edges. These floors have a completely straight corner, and will show no visible seams within the floor, creating a clean and stunning visual effect. However, they are also some of the easiest to wear, and can create more visible gaps if the flooring is moved.

    In contrast, some floors offer a beveled edge. This means that each floor has rounded edges with seams visible even from a distance, creating a more natural and realistic look. These edges also hide dirt and dust more easily than square edges, and even if they begin to form gaps over time, they will be much less noticeable. However, because the gaps are bigger, they also collect dirt and dust more easily, and can be more difficult to clean with a dust mop or vacuum brush.

    Most floors feature an edge that combines the best features of square and beveled edges while minimizing their weaknesses. Called microbeveled or eased edges, these pieces are rounded slightly on the sides with seams visible when viewed up close, but not noticeable at a distance. Floors with these edges hide dirt and dust better than square edged floors, but are easier to clean than bevelled edge floors.

    Some wood floors use a special technique, particularly hand-scraped floors, that have a very wide bevel but a square edge below the visible surface that minimizes any gaps between installed boards. These are often found on more expensive floors, but if you're in the market for hand-scraped floors, you might consider one of these.

  • Finding a Strong, Durable Hardwood Floor

    Obviously deciding between solid and engineered is the biggest consideration when examining hardwood construction or comparing prices, but how do you differentiate between two solid floors or two engineered floors? There are certain factors that can help you in your decision.

    How Solid Hardwood Flooring is Made

    Most solid floors are made the same way. A tree is harvested from a forest (and usually replaced by a new sapling), then taken to a mill that cuts the ends off the wood and slices it into pieces. These floors are almost always 3/4" thick, but you can sometimes find them in 9/16" or 5/8", although these solids are usually not nearly as durable. You can often find these woods unfinished, but most of the hardwood flooring available in the retail market is prefinished, meaning that the wood is sanded, stained and finished before it leaves the manufacturer to ensure consistent quality. Of course, this also means that it's up to the manufacturer to ensure consistency, so make sure to thoroughly examine your hardwood for consistent color and finish before accepting it.

    Grading Hardwood Floors

    The ways hardwood floors, especially solid floors, are different most often is in the grade of the wood. This is not anything that relates to the quality or strength of the wood, but can be important when considering the appearance.

    Nearly Flawless

    Clear or Select and Better grades are usually the top of the line. Clear means the floor has no visible blemishes or knots, as well as very light graining. Clear wood floors are the most expensive, but can be found for less money in woods that naturally have less visible grain like Cherry or Maple. Select and Better may have tiny knots, and slightly darker grain, but not enough to really stand out. These floors are the most common, and the best option for most consumers, as they have a good tradeoff between price and quality.

    Getting the Full Grain

    #1 Common and #2 Common has slightly larger knots and darker graining. These are not usually found from the major manufacturers and are typically found in budget floors. The final category is Rustic or Builder grade. These are the cheapest, lowest grade floors, and are most often found in Seconds or Wholesale floors with a high minimum purchase limit.

    In summary, Clear or Select and Better grades are your best bets, but also comprise at least 95% of the flooring available from nationally available brands. #1 Common, #2 Common, Rustic and Builder grades are available, but are only worth considering if budget is a major concern and you don't want to spend the extra money.

    How the Sawmill Affects the Appearance of Solid Wood Floors

    The other consideration with solid hardwood is the cut. Over 90% of the hardwood produced is Plain-Sawn, or cut parallel across the wood. The other forms of cuts are Quarter-Sawn and Rift-Sawn. These floors are slightly higher quality, but more expensive. The wide majority of floors don't specify how they are sawn, which means they are plain-sawn. But occasionally you'll see a floor that specifies it is Rift- or Quarter-Sawn, and these floors will have slightly added strength and will have a bit more consistent grain.

    How Engineered Wood Flooring Is Made

    Engineered is a bit more different. These floors consist mainly of layers of plywood, particle board, or a softwood that are glued together. These layers form the core of the floor, and are then topped by a thin layer of a hardwood floor that isn't thin enough to wear down, but is thick enough to make a more efficient usage of the floor and not experience dimensional stability issues related to natural wood species. Engineered floors tend to be easier to install and more stable than solid floors, and often carry a greater warranty, since all pieces can perform equally well with only a minor amount of maintenance.

    The Strength of Engineered Flooring is in Layers

    The primary difference between engineered flooring is the thickness. While solid wood typically needs a full 3/4" to perform satisfactorily, engineered wood can perform very well at 5/8" or even 1/2". In fact, some engineered floors can be as thin as 1/4", though they are not designed to last nearly as long. What typically determines the thickness (and what makes it an issue) is the number of layers within the core. The greater the number of layers, the stronger the floor will be, making it less susceptible to warping or wearing down and making it more dimensionally stable.

    How the Sawmill Affects Engineered Flooring

    Grade is not as much of an issue with engineered wood, since only a thin layer of hardwood is used in the actual floor. However, the way that the top layer is cut from the board can make a difference. Veneer can be cut in two ways: sliced and peeled (rotary cut). Neither has an advantage in terms of performance, but sliced veneer resembles solid hardwood more and has a more consistent appearance across the floor than rotary cut veneer. However, some people like the way rotary cut floors look, since they create a bold and unique pattern across the floor. So take a look to see which one you prefer, since rotary cut floors can often be less expensive as well.

  • An Overview of Hardwood Flooring Styles and Colors

    The appearance of floor covering is the most important factor for any consumer. Fortunately, wood offers a rich variety of species and colors to choose from, so you can create a distinct look for any room of your home.

    Which Species is Right For Me?


    The most common type of species available are domestic species, or ones that grow naturally in North America. These floors commonly include trees like Oak, Maple, Cherry, Hickory, Walnut, Ash, Birch and many others. One or more of these floors are usually available from any manufacturer, often with a variety of stains and colors.


    The other types of species that have gained in popularity is exotic species, or ones that grow naturally in areas other than North America. The most popular type of exotics come from South America, including Brazilian Cherry, Santos Mahogany, Rosewood, Patagonian Cherry, Cumaru, Brazilian Walnut, Tigerwood, Angelim Pedra and others. Other popular species include African species like Tali, Doussie, Kambala or Wenge, Asian species like Merbau, Ipe, Bangkirai or Acacia, and even Australian species like Australian Cypress, Spotted Gum] or Sydney Blue. These are just a few of the exotic species available on the market, and more become available every year. Exotic species are typically only available in their natural colors, but come in enough distinct patterns and colors that you can easily find one that will make a bold statement in your home.

    Picking A Species

    So how do you decide which species to buy? Well, for starters, not all species are as durable as others. Red Oak is the most popular choice, but it is less durable than White Oak or Maple. And all three are not as durable as Brazilian Cherry, which is not as durable as Tali. Two tests are commonly used to test the durability (hardness) of different species: the Brinell test. Ratings for species can be found from the manufacturer and usually can be found online. While purchasing a floor with a higher hardness rating will not guarantee a longer lasting floor, it will definitely make the floor withstand more wear.

    How Species Can Affect a Wood Floor's Price

    The other issue to be concerned with is price. Oak is easily the most commonplace hardwood in flooring, and generally speaking, oak floors will be cheaper than others. Other common domestic species like Maple, Cherry, Hickory, Ash and others tend to be slightly more expensive, but not by much. Even some common exotics like Brazilian Cherry, Santos Mahogany, Tali and others won't be as expensive. But some of the more rare species, particularly exotics, will often be a bit more expensive thanks to the cost of importing them. So remember that the species can sometimes affect the price.

    Available Shades and Stains of Hardwood Floors

    Another way to find distinct colors and styles in hardwood floors is to find the right stain. Usually found on popular species like oak or maple, stains are usually applied before the finish layer, and are created to give homeowners options within the most affordable and plentiful wood flooring choices. Typically, stains will fall within shades of red and brown. These shades are called by many different names and colors, but generally, you'll be most likely to find the same colors from most manufacturers.

    Dark Hardwood Stains and Colors

    Dark red or brown stains are not as common as the medium ones or naturals, but there are some fairly standard colors. The first is a dark, very red stain that is close to the shade of red wine. This will often be called something like Cognac, Bordeaux, Wine, Brandy, Merlot or something similar. Another popular one is a dark but warm brown shade like dark leather. This is usually called something like Vintage Brown, Metro Brown, Ebony, Saddle, Rawhide, or something along those lines. The other common dark color is a very dark, very brown color, nearly black. This is usually called something related to coffee, i.e. Coffee, Mocha, Espresso, Cocoa, Chocolate, Cappuccino, etc.

    Medium Hardwood Stains and Colors

    Medium shades are the most popular stains, and you can find quite a few varying shades. One of the most popular is a warm shade of brown called Gunstock. Another is a fairly light caramel colored mix of red and brown called Caramel, Butterscotch, Toffee, or something similar. Then there is a warm reddish brown shade called Cherry, Brandy, Whisky, etc. Another is a shade just slightly brighter than gunstock called Harvest, Spice, Mellow or something similar. There are many different shades, and products with the same color name from different manufacturers can be very different shades, so go by appearance.

    Light Hardwood Stains and Colors

    Most of the lighter shades are natural colors, since (with the exception of walnut), most domestic species are very light in their natural shade. Ash, Birch, Hickory and Oak have some visible patterns that give them a nice feel, but Maple, Beech, Cherry and some others are very bright shades that often have a very similar look across all boards for a solid visual appearance. So if you want a relatively light wood floor that doesn't have an appearance that stands out, try one of these species.

    Other Shades of Hardwood Flooring

    While the majority of wood stains are in between red and brown, some floors feature colored stains. These floors are rare, but can occasionally be found in fairly trendy styles, usually in shades of dark green, purple, black, and other shades.

    Finding a Wood Floor That Complements the Room

    The other option to consider when deciding on a style is the mood of the room. If your room has a light, stylish feel, consider a very light Hardwood Strip made from Maple, Cherry or another light, muted shade. If the room has an eye-catching appearance and you want the floor to really "pop", exotic may be the best way to go, like Brazilian Cherry, Tali, or even a dark Wenge or Ebony. If your floor has a relaxed, informal feel, get a floor like Oak, Hickory with a warm brown shade. You may even consider a handscraped or beveled edge floor with wide planks to give your floor a timeless appearance that looks like one installed a hundred years ago.

  • Solid or Engineered - Which Hardwood Floor Do I Need?

    Solid Hardwood

    Solid wood floors were the very first type of hardwood floors, and are still the most durable option for any home. Solid hardwood floors don't just last for a lifetime, they can last for generations when properly cared for. There are some clear disadvantages to solid floors, however. First, they cannot be installed below ground level. Secondly, with a few exceptions, solid floors must be nailed down to be properly installed, which is generally best left to a professional.

    Engineered Hardwood

    Engineered flooring was created in the 1950s when an American economic expansion created thousands of new homes, many with concrete substrates. These new homes required a floor that could handle changes in temperature and humidity. Engineered wood floors filled that need. They can be installed anywhere in the home that doesn't have a high risk of moisture damage like kitchens or bathrooms, are lighter-weight, more inexpensive and simpler to install.

    Comparing Between Solid And Engineered

    Which one is right for you depends on a few factors. First, where the flooring is going to be installed. If you need hardwood for a basement or anywhere underneath the surrounding ground level, engineered is your only option. Secondly, do you want to hire a professional installer? Nail-down or staple-down installation is best left to someone experienced, and even glue-down installation can be difficult for the novice. But some engineered floors called longstrips can be floated above any subfloor like laminates, making it far easier to install yourself. Finally, engineered floors are usually cheaper than solid floors, and are more dimensionally stable.

    In summary, solid hardwood looks better, feels sturdier and can last longer, but engineered floors are less expensive, aren't as susceptible to changes in humidity, and perform better.

  • Stain Resistant Carpet and Warranties

    One of the biggest problems that can happen with any home furnishing, flooring included, is getting a stain. Whether you've had it for a decade or for a day, a bad stain can instantly ruin your floor if not properly treated. Of course, different materials require different care.

    Polyester / Olefin Carpets and Stains

    Olefin/Polypropylene carpets protect against soil and mud, water cannot penetrate them, and they are naturally resistant to stains that discolor the carpet. These carpets can also be cleaned with almost any chemical-based cleaner without damaging the carpet. However, they strongly attract oil and grease. Crayons, lipstick, ink, motor oil, or any number of grease-based stains can become deeply set stains, so avoid this material in rooms where grease is most likely to be, like the kitchen, dining room or in front of a main entryway (especially if it leads from a garage). It also has a low melting point, so spilling boiling water or other very hot materials can seriously and permanently damage the carpet. It is also susceptible to wicking, a term for when deep set stains appear to be gone, but residue remains and eventually comes back up to the surface.

    [url=compare.php?n=FIBR&v=Polyester&f=3&t=1]P.E.T. Polyester[/url] fiber has many of the same properties as olefin. It protects against soil and mud, is water-repellant, and does not easily absorb stains with strong dyes. It is also prone to wicking. However, it is not quite as susceptible to grease stains and olefin and has a higher melting point, so it isn't as easily damaged by heat. Additionally, certain chemicals that don't harm olefin can damage polyester, so be careful.

    Nylon Carpets and Staining

    Nylon is its basic form is one of the least effective materials in preventing stain damage. It is resistant to soil and mud, but is more susceptible to absorb moisture damage, and is not naturally stain resistant. However, most nylons have stain resistant treatments applied to the carpet or the fibers that makes them much more resistant to discoloration (though not as much as olefin or polyester), and solution-dyed nylon goes a step further, making it even more resistant to permanent discoloration. Additionally, it does not attract grease like olefin, and it has a very high melting point. As a result, nylon (with proper stain treatment) is probably the most durable carpet material besides wool, and can go anywhere except areas with a lot of moisture or chemical cleaners like a poolhouse, kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. Generally, nylon is easy to clean, but can be damaged by strong chemicals like bleach, so be sure to review proper care instructions for your carpet.

    A Note About Wool Carpet Stains

    Wool is one of the most naturally stain resistant materials available. It resists most stains and soil damage, water beads off of it, and has an extremely high melting point, so it is not susceptible to damage from fire or boiling water. However, special care must be taken with a wool carpet. For example, although most stains won't affect them, if you spill an extremely hot material with a strong color like coffee on wool carpet, then try to blot it up and clean it with cool water, that will permanently dye the carpet fibers the color of the stain. Additionally, most carpet cleaners are far too strong to clean wool carpet, and can actually destroy it. So if you select a wool carpet, be sure to be careful when trying to remove a stain, and don't be afraid to call an experienced carpet cleaning professional.

    A Guide to a Carpet Warranty

    Carpet warranties can be extremely complicated. There are multiple types of warranties on each carpet, and the number of years can vary for each one. Here is an explanation for many of the warranties you'll see on carpet:
    These are extremely general guidelines. Not all these warranties will apply to every product. Warranty terms vary from product to product, and you should always check to find your carpet's specific warranty information.


    Guarantees that the carpet will not generate a noticeable amount of static electricity (5 kilovolts or less).

    Wear / Abrasive Wear

    Guarantees that the carpet will not lose fibers (more than 10% of its total weight) from heavy traffic. This ONLY applies to normal foot or shoe traffic, and wear or damage caused by any other factors are usually not covered.

    Manufacturing Defects / Quality Assurance

    Guarantees that the manufacturer will replace areas in your carpet featuring defects caused by the manufacturer. Typically, these defects must be inspected by an appointed representative first. And most of these warranties specifically exclude any sort of damage caused after installation like crushing, moisture damage, fading, or tufts of yarn that fall out. In fact, if your carpet has been installed improperly, if the defects were noticeable enough to have been detected by a professional before installation, or if you have not maintained the carpet exactly as instructed, your carpet will almost always not be covered by the warranty.

    Texture Retention

    Guarantees against the carpet's tufts losing their twist, coming undone or bursting open. This does not usually include matting, crushing, pilling or problems caused by anything other than simple foot traffic. Additionally, it does not usually cover carpet installed on stairs.

    Stain Resistance

    Guarantees against staining from most common food and beverage stains. Does not include stains coming from non-food and non-beverage items, like pet stains, vomit stains, bleach, makeup, etc. It also does not usually include substances with strong dyes like mustard, curry, herbal tea, etc., though some very advanced warranties will cover any type of staining.

    Soil Resistance

    Guarantees that the carpet will not stain from dry soil caused by normal foot traffic. Does not include any materials other than dry soil, does not include anything other than stains. Additionally, you must have followed all recommended maintenance and installation guides, including bringing a professional carpet cleaner to attempt to remove the stain. If you do all that and contact them within a certain time frame, and they decide that the stain is covered, they'll repair or replace the affected area of your carpet.

  • Colors and Patterns of Carpeting

    If you asked any carpet salesman in the country what people look for first in a carpet, the answer would invariably be the same: Color! People care about durability and value, but many will trade a higher quality or lower priced floor for another simply because they like the pattern or the color. Because this factor is so important, it is equally important to understand a few things about how carpet styles and dyes work.

    Color and Dyeing Carpets

    Carpet is easily one of the most versatile floor coverings available, and has the widest selection. The reason is because while other floors like laminate, hardwood or vinyl are typically limited to products that have a short range of texture and can only be made affordably with a set number of patterns and colors, carpet can offer nearly any color or design you can think of. Just about any laminate or vinyl flooring will have patterns that appear beige, black or white, but only carpet can offer flooring that can be colored fluorescent green, bright red, or canary yellow and still look good. Of course, carpet is not limited to outrageous colors. Carpet is also one of the number one choices for anyone looking for an understated or informal appearance. Carpeting can make as big or small a fashion statement as you want to make.

    Why Color Can Affect More Than Appearance

    There are a few things to remember when selecting a color for your room, however. First, dark-colored floors show far less dirt and staining than light-colored floors. So if you're decorating a child's bedroom, stairway or entryway, bright white or vivid color carpeting may be a poor choice. But a muted medium or dark shade will help hide dirt until the next time you vacuum. Secondly, you have to consider what kind of mood you want to set. If you're decorating an office or den, bright colors might be off-putting or distracting. Likewise, if you're decorating a sunroom, dark colors could dampen the overall feeling of the room. Reds, yellows or oranges give the room an energized feel, blues, greens or purples make the room feel more intimate and relaxed. Natural or neutral colors like white, beige, brown or muted shades have a calming effect. So be sure not just to pick a floor that fits the color, pick one that fits the room as well.

    Dye Techniques

    It's also important to remember that carpet is made from individual strands of yarn, and that it must be dyed at some point to create the right color. As a result, slight differences in dye methods or production processes can mean that each roll of carpet won't look exactly the same. Typically, solid color carpets look best when the yarn has been dyed before being attached to the carpet, and multicolored or patterned carpets will normally be dyed after being attached. Generally, carpet dyed after being attached is also less expensive. One particular dye method is notable, though. Solution-dyed yarn is dyed before the yarn fibers are even spun. Carpets that have been solution-dyed are colorfast, will not fade under normal conditions and are more difficult to stain, so (especially if you are selecting a solid color carpet) it is definitely an option to consider, particularly in a room that receives a lot of sunlight.

    Carpet Textures and Patterns

    Because carpeting is one of the few floors that offers a tremendous range of patterns and styles, you have a range of options. The majority of carpets sold to homeowners have one solid color, but if you want a little more personality, a patterned carpet can add just the perfect touch to a room, so you should have an idea of the options available. Most common are berbers or precision cut/uncut carpets, which feature a wide variety of simple designs, mostly geometric, floral, diamonds, swirls, squares or recreations of historic patterns. If you're looking for a more complicated design, like a detailed floral design or complex geometric pattern you'll likely need to look at printed patterned saxony carpet.

    Cut Pile / Twist Carpet Patterns

    First of all, if you want a saxony or twisted carpet, the fibers can't be noticeably textured or layered, so your options can be a bit limited.

    Most saxonies don't feature a pattern. Most basic saxonies and all textured saxony or plush carpets are one solid color, but some basic saxonies feature what is called a printed pattern. These carpets can be made to match any picture or photo, and a good example would be rugs featuring the logo of a sports team. Seen a lot in commercial settings like hotels, airports or convention centers, printed patterns are either solution-dyed or use a dye method applied after the carpet has been made to create a multicolored pattern on very short, tight tufts of fiber. Printed carpets that aren't solution dyed are generally cheaply made, so they are not generally recommended. Solution-dyed printed patterns are more durable and more popular. Always consider your options, though. If you're looking for a particular pattern but want a stronger carpet, it could be more to your advantage to buy a strong neutral-colored carpet and accent it with an area rug instead.

    Twisted yarn carpets like friezes or shags are not available with printed patterns, because the fibers are spaced out. But many styles come in both solid colors and in a berber fleck design, meaning that there are little "flecks" of color scattered randomly across the carpet. These carpets can be a popular choice in high-traffic areas with a relaxed setting, since the scatter pattern and darker colors hide dirt and dust extremely well. Shags can have styles with berber flecking as well, but shag uses tufts of fiber with varying twists and sizes anyway, so the effect of hiding dirt is not necessarily enhanced with a berber fleck pattern.

    Cut pile carpet can also feature solution-dyed yarn with variances in color that produce an interesting design. Some have yarn that has a slight variance in color to give a more textured appearance, and others can have yarn that fades from one color to a lighter or darker shade, which produces an equally interesting effect. If you want a soft cut pile carpet with a distinctive look, be sure to explore your options.

    Berber / Cut/Uncut Carpet Patterns

    The majority of carpeting featuring a distinct patterned or textured look is either made with loop pile (berbers) or a combination of loop and cut pile (cut/uncut). These types of carpets are strong enough to be able to use differing heights to create patterns and textures and, in the case of [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=64]textured berber carpet[/url], can create designs that seem to jump off the floor. Most berbers with patterns follow fairly small and simple designs. Straight lines, woven or zig-zag lines, diamond shapes, floral and leaf shapes, or swirling patterns are common examples. All berber patterns tend to only have a few colors, however, as the loops mean they can't paint as distinct an image as a printed pattern. However, some advanced textured berbers use a combination of dark and light fibers or different colors placed in a way that creates a distinct visual effect and sharp pattern that rivals a printed carpet. The same applies to precision cut/uncut (or cut and loop) carpet patterns, although they are typically constructed in a way that makes them only one color and height. However, they also are a bit less expensive than more advanced textured berbers while creating a similar effect.

    Pattern Matching

    When using a patterned loop or cut and loop carpet, it is important to remember that the carpet has to be positioned in order to make the pattern flow across multiple pieces of carpet. How the pattern actually fits onto another can happen in one of three ways: straight match, drop match or random match. Straight match means that each full width of carpet matches directly the next full width. Drop match means that each full width of carpet has to be staggered by a certain amount, usually either 1/2 or 1/4 of the original pattern dimension. And random match means that pieces will fit no matter how they're matched up. Straight or drop matched patterns will require extra material to ensure that there's enough matching pieces when cutting the carpet to fit inside the room. The manufacturer will typically provide this information, and most individuals won't have to worry about actually matching up pieces, since using a professional carpet installer is always strongly recommended. But the last thing you want is to receive your carpet, then have to order extra pieces, pay the extra shipping fee and delay the installation.

  • Carpet Fibers and Materials

    The first consideration is the material. The fiber of the carpet is one of the primary factors in determining how long your carpet will hold up to wear, and more importantly, to how well it can resist staining. Most carpets come in four main fiber types: wool, nylon, polypropylene (olefin), and P.E.T. polyester.

    Many carpets can be made with either Bulked Continuous Filament (BCF) or shorter Staple fibers. Polyester and nylon carpet can go either way, and most olefin carpet is BCF. What's the difference? The staple fibers are shorter and bulkier like wool, while the BCF fibers are longer and less prone to wear and shedding. In most cases, either will be suitable, but if you have dogs, cats or another situation where your floor might go through some rough treatment, you'll definitely want to make sure your floor is made from BCF fiber, since it's harder for the fiber to be pulled from the floor.

    Some carpeting features blends of material to incorporate certain benefits of one fiber into another. For instance, some olefin or polyester carpets will be mixed with nylon fibers to increase strength and wear resistance without raising the price. Similarly, some wool carpets will incorporate a certain percentage of polyester or olefin to create a textile that offers much of the natural beauty, warmth, and durability of wool carpet at a price that is easier to afford. While these blends don't offer the same benefits as pure nylon or wool, they typically perform better than most polyester or polypropylene fibers and may be an option well worth considering.


    Nylon is the number one choice for carpeting, and has been for decades. Much of today's nylon carpet features better durability than any other fiber available, excellent stain resistance and is one of the most cost-effective options available. And advanced Nylon 6 or Nylon 6,6 carpeting has recognized brand names like Dupont StainMaster or Solutia Wear-Dated. It is excellent for use almost anywhere in your home in any type of carpet construction.

    Nylon was created in the 1930s by the DuPont company, but the nylon currently used in carpet is not made from that formula, it comes from either of what is called the fourth, fifth or sixth generation of nylon. Fourth generation nylon is used in cheaper or older carpets and offers the basic features of nylon. They are strong, easy to dye, resistant to soil or wear, don't attract mold, mildew or moths, and are soft and long-lasting. They're available in either BCF or Staple fiber types, and Solution Dyed nylon holds its color much better because the dye is incorporated in fibers during their initial production, not added later. These basic nylons could be treated with ScotchGard or Teflon, but those treatments did not protect against permanent discoloration from stains. They could also wear off after a few years of use, meaning that the treatment would have to be reapplied.

    Modern-Day Advanced Nylon

    Fifth-generation nylon added the benefit of strong resistance to stains and added the benefit of protecting the carpet against dyeing. These were the original StainMaster carpets, and they helped to revive the carpet industry. These carpets are still available, and are resistant to staining, but since the final treatment is applied to the finished carpet, they are not as resistant as most advanced nylons.

    The latest generation of carpets is the sixth-generation, often referred to as Nylon 6 or Nylon 6,6 fibers. These carpets go under brand names like StainMaster XtraLife and Tactesse, Solutia Wear-Date and Durasoft, Anso CrushResister and Caress and Shaw EverTouch, just to name a few. These fibers are specifically engineered to be tougher and more durable, provide almost a lifetime resistance to stains and abrasion, and resist wrinkles or abrasive wear damage. All carpets made with this advanced nylon are more expensive but highly recommended whenever possible, as they are suitable for use almost anywhere in the home, and are definitely the type of nylon to use if you're worried about stains. They also typically carry much better warranties than other nylon floors. However, all nylon carpeting is durable enough for most heavy usage.

    Finally, carpets advertised as particularly soft like Dupont Tactesse, Solutia Durasoft or Anso Caress are made using much thinner fibers in greater quantity, so they have the same properties of sixth-generation nylon carpets, but are softer and more durable.


    Olefin, also known as polypropylene, is designed to be resistant to stains, low in static electricity, colorfast, prevents moisture damage, and can be cleaned using strong chemicals without damaging the carpet. It is not as durable as nylon or wool and should not be used if you need a carpet that will stand up to extreme wear, but is a good and very affordable option for rooms with a lot of moisture or especially prone to staining.

    Benefits and Disadvantages

    Olefin fiber was created in the late 1950s, and grew in popularity in the 1960s. It is the second most popular fiber behind nylon, and is well-known as a low-priced alternative to fourth-generation nylons. It has several benefits that make it attractive. First, it is seriously resistant to stains and is colorfast, so your carpet's color won't fade over time. It is soft and lightweight, inherently resistant against water and moisture damage, and is not easily stained from most household items or strong chemicals in cleaning agents, including bleach.

    However, there are disadvantages for most polypropylenes as a carpet material (See below about more advanced olefin carpeting). The most serious disadvantage is that because it is lightweight, olefin is nowhere near as strong as nylon, and will always mat down more easily than a nylon carpet. If you need a long-lasting carpet, nylon would be a much better choice. Additionally, it has a very low resistance to heat and because it is an oil-based product, it can attract grease stains and gives the carpet a slight sheen that may be undesirable. Olefin is most often recommended in loop (berber) carpets, since they are constructed in a way that minimizes wearing or crushing. However, berbers with low density or without tight loops often are more difficult to vacuum, and dirt can be trapped underneath the surface of the carpet.
    Not all polypropylene carpets have a low wear tolerance. Shaw's ComforTouch fiber uses a more intensive manufacturing process that creates a fiber that is still polypropylene, but is much stronger. Carpet made with ComforTouch is nearly on par with advanced nylon in terms of stain resistance and long-lasting durability. It is not as inexpensive as normal olefin, but it offers olefin's natural benefits like its moisture and stain protection and natural colorfastness.

    When to Use Polypropylene

    So in other words, if you're considering carpet and like the cheaper price of olefin, use its natural strengths and weaknesses to your advantage. If you need a carpet in a place that will have a lot of moisture like a poolhouse, outdoor carpet or basement, olefin is an excellent selection. Likewise, if you want to carpet a room that is informal and might get stained easily like a nursery or playroom, a tight, relatively low-level olefin berber would provide similar benefits to fifth-generation nylon but would be softer, naturally resistant to stains and water damage, could be deep-cleaned without harming the fiber, and would look good even in between vacuuming.

    P.E.T. Polyester

    Less popular than olefin, recycled PET (Polyester) carpet is an inexpensive alternative to wool if you're looking for a carpet that's environmentally friendly Like olefin, it has built-in stain and moisture resistance, is colorfast and feels extremely soft. However, it is much stronger than olefin, and well-maintained high-density polyester carpets can perform as well as nylon at a significantly lower cost. Because of its softness, it is especially recommended for cut pile construction.

    Polyester carpeting has been around for decades, but PET polyester fiber is a newer innovation, made from recycled PET pproducts, like plastic soda bottles. This makes it the only manmade fiber that provides eco-friendly carpets. It is similar to nylon in terms of durability and resistance to wear, and has the moisture protection, stain resistance and colorfastness of olefin. It isn't as inexpensive as olefin, but it is still quite cost-effective. And while olefin carpets are primarily recommended for berbers, polyester carpets are stronger and can easily work in a cut pile setting.

    Polyester is not as strong as nylon, and if you have a room with heavy traffic, nylon is still the best option. But for light use around the home, polyester provides an excellent way to have a soft plush carpet at an affordable price.


    Wool fiber has been known as the gold standard for carpet material. Although more expensive than many engineered fibers, it is an excellent option for carpet, easily the softest, most luxurious fiber, flame-resistant, and is one of the only ecologically friendly carpet fibers. If you have a small room in a formal atmosphere, wool would be a beautiful choice.

    First, wool is naturally durable. It doesn't crush as much over time as regular nylon, polyester or olefin, its layered composition pushes dirt to the top and makes it resistant to abrasive wear, and the protein contained within the wool gives it excellent flame resistance, even working to extinguish small flames like sparks from a fireplace or cigarette butts. Additionally, wool repels water naturally, doesn't conduct static electricity, and is an ecologically sound renewable resource. Its appearance and softness is second to none, it is one of the most stain-resistant carpet materials, and it will last a very long time in normal conditions. It is excellent for use as a saxony, berber, or twisted frieze. For anyone looking for a carpet that looks and feels amazing, wool is a top choice.

    However, there are some important disadvantages to wool. First, since it cannot be machine-produced, it is by far the most expensive material for carpet, costing sometimes twice as much as even the best nylon floors. Secondly, it is typically one of the most stain-resistant fibers, but requires special care, as carpet cleaners designed for other materials can permanently damage the carpeting.

    Other Materials

    There are other materials, including acrylicand cotton, but generally, they are far less practical and can be difficult to find. Others like leather, linen or silk can be much more common in area rugs, and if you want to have the look of these materials, you'd do best to find a high-quality, inexpensive carpet and purchase an area rug to put over it.

    There are numerous other carpet materials out there, usually found in specialty brands, hand-made collections or carpet made overseas. These materials are most often found in area rugs, but can occasionally be found for use in carpeting. Cotton is an extremely easy material to clean, and is very absorbent, but is too weak for anything other than very light usage. Acrylic fiber was once common thanks to its similarity to wool, but is generally out of usage by this point since they are as weak as wool fibers but prone to wear quickly. Leather has been used as a material for shag, and silk or linen can occasionally be found, though almost exclusively in area rugs.

  • A Guide to Carpet Types and Styles

    The first question you should consider when looking for a type of carpet is where it's going to go. Is it in a room where a lot of people (or animals) are going to be walking across it all day? Is it in a place where it is likely to be stained by dirt or other materials? Do you want a carpet that feels extremely casual? Do you want to have a pattern or texture, or would you like a uniform visual effect? These are all questions you should keep in mind when examining the types of carpet.

    Most carpets can be divided into three extremely basic categories: [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=23]Loop (berber) carpets[/url], [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=22]Cut Pile carpets[/url], or a combination of the two, [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=24]Cut and Loop (precision cut/uncut) carpets[/url]. Each category has its own distinct attributes, and a variety of types that fall under the category.

      [*]Berber: [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=63]Level Loop berber[/url], [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=64]Multi-Level Loop (textured) berbers[/url], [url=compare.php?n=FSTY&v=Patternedf=3&t=23]Patterned Loop carpets[/url]
      [*]Cut Pile: [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=22]Saxony carpet[/url], [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=65]Textured Saxonies[/url], [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=66]Velvet (plush) carpets[/url], [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=67]Twisted (frieze) carpets[/url], [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=68]Shag carpeting[/url]
      [*]Precision Cut/Uncut: Patterned cut/uncut, Sculptured/Textured cut/uncut


    While all berbers are made with the same looped construction, there is a world of difference between different methods of creating them. For a long time, dense and heavy level loop berber carpets have been used in the business world and other areas with extremely heavy or rough traffic. They are also excellent for use within the home in areas where traffic is particularly high. And textured or multi-level berbers have become very popular choices, thanks to their distinctive patterns and strong visual effect that fits in both a traditional and a contemporary design.

    Selecting a Berber

    However, special care must be taken when selecting a berber carpet. First, berber carpets are only as strong as their loops. While thick, dense and tightly spaced berbers can be excellent at resisting wear, low-density berbers can actually wear faster than other types of carpet. Low-end textured berbers with both high and low loops can sometimes make vacuuming difficult, since dirt can easily get trapped in the lower loops and they can be prone to snagging, causing the carpet to wear faster than normal. And if you have pets, berber may be a very bad choice, since their claws will be likely to snag on the loops and can destroy the carpet. Finally, be mindful of the material used. [url=compare.php?n=FIBR&v=Olefin&f=3&t=23]Olefin (polypropylene)[/url] is one of the least expensive materials for a carpet, but it is one of the least durable materials, and is highly susceptible to wear very quickly. The best material for berber carpeting is [url=compare.php?n=FIBR&v=Wool]Wool[/url], which was also the material used in the very first berbers. Other recommended materials include [url=compare.php?n=FIBR&v=Nylon&f=3&t=23]Nylon[/url], particularly the durable next-generation soft nylons like [url=compare.php?n=FIBR&v=Tactesse&f=3&t=23]Tactesse[/url], [url=compare.php?n=FIBR&v=DuraSoft&f=3&t=23]DuraSoft[/url] and [url=compare.php?n=FIBR&v=Caress&f=3&t=23]Caress[/url]. Additionally, [url=displaymanu.php?m=28&f=3]Mohawk[/url]'s [url=compare.php?n=FIBR&v=SmartStrand&f=3&t=23]SmartStrand fiber[/url] is a [url=http://www.mohawk-flooring.com/carpet/smart-strand.asp]new type of material[/url] that is extremely durable and excellent for use in all carpets, including berber.

    Cut Pile

    Cut pile (saxony) carpets are the most popular type of carpet, and usually what people imagine when they think of carpet. Soft, simple and elegant, saxonies are never out of style. Of course, not all cut pile carpet is built the same way or has the same appearance in your home. The one thing they have in common is that all cut piles are made from yarn attached directly to the backing. What separates them is the way the yarn is designed.

    Plush / Velvet

    Velvet (plush) carpets have yarns that are lightly twisted so they appear to stand straight up and spread out, giving the carpet an soft, smooth and uniform appearance. They tend to show footprints and vacuum trails more than saxony or frieze carpeting, but the appearance is far more elegant than traditional saxonies. Because of this, velvet carpet is typically more expensive than other cut piles. Additionally, cut pile carpets with lightly twisted yarn is more easily [url=http://www.carpet-rug.org/drill_down_2.cfm?page=2&sub=6]crushed[/url] (imagine a fraying rope), so it should only be used in areas of the home where traffic is typically very light.


    Regular saxonies and textured saxony carpets are twisted a bit more than plush carpeting so that individual tufts are visible, but the floor still has a relatively uniform appearance thanks to slightly open ends at the top. Saxonies are the most popular choices for most homeowners, and are what most people think of when they hear the word carpet. They tend to be very good at preventing wear, are relatively easy to clean and maintain, and can hide footprints and vacuum trails better than plush carpets.

    Textured saxonies are like regular saxonies, but each tuft of yarn varies in height, so that the carpet has a slightly less uniform appearance. While a textured saxony may not look as uniform or luxurious as a plush or regular saxony, it is much better at hiding footprints and vacuum trails. Thus, textured saxonies are recommended more than velvets or saxonies in areas that may experience more wear than others, like living rooms, hallways or stairs.

    Frieze / Twist

    Frieze carpet is made from tufts of yarn that are completely twisted, so that they have an appearance like rope or twine, only much softer. Because the yarn is so tightly wound with ends that are nearly closed and the individual tufts are completely separate from each other, they don't usually show much trace of footprints or vacuum marks at all. Wear is also much less likely to affect a frieze, since the tufts of yarn don't crush, flatten out or experience much fraying. However, this also means that the individual tufts are far more visible than with any other type of saxony, so if you are looking for a carpet with a smooth or very formal appearance, you should go with a saxony. Frieze carpet is best suited for a room with a relaxed atmosphere, and is perfect for anyplace in the home that experiences a lot of traffic. A cousin of the frieze family is Shag. Shag carpet is very similar to friezes, but has wider and longer tufts of yarn, giving a more casual and extremely textured appearance. One note about both friezes and shags is that they can be [url=http://www.aplusvacuum.com/2006/08/how-to-vacuum-frieze-and-shag-carpets.html]susceptible to damage from certain vacuum cleaners[/url], as the individual strands in low-quality twist carpeting can be swept up by the brush roller.

    Cut-Uncut / Sculptured

    Precision Cut/Uncut carpeting, also known as [url=displaytype.php?f=3&t=24]Sculptured carpet[/url], uses varying cut pile and berber construction to create a texture or pattern. This method allows for a nearly infinite variety of patterns, since the way that the differing saxony and loop styles and heights contrast with each other gives carpet designers a way to create detailed textures that would not be possible with cut pile or loop carpets by themselves. Additionally, these carpets tend to be relatively low-priced, are fairly durable, and hide dirt and soil better than multi-level berbers. This makes them ideal for large families looking for a long-lasting carpet that will hold up to wear and staining.

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