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10 Terms to Know Before You Enter the Flooring Store

By Michael Hilton

You've decided on a color scheme. You even know your square footage. All that's left is to hit the flooring store and choose the carpet of your dreams, right? Wrong.

It's easy to get overwhelmed with your choices. If you don't know the right questions to ask, you might get talked into something you didn't really want. To help minimize your carpet-buying confusion, here are 10 terms to know before you hit the showroom floor:

1. Stainmaster. This is not a treatment that can be applied. It is an actual brand of carpet. For other carpet brands, soil and stain retardant treatments are available.

2. Twist.
This refers to the number of times per inch carpet yarns are twisted together. Why is this important? The tighter the twist, the higher the quality of the carpet, and the longer it is likely to last.

3. Density. The weight of the carpet fibers--how closely they're stitched together and how high the pile is--determines a carpet's density. Higher is better when it comes to density.

4. Pile.
Essentially, this term is about the look or the "face" of the carpet. More important than just knowing this term is knowing the kinds of pile--cut or loop--and what can affect the pile, like height and fiber.

5. Cushion. This is the pad that is installed below the carpet. Know your options--skimping on the carpet padding may save you money initially, but it can negatively affect the performance of your carpet.

6. Backing. It's what holds the carpet together. You should know what your primary and secondary back are--especially if you have concerns about its mold resistance or environmental sustainability.

7. Natural carpets. The eco-friendly shopper must be wary. Not all natural fibers are entirely without chemicals. Wool is the most common natural fiber.

8. Seams. Communicate with your retailer and make a plan for where to locate the seams (this may require a home visit) before you buy. Also, make sure to order enough carpet to account for the overage you'll need to match up seams on a patterned carpet.

9. Off-gassing. Call it "new carpet smell." Synthetic carpet fibers may produce an odor when first installed. If this is a concern for you, find out if your retailer (or wholesaler) can have the carpet aired out at their facilities before installation.

10. Shedding. All carpets shed fibers at first. Knowing this prevents any undue concern about your carpet. (Vacuuming should so the trick.)

It helps to know the terminology before you shop. Going one step further by researching your choices for padding, backing, and even installation practices helps ensure you get the right carpet for you.

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

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Before You Enter the Flooring Store
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