Creating a statement from the floor up

Carpeting seems to go in and out of style over the years, especially with the latest trends in affordable and attractive laminate flooring. But with so many color and texture options, carpeting can be a practical and stylish choice in many areas of the house, so you may want to take a second look before writing it off for your redesign.

Carpeting Design Options

Most often, carpeting is chosen to blend into a room, so neutral colors are a practical choice. But if you're looking to make a statement, you can make your room pop with a bold color, such as red or deep gray. Just be wary of choosing a fad color or something you'll grow tired of – carpeting is a big investment, so you'll want something that you'll be happy to look at for years to come.

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When it comes to carpet textures, your practical side may have to outweigh your style sensibilities. Although shag or deep-pile carpets may seem luxurious on the feet and the eye, you'll regret having them in high-traffic areas where dirt can collect. Instead, opt for a low-pile carpet which can easily be vacuumed or steam-cleaned when the time comes. If you want the look of a vintage room, complete with shag carpeting, try it in a carpet runner or a rug to accent either bare floors or a low-pile carpet – you'll get all the look but without the hassle of cleanup.

Popular Types of Carpet:

Berber Carpet

Berber carpet is a term for a slightly textured, cut pile constructed carpet that is created using small and larger tufts, giving it a hand-spun appearance. Often, Berber carpet colors will be limited to neutrals such as off-white or light gray, but it can also have flecks of a darker shade mixed in. This color scheme makes it great for both blending into a room and concealing dirt.

When it comes to Berber carpet cleaning, different types will require different care. For the most part, cleaning a Berber carpet is just like cleaning any other carpet – regular vacuuming and a yearly deep clean are recommended. However, one tip to keep in mind is to stay away from the beater bar or rotating brush attachment on your vacuum, as these can snag the loop tufts in Berber carpet and cause damage.

Persian Carpet

Persian carpets are considered a luxury item, with a history and beauty that dates back over 1,000 years ago. Nowadays, Persian carpets are mostly machine made, but for a higher price tag, you can add an authentic handmade Persian carpet to your floor. For historical interest, you can also purchase an antique Persian carpet, or simply achieve the look with a replica antique. Modern styles are also available, with updated patterns and designs.

Cleaning Persian carpet, particularly antique carpets, requires a little more attention than ordinary carpets. Vacuuming is a must, but steam cleaning and dry cleaning can damage the carpet. Washing with thorough rinsing is allowed, but surface shampooing is definitely out. For maintenance purposes, use an underpad under your carpet, and keep it out of direct sunlight. If possible, rotate the carpet from time to time, to prevent traffic wear.

Carpet Tile

Carpet tile is relatively new to the market, but is a great option for anyone looking to install full carpeting. It consists of individual carpet tile squares, usually 18 x 18 inches, that are either self-sticking or dry-backed. Easy to install, you can place them on any surface that is dry and clean. It's recommended that you not use this type of carpeting in rooms that are below ground, however, as mildewing may occur.

Carpet tile can be found for as low as $10 a square yard, or even lower if you buy wholesale carpet tile. Costs will increase based on design and material, but the selection is wide. While carpet tile may not last as long as roll carpeting (it has a lower pile and may show wear sooner), what makes it worth the money is the ability to change the tiles. Now, one stain doesn't have to ruin your whole carpet because you can simply take the damaged tile out and pop in a fresh one. Just remember to buy a few extra tiles when you make your purchase.

Carpet Installation and Maintenance

A good installation will help your new carpets last longer, so handing your carpet installation over to professionals is always a safe bet. But two tips to remember if you're doing it yourself: first, be sure you thoroughly clean the area before you install the new carpet, and second, don't skimp on underpadding. You'll notice the benefits of a high-quality underpad right away and over the long term, as your carpet will hold up longer in high-traffic areas.

When it comes to maintaining your carpet, there's no substitute for regular cleanings. Carpet experts recommend vacuuming one day a week for every person in your household, and doing a heavy-duty steam cleaning at least once a year. Rotating furniture can also help the lifespan of your carpet by dispersing traffic flow. Finally, remember this: although stain protection has come a long way in carpeting over the years, it's not perfect. Be sure to clean up spills and grime as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage.

Carpet Costs

Carpeting can run anywhere from $2 per square foot to over $100 per square yard, depending on your budget. The price of basic, good-quality carpet is somewhere in between, running you roughly $500 for a 12 x 12 foot room. However, it is possible to find a high-quality discount carpet if you shop around. Wholesale carpet stores or online retailers often have great sales, or you can buy discontinued "end-of-the-roll" pieces, if the size of your room permits.