The fiber debate: There often are noticeable and sometimes considerable differences in carpet performance between the different carpet fibers, e.g. nylon, polyester/P.E.T., olefin, and other developing fibers. Carpet that looks and feels the same will perform far differently depending on what fiber they are made of and where they are installed. As a general rule, a carpet, of equal construction and fiber content, made of nylon will outperform one made of polyester/P.E.T. especially in high traffic areas. The trade-off – carpet made of nylon costs more that carpet made with polyester/P.E.T, sometime as much as 20-30% more. This doesn’t mean polyester carpet is a bad investment, it looks and feels great but just won’t as long – how much less? That’s up to you and how you care for it. The amount of a particular fiber woven into the carpet (pile height and pile density) ultimately determines the cost when comparing carpet made of the same fiber.
A necessary foundation for your carpet is a firm and resilient carpet pad or cushion. A sturdy cushion will increase the comfort of a carpet and extend its life. It acts as a shock absorber when walked upon. The cushion buffers sound, provides increased insulation, and makes a room warmer and quieter. When poorly used, carpet pads can cause wrinkling and buckling, separation of the carpet seams, and a breakdown of the carpet structure as well as void applicable carpet manufacturer’s warranties. A general rule for most residential carpet applications is to choose cushion of 7/16″ or 1/2″ thick but no less than 1/4″ with 6 or 8 pounds per cubic foot density. If the carpet is Berber or a low profile carpet, choose a cushion no more than 3/8″ thick with 8 pounds density.
There is a wide range of material types, construction types, adaptability and price for carpet pads. The type and thickness of cushion needed varies according to traffic levels and patterns. Bedrooms, dens, lounge areas and other rooms with light or moderate traffic can use thicker and softer cushion. Living rooms, family rooms, hallways, stairs and other heavy traffic areas require thinner, firmer cushion. Typically, you don’t need to mix or change pad types between living/family rooms, bedrooms and high traffic areas.
A bit more detail on pad types:
Rebonded Urethane (called rebond) pad is the most common and practical choice for any home. Rebond urethane pad is made from many different types of recycled foam in order to give your floor a softer feeling, while increasing its strength and durability. Rebond carpet pad also helps to insulate any room, whether it be warm or cold. Rebond comes in a variety of weights and quality levels – the best is yellow in color with very fine foam particles bonded together. Remember that most new carpet warranties require the carpet pad to be a certain weight and thickness and rebond pad is available in nearly all of them.
Spillguard/Future Guard is the most spill and stain resistant, residential carpet pad on the market today. It is made unlike any other carpet pad: this carpet pad doesn’t absorb spills! The pad makes use of the exclusive Spillguard moisture barrier, which no liquid can penetrate. With this barrier, spills on the carpet can be wiped up quickly and easily. It is made of urethane foam, either rebounded or “virgin” foam. The Spillguard/Future Guard carpet pad is the perfect carpet cushion for the not-so-perfect world.
Stainmaster absorbs foot traffic and helps eliminate wear and tear damage. Pet owners no longer have to fear their pets accidents or smells with Stainmaster’s new odor guard material. Stainmaster pad is made with DuPont Hytrel which stops even the messiest spills from seeping through the carpet and into the pad. It is great for pet owners.
Rubber is one of the best crush reducing pads in the world. Rubber pad is scientifically proven to help an owner with orthopedic problems. This type of pad does not allow dirt and grime to penetrate into the pad. Rubber pad stops the spread of mildew and moisture on your sub floor. It is also required when installing carpet over in-floor heat.
Urethrane Foam or Visco Foam is an exceptional material used to manufacture “top of the line” carpet pad. It is sometimes referred to as “virgin foam” because is not recycled foam being rebonded.