The Rundown on Rug Selection

Carpet Buying Guide

If your living room resembles your landscaping, it's time to update that green shag. But if you haven't shopped for carpet recently, the choices may overwhelm you.

Don't make the mistake of choosing carpeting based solely on its color. Consider the carpet's fibers and construction, as well as how it will hold up against your lifestyle (e.g., plush white carpet may not be the best choice for a house that's home to three dogs). 

Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each kind of carpeting can help you choose the right carpet for your home.

Find Pros Carpet Types

Plush or cut-pile carpet is comprised of trimmed loops, so the ends of the yarn poke up. Saxony plush, one of the most common carpet varieties, is comprised of short, densely packed tufts. While plush carpet is a popular choice, it doesn't wear as well as Berber.

Berber (or high-level loop) carpet creates a nubby texture with complete, upright-standing yarn loops. Looped carpet tends to wear better than cut-pile varieties, such as plush.

Wool is considered to be the ultimate fiber. It costs two to three times more than synthetic fibers, but it's particularly comfortable, durable and natural looking. It is resistant to soil, but when soiled may be hard to clean. Be aware that direct sunlight will fade wool fiber over time.


Synthetic fibers are made from a number of artificial materials, known generically as nylon, olefin, polyester and acrylic.

Nylon is the most popular synthetic carpet fiber because of its durability and affordable cost. However, nylon is also susceptible to damage from prolonged sun exposure. 

Olefin is a low-cost, easy-care material that's often used as an indoor (basements, rec rooms) and outdoor (patios) carpet. It is usually pre-treated to resist fading.

Polyester fibers are softer but less durable and more inexpensive than nylon. Polyester is susceptible to damage from heat and sunlight.

Acrylics most resemble wool and also resist fading. Acrylics are more expensive than nylon.

Sisal carpet, which is made from natural fibers derived from a cactus plant, is stronger and more durable than carpet comprised of other natural fibers. Sisal carpets and area rugs are roughly textured like jute, and they are highly durable and earthy. 

Bring Your Wood Floors Back to Life Remember Stairways

If you are installing carpeting on stairs, consider how the type and amount of stairs you have will affect your carpeting budget. The national average cost to fully carpet a stairway ranges from $6-$9 dollars per stair step.

The cost to install carpeting on stairs goes up significantly if you want runner-style carpeting (carpet going up only the middle of the stairway). That's because -- even though less carpeting is used -- more labor is involved. Curved stairways are also more expensive to carpet. The cost can further vary depending on whether the staircase has a closed or open riser.

Stairs Carpet Padding

In 90 percent of residential jobs, carpeting is applied over padding. While padding adds to the price of carpeting, it's worth the additional cost. The added cushioning makes it more comfortable to walk on. It also makes it better able to withstand the wear of foot traffic, prolonging the life of your carpet.

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