The Ultimate Guide to Buying New Carpet: Tips & Considerations
Are you unhappy with the carpet you own?
We hear this problem a lot from our clients. They did their due diligence (or they thought they did) when buying their carpet and ended-up with something less than they had hoped for. Sometimes the problem is that the color doesn't match their expectations, other times it's that the installation was done poorly, however most often it's that the long-term performance of the carpet doesn't seem to live up to expectations.
Third biggest expense
Buying new carpet is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of bad information out there and for big box retailer such as The Home Depot and Lowes, carpet represents just a price point. It's not about what's best for you. On top of that, for most people, new carpet or flooring represents the third most expensive purchase they'll make in their lifetime after their home and car.
A good cleaning might give you another couple of years of life
Speaking from the perspective of a professional carpet cleaner, I have found that carpet replacement is often considered long before the carpet is truly at the end of its useable life. Often a carpet has been maintained so poorly that a good, professional cleaning has the potential to make a soiled, tired looking carpet look like new again. Soap residue tends to attract dirt and getting all that residue out of carpets is what Zerorez does better than anyone.
Nobody knows more about carpets than professional carpet cleaners
As professional carpet cleaners, we probably have the best knowledge about which carpets perform best over the long-term. We have serviced many different carpets over many years, and have built-up a library of knowledge and experience that we want to share with the carpet buying public.
Because some of the carpet manufacturers that I'll be mentioning by name will not like what I'll have to say, let me make this disclaimer. This article is the personal opinion of Eric Bollmann, client service manager for Zerorez SoCal, based in Irvine.
Don't be fooled by carpet manufacturers claiming to have the "next wonder fiber"
Unfortunately, we have seen more than once, a new carpet fiber being introduced into the marketplace as the next wonder fiber:
- It is going to be stain resistant.
- It will have great resiliency to foot traffic.
- Its colors will not fade.
- It will not crush under heavy foot-traffic.
- It will retain all its wonderful properties for the long-term.
When in reality, they fail the true test of long-term performance in the home environment. Once subjected to real-life living conditions (spills, spots, pets, kids, etc.) over the long-term, the lofty promises made on the front-end seem to fall flat.
Carpets that failed the in-home, real life test: The Worst Carpet Types
The most recent example of such a fiber is Triexta; better known as SmartStrand. Triexta is manufactured by Mohawk Industries and started life many years ago as a product invented by Shell Oil. It was introduced into the marketplace about eight years ago and had been laboratory tested to show great promise……. Until it was put to the real test of actual in-home use. That's when we started seeing carpet that was very difficult to get clean. Traffic areas that typically would clean-up great were being very stubborn and difficult to clean. We ended-up with re-service issues where the carpet looked pretty good after our cleaning, but would look dingy again after it was fully dry.
SmartStrand carpet: Over promised and under-delivered
So we started doing some research and found a common thread - the carpet we were having all these issues with were smartstrand carpets made by Mohawk. It seems to be a pattern that repeats itself every 10-15 years or so. The previous wonder fiber was called Olefin. It was so tough you could even use bleach on it to clean it without staining it. Although this was technically true (I would not recommend this) the in-home performance of this fiber was very poor (to put it mildly). It's poor resiliency (it's ability to bounce back) made it a very poor choice for most residential settings.
Carpet mills learn their lesson slowly
Now to be fair to carpet mills, they do eventually learn their lessons. Olefin has found it's stride as a commercial carpet fiber where its poor resiliency is less of a factor due to very tight and flat looped construction in commercial carpets. And the same is true for Triexta. After realizing they had issues, they now coat the fiber with a protector and have made other improvements. However it's the overblown promises and marketing messages (elephants running over the carpet) that get homeowners to buy it and then ultimately become the real-life testing laboratory for, in this case, Mohawk.
What is the Best Carpet Fiber Choice? Nylon
As a carpet fiber that has proven itself over the long term, Nylon, in my opinion, is still king among carpet for residential settings. Its resiliency is second to none, combined with very good stain resistance and now even improved color fastness due to solution dying the fiber. Nylon is hard to beat.
How to become a carpet expert
To start off your journey to buying carpet, it will be best to arm yourself with more knowledge than most carpet salesmen have. And the place to gain this knowledge is only a click away. You'll learn everything you need to know about buying carpet at the following two sites. First, you can go to the Carpet Guru's carpet college. This site is a little out of date and hasn't seem to have kept-up with the more recent fiber types, however he doesn't try to sell you anything.
Get unbiased advice on your next carpet purchase
The carpet guru is actually Jim Goddard who owns Carpet Classics in Tigard, Oregon. He started the site many years ago, and I, personally, have referred to it many times and have referred a lot of our clients to it over the years. It truly is the best place to gather unbiased advice on everything related to carpet fibers, padding, installation and all the scams that exist out there. And although educating yourself is great at some point, you still need to pull the trigger and actually purchase your carpet from someone.
Another great information resource
In doing research on another blog topic about cleaning wool carpet, I happened to stumble upon an even more comprehensive carpet information web site. I would definitely recommend checking out the Carpet Professor. This site is a little more sales oriented then the carpet guru, however it's also more up-to-date on the latest and greatest (and not so great) in the carpet universe. Whichever site you visit, you're going to learn a lot and be a better prepared consumer for your next purchase.
How to find a trusted carpet retailer
The most trusted source for carpet information should be your locally owned carpet dealer. There is no better place to find:
- the hands-on knowledge of what carpet fiber will perform best for your particular situation
- the proper professional installation
- the after purchase care you will get from a store that is owned by somebody with a stake in the community you live in.
A great place to start this search is by asking a friend or neighbor for a referral, if that doesn't turn up something, your next stop should be the internet. Both Angie's List and Yelp will give you options. And if you are located in the greater Los Angeles area you are in luck. We at Zerorez have assembled a list of carpet retailers we have found to be reliable and reputable. Here you go:
Local retailer recommendations
Flooring Innovations - 760-342-2222
74527 Highway 111, Palm Desert CA 92260
Flooring Innovations - 760-321-8600
67615 E Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City CA 92234
Colonial Carpet Co. - 714-892-4495
7331 Garden Grove Blvd., #B, Garden Grove, CA 92841
The Finishing Touch Floors, Inc. - 949-770-1797
25252 Cabot Road, Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Donovan Johnson, Owner
The Finishing Touch Floors, Inc. - 562-493-5497
3273 Katella Avenue, Los Alamitos, CA 90720
David Johnson, Owner
Mac Flooring, Inc. - 949-600-7779
72 Argonaut, Suite 120
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Grant & Kristin Topping, Owners
Los Angeles County
MidTown Carpet Co. - 323-254-7732
4670 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Hawse Abbey Carpet - 805-527-3716
4166 E. Los Angeles Avenue
Simi Valley, CA 93063
Ask for Donna or Bob
Home Carpet & Window Treatments - 310-444-0220
11844 W. Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90064 (Sawtelle)
Ask for George
SCV Floorsmith - 661-425-0727
25939 The Old Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91381
Ask for Nick
Hailo Flooring - 909-646-3444
12005 Jack Benny Drive, Suite 104
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739
Ask for Ryan
The Homeplace Flooring & Design - 951-303-2800
31069 Temecula Parkway, Suite C1
Temecula, CA 92592
Ask for Joe or Mike