It’s not something you buy every day. But when it’s time to buy carpet, you need to know your stuff. Make a bad decision and you’ll pay dearly for a long time, and I am not just talking about the money. You’ll pay a significant price in dissatisfaction and disappointment.


Plush: Usually one solid color with even, smooth pile height. Varies from lightweight (apartment-grade) with fewer tufts per square inch to heavier weights that are very dense. Comes in a vast range of colors. Shows footprints and vacuum marks.

Frieze: Very tightly twisted tufts of yarn. More expensive than plush but wears much longer — 15 years is not unusual. Frieze comes in a variety of pile heights, from short all the way to super shag. Durable and holds up to heavy use without matting or showing traffic patterns. Rebounds well.

Berber: A popular choice in recent years, Berber has nothing to do with color (though it usually comes in light earth tones) but rather with construction. Berber carpet is made of short looped yarn that is aligned in rows for a uniform look. The loops can snag and run easily, like a pair of hose. When that happens, it is nearly impossible to repair.

Commercial: Known for its small, low-level loops and short-cut pile. Usually glued to the floor. Not typically used in residential areas, as it’s not soft underfoot. Look for description with “uncrushable.”


Each carpet manufacturer recommends a specific pad for a specific style. That is most likely your best bet; go with that recommendationFoam: This is the type of padding that usually comes included. Don’t accept it. It will not hold up to traffic, and it will flatten quickly. It is not recommended for residential use.Rebond: The most common for residential installations, rebond is made of recycled urethane foam. It is usually multicolored and looks like lots of little pieces stuck together, which is what it is. It comes in a variety of densities and thicknesses to accommodate all manufacturers’ specifications.Fiber: Very dense and more expensive than rebond, a fiber pad will help a Berber carpet wear better.


Taking care of your new carpet will be the biggest factor in your overall satisfaction — how much you love your carpet decision, how long it looks beautiful and how well it wears.Take care of spots the moment they happen. Use a good spot remover, such as Spot Shot.

Invest in a good home carpet machine to steam clean your carpet.

Hold off as long as possible from having the carpet professionally steam cleaned, but once you do this, set a standing appointment for at least once yearly.Invest in a good vacuum cleaner. The best thing you can do for your carpet is to vacuum often and thoroughly — twice weekly, if possible.


Have you figured it out? For my money, there is no better carpet than a 100% nylon frieze installed over a high-quality rebond pad. Nylon frieze resists stains. Spots that do happen come out very easily. It does not mat or become crushed, even in high-traffic areas. Nylon frieze is reasonably soft underfoot and will bring you many years of enjoyment.

That was easy. Now comes the hard part — selecting a color you will enjoy for 15 years or longer!Would you like more information? Go to for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”



(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.