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A new weave

When buying a carpet, look before you tread.

Carpets add so much to a home. They make for a grand entrance, provide warmth in winter and give a room an instant makeover. A carpet feels soft, luxurious and comfortable under your feet and is perfect for the kids to play on. And Fido loves it too.

When buying a new carpet, there are a series of boxes to tick. With so many different colours, designs and materials available, it can be difficult to choose the best carpet to match your room: so it’s best to make an informed choice.

Start from the style first. There are a lot of varieties such as plush, textured and frieze. The main difference is in the pile: the yarn tufts are either looped, cut straight across, or both. Your choice depends on your lifestyle and the function of the room where you will place your carpet.

Plush carpeting, for instance, is not ideal for a high traffic area. This is because it shows footprints and can also develop pooling, which is when areas appear shaded because the direction of the carpet fibres has been reversed. Berber carpets, on the other hand, have flat and dense fibre loops, which means that they are extremely durable and do not show the strain.

Of course, the quality of pile that you choose will influence the price of a carpet. Carpets with a high pile density and tighter twist construction will command a higher price – however, they will also last longer.

The choice of colour and pattern depends on the mood that you want. If you want a calming effect, go for greens or a cool shade of blue. For warmth, go for a shade in red or gold. The choice of colour will also influence the apparent size of a room. If you want a small room to appear bigger than it is, try cream or tan. On the other hand, darker colours will make a room appear more intimate.

Another consideration is the function of the carpet: if it will serve as the focal point of a room, then go for a bright or complex pattern. However, if there are other focal points in the room like artwork, opt for a neutral coloured carpet.

The choice of colour will also influence the apparent size of a room

Colour also depends on the usage of the room. Kitchens and living rooms are the busiest rooms in the house, which means that stains are not a matter of if but when. Stains will show on light colours while a carpet in dark shades is more effective in hiding that wine stain. However, avoid dark colours if the room has a lot of direct sunlight, as this can fade coloured carpets. In a formal sitting room which is only used on special occasions, you can afford to go for a light coloured carpet.

Carpets need to be durable. Pay attention to padding, as this gives a carpet its support and strength while preventing fibres from coming apart over time. Padding such as rubber or foam also acts as insulation to help control the temperature of a room. For high traffic rooms, choose dense padding, while bedroom carpets need less protection. If you intend to place your carpet on stairs, make sure that you choose the right material and style: a looped carpet, for instance, will snag at the seams when placed on stairs.

Your final consideration: If you have young children or pets at home, avoid shag carpets, which are very hard to clean. Instead, go for stain-resistant carpets or carpets which have high-density loops, and are therefore more resistant to dirt and wear. Before parting with your cash, always ask a salesperson about the cleaning and maintenance requirements of a carpet.

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