Knowing how to choose a carpet can mean the difference between finding a bargain and wasting a fortune. There are so many options available for any kind of budget and a trip to any carpet store can provide a serious headache if you aren’t sure what you are looking for. However, help is at hand: read on for some great tips that will have your home looking great and feeling comfortable…

Padding & Underlay

Whatever kind of carpet you end up choosing, you should never underestimate the importance of getting a good padding and underlay to sit beneath it. Without that extra strength and cushioning, it won’t take long for your carpet to start wearing thin, particularly in areas of heavy traffic, such as stairways, entrance halls and walkways.

There are more benefits to padding, too: they can hide the little imperfections and dinks in your floor; insulate your home; and act as a sound absorber so you don’t annoy your neighbors quite so much with your noise! You should aim to get padding that is around 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick, according to (link below), who also recommend that you go even thicker in traffic-heavy areas.

Choosing Carpet Pile

‘Pile’ is the term used to describe the density of the fibers of a carpet, which are used to create the different styles you can buy, such as textured, plush, frieze, Saxony and Berber. In general, the amount of fiber that is used for each pile determines how long and how much it takes to produce, so will therefore have an effect on its retail price: the more it has, the more it will cost. Natural materials are typically more expensive than synthetic options, but are more difficult to look after; for example, carpets made from synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester and olefin blends will tend to protect better against stains.

With this in mind, it’s important to look for a carpet that will suit your needs, and not to just buy the most gorgeous style just for the sake of it. That plush carpet which feels amazingly soft and luxurious? It isn’t going to last 5 minutes if you have toddlers covered in food running around the house, but could be great for your bedroom (if it’s off-limits for the kids, that is!).

For high traffic areas, look for a more textured carpeting option. This will give you a nice and dense finish, with fibers cut to different lengths to hide stains and dirt better. A good Berber style could also work wonders in the kids’ rooms, while friezes – which are effectively cut-pile and have twisted fibers – offer a happy medium between durability and glam.

Where To Buy Carpeting

You can buy carpets from department stores, specialists, flooring companies and plenty of other places, but where are you going to get the best deal? First of all, you need to investigate all your options. Your first stop should be a specialist retailer, where you will have all your questions answered and options discussed. This will give you a good idea of what kind of style you are interested in.

Once you know what you want, you’ll be able to compare what each retailer has to offer. Specialists can certainly offer a fantastic service (always research what previous customers think before you sign anything), but could be more expensive. It’s worth pointing out that prices can vary hugely, even from town to town, and it could be worth investigating other retailers in a different are to see if you can save some money. Which brings us nicely to your budget…

Working Out Your Budget

Even if you think your budget is particularly low, you can still come away with a good quality carpet in each room you are decorating. Retailers may have offcuts they are willing to give you for a bargain price, and you can go for the cheaper, more durable synthetic options for areas with frequent traffic.

The biggest tip is to maximize your spend by buying the longest-lasting carpet you can. Don’t forget, a good percentage of your funds will go towards padding and under-laying, and you are likely to need to have the carpet installed. You can get the job done through the carpet retailer you have bought from, or from an independent fitter: it’s worth getting a complete breakdown of costs from your supplier so you can compare all your options, from underlay and carpet, to installation and any extra treatment for protection.


Every time you buy a carpet, you will be asked if you want to take out a warranty which could guarantee you against wear, appearance, and stains. Warranties often come in 5- or 10-year options, but be careful: plenty of them may not really offer the protection you might think, according to the Carpet Buyers Handbook (link below).

As with any purchase, insuring yourself against the future problems might seem like a good idea – particularly if you are spending a small fortune – but in reality, it isn’t always that straightforward. The best defence against disappointment is to be wary: if a warranty sounds too good to be true, it probably is.