All About Carpet & Pad
Shopping for wall-to-wall carpet can be almost as complicated as buying a used car. And, the decision making process doesn’t end once you’ve chosen the carpet. You must also choose a proper pad and insure that both will be properly installed.
Although some carpets are sold with “padded” foam backing, better carpets and pads are sold separately. The material used to manufacture “built-in foam backing is not very resilient and soon compresses. Unattached carpet pads vary widely in price and quality. There are three common types: rubber, bonded (rebond) and urethane. The longest lasting – and most expensive – is the kind made of rubber. Some refer to rubber pad as waffle-pad because of it’s similarity in appearance to the breakfast food with the same name. Rubber pad is such good quality that it can be used over and over again under several generations of new carpeting. Unfortunately, rubber carpet pad is very expensive $8 to $10 per square yard as opposed to rebond pad which is about half the price.
Rebond pad is composed of colored chunks of foam glued together and it has a reasonably long life span. It’s lasting quality and competitive price make rebond the #1 seller. We often see rebond pad reused under a second generation of carpet, but most folks in the flooring business suggest replacement along with the carpet. Some folks have the tendency to use thick pad to soften the blow between their foot and the floor. Not a bad idea until the carpet starts to stretch. Padding that is too thick can easily damage a fine carpet. Also, you can void a carpet warranty by using a pad that is too thick. Purchase pad by its density rating – pounds. Pounds per square foot of density. And stick with a thickness between three-eighths and a half-inch. Half-inch seven-pound rebond pad is one you might ask for. Or half-inch eight-pound. Some carpet manufacturers specify the pad that best fits their product. Since warranty and lasting quality are at issue, pay close attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Oh, by the way, a pad that is too thin can be equally bad. Thinner pads will collapse more quickly and allow the carpet to fold and wrinkle. Talk about wearing out quickly – wow!
Caution: Urethane foam pads are more uniform looking and feel great at first, but with use – especially in heavily trafficked areas – urethane tends to compress and flatten very quickly.
The proper carpet, the correct pad and proper installation are all critical to a good job. Seams should be joined with a 3” hot melt tape – 6” is better – and wood tack strip should be used at the perimeter.
Carpet in the bathroom is not something we suggest, but if you must do it make sure to underlay the area with sheet vinyl, then pad then carpet. In this way hubbies mistakes won’t telescope through to the wood subfloor.
And, don’t forget these simple carpet-shopping rules:
Carpet is sold by yarn weight (ounces of yarn per square yard), density (number of tufts per inch in each of two directions), and yarn type (nylon, rayon, wool, etc.).
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires carpet to be a minimum of 24 ounces in weight for any home which it finances. Other factors such as yarn length, yarn twist, and backing material can also alter quality as well as price somewhat. A good yarn weight will run between 30 and 40 ounces with higher end carpets running in the 50 to 60 ounce range. Tuft density in most carpets will run about 10 to 11 tufts per inch. More tufts per inch make for a “tighter Knapp”, or more dense carpet. Low-cut pile carpets will be lighter than high-cut pile carpets when the density of the two is equal.
Nylon is one of today’s best buys. Nylon, and a factory-applied coat of Scotch Guard, has proved to be a winning combination. Wool is also very nice (and easy to clean too), but wool can be pretty expensive.
Bottom line — Look for a Scotch Guarded nylon low-cut pile carpet assembled at 10 to 11 stitches per inch that weighs about 40 ounces per yard. It will feel very dense to the touch, resist abuse well, and last for years. Have it laid on a seven- or eight-pound half-inch thick rebond pad and ask for the widest seam tape that the installer offers. What ever you do make sure to retain a few small scraps of the carpet for patches in the event a spill causes a permanent stain. Which brings up another important point. Keep in mind that carpet lasts longer when it is kept clean. If you really want lasting quality be prepared to vacuum once a day.
Fresh smelling carpet is another important issue and a reason why many people prefer hardwood, linoleum and tile or stone. Here’s one that might sway your thinking. Carpet can be easily deodorized by sprinkling a box of baking soda onto the affected area. Let it stand over night and vacuum it up the next day.
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