In this Home Flooring Pros guide we give you a step by step guide to finding the best carpet, taking into account quality, budget and style, and offer up expert recommendations and reviews of the top carpet brands.
Whilst it is true to say that hardwood flooring remains the most popular type of flooring for most home buyers, the fact that carpet still has an important share of the flooring market means that it is definitely worth considering for your home.
Indeed, more and more people are also keying into the practical and aesthetic appeal of having a mix of flooring types in the home – using hardwood, tiles and carpeting in different rooms depending on function and style.
You can also click here for our guides to carpet buying, installation, prices and cleaning.
There are a number of reasons to considering carpeting a floor, but the main one is of course the added, softer comfort of carpet material underfoot.
Carpets give a warmer, snugger feel to a room and so are particularly popular for bedrooms and playrooms; they also provide better soundproofing than hardwood or tiles, which makes carpets a good choice for home gyms, home cinemas and offices.
Carpets also often conjure grown-up luxury; there is a certain air of “high maintenance” about a carpet that makes it seem like the kind of choice only rich people make!
But of course the best kind of carpet combined with the right kind of stain protection in place is just as easy and inexpensive to maintain as any other type of floor. So let’s get into all the detail to help you buy the best carpet for your home.
What’s the Best Carpet Option for You?
So of course the first decision to make in your quest for the best carpeting is the color and style that you want to complement your room. The color will be a personal choice based on the design of your room – but bear in mind that for resale purposes it’s usually best to keep carpets neutral, as boldly colored or patterned carpets are often too personal, and you want to appeal to as many people as possible if you’re selling your home.
The style of carpet you choose will depend to certain extent on the lifestyle you lead and how you use your home. Carpet style refers mostly to how the fibers are woven onto the backing. There are five common carpets styles each with their own qualities as follows:
Saxony (aka Plush) = best for formal settings, velvet-like soft surface, very luxurious, but will show up vacuum tracks and footprints quite easily so fairly high maintenance
Textured = good for high traffic areas, durable and doesn’t show up dirt, footprints or vacuum tracks as much. Learn more about textured carpet and cut pile carpets.
Friezé (aka Twist) = more informal, like a short shag style, excellent for kids and for hiding vacuum tracks and footprints
Looped (aka Berber) = most formal, not entirely ideal if you have kids or pets as can snag more easily, but easy to clean. Read more in our Berber carpet guide.
Sculptured (aka Cut & Loop or Pattern) = good for families, hides dirt better than other styles, but patterns can feel dated quite quickly
What Makes a Great Carpet?
Once you’re decided on the style that best suits your home and family, the next thing to consider is exactly what factors determine the quality and durability of a carpet.
The main factors to consider are the type of carpet fiber used and the fiber density. Have a look at our article about carpet ratings for detailed analysis of these factors.
But in brief, the best carpet fibers such as wool, nylon (or a wool/nylon blend) have a much better reputation for durability and resilience. If nylon is treated with stain protectors then, like wool, it is also very easy to keep clean.
Other man-made fibers such as olefin and polyester have some good aspects that make then suitable for certain areas such as playrooms, but aren’t good for elsewhere, so less appealing overall.
As for density, effectively the better the density the better the quality. You also want to look for carpets that have at least 40-oz of fiber per square yard – this is known as the face weight – to increase the longevity of the carpet; and also check the tuft twist rating – a minimum of five twists is best.
Latest Carpet Flooring Trends
Whilst most of us will want to make sure our home décor is keeping up with the latest styles and trends, laying a good quality carpet can be a costly investment, so it’s best to make sure that you choose a look that is classic and adaptable so that it will have maximum longevity whatever décor aesthetic you go for.
However there are some new carpeting trends for 2016 that you might want to consider depending on your budget.
Gray & Taupe Neutrals – the good news is that the dominant neutral theme from last season, using a palette of grays and taupes, is still popular this season.
Muted Blues & Earthy Greens – if you want to try to be a bit more daring you might also consider other colors such as blue, teal or green, but keep it all muted, soothing and natural. So no bold, bright azure carpets any time soon!
Texture – adding to the earthy feel, opting for a highly textured carpet is also on trend right now; for the best of all worlds look for really chunky Berber style carpets that are both cozy and chic!
Pattern – cut and loop style carpets that allow for an inherent pattern in the weave are big for 2015/206; but to stay on trend make sure the pattern is geometric or randomized (not floral!)
Shaped Carpet Tile – following on from patterned carpets, if you really don’t care about longevity and simply crave the WOW factor, then the real hot designer trend this year is the amazing new contemporary takes on carpet tile such as Hadi Teherani’s take using innovative shapes and material to stunning effect (see above).
For more 2016 carpet trends for click here.
Top Rated Carpet Brands Reviewed
Shaw Floors – It’s no wonder that Shaw Floors are the market leaders when it comes to carpeting in the USA. They have an absolutely HUGE offering of carpets, matching every possible style, design and use you could ever imagine! Whether you’re after an on-trend chunky Berber or a simple and classic cream plush carpet, you’ll find it at Shaw Floors.
A quick browse of their website is all you need to do to realize just how enormous their carpeting ranges are: the carpet shown below is just one color option of the 24 options in the All At Once carpet design (this shade is Soft Fleece, by the way), which is just one of the 43 designs in the Caress collection.
Shaw Floors also offer their highly praised, patented R2X carpet stain and soil protection on most of their carpets; and their Caress range of carpets are made with their premium Anso nylon fiber that comes with a 20-year warranty.
Mohawk – The other major player in the US carpet industry is Mohawk, who first started producing carpets in 1878! Their longevity can only be explained by their constant willingness to keep up with trends, search out innovation and work with talented design teams.
Mohawk is also keen to promote investment in environmentally responsible production as evidenced by the large offering of products made with recycled and renewable resources and are “dedicated to running our business in the best way we can, and to making a positive impact in our communities”.
It’s also worth noting that since 1878 Mohawk has developed into a large corporation which, over time, has incorporated other well-known carpet brands such as Karastan, Bigelow, Lees and Durkan. But all that really matters for most folk is that Mohawk do have a very, very large range to choose from, all treated with “gold standard” Scotchgard Advanced Repel Technology products.
Beaulieu America Bliss – Since its humble origins in 1978, Beaulieu America has grown to become the third largest flooring manufacturer and the largest carpet-only maker in the world. Bliss is their trademark registered residential carpet brand offering both wall-to-wall and carpet tile options, in either nylon, polyester, polypropylene or nylon/ polypropylene blends.
With 81 designs to choose from, each available in upwards of 10 colors, there is a lot of choice and variety. Plus some of their carpets are available with added benefits like their Magic Fresh odor reducing treatment and their Silver Release antimicrobial treatment. But for me, the best thing about the Bliss collections is that they really straddle a whole range of design aesthetics and colors: there really is something for everyone here.
What I also like is the carpet tile options – though usually thought of as a commercial product, some of the designs (like Planx shown below) would be more than suitable for residential spaces such as the “man-cave”, games room, gym or home cinema.
Milliken – The Milliken group is a huge, multilayered corporation that offer innovative solutions in several areas including chemicals, industrial and specialty textiles, and floor coverings. It’s this last one that we care about! Their residential carpets are currently arranged in three excellent collections: Imagine, Crystal Stitch and Hardanger.
But you’d be mistaken in thinking that wasn’t very much choice… the Imagine collection alone has 71 different designs! And boy are they different – there are classic block color designs, cool contemporary geometric patterns, elegant pretty floral, bold animal prints and patterns that you simply won’t see anywhere else!
Patterns like the neat five pointed stars on the Allegheny design, the hexagonal tiles on the Modern Flair design and the plaid checks on the Greyfriar design.
Milliken carpets are made with nylon and New Zealand wool blends, using a high definition patterning technology to ensure that their carpets are both beautiful and durable.
Tuftex – You would think that such a strong name would give rise to bold, brash, heavy duty style carpets, but the range of carpets at Tuftex are nothing like that! In fact they offer a very sophisticated range of beautiful designs that are just the right side of being fashion-forward whilst remaining classic and classy.
With currently 155 designs to choose from, most of which come in a large choice of colorways (upwards of 20 colors in most designs) there’s plenty to choose from.
Personally, I think what Tuftex do best are patterned carpets, like the Tracery design shown below, their patterns are mostly geometric and not too overpowering, making them an ideal backdrop to complement your home décor.
And the good news is that Tuftex is now part of the Shaw Floors corporation, so you get the same high quality fibers and stain protection that you expect from all Shaw Floors carpets.
Karastan – Karastan is perhaps one of the more interesting carpet manufacturers that have been incorporated into the Mohawk Industries group. For a start, they are able to make the very bold claim that they played “a big part in introducing American households to the very concept of walking in comfort”, by being the first American manufacturers to create a loom that could handle the kind of design detail usually woven by hand!
Of course, their most renowned products are their premium area rugs; but their range of carpet are also very much worth looking into.
What I like about Karastan is the great diversity of their ranges, going from traditional Persian style carpets, via contemporary geometric patterned carpets and all the way to super bold animal print carpets!
Being part of Mohawk also means that many of Karastan’s carpets are made with the SmartStrand biopolymer carpet fiber from DuPont which combines the benefits of renewability without sacrificing high performance.
Godfrey Hirst – One of the largest and oldest carpet mills in Australia, Godfrey Hirst is now recognized as one of the world’s top carpet manufacturers with retail points across the USA and Canada.
Specializing in wool, wool blends and polyester carpets, they offer both classic luxury and family friendly carpets to suit most traditional and contemporary decors. The general design style is quiet elegance with subtle patterns and muted, neutral tones, though some of the polyester carpets are available in shades of blue.
Comparatively speaking some of Godfrey Hirst wool carpets retail at the low to mid range point ($3-$5 per square foot) which makes them an interesting option if your heart is set on wool. Currently with a total of 402 carpets to choose from, their easy-to-use caret search facility on their website has options such as color, pile type, fiber and price point to help you drill down to find the right carpet for your home.
They also have a very handy Carpet Calculator on their website to work out exactly how much you’ll need!
Fabrica – If you’ve got a great budget and are looking fro a beautiful, quality wool carpet then look no further than Fabrica. Originally part of the Dixie Group of carpeting mills, which has now been partly acquired by Shaw Floors, Fabrica are one of the few top mills producing carpets made with 100% New Zealand Wool.
There are currently 21 different carpet designs available in wool most of them featuring subtle geometric patterns.
Among our favorites are: Paragon – a perfectly sophisticated chunky Berber loop carpet (available in 30 different colors from pure Lily white to dramatic Black Out; the elegant basket weave design of Bon Ton (pictured below) which comes in 17 different colors; and the pretty pin dot pattern of Petit Point which is available in 16 colors, including lovely, muted on-trend Sea Grass and Cadet Blue.
However, if you like their classic and fairly traditional styles, but don’t have quite enough budget to stretch to wool, Fabrica also have an extensive range of nylon carpets
Kidcarpet.com – And finally, if you’ve got little kids and love the idea of creating a unique bedroom or playroom just for them, then have a look at the super cool made to order wall-to-wall carpets at Kidcarpet.com.
Whether you want to go for an education alphabet and numbers carpet, or for a theme like the Buzzy Bugs, the School of Fish or the Woodland Wonders, there is a great choice of brightly colored, beautiful carpets for you (personal favorite is Up And Away) who can resist walking on clouds!). There are also fabulously bold, block color carpets – in the kinds of bright and happy colors you can’t find at a “grown-ups” carpet store.
As you would expect from carpets made for kids, these carpets are super durable and fire rated. But they have also been really well thought through design-wise. For example, they deliberately steer away from using yellow or other light colors in their designs, as these colors tend to show up dirt quickly!
Another good tip is that along with their huge range of kid friendly area rugs, most of their wall-to-wall designs are also available as area rugs!
Hopefully we’ve helped you find the best carpet for your home flooring needs. Please do share your carpet investment and installation experience in the comments section below.