Carpet and Rug Buying Guide


Carpeting and rugs remain very popular home flooring for the warmth, comfort and the variety of styles and patterns in which they’re made. Area rugs have graced homes for thousands of years and continue to be in demand for those with hard flooring who want a decorative accent or soft treading under foot.

The first rugs and carpeting were made from wool, and the best ones still are. Synthetic materials such as nylon, olefin, polyester and even some recycled materials are being used in today’s rugs and carpeting. Most carpeting and rugs now have a final coat of stain-resistant spray (stainmaster, etc) to help prevent liquids from penetrating the threads.

This buying guide to rugs and carpet will help you decide if the most popular flooring option is a good choice for your home. In addition, we have detailed guides to carpet installation, carpet prices, and of course cleaning and maintenance of carpet flooring.

Textures, Lengths and Patterns

Rugs are made in sizes from a foot or two square to 20’x30’ or greater. Small rugs for in front of the sink, medium rugs for under the coffee table or dining room table, large rugs to fill an entire room and runners for hallways and stairs are all available.

In terms of patterns, the most popular are:

Cut Pile – Also know as textured carpet or cut pile twist is a catch all name for looped carpet that has been cut.

Plush—Made in a variety of styles including velvet, Saxony, textured trackless and standard plush, this remains the most common pattern.

Berber – Now more popular than ever. New manufacturing processes are creating more than just the standard Berbers. You’ll find geometric patterns and a variety of loop options that produce different feels beneath your feet.

Frieze – These carpets have a distinctively woven look. They are produced in solid colors as well as multi-colored styles.

Wear and Durability

Wool rugs and carpeting are the most durable. Those with a thick pile can last 50 years or more when used in a living area rather than in an area of high traffic. On the other end, today’s cheapest carpeting may need replacing in as little as 3-5 years in living areas and 1-2 years in high-traffic areas.

Quality carpeting and rugs typically last 8-15 years depending on where they are installed and how careful you are about carpet maintenance. Learn more by reading the rugs & carpet maintenance and cleaning guide for tips on how to get the greatest longevity from your flooring.

Leading Brands of Rugs & Carpet Flooring and Current Trends

The leading trends in carpeting are:

New carpet patters: Berbers in new, interesting geometric designs are hot at the moment. Exciting new colors only increase their appeal.

Green – as in Ecofriendly – carpeting: Triexta is a new polymer from DuPont that is made from renewably sourced materials.

Low-VOC carpeting: Carpet made with low-VOC materials has less off-gassing, so that “new carpet” smell dissipates more rapidly – in a few days rather than a few weeks.

Carpet durability: Advances in carpet fiber technology are leading to tougher carpets that look better for a longer period of time.

Rugs & Carpet Flooring FAQs

Q: Is carpet installation a DIY job?
A: If you’re handy with tools and patient, you might consider doing it yourself. See our guide Installation of Rugs & Carpet Flooring for details that will help you decide whether to tackle it or to hire home flooring pros in your area.

Q: Are there carpets and rugs designed for those with allergies or asthma?
A: The best carpets and rugs for those with breathing issues are given the Green Label by the Carpet and Rug Institute. Ask your dealer for options. In addition, vacuum at least once per week using a machine with a HEPA filter, and have the carpet and rugs cleaned once a year.

Q: What type of carpet is best for areas that get heavy traffic?
A: Dense carpet with a low pile is best for this purpose.

Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of carpeting and rugs?
A: They are softer to stand on for long periods of time than wood, tile or vinyl. They are warmer under your feet than hard surfaces, and softer to lay on for people and pets. The variety of styles, colors and patterns give you lots of choices.

The disadvantages include the fact that carpet and rugs can trap allergens and dust, possibly making allergies and asthma worse. In addition, wood, laminate and even tile can be more cost-effective flooring choices for the long-term when you consider how often you need to replace carpeting over 25-40 years. On the other hand, some homeowners enjoy getting a new look in their home every 5-10 years.