One good thing about writing a column is the opportunity to the show off what you know. Of course, the flip side is that it also exposes your amazing ignorance of, well, at least in my case, pretty much everything. So when I wanted to write about carpets, I first went to talk to the folks at Carpet One. Here’s what I learned…
Almost 90% of the carpets sold in the US are made in Dalton, GA, a town of about 100,000 in the far northwest corner of the state. Although there are 150 carpet plants in Dalton, almost all of the carpeting is made by the big 3 of Shaw, Beaulieu and Mohawk. Some manufacturers will have their own brands but the product is turned out at Big 3 mills. Most carpet is made in 12 foot rolls, although some comes in 15 foot rolls. When you’re laying it out in your room, you want the fewest possible seams.
By the way, if you want to know who is making your carpet, Dalton is over 60% Hispanic with a median household income of $34,000 (Olympia is about $40,800). There are a few smaller carpet manufacturers in California, like Royalty.
Commercial carpets are usually one of three different substances: wool, nylon, or polyester (or its variants like PGT, PET, PTT or olefin). Nylon is the most popular, probably because of its cost and durability but there are some new innovations in polyester that is making it more practical. Polyester tended to crush over time but some of the variations like PTT have a natural kink in the fiber that makes it springier. Naturally, every manufacturer has their own name for these types of material such as Resista or Sorona (Dupont) or Corterra (Shell). Their advantage is that the color runs all the way through the fibers and they can be nearly stainproof (Resista has a 25 year warranty against stains, including pet stains).
Most carpeting is tufted, that is sewn to the backing. To my naïve eye, there’re basically two kinds of carpets. If the loops are intact, they’re a variation on what is sometimes called berber. If the loops are cut, it may be a shag (long) or frisee (short). The other thing that distinguishes the style is how densely woven the fabric is. The newer electronic sewing machines have been able to sew the pile into some amazing variations. I saw a leaf pattern that was made by a very short pile imposed over a longer background.
In terms of color, most folks buy natural colors and in very bland tones. I saw as many variations on taupe, tan and ochre as a paint store carries for variations on white. The idea, not surprisingly, is that a bland carpet will be more flexible in terms of color coordination. And since a carpet may last longer than you own your home, you may want to be mindful of the next owner.
In shopping for carpet, the first step is to think about how much traffic and wear and tear the carpet will receive. If you have pets, you’ll want to pay more attention to stain resistance. Another consideration is the amount of light the area receives, more light means you can go with a darker color without overwhelming the room. A good pad under the carpet is important too and the quality of the installation is as important as the quality of the carpet. Costs for the carpet can range from $1 to $9 per square foot (there are 9 square feet in a square yard, for those who flunked geometry).
My thanks to Terri Newberry at Interiors by Carpet One. You can visit their showroom at 4331 Lacey Blvd and reach them by phone at 352-9800.