A Realtor’s Crash Course in Carpet Recommendations
When you sell a house, your new buyer might just want to move in and start their new life in a new home. But don’t be surprised if they want to do a little bit of customization first. It’s very common for new homeowners to repaint walls, add new cabinet hardware, and replace carpets, and there’s a good chance they’ll want your advice.
Here at Sloane’s, we don’t know much about the difference between satin and matte paint or stainless steel versus brushed nickel, but we know everything there is to know about residential carpet. That’s why we put this handy guide for realtors — whatever questions your customers ask about their new carpets, you can find the answers in here.
What Are the Different Carpet Styles?
First, a (very) quick lesson about how carpet is made. Essentially, loops of yarn are threaded through a tough canvas backing. On one side, those loops are pressed flat and sealed with some kind of adhesive, making the rough backing of the carpet. The other side is what you walk on.
Loops or No Loops?
If the loops are left the way they are, that’s called a closed-loop carpet. Closed-loop carpets tend to be more durable, since the loops add structural strength, but they’re not as soft and comfortable.
If the loops are cut, the surface of the carpet is made of individual strands rather than loops. This is called a cut-pile carpet, and can be very plush and luxurious, though it doesn’t last as long.
Finally, these two styles can be combined in a cut-and-loop carpet, where some of the loops are cut and some are not. Sometimes the cut piles and loops are evenly mixed together, creating interesting textures, and sometimes they’re arranged in geometric or floral patterns.
Within the three main categories of carpet style are dozens of carpet textures. They all have advantages and disadvantages, from aesthetic considerations to practical concerns, but here are a few of the most common options.
- Plush pile is a smooth cut-pile carpet, usually available only in solid colors. In plush pile, the yarns are packed closely together to give a uniform, velvety appearance that’s perfect for adding a touch of luxury to a master bedroom or guest room
- Textured plush is similar to plush pile, but the yarns are laid at different angles and cut to different lengths, giving the surface of the carpet more depth and texture.
- Frieze carpet (pronounced “freeze”) is another very popular choice. Frieze carpets’ yards are twisted tightly, giving it a sort of “perm” look upon close inspection. They’re very good at displaying flecks of color and hiding dirt between vacuuming, giving your clients a great appearance with minimal care
- Shag carpet has made a big comeback — but don’t worry, it’s not the same itchy, stringy orange stuff that used to be in your parents’ wood-paneled living room. Modern shag comes in lengths all the way up to three inches, but the longer it is, the harder it is to vacuum. We don’t recommend shag in high-traffic hallways, but we love it in bedrooms where vacuuming can be less frequent.
- Level loop carpets are a form of closed-loop carpet where all the loops are the same length, giving the carpet a uniform surface. When the loops are very short, level-loop can create a hard, durable surface that’s great for home offices and commercial applications.
- Berber loop carpet is one of the most popular styles in residential carpet today, and one of our personal favorites. Instead of being arranged in neat rows, the loops in Berber carpet are layered and crossed over one another to create a firm surface and interesting patterns. Berber is extremely durable and stain-resistant, making it a great choice for high-traffic areas.
- Textured patterns can come in level loop, cut-pile, and cut-and-loop styles. With a textured pattern, the style or length of the carpet fibers is varied in specific ways to make stripes, a geometric pattern, or even floral shapes.
Which Carpet Materials Should Your Clients Use?
Carpets come in lots of different materials, from proprietary synthetic fibers to natural, sustainable materials.
When it comes to natural fibers, wool is the most popular. Wool is soft, sustainable, and eco-friendly, since each sheep can produce up to 30 pounds of wool without any harm to the animal. Wool is also soft, luxurious, and hypoallergenic — its dense fibers trap pollutants so they don’t float around in the air.
The downside of wool is stain resistance. While wool performs better than most other natural fibers, especially plant-based options, all natural fibers are more prone to absorbing liquid stains like juice, wine, and coffee. If your clients live in a household with small children or pets, where spills are common, we don’t recommend wool.
Cotton is just as soft and comfortable as your favorite t-shirt, making for a light, breezy option that holds color well. Unfortunately, cotton stains extremely easily, so we don’t recommend it.
Sisal is a natural fiber made from the fibers of the agave plant. It’s a natural, earthy, sustainable alternative to synthetic fibers. Sisal’s fibers are fairly coarse, so it’s not very comfortable under bare feet, and it can only be had in a relatively small range of earth tones.
Area rugs can be found in several other natural fibers, including seagrass, jute, silk, and coir, but their fibers are generally too short, too weak, or too rough to be made into broadloom carpet. As a result, wall-to-wall carpet in these materials is virtually nonexistent.
Synthetic fibers have come a long way from the itchy, frizzy carpets of your childhood. They’re made sustainably, solution-dyed for long-lasting color, and can be just as soft and luxurious as any natural fiber.
The four main types of synthetic carpet fiber are polyester, olefin, nylon, and triexta.
- Polyester carpet, technically known as polyethylene terephthalate or PET, has been around for decades. Polyester is known for its impressive stain resistance, vivid colors, and affordable prices. However, polyester is not as durable as nylon fibers, making it less than ideal for high-traffic areas.
- Nylon carpet is a versatile fiber that can be purchased at a variety of price points, depending on your clients’ budget. It’s extremely durable, resilient, and responds especially well to steam cleaning. When nylon carpet is flattened by repeated use, the heat of steam cleaning can restore the fibers to their former shape, making them appear just like new.
- Olefin carpet (also known as polypropylene) doesn’t have the same ability to “bounce back” after repeated foot traffic, so it’s usually used in closed-loop carpet styles like Berber. Olefin is hydrophobic, meaning it doesn’t absorb liquids at all — fibers are solution-dyed in the factory so that even bleach won’t affect their color. This characteristic also makes olefin especially resistant to mildew, and moisture, making it a popular choice for basements.
- Triexta carpet is a relatively new fiber, classified as a subset of polyester in 2009. It’s extremely durable, stain-resistant, and colorfast, so customers can expect it to last a very long time without fading or wearing. It’s also softer than other synthetic fibers. Though triexta hasn’t been around long enough to be truly tested to the same extent as other options, it’s showing promise as the new king of residential carpet fibers.
Keeping Stains out of Carpet
When it comes to stain resistance, the longest-lasting treatments are applied directly in the factory. Compounds like Scotchgard can be applied to each individual fiber before they’re turned into carpet, embedding them deep in the yarns and guaranteeing that they can’t wear or wash off.
It’s also possible to apply stain resistance treatments after the carpet is installed, either by mixing the solution in with carpet cleaners or by spraying it on directly, but neither of those options is nearly as durable. We highly recommend that you ask about a carpet with a factory stain resistance treatment when shopping for your clients.
The Best Carpets for Each Room
We recommend carpet for every room in the house except the kitchen, dining room, and bathrooms — it’s comfortable, attractive, and affordable. But different rooms have different requirements, so it doesn’t always make sense to carpet the whole house in the same material.
Really, there are three considerations: comfort, traffic, and stain-resistance. More comfortable carpets should be put in bedrooms, where there’s less traffic and less chance of spills. More durable carpets should be in hallways and staircases, where comfort is less of a concern. For more on how to carpet each room on the house, check out our blog post on the subject!
Remember to Shop at Sloane’s
No matter what your clients’ carpet needs, remember to send them to Sloane’s. We offer the best carpets in the business at 50 to 70 percent off their normal retail price, so your clients can get the carpets of their dreams for far less than they thought.
Through our partner program for realtors, you can even offer your clients an additional 10 percent off our already low prices! No matter the budget, Sloane’s has the perfect carpet to turn a house into a home.