Using finger among best ways to test carpet’s quality

Let’s get down to the bottom of it all and talk more about carpets. After all, buying carpet is an investment that will hopefully last a long time, giving comfort and ambiance during its lifetime.

So let’s get started on the whats, whys and hows.

First, check the quality.

There are two ways to do this: 1) the finger press check and 2) the smile check.

The durability of a carpet often depends on the density, resilience and weight of the pile. If you press your finger into the pile and it recovers quickly, it is a quality carpet.

Another test is to take the carpet sample and bend it backward. Do the fibers spread in a big “smile” so the backing is easily visible? If the answer is yes, the quality isn’t too good.

Short, dense carpets are the most durable. Long strands and big loops may look bulky, but are of less weight and therefore of less durability.

The underlayment of a carpet is important, too. If foam padding is used, check the quality. Your finger becomes the tester again. Rub the foam with medium pressure. If it crumbles a little, reject it.

Most experts consider rubber padding as the best support for the carpet, as it is resilient and durable and won’t rub the backing off the carpet.

Now for some carpet terminology:

Berber: Originally this carpet was a looped-pile carpet in a natural, undyed wool. Currently, Berber is any looped or nubby carpet in any fiber and it comes in many colors.

Broadloom: Any carpet wider than 6 feet qualifies as a broadloom. The most common size is 12 feet wide, though 9-foot, 13-foot and even 18-foot widths are available.

Body carpet: This is the baby brother of the broadloom. It is only 6 feet wide. The body carpet is used in corridors, stairs and for awkward-shaped areas.

Bonded: The fibers are bonded into an adhesive base. This type of carpet is often of superlative quality.

Cut pile: Here the strands of fiber are cut rather than looped into a carpet.

Looped pile: Uncut loops. That was a tough one to describe.

Tufted: The individual fibers are punched into the base material. This pile may be looped or cut.

One final note: New carpets tend to produce fuzz, so for the first couple of weeks, brush lightly with a hand brush.

After that, vacuum regularly and, in this case, the more vacuuming the better. The minimum is once a week, but if time and energy permit, vacuum three times a week.

The reason for this is that dirt embedded at the base of the pile can rub and cut fibers loose, thereby shortening the life of the carpet.

Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of “Mystery of Color.” For design inquiries, write to her at

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