Stepping Out – Selecting the correct carpet for each room

Selecting the correct carpet for each room in the home means you must consider what will suit your budget, personal style, traffic volumes, comfort, warmth, allergies, stain resistance and durability. 

by JAN DE BEER (as seen in the Star Independent HOME section)

A spate of innovations has made modern carpeting more attractive, durable and stain-resistant than ever, creating a rising increase in demand globally.

Carpet flooring adds beauty and style and the home-owner can choose from many thousands of carpet styles and colours. That means your ultimate choice will reflect how you want to personalise your living space. Carpet can be a neutral foundation, or a focal point with vibrant colours and stronger bolder patterns and textures.

It’s also the healthy alternative.  Studies have shown that people with asthma and allergy problems have seen symptoms improve with carpet flooring because it improves indoor air quality. New carpet is the lowest VOC-emitting flooring choice available. It acts as a passive air filter, trapping dust, pollen and other particles and removing it from the breathing zone.

Carpet furthermore provides thermal resistance.  In colder climates or seasons, it retains warm air longer – an energy conservation benefit in South Africa as Eskom tariffs soar – and carpet also provides a comfortable place to sit, play or work while giving a room an overall warmer feeling.

For toddlers and the elderly, carpet is ideal for cushioning footsteps, reducing slips and falls and minimising injuries when falls do occur.

Then there are also acoustics to consider. Big screen TVs, speaker phones, computers and modern sound systems make our homes noisy places. Carpet helps absorb these sounds. If Junior has saved for a set of drums, the answer is to put carpet flooring in his room.

In fact, when it comes to the home, each room serves a different purpose and will have different practical requirements to consider when it comes to selecting the best carpet.


The best carpet for a bedroom depends on whose bedroom it is. Carpet in a master suite or a guest room, for example, is less likely to become soiled and stained than carpet in a room used by a child or teen.

For an adult bedroom, softness and comfort underfoot are most often top of the list. In this low-traffic room, just about any fibre in a plush or texture style will work well.

There are two main types:

  •      Wool is an ideal option for adding a soft, luxurious look and feel to a bedroom. But as a natural fibre, it can be bit pricey.
  •      Synthetic carpets are usually more budget-friendly, and may be a more realistic option if you have a large bedroom. Nylon, a highly durable synthetic option with the softest feel, is typically the most expensive synthetic option. Polyester carpeting is usually less expensive than nylon, and, like most natural fibres is also non-allergenic, making it an ideal choice for allergy sufferers.

A good choice for a child’s bedroom is a soft, nylon or an inherently stain-resistant polyester carpet.

Living room:

Your lifestyle and personal taste are key factors in choosing the best carpet for living rooms. In busy families with children and pets, where the living room gets daily use, stain resistance and wear are of top concern. A solution-dyed or stain-treated product, possibly one with some type of added odour treatment, is a good option.

If your living room is for formal use only, consider a classic cut pile saxony or a sophisticated cut and loop patterned carpet. A textured plush or a frieze will work well for a more casual lifestyle.

Family room:

Family rooms in active households with kids and pets demand carpets that are stain and soil resistant and constructions that can stand up to a lot of traffic. Dense textures, loop piles, as well as many patterned carpet styles tend to show less matting and traffic patterns.

A multi-coloured, textured looped carpet made from wool or nylon, will likely be more forgiving when it comes to tracking in debris and everyday mess.

Dining room:

Want to give your dining room an elegant look? A plush saxony carpet can be a great choice. P.E.T. polyester carpets with inherent stain resistance, solution-dyed nylon carpets, or nylons with advanced stain resistance are all safe bets for dining rooms, where occasional soiling from spilled food and beverages is a concern. Products that feature anti-microbial and other topical treatments will also help protect against spills.

Hallways and stairs:

For stairs and other high-traffic areas such as hallways, a low-profile, densely packed carpet can add to the life expectancy of carpet. Because of its resilience, nylon carpet is often recommended in pulled-down textures or level-loop constructions.

For stairs, the direction of the pile should run from the top of the stairs to the bottom (not sideways). This ensures better wear and prevents noticeable gaps between fibres where the carpet bends over each step. Stairways that are open on one or both sides require the carpet to wrap around the outside edge of the staircase, presenting the possibility of a portion of the backing to show. Seams are also a concern on stairs, particularly where the carpet joins around posts. A longer pile such as frieze, tends to hide seams better than short or looped piles.


A big concern in basements is most often moisture. Carpets made from man-made fibres, such as polypropylene and polyester, do a good job at standing up to moisture and tend to dry more quickly than natural fibres such as wool. A lower pile will also dry quicker. A dense, multi-colour loop or level loop construction is a good choice for basements. If concerned about the possibility of flooding, carpet tiles may be a better option than wall-to-wall carpeting, as soaked tiles can be more easily replaced.

The final choice:

Make sure you consult reputable carpet retailers and installers who have the experience and industry knowledge to help you select the best carpet for your home.

Also read the story that accompanied this article – “Ask questions and do homework for domestic flooring

(Sources: World Floor Covering Association [] and The Carpet & Rug Institute [])


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