Flatter carpeting will appear less worn in high traffic areas such as staircases. Multi-toned patterns hide all kinds of schmutz for good or ill. (Photo: Mary Lynn Bruny.)

By Mary Lynn Bruny

Choosing new carpeting for your home is a big deal. Not only does it have a big impact on your décor, its ease of maintenance (or lack thereof) affects your everyday living. Unlike wall paint that you can easily change if you don’t like it, new carpeting will be around a long time. You don’t want to pick something you’ll regret. (It’s pretty hard to avoid looking at your floors forever – causes lots of tripping.) Thus it’s worth doing a bit of work to get it right. Consider these:

Ponder your lifestyle and how the carpeted area will be used. Are you an extremely neat single person who rarely entertains, wears pristine slippers indoors and only drinks clear liquids? Then by all means, get bright white shag carpeting. Or conversely, do you have hoards of sticky children and furry pets that puke up gross concoctions on a regular basis – as well as fun but messy friends? Then you want to go for durability, clean-ability and a color that hides filth and mayhem.

In general, colors that are very light or very dark will make schmutz (lint, dirt, fur, your favorite cookie crumbs) show more than mid tones. Carpeting with several colors woven together or flecks of additional colors are best at hiding stuff (for good or ill).

Whatever direction you go, borrow a carpet sample or two (or many, just to drive your partner bonkers) from the retailer and look at the color at different times in different areas, especially by your trim and wall paint. You can do what I do to help process your thoughts: Put them all over the house and keep changing your mind and pestering your partner for their opinion, then doubtfully listen to their input.

There are pros and cons to all styles. In general, flatter carpeting is very neat looking and will appear less worn in high traffic areas, like staircases or hallways. Looped carpets won’t fray at the ends like non-looped ones. However, sometimes if a loop is roughly tugged on – say by a pet’s nail or a skinny high heal – it can pull out a section of thread that then may require patching.

Most shag carpets and some geometric designs will show footprints (but they are super groovy). I always wonder what grossness is lurking deep in shag carpeting that’s hard to vacuum. Maybe don’t think about that too much.

The decision here is natural verses synthetic fibers. Wool has softness, durability, puffiness (doesn’t smoosh) and clean-ability going for it. However it does hold some stains forever, like red food dye used in drinks. Synthetics are usually less expensive and known for stain resistance. Now many are very soft, too.

Testing a sample
I highly recommend ordering a free small carpet sample and testing your worst on it (despite manufacturers’ claims). In our house, that’s cat barf and bile. Maybe have your dog pee on it (or do worse) and see how that cleans up. Red wine always seems like a troublemaker. If it’s a looped carpet, take a screwdriver, pull on a loop and see what (literally) gives.

Saving extra carpet
When you get your new carpeting, the installers will ask if you would like to keep an extra piece “just in case.” Do this. It’s Murphy’s Law: If you don’t keep it you will need it for some future carpet repair. But if you do keep it nothing bad will ever happen even if you have your fun, messy friends over and drink red wine with abandon.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn writes about local real estate and home-related topics. Contact her by e-mail at [email protected]. To read previous The Lighter Side articles, go to athomecolorado.com/the-lighter-side.