The Carpet & Floorcovering Buyer's Guide
Buying and owning new carpets and floorcoverings can and should be a pleasurable experience if approached with care. The information in this guide is designed to help you obtain the best value for money and to provide an insight into the more important characteristic and pitfalls of which purchasers should be aware. This information is also available in printed booklet form for customers in our shop show-room.
Order Early For Wider Choice
Today there are many hundreds of designs, qualities and patterns to choose from. Availability can vary from a few days to several weeks according to the type of material selected. However, if your need is geared to a specific date, it is wise to place your order as early as possible, otherwise your choice could be restricted to readily available lines only, which may not necessarily be best suited to your needs.
Where To Get Good Value
There are many sources of supply but very substantial savings are often made by purchasing direct from a Carpet Broker and employing your own fitter to measure, collect and install your carpet. A good firm of Carpet Brokers will maintain a list of established fitters and will be happy to suggest one to you.
Help Your Supplier To Help You
Carpets and vinyl floorcoverings are produced in different widths according to type and make. It is therefore helpful when choosing to give your suppliers some basic dimensions, to they can suggest those types which are produced in a width appropriate to your needs.
When you have made your selection, you should ask your fitter to carry out final on-site measurements.
He will be able to make allowances for weavering tolerances, pile direction, walls which run out, pattern matching, etc, and provide you with accurate ordering sizes.
To assist your fitter with measuring ask your Brokers to provide you with their measuring form on which they will detail essential information, such as widths available and pattern matching information. It is vital that your fitter has this at the time of measuring.
Employing Your Fitter
There are many advantages to directly employing your carpet fitter, principally it is easier for the fitter to meet your requirements if you are in direct contact with him.
When your fitter calls to measure, you should always make yourself available to discuss the installation with him. After all you are the customer and you are paying, so the choices are yours.
It is important that you are aware of such things as the position of any joins, how the installation is planned, how long it will take and what extra work may be neccessary, including cutting doors for carpet clearance, levelling floors and moving furniture.
Don't forget that a good fitter will usually be in demand and have a busy schedule, so if you are working to a specific date book him as early as possible.
Always ask your fitter for a written estimate covering labour, accessories and any extras that are required. This will avoid any misunderstandings at a later date. If you want your fitter to uplift and dispose of old floorcoverings, ask him to include this in his price.
Help Your Fitter To Help You
No carpet or floorcovering should be installed at a temperature less than 65 Degrees Fahrenheit, otherwise the material will lack flexibility and be difficult to lay. Materials installed at a low temperature will often stretch and wrinkle afterwards. Always turn up your heating well before the fitter arrives, except of course, on hot summer days.
Your fitter will often need to make fixings into the floor and if there are pipes or wires incorrectly located close to the surface, he will have no way of knowing this, so do tell him! Otherwise he will assume that in accordance with normal good building practice, all services will be at least 4cm below the surface.
Attempting your own fitting is inadvisable. Fitting carpets and other floorcoverings is a skilled job which is best left to the professional tradesmen who have the correct equipment and a suitable vehicle for transprting the materials to the site.
Comparing the price of your chosen products is never a bad thing. After all, if you are going to save money by purchasing from a broker, it is nice to know how much you have saved. Comparisons can easily be done by telephone, but do be careful that you compare like with like. In other words when you check the price per sq. yd. of your chosen products make sure you specify the make, type and grade.
Take particular care if you are comparing 'free fitting' or 'fitting included' offer as this type of price can sometimes be heavily loaded and may include a lot more than just the fitting cost. Free fitting offers are often subject to extra charges and special conditions.
Beware of 'free underlay' offers as the underlay can be of inferior quality and again the carpet price may be loaded. Similiar care should be taken when considering 'free gift' offers.
Paying Your Account
It is very much in your interest to be fully aware of your supplier's terms of payment and to honour these terms. For example, if you not pay your account within the agreed period, you could prejudice your situation in the event of a problem arising with the goods purchased.
Cancellations can not usually be accepted once goods have been cut to the particular length specified for your requirements. Like a tailor-made suit the combination of size, colour and quality are unlikely to meet the needs of another customer, so it is rarely possible to take an order back into stock.
Choosing Pale & Delicare Colours
Most people who choose light coloured carpets or vinyls tend to regret their choice. Floor-coverings were made to be walked on and even in lightly used areas such as bedrooms, soiling and discolouration can be a problem. Be wise, avoid light colours.
Shading & Permanent Pile Reversal
These are natural features of cut pile carpets and it is important that prospective purchasers are aware of these characteristics.
During normal use the pile of a carpet will be pushed in various directions. Pile sloping away from the point of observation will have more light reflection on the surface and will appear lighter in colour than pile sloping in the alternate direction. This factor is governed by the laws of light and shade and can not be prevented.
Roll Pressure Marks
Carpets are manufactured in large heavy rolls and when these rest on the floor, the underpart of each coil is subjected to a considerable sustained pressure. As a result crush lines are often visible when the carpet is first unrolled. This is normal, unavoidable and should not cause concern. The lines will disappear within a few weeks of normal use. Vacuum cleaning with an upright type of machine will assist.
All woven backed carpets should be installed on an underlay, preferably a firm one conforming to BS5808, excepting some instances where overall adhension is advised. Underlays should not be relied on to level floors, cover gaps or overcome dampness.
Sub Floor Preparation
All carpets and floorings must be laid on surfaces which are smooth, clean, dry and structurally sound.
Solid floors that do not have a built-in damp-proof course are unsuitable to accept a covering.
Use only carpets with an appropriate classification in kitchens.
Commercial and heavily used kitchens are unsuitable for carpeting.
It may be neccessary for kitchen carpets to be hot water extraction cleaned (steam cleaning) every 6 or 12 months.
This method of installation is advised in most of the following circumstances:
1. Foam or gel back carpets in kitchens, bathrooms or commercial locations.
2. Commercial and some domestic carpet tile installations.
3. When advised by a manufacturer.
4. Most commercial and some domestic vinyl installations.
It is most important that adhesive compatibility with the floor and the floorcovering is used. In particular non-acrylic adhesives should never be used with vinyl.
Perimeter sticking of vinyl is inadvisable.
All new carpets will shed loose pile fibre for a while, some more than others. Simly remove this with regular vacuum cleaning.
Sometimes tufts can sprout above the surface of a carpet, but this should not cause alarm. Just snip off level with scissors but never pull them out.
Sooner or later, a buckle or similar may snag your carpet. As with a 'sprout', just snip off level.
Fuzzing & Pilling
Small balls of fibre can appear lightly attached to the surface of a carpet as is sometimes seen on knitwear. This is not serious as they can easily be snipped off with a pair of scissors.
The nature of a carpet is that is it soft and yielding. It can therefore crush with heavy furniture. To minimise dents in the surface use castor cups or gliders to spread the pressure over a larger area.
Dye Batch Variations
It is not possible to mix varying widths of vinyl flooring on the same installation. Different widths are produced in different dye batches. This also applies to some types of carpet.
Orders placed at different times for the same material can not usually be fulfilled from the same dye batch. Also, showroom samples will almost certainly be from an earilier dye batch than goods ordered from them. Whilst these factors are beyond the control of the manufacturer and supplier, dye batch variations should be within reasonable commercial tolerance.
Mixing Old & New
It is advisable to adapt or extend an existing carpet or vinyl installation. Even if the same material is still available, the new and used will rarely look satisfactory when seen side by side.
Most patterned Axminster and Wilton carpets are woven to match edge to edge, but as much as one full pattern repeat may need to be added to the second and all subsequent lengths where a match is required.
Remember to take the cost of this into account when working out prices. Pattern matching can not be guaranteed with printed or sculptured carpets.
Carpets with a soft or open texture are more prone to flattening and wear than those of a dense construction. Regular vacuum cleaning with an upright machine will help to minimise flattening.
Shag Pile Carpets
These need to be raked at least twice and week with a plastic shag pile rake. This wil maintain and better appearance. Shag pile carpets are not suited to heavy wear areas or stairs.
Virtually all materials are prone to loss of colour from ultra violet light. Carpets and other floorcoverings are no exception to this.
Protection against excessive sunlight is advised.
Care Of Vinyl Flooring
Never drag a kitchen appliance or similar over a vinyl floor as it could become scratched or torn. Lay down a firm protective covering such as hardboard first. Avoid high point loading and dropping sharp or heavy objects. Stiletto heels can damage cushioned vinyl floorings.
Gaps between floorboars and under skirtings can lead to dust laden air filtering through your carpet, leaving a dirt deposit in the pile. These dust lines because ingrained in the very body of the yarn and can rarely be removed. Therefore, if you have a suspended floor it is advisable to seal any surface gaps with 5cm wide adhesive tape. Gaps under skirting boards should be sealed with silicone sealant 12 hours or so before the carpet is laid.
If you are unable to do this work yourself than ask your carpet fitter, but do give him advance notice.
Choosing The Correct Grade
No other furnishing item receives the same amount of wear as your floorcovering, so it will aways pay to buy the best that you can afford. Always check that the grade you are intending to purchase is more than adequate for the proposed use. Don't forget to carefully read and consider the text on all sampling material.
Vinyl floors can be slippery, but particularly so when wet. However, slip resistant floorings are available and these are mandatory in many commercial situations.
Maintaining Vinyl Flooring
Contrary to popular believe, vinyl flooring is easily stained or discoloured, in particular the light and delicate shades. To amintain the best appearance, soiling should be washed off frequently and spillages cleaned up at once. Only well diluted mild non-abrasive floor cleaner should be used, followed by a rinse and drying.
Transporting Carpets & Floor Coverings
These should never be folded, only rolled. An average room size or smaller can be transported on a sturdy roof rack. However, it is usually best for your installer to transport to site on your behalf.
Uplifting Carpets & Floor Coverings
This should be minimised so do decorate and attend to underfloor services etc. before installation.
Always use a skilled fitter to do uplifting and roll materials at once. Carpet tiles should be numbered and boxed.
Stuck down materials, loop pile carpets, foam backed carpets and materials with joins can rarely be uplifted without damage.
Anti-woodworm & Preservative Treatments
Oil and spirit based treatments can damage any carpet or flooring overlaid within six months. Water based treatments may be overlaid when dry.
Treated particle board flooring can cause vinyl to distort if not cased with flooring grade hardboard or plywood.
One Fourth Round Beading
This type of trip at floor level should be removed prior to your installation, as all fitted floor coverings must butt up to a right angled surface.
Lines In Carpets
All woven and turfted carpets are manufactured with rows of tufts which can give a lined appearance, sometimes regular, sometimes random. This is not a fault but basic to the nature of the product. If a line can only be noticed from one side or under particularly lighting conditions, then it is within commercial tolerance. If however there is a clear fault line then you should return it to your supplier, uncut and unused.
Many Berber and Tweed effect carpets are made with natural type randomly blended yarns. This can produce a random lined effect not so evident on a sample sized piece of carpet. This is the nature of the product and not a fault.
Check Your Goods Before Installation
Do check every item in your consignment before installation commences. If anything is wrong your suppliers will want the goods back intact in order to credit or replace. That is their legal right and they may insist upon it.
If Things Go Wrong
If you are unfortunate enough to be in dispute with your supplier do take professional advice.
Carpet testing facilities are available with the British Care Technical Centre, Leeds.
Carpets and vinyls laid in very demanding locations such as a commercial situation, should be professionally maintained under a full maintenance contract by a competant specialist such as a member of the Carpet Cleaners Association.
The advisable method is by use of a Hot Water Extraction machine, also known as Steam Cleaning.
There are many professional firms that offer this service or the equipment may be hired. The use of over-hot water should be avoided as should over-wetting. The process must always be concluded with a clean water rinse/extraction with the pile left sloping in the correct direction.
Bare metal should not be left in direct contact with damp carpets.
Stain Resistant Carpets
No carpet is stain-proof, but some types have a greater resistance than others.
Carpets should be treated wih care and spillages avoided if you wish to maintain a good appearance. If your carpet is the subject of a nasty stain you may be covered by your household insurance if it has an accidental damage clause. Some carpet cleaning companies are able to offer assistance with certain types of stain.
First Aid For Carpets
If you do spill anything on your carpet it is important to remove it as quickly and gently as possible.
Avoid rubbing the stain in or damaging the texture with excessive friction. Old towels or wads of white tissue can be very effective in soaking up stains. For best results uplift the spillage with a wet pick-up vacuum. Never scrub a carpet.
Spillages of semi-solids can be gently scraped off with a spoon.
Acid based spillages such as fruit drinks, alcoholic drinks, should be immediately neutralised with soda water to minimise damage. This also applies to animal and baby accidents.
Water based spillages are best gently sponged with several applications of clean water, uplifting each of these rinses by absorption or wet pick-up vacuum. If stain persists, gently sponge with a mild solution of proprietary brand carpet cleaning liquid, followed by further rinses/extractions as required.
When working on a stain or spillage, always work to the centre to minimise the chance of a ring forming.
Oily and greasy spillages should be carefully uplifted and residue gently wiped off with Trichloroethane or Carbon Tetrachloride on a clean white cloth. White spirit is more effective with wax, tar and paint.
Excessive applications of solvents can damage a carpet. When using solvents ensure adequate ventilation, do not smoke or operate near any naked lights or flames.
If you have any questions about caring for your newly bought carpet, or you are considering buying a carpet from Wells Carpet Brokers and have any queries, don't hesitate to get in touch by phone or email and we will do our best to help.