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How to Choose the Best Carpet for Your Living Room

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Updated January 21, 2022
A retro living room with a wall-to-wall carpet

John Keeble/Moment via Getty Images

Choosing carpeting is not a “one size fits all” decision

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The living room is the heart of your home. It’s where you gather in the evenings to relax, watch movies with your family, and spend quality time together. The carpet you choose for your living room must withstand crumbs, dog paws, endless sweeps of the vacuum, and heavy foot traffic. Here are some tips on choosing a carpet for your living room that’s less likely to fade, tear, or stain.

The Most Durable Carpet for Your Living Room

In the market for new carpet? Outside of hallways and stairs, living rooms are the busiest areas in your home. It’s no shocker that durability is a huge consideration when picking out a carpet. Determining the carpet’s durability is pretty technical, but its ranking is determined mainly by density rating, tuft twist, and face weight.

Before you start researching “tuft twist” and “density rating,” there are a few easy ways to gauge carpet density yourself. First, bend the sample backward. Lower-quality and less durable carpet bends easier than high-quality carpet. 

Next, look for the material. Nylon, olefin, triexta, and polyester are the most durable materials for carpets; thus, making them an excellent choice for your living room.

Nylon

Versatile, wear-resistant, and durable, nylon is an honorable living room carpet option. It’s also exceptionally soft. Nylon is not inherently stain-resistant, however, most nylon carpets are treated to protect against spills and stains.

Olefin

Olefin is the most stain-resistant option, though it is not as durable as nylon. Olefin won’t attract mildew or fade due to sun exposure and occasional cleaning either, making it a great option if you have pets or young children. Plus, it’s pretty soft and affordable.

Polyester

The softest of all the durable options, polyester feels nice on your feet and has natural stain-resistant qualities. You’ll have more color options with polyester than other materials, but its softness will affect the durability, and it can be harder to clean because dirt gets trapped easily in its fibers.

Triexta

Corn sugar might seem like the last thing you want in your carpet, but that’s exactly what is in triexta fibers. This carpeting is both soft and durable, but it is the priciest of all durable options. Triexta also has natural stain-resistant properties. 

No matter which carpet you choose for your living room, getting a warranty is always a good idea. Some floor coverings come with a five- to 10-year warranty, so study up on the product and manufacturer offerings before falling in love with a new floor covering.

What To Consider When Choosing Carpet For Your Living Room

1. Choose the Right Color

Lighter-colored carpets will help open up your space if it’s on the smaller side. But kids with slippery fingers who enjoy playing on the floor might have you swaying toward a darker color that hides dirt.

Carpet color choice also depends on your decor and the amount of natural light the room gets. Neutral colors coordinate with different furniture pieces and are usually considered trendy year after year. Bring carpet samples home to study how they look with your furniture, decor scheme, and lighting. Remember, it’s easier to change your couch than your carpet.

2. Understand Fiber Softness

Person wearing colorful socks on a soft carpet

Mormeril Erynbereth/EyeEm via Getty Images

Carpet padding will help balance durability and softness. After all, no one wants to build a pillow fort on a carpet that feels like sandpaper. More padding provides more cushion and improves durability by giving the fibers more protection. These come in various densities and materials, including odor control for pet owners and antimicrobial for damp areas.

For a high-traffic room, you’ll want to select high-density padding for high-quality carpet.

3. Prioritize Easy Cleaning Types

How long did the “no eating in the living room” rule last in your house? Spills will happen at home (even if you’ve laid down the law), so choose a carpet that’s easy to clean for added peace of mind.

Some types of carpeting naturally resist stains while others are labeled as "stain-resistant.” In the latter, the fibers are coated with a chemical finish that repels dirt or liquids, thereby preventing them from settling in.

Also, inquire whether your carpeting choice includes the option for a stain resistance treatment or some type of lifetime stain warranty. However, warranties can be limited, so double-check the exclusion policies for pet stains or wine before having your carpet installed.

If you need to clean your living room carpet, prepare to spend about $120 to $230, depending on the size of the room, type of carpet, and cleaning method. 

4. Construction

A woman cuddling her dog on the carpet

Dougal Waters/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Carpet construction, or how the material is cut and layered, can make a room look and feel different. Two factors go into carpet construction: pile and style.

Pile Types

Picking the best carpet for your living room depends on your needs. Do you need to hide traffic marks, or are you more concerned with the overall texture of the carpet?

  • Cut pile is soft, but it shows vacuum tracks and streaks. It’s named for the cut and twisted strands that make up the carpet.

  • Low pile sits at a quarter-inch or less, which means that it hides traffic and tracks. However, you’ll trade comfort for looks because of the shortness of the strands.

  • Plush is a form of cut pile where the ends of the yarn poke up. It’s very soft, but it doesn’t hold up to wear and tear as well as loops.

  • Twist pile has longer twisted yarn pieces designed to guard against wear. It also lasts longer.

  • Cut and loop pile is a medley of looped piles that vary in height. This carpet is more versatile than most other types because it’s both durable and thick.

Style Types

Pile cut styles fall into four categories: shag, smooth, texture, twist. Shag and twist are the most casual-looking styles—and they’ve been upgraded with a more modern feel since the 1970s and early 1980s. Smooth pile carpet styles are more formal and will withstand heavy foot traffic.

Carpet Installation Cost

Carpets usually cost between $800 and $2,800 to install, according to HomeAdvisor. Factors that affect carpet installation cost include square footage, carpet color, style, and any special needs such as hypo-allergenic treatments. 

Be sure to get an estimate of how much your new floor covering installation will cost before you choose your new carpet. Keep in mind that the cost of the carpet may not include the delivery, installation, disposal of old carpeting (if applicable), and other costs.

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