How to choose a carpet

After several years in the fashion wilderness, carpeting is now firmly back in the spotlight. Cosy and soft underfoot, fitted carpets are a great way to keep your home warm as winter approaches.

How to choose a carpet

Advice on choosing a carpet


  • Use the offcuts of your new carpet to make doormats for people to wipe their feet on before they enter the room.
  • Never skimp on underlay – a good one will make your carpet look and feel better.
  • Allocate the lion's share of your budget to rooms with a heavy footfall, such as the hall, stairs and lounge.
  • Want to buy British? Cormar Carpets has been manufacturing both wool and man-made carpet at its mills in Lancashire since 1956.

Wool or synthetic carpet?
Carpets can be made from wool or synthetic fibres, or a combination of the two. Each has its advantages; while wool is soft and retains its pile well, synthetics can be ultra stain-resistant. Although the most expensive type, wool carpet is widely regarded as the best. A high wool content is an indication of good quality and will last you longer.

Think about a room's footfall
When choosing a carpet, remember you'll need a heavier duty carpet for rooms that get a lot of wear and tear. An 80 per cent wool-blend carpet would be a practical and smart choice for a living room or hall. The industry's trade body, The Carpet Foundation, recommends allowing at least £20 per square metre for a good quality carpet.

More affordable than wool, at around £15 per square metre, man-made fibres including polyester, acrylic and polypropylene are durable and highly stain-resistant – a good choice for kids' bedrooms. Many modern formulations can even be cleaned with bleach. On the downside the pile can flatten fairly quickly.

What is the carpet pile?
The pile simply describes the style of carpet. Long pile carpets like Shag and Saxony have a wonderfully soft, luxurious feel underfoot, while carpets with shorter pile, such as twist and loop, tend to wear better and are easier to care for. However, pet owners should steer clear of loop styles when choosing a carpet, as long claws can get caught on the loops and your carpets will ruin more quickly.

Eco-friendly carpet options
For an environmentally-friendly option, consider jute, coir, sisal or seagrass carpet. Of all these dense natural materials, sisal is the toughest, with a lifespan of around 30 years, but also the priciest, at around £25 per square metre. As the texture of these carpets is quite coarse, they can be uncomfortable to sit on, but they're good for halls, stairs or home offices. Crucial Trading specialises in carpets and rugs made from natural materials and are a good first port of call.

Carpet underlay
New carpet is a big purchase, but when you're choosing a carpet don't forget to budget for underlay too. This extra layer of padding will increase sound and heat insulation and can reduce energy costs too. Most importantly, it will also prolong the life of your carpet. For more advice, read our article on how to choose and fit carpet underlay.

Latest carpet trends
Keeping to one colour of carpet throughout a home will create a harmonious, streamlined look. Remember that pale shades create a feeling of space, making rooms look bigger. but will show the dirt more than darker tones. Choose patterned carpet to make a design statement, or to create interest in a featureless room. Patterns are also great for disguising stains! To perk up a boring hallway, fit a cheerful striped carpet on the stairs. Kersaint Cobb stocks a good selection of Moroccan-themed stair carpets. Take a look at all of our
flooring galleries for more inspirational ideas.

Vacuum the rooms you use most at least twice a week to prevent dirt from matting the fibres. If something does get spilt, remove carpet stains fast. It's much easier to get marks off before they dry. A shampoo once a year would also be beneficial.

Wood or laminate floors can feel pretty chilly in winter, so why not cosy them up with a big fluffy rug? Rugs are also a good choice for rented properties to hide ugly or stained carpets. They can also be used as an inexpensive way to add a splash of colour to a neutral scheme. For an outdoorsy feel, lay a natural coir or jute rug in a conservatory or kitchen.