Carpets buying guide

 

Ranging from classic to contemporary, in our shops we offer a huge selection of carpets in a variety of designs, colours, textures and prices to suit every home. Many of our carpets can be delivered and fitted in less than two weeks, so you can enjoy your new carpet in next to no time. Find out more about our estimating and fitting services. And watch our video.

When you're choosing a carpet, think about where it's going to go, what function it will fulfil and how hardwearing it needs to be. Both practical and decorative, carpets are great for keeping draughts and noise to a minimum. To help you make the right choice, free samples of our carpets are available in our shops, and you can order the most popular ones here

Woven or tufted carpet?

Woven carpet is made using the traditional loomed method, which creates a more premium finish. This carpet is made with all patterns and colours woven in rather than printed on the carpet. A more premium product than tufted carpet, it's made either in pure wool or a blend of wool and manmade fibres, normally 80% wool, 20% nylon. Choose from Axminsters, which tend to be patterned, or Wiltons, which are more likely to be plain or have cut and loop styles.

Tufted carpet is currently the most popular type of carpet, as the manufacturing process makes this a great value choice. It's made by a row of needles punching the pile yarn into a backing cloth. This type of carpet is springy, and comes in a great variety of finishes and colours.

You might also want to consider natural flooring such as jute, sisal or coir; find out more here.

Carpet pile

Carpets are produced in a variety of surface textures which affect the feel, appearance and performance of the carpet. The location of the carpet needs to be considered when choosing the type of pile, as all are designed for different degrees of wear.

Twist carpet is a cut pile made from twisted fibres, and is the most commonly-used style of tufted carpet. The twisted fibres have a coarse finish which creates a textured surface to the carpet. Twist carpet comes in two styles, either plain or heathered (slightly mottled). Heathered carpet is perfect for busier areas in your home as marks are less likely to show.

A twist carpet is generally less likely to fluff or show footmarks, particularly compared to a velvet. However, some twists are so fine that they can exhibit shading similar to velvet. It's a hard wearing carpet, and suitable for most areas in your home, including halls, stairs, landings and main rooms.

Loop carpet is made from uncut loops of yarn which can be flat or textured. They generally have a rugged appearance, similar to natural flooring like sisal, and look particularly good in hallways or on stairs. This type of carpet is great for busy rooms as the weave bounces back really easily.

We don't recommend loop pile carpet though if you have pets, as the loops can get pulled by their claws.

 

Velvet is a softer, smoother and more luxurious version of the cut pile carpet. The fibres are straighter than a twist pile and can show areas of light and dark shading. A velvet carpet will look great in all rooms, but particularly in formal rooms and bedrooms as it creates an effect that looks rich and indulgent.

Patterned carpet is hardwearing and traditionally woven, so is good at retaining its appearance. It will usually have a smooth velvet finish. A stripe design looks great in hallways and on stairs.

Patterned carpet is great for areas that can get marked, so are perfect for kids' rooms. It hides the odd stain better than a plain style, and is more forgiving if you don't have time to vacuum every couple of days.

Berber carpet is made from a random blend of coloured yarns to give a multicoloured, flecked and slightly textured look. It can sometimes have a slightly striped appearance.

Saxony carpet has a deep pile which is popular for bedrooms as it has a sensuous feel and a look of luxury. The long pile is more difficult to clean though and can flatten easily, so it's not recommended for hallways, stairs or main rooms where it's likely to take the heaviest wear.

 

Pile fibre

The look, feel and quality of a carpet is largely dependent on the type of yarn fibres used to make it. Carpet suffers harsh treatment from shoes, furniture, grit, dirt and vacuum cleaners. The pile must retain its looks and density, and so must be very hard wearing.

Over 90% of the John Lewis carpet assortment is wool-rich. Wool is recognised as the best fibre to use in carpet as it's naturally flame-retardant, durable, easy to clean and retains its appearance well. It offers softness and ease of cleaning, doesn't flatten easily and resists abrasion and dirt. It has natural insulation properties which is good for reducing both heat loss and noise.

It's a sustainable fibre, and it's recommended that wool should be used for carpet either in a pure 100% form or in a blend with other fibres with at least 50% wool. However, it's more expensive than man-made fibres, so the most common carpet fibre blend is 80% wool and 20% synthetic fibre mix, as this combines the best properties of both.

 

Polypropylene is highly stain resistant, easy to clean, durable and with good colour fastness. It's very good value for money, and so can be a good budget carpet option. However, it flattens easily and doesn't retain its appearance so well.

Polyester is warm, wears well and is easily cleaned. However, again it's easily flattened and doesn't have good colour fastness. It's commonly used for Saxony carpet with its long pile, as it has a glossy appearance. It's often used in small quantities in a wool/synthetic blend to help provide tuft definition and reduce fibre shedding.

Nylon is very strong, wears well and doesn't flatten as easily as polypropylene or polyester. It's highly stain-resistant and easy to clean. However, it doesn't retain its appearance as well as wool, and can soil. The same applies to acrylic, though that's the synthetic most like wool.

Carpet performance & grading

Carpets in different places get different levels of wear. For instance, in a hall, everyone coming into the house walks over the same small area of carpet, leaving grit and dirt from the street, while a spare bedroom carpet gets little use, especially from outdoor shoes.

Carpets are graded to signify their durability and therefore suitability for each area of the home. A carpet for an area of heavy wear has a denser, stronger pile which will not flatten easily.

We stock many types of carpets, all designed for different degrees of wear. The pile fibre composition will be a major factor in affecting how durable a carpet is; however, there are other variables that will also affect the quality and performance of your carpet.

 

All the carpets we stock are tested to ensure they meet our exacting standards, and are graded for their durability, according to the following grades:

Very heavy domestic - the most hardwearing of carpets, ideal for areas of heavy use within the home. Also suitable for commercial use where durability is essential.

Heavy domestic - a hardwearing carpet ideal for everyday use including living rooms, dining rooms, halls, stairs or landings. Most John Lewis carpets are of Grade 2 quality.

Medium domestic - this carpet is most suitable for light traffic areas within the home, such as bedrooms.