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FURNISHINGS : You Need Floor Plan to Deal With Carpet

December 21, 1991|From Associated Press

There may be more life in old carpeting than you suspect, whether it's what you've had for years or something you inherited from the previous owner when you bought a home.

"Don't count carpet that is down as necessarily out," says Shannon Rench Tyler of Racine Industries, which makes a carpet dry-cleaning system called Host. She advises trying to restore carpet by deep cleaning to bring it back to life.

"Make cleaning the carpet the first step before moving into a new home," she says. "If you start by bringing out the carpet's true color, that can set up the color scheme for wall finishes and furnishings."

Once you've moved in, she advises, concentrate on high-traffic areas and spills, spot-cleaning where necessary. "Leave furniture in place and dry-clean around it where the carpet is soiled. Blend cleaned areas into surrounding clean carpet and maintain the rest of the carpet with vacuuming."

And to prevent stains from setting, clean up spots and spills immediately. If it's a wet spill, blot it with clean paper or cloth toweling, standing on it to speed absorption. Pet spots should be blotted up with a half-and-half mixture of white vinegar and water.

For more detailed instructions about removing a variety of substances from carpeting, the company offers a free booklet, "Carpet Care Made Easy." Call (800) 558-9439.

Choosing carpet for your home is subjective when it comes to design, color or texture. But knowing some basics about carpet will help you make a good buy. DuPont, which makes fibers used in carpeting (including Stainmaster, which widens choices by being less liable to discolor), outlines some things to watch for when you're at the carpet store:

* Be practical about color. Lighter, more delicate shades are appropriate to bedrooms that get less traffic. But for heavy-traffic areas, such as a playroom, choose a darker, richer shade.

* Look at a large sample. Color seems to intensify in larger spaces. Take samples home to look at in the room to be carpeted, noting their appearance in both daylight and lamp light.

* Check the density of the carpet by pressing it with your fingers to see how hard it is to penetrate to the backing. Or give it the "grin" test by bending back a corner to see how much of the backing shows through. Less visible backing means heavier, sturdier pile.

* Check the yarn twist. The tips of the fibers should be neat, tight and cleanly sheared. The tighter the twist (meaning the fibers won't fray), the better the carpet will stand up to daily traffic and cleaning. Ask if the yarn has been heat set; heat setting locks the twist into place permanently.

* Consider the texture. Most carpets begin with a loop pile, then are varied by cutting (or not cutting) the pile. Uncut loops equal in height offer a tight, pebbly surface that will withstand heavy traffic and hide footprints and furniture marks.

Dirt tends to stay on the surface of level-loop pile, making cleaning easier in halls, stairways, and children's and family rooms. Cut-pile carpets, which DuPont says accounts for a majority of carpet purchases, have the top loop sheared off, creating a luxurious texture. These wear well, hiding footprints, soil and dust.

Carpets with Saxony textures--made from yarns that have high twist levels--are a good choice when you want a formal, luxurious look. They're especially appropriate for dining and living rooms and master bedrooms.

* Choose the right fiber. Nylon is used in about 85% of all residential installations, according to DuPont. It has good maintenance and performance characteristics, and a wide selection of color and style is available at a reasonable cost. Wool, the oldest type of carpet, is considered more luxurious and is more expensive, but it may not hold up well under heavy household traffic.

Other carpet fibers include polyester, which is probably less durable than nylon but feels soft to the touch, and polypropylene, used mainly in indoor-outdoor carpeting.

For detailed information about carpet selection, the company offers the "Complete Book of Carpeting" without charge. Write to DuPont's Flooring System Division, 71 Southgate Blvd., Southgate Industrial Center, New Castle, Del. 19720.

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