Weight Watching
The last consideration is face weight (weight of the carpet pile) per square yard. "A higher face weight means more yarn," says Grable, "And more yarn makes for a longer-lasting product." As an example, within one product line the "good-level" carpet has a face weight of 40 oz.; the "best-level" weighs in at 63 oz.
Face weight makes a difference, but only when comparing similar products. An olefin sample may weigh more than a nylon, but it has entirely different performance qualities.
Be wary of dealers who try to sell you on carpet density, or stitches per inch (SPI). The same goes for the theory that you can read a carpet's density by bending the sample backwards. "This is just not true," says Grable. "Bend back any carpet and you'll see backing." Again, standards vary widely among different styles and fibers; a nylon cut-loop pile might have 10 to 12 SPI, while a thick wool berber might only have 5 to 6.
"The simplest indication of durability is the warranty," says Grable. The warranty factors in fiber, style and face weight, providing an at-a-glance quality comparison. Look for 7- to 10-year wear and stain warranties. Pay attention to the fine print; for example, pet stains void most stain warranties. Also ask if the warranty covers full replacement value, or if it's prorated. A prorated 10-year warranty might cover half the material cost if the carpet is five years old.
Allergies and New Carpeting
Although formaldehyde has not been used in the manufacturing process for years, carpets, backings and pads are made of hundreds of different chemicals that can affect the allergy-prone or chemically sensitive. Typical symptoms include headaches, respiratory problems and other flulike symptoms.
The Carpet & Rug Institute in Dalton, Georgia, has developed a testing and certification program to identify flooring products that meet tougher indoor-air-quality (IAQ) requirements. Qualifying products carry the CRI's IAQ emission label. If you're at risk, stay away during the removal and installation process. To remove existing allergens, vacuum the old carpet before removal, and ask that the floor be cleaned prior to installation. In addition, the CRI recommends that you keep windows and doors open for at least 72 hours after installation.

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