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Q. What's the Best Padding for Carpet Installed on Cement Slab?

Will most people be happy with a 6lb pad when installing carpet over a cement slab or should the padding be heavier? We have been told that the 6lb is top quality and would be fine over the cement.

Alanís Answer:

6-pound density is the absolute minimum I would use in your situation. 8-pound density padding is better for carpet support, which can help your carpet last longer, provides a higher Rh factor to help keep the room warmer, as well as better noise reduction. Itís not much more money to switch from a 6-pound to 8-pound density, maybe $1.00 to 1.50 more per sq. yard. 

Q. Best carpet for a wheelchair or walker?

I have a little boy in a wheelchair, the carpet in our home needs replaced bad. It is around 20 years old. I find it difficult to push my sonís wheelchair sometimes due to carpet. Our son has spastic cerebral palsy and he has trouble walking with his walker due to carpet. What do you suggest? Under the carpet is particleboard and padding. I even thought about installing hardwood floors. But we are on a fixed income so what do you suggest?

Alanís Answer:

You should consider a commercial-grade "level loop" or "cut pile" carpet, no pad, just carpet glued directly to the floor. Itís not very soft underfoot but is easy to clean, durable and is easy to push a wheelchair around too. The price is reasonable, you could get it all  done for about $10-12 per yard installed for a 20 Ė 26 ounce level-loop single-color base grade.

 

Q. What type of padding do I have?

I am in the process of having a house built and specified a number of upgrades including 8 LB pad. Unfortunately, many of the upgrades were missed during construction and I had to identify the errors. I am now wondering if the pad installed under the carpet is the 8 LB that I specified. I have a sample that I retrieved from the left over rebond pad scraps. Is there an easy way to determine if the pad used is 8 LB versus 6 LB rebond pad?

Alanís Answer:

While there is a mathematical formula that pad manufacturers use for determining the density of carpet pad, determining the pad density of a particular padding can very difficult for consumers to calculate accurately without having something similar to compare it to. With a pad sample in hand, you could visit a local carpet retailer and take a look at their in-stock 6 and 8 pound pad samples. A visit to Home Depot or Loweís would do nicely. They have various rolls of pad displayed down their carpet isles that you could use for simple comparison purposes. The pressure or resistance you observe when you squeeze padding between your thumb and index finger best determines density values. A 6-pound pad is easier to flatten than is an 8 pound pad and the difference will be noticeable. Remember, density is not the same as thickness. All padding comes in many thickness, from 1/4" to 9/16". Thickness has nothing to do with density. Not all carpet pad is created equal. Often retailers will say it is 8 pound when it is actually 6 or 7 pound. Some so-called 6-pound padding is really only 5.5 pound density. It is a tough world out there. Even if a full roll of pad is clearly marked on the packaging that it is 8 pound, it may not truly be. 

There are a lot of scams and deception in the world of carpet padding. The old "bait and switch" trick is one of the most common. They know most consumers won't know the difference between a 6 pound pad and an 8 pound pad, or a 3/8" thick pad verses a 1/2" thick pad.

 

Q. Would a textured Saxony be better than plush for the stairs and hallways?

We've read your book. Our question is this: we have hallway and stair areas, and bedrooms to re-carpet. We like Saxony (about 60 oz, high quality) but our understanding is that it would be best not to use this on stairs and halls? Is this right? We don't like frieze or loop construction. Would a textured Saxony be better than plush for the stairs and hallways?

Alanís Answer:

A good quality Saxony would be fine on stairs and hallways, but I would suggest using an 8 pound pad for better support. There is not a big difference between plush and Saxony, the key to longevity is proper installation and maintenance. There is no manufacturer's warranty for carpet installed on stairs.

Q. Mohawk's Child Proof carpet

I purchased a Mohawk child proof carpet 3 years ago that was advertised as can even spill bleach on. Yes, you can spill bleach, but the carpet looks disgusting even after 2 months. It has just flattened out and the dirt lays on the top, a carpet cleaner said the fibers have broken and cannot be cleaned. I am looking to replace and was hoping for a suggestion for steps and bedroom. I do like light colors. I see you say nylon is best so I will go that route. Also, now that I live here, my bedrooms have large beds and furniture. How do I replace the carpets now? It would be impossible to the move king-size bed out.

Alanís Answer:

I have heard more horror stories about Mohawk's "Child Proof" carpet than any other specialized carpet style. When you take a close look at most carpet warranties, you will find that they typically don't cover things like matting and crushing, which you seem to be victim of. It was two months before it looked bad? That is a horror Now that you are once again in the market for carpet for your stairs and bedroom, you have to ask yourself some questions. Namely, how long do you want this carpet to last and how much are you willing to spend? Stairs take more of a beating than bedroom carpets do. If you want to use the same carpet in both areas, you need to buy a carpet that will do well on the stairs, or buy a cheaper carpet and order enough extra carpet to be able to replace the carpet on the stairs in 3 to 5 years.

Yes, nylon is the best fiber, hands down. It will wear longer and look like new longer than any other fiber. But you still need to choose a style that will tolerate the wear and tear that your stairs require or you will be replacing the stair carpet too soon. In light of this fact, I suggest you take a look at frieze styles, and cut Berber styles as an option. Cut Berber is not a looped carpet like a typical Berber, but is a style that has a speckled appearance that looks like a Berber but has characteristics of a plush or Saxony. A cut-Berber with a good tuft twist will do very well on stairs as long as you use the right pad, and have the carpet installed correctly, as would a good quality Frieze style. Again Nylon is the fiber of choice, even though it costs a bit moreÖand olefin or polyester fibers are definitely out of the question if you are looking for long term wear and satisfaction.

Q. Stairs that are hard to install

Your web-site is very helpful in my carpet search. I live in a condo with open (floating) steps leading to a loft. How do I know if the installers will install properly? I know that this is not too common. What questions should I ask the salesman about carpet installation on these steps? I am considering Masland Toccare (nylon cut and loop) for these steps and the whole condo where I live. I have another set of steps that enter from the ground floor up to the main floor of the condo so I need something that will wear well as this is the entrance from the outside into my home. The padding suggested was a 3/8" #10 pad. I wanted to use the same carpet throughout the whole two-bedroom condo. Are there any articles on carpet color and style trends? I don't want to pick something that is on its way out. 

Alanís Answer:
Your stairs are called "Hollywood" stairs and require installation by a well experienced installer. The usual charge is at least $10 per stair to install them. If they send out an installer without experience with this type of stairs, then you may not get the installation you deserve. You may not be able to determine yourself if your stairs are installed correctly. Trust your instincts, if the installer fumbles around and takes a long time to install them, then perhaps he is not trained to install this type of stair. Ask him if he is experienced in doing this type of step. Ask him if he knows what these stairs are called, if he doesn't know the term "Hollywood" then maybe he is not trained in this area. You need to be firm with the carpet retailer when discussing these stairs. Let them know you will not tolerate having them installed improperly. Let them know you will have them back re-do the stairs if they are not installed properly. The padding they suggested is not what I suggest. I suggest a 7/16" thick, 8 pound padding. It meets the Masland guidelines, will feel better underfoot and have the necessary support for your carpet. I think the pad they suggested: 3/8" is too thin and 10 pound is too dense. I think you will like my suggestion better and cost should be comparable. Masland makes very good carpets. In buying Masland or any other brand carpeting you have certain rules you must follow in order to maintain your warranty. I have found the Masland warranty online for you and suggest you read it very carefully. Failure to comply with these requirements may void your warranty.

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