With all the flooring choices there are today carpets are still a solid choice. They are soft and springing underfoot which is good for your joints, they are quiet for places like stairs and halls, they are warm in the winter and they are cheaper to maintain than wood floors (refinishing wood floors is expensive).
So what do you look for in a carpet? Color, material and texture are important for starters along with some other things we will discuss here.
Of course you want to find something that is to your particular taste but here are some things you may want to consider.
*Burgundy color carpet is the best ever at hiding dirt, stains, and just about anything else. It is not a popular color but it may be tasteful in a foyer or in commercial applications.
*Light Brown or Beige carpet is popular in rental properties for a reason, it hides a lot and is a little more versatile than Burgundy.
*Bone Color With Flecks is used a lot with Berber carpet, the color and busy pattern of the flecks will hide dirt long enough for a yearly cleaning.
*Black or Navy Blue, look great but will show every piece of lint and dirt and will require daily vacuuming.
*Sea Foam colors are darker blues or greens for instance that have white fibers interspersed. This is a pretty effect but the white fibers will turn gray with traffic which is very hard to undo with cleaning.
If you are renting out a property go cheap. There are few material if any that can withstand bleach, cool-aid and just plain neglect from some renters. For your own personal use you will want to spend a little more. Stainmaster and Smartstrand are next generations carpets that have built in stain resistance and are worth the extra money. Carpets treated at the factory with Scotchgard or Dupont Teflon (both fluoropolymers) have only sprayed on protection that unlike the next generation carpets will come off with use .
One material that you want to stay away from is olefin! It is a budget material that is not useful in any way. Olefin gets yarn-like and porous and looks grayish with use. It requires a different detergent than other carpets (that carpet cleaners rarely carry) and even with that detergent is still very difficult to clean. The only way for a carpet cleaner to know you have olefin and use this special detergent is to do some on the spot lab work by burning a small amount of fibers and analyzing the ashes. The carpet cleaner who does this is a rare bird indeed.
Padding is the sponge rubber material that is under the carpet. I would recommend going with the heavier and a bit pricier 8lb padding. Not only does this feel better to walk on because it absorbs the impact of your step but it will make the carpet last longer because the carpet does not flex or stretch as far. There is also an option of moisture barrier padding that will keep pet urine from being soaked up by the sponge rubber layer. This is a great advancement because it is impossible to get the urine out of the padding once it gets down there. You still need to blot the urine up in a timely fashion though because the urine may have the ability to degrade some carpet bindings.
Cut pile is what you will find in plush or what use to be called “shag”. The fiber is stitched through the backing in the manufacturing process the the loops are cut at the end making each wound fiber independent. The uniform surface and the fibers ability to move back and forth makes for easy cleaning. The drawback is that the fibers cut end unwinds over time: more so with the budget carpets.
Berber Carpet is a closed loop more durable carpet, because the wound fiber is not cut it can not fray at the end. Berber is more rigid and does not displace pressure so you will eventually get wear on the side of the wound fiber though. Also the surface of Berber carpet is uneven and difficult to get suction on so be sure to get a carpet cleaner who uses truck mounted (gasoline powered) steam cleaning that has a suction that is many times more powerful than a portable (plug in the wall) unit.