Sep 012011

carpet samplesIf you have kids, you know how hard they are on floors, especially carpet! From dirt tracks to spills that lead to stains and ugly floors, kids’ room carpet takes a beating. Additionally, some kids have problems with allergens that can easily be trapped in carpet.

On the good side, carpet is one of the least expensive floor covering options. It can be layered over an existing floor, is available in an enormous variety of styles, colors, patterns, and textures, is a great sound absorber, and is soft underfoot.

So, how do you get the benefits of kids’ room carpet but avoid the problems? When shopping for carpet, it takes more than price and color to get it right. Unless you know industry lingo, reading labels on carpet samples is a bust. Knowing a few basics about carpet type, pile density and height, plus fiber content and type is your best bet.

Carpet Type

There are three types of carpet: woven, tufted, and bonded. Woven and bonded are generally used in commercial settings. Tufted is most common for residential use and comes in cut, loop, and cut/loop combination.

Here are drawings showing the differences:

drawing of tufted carpet side view sketch of loop pile carpet
side view sketch of patterned loop carpet side view sketch of cut loop carpet

Cut pile and loop pile are the best for kids’ rooms, as long as they are dense. The other two options will hold dust, allergens, tiny particles of paper, string and small toys in the indentations. Best to keep kids’ carpet level.

Pile Density and Height

The more dense the carpet, the better. That means thicker, not taller. If you can see a considerable amount of backing when you bend the sample, the carpet is not dense enough. Cheap carpet has fewer tufts per inch, which shows more backing and will wear out quickly.

Thicker carpet has better crush resistance, helping dirt stay on top and reducing traffic path wear. Spills also have a more difficult time reaching the carpet backing and subfloor making clean up easier. Ever tried to build blocks or roll cars on carpet? Low-height pile is best for playtime.

girls bedroom floor idea with patterned carpet

Patterned loop carpet

Fiber Content and Type

Common fibers used in carpet include wool, nylon, polyester, acrylic, and polypropylene (Olefin).

  • Wool is most durable, most expensive, and naturally fire-resistant; all reasons it is used in high traffic areas of upscale hotels, but not the best selection for kid’s rooms. Wool also will fade when exposed to sunlight.
  • Nylon and other synthetics offer greatest variety of pattern, color, and texture and are most affordably priced. Good resistance to soil and stains, nylon also has excellent color fastness. Synthetics are known for soft “hand” making for comfort underfoot (or head or knees or bottom for kids!) Mostly used outdoors, avoid polypropylene for kids rooms.
  • Blending wool and nylon, with higher percentage of synthetic, has superior stain resistance, pleasing appearance, and enhanced durability without expensive price tag. This option is best for tweens and teens rooms.

Two types of fibers are BCF (Bulked Continuous Filament) and staple. Bulked means beefed up (like a volumizer does to hair), making the fiber thicker. The continuous filament means formed in one long strand which virtually eliminates shedding and fuzzing. If the carpet label does not indicate BCF, CF, or CFN (Continuous Filament Nylon) or is marked 100% Nylon, you can assume it is not a continuous filament.

Staple fibers are short lengths spun together, usually 3-10” long. Carpet made from staple fibers will shed and fuzz for up to a year. To help eliminate dust and allergens in kids rooms, BCF is the best carpet fiber choice.


Regular maintenance is important. Vacuum frequently, clean up spills immediately, and deep clean annually. If your kids are messy, frequently will mean at least every other day. Of course, prevention is always the best maintenance. Removing shoes and stopping dirt at the door reduces tracking and build-up.

Good quality carpets no longer wear out, they ugly out. So if you want to avoid problems of ugly carpet in your kid’s room, make sure the carpet is a dense, low-pile (cut or loop) BCF in a nylon or blend with mill applied stain-resistance, a medium color or pattern, and installed over good quality padding.

(For more in-depth information on carpet selection, see the Carpet Buyers Handbook or CRI’s Selecting the Right Carpet or Rug.)


See other posts on kids’ room flooring here: Floor Essentials, Wood, Painted Wood, Bamboo, Cork, Tile, Carpet, Carpet Tile, Patterned Carpet, Area Rugs, Padding.


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