Wall-to-Wall Carpeting Buying Guide

Wall-to-Wall carpeting is a floor covering that extends across an entire room. People choose wall-to-wall carpeting to increase warmth, as a décor item, to protect children from splinters, to unify a suite of rooms, among other reasons.


After you have explicitly decided on the features you want and have a budget in mind, it will be easier to find carpeting to match your needs. For example, let’s say look and feel is a high priority. Wool is known for its look and feel, but it is more expensive, while acrylic, which is similar in appearance and feel to wool, is cheaper. Starting with features rather than cost helps ensure that you will get carpet that will satisfy your needs rather than a make-shift solution.

Some general principles to keep cost low include:

  • Choose one-color rather than patterned carpeting. In order to match a pattern, more carpeting may have to be purchased than will actually be used.

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  • Choose synthetic fiber over wool—they cost less and may require less investment in care.

  • Consider carpet tiles (also known as modular tile or carpet squares). You may save money on installation, as well as gaining a longer carpet life, because the tiles are designed to be interchanged from low to high traffic areas so they wear more evenly. In addition, a serious stain or other damage to an area can be dealt with by replacing only those tiles affected.

  • Pile weight and style contribute to cost.

  • Check carpet discount stores. Also look for closeouts.

  • Carpet is priced by the square yard, so it is easy to compare the cost of different options, once you know the amount of carpet you need for your room.


As you consider purchasing wall-to-wall carpeting, consider how it will fit a variety of purposes. The location of the carpet will provide some initial parameters in terms of some of the following attributes:

  • Durability
  • Stain Resistance
  • Moisture Resistance
  • Ease of Care

Children or pets in the household may influence your choices. Although some carpet is multi-functional, able to fit in a variety of locations, there are several factors to examine in matching the location. One is the performance rating, a 5-point scale which reflects how the carpet will hold up to traffic. A higher rating is good for high traffic, while a lower rating (2 or 3) is suitable for an area that will have less traffic.

As you work to match carpeting to your needs, compare choices based on the following factors:


How do you want your newly carpeted room to look: modern? inviting? classy? The color and style/design of carpet you choose can contribute to just about any effect you can name. Keep an eye out for these factors:

  • Luster—the brightness or sheen of the carpet. The categories (for synthetic fabric) are: dull, semi-dull, semi-bright, and bright.

  • Creation Technique—woven, tufted, flocked, and printed carpets each have a different appearance.

  • Color—with new treatments to resist stains, not only is nearly any color of carpet you might want available, it’s also practical.

  • Colorfastness—if your carpet will be exposed to sunlight, check this rating to make sure it won’t be likely to fade.

If you plan to do any careful matching, take along samples of fabric (upholstery, drapes, table linens; or comforter, sheets, pillow shams) and wallpaper or paint when you shop. If shopping online, order samples rather than relying on the apparent color on your monitor.


The feel of a carpet depends on the fiber and pile. The combination can give you a rough-tough carpet or a luxuriously soft one. Your choices in this area will be related to the purpose of the wall-to-wall carpeting—is it part of the rough-and-tumble stuff of a cabin; the gentle, intimate atmosphere of a nursery; the workaday dining room; or the elegant living room?

The industry word for the feel of the face of the carpet is the "hand." A combination of polyester fiber and thick cut pile, for example, gives a carpet a soft hand.

Knowing the different fibers and construction terms used to describe wall-to-wall carpeting will help you choose the right type for your home:

  • Cut pile
  • Cut/loop pile
  • Loop pile
  • Multi-level
  • Shag
  • Sculptured


  • Woven carpet
  • Tufted carpet
  • Flocked carpet
  • Knitted carpet

The type and thickness of the backing and cushioning will also contribute to the feel of the carpet underfoot.


The Pill Test is the Federal standard for measuring the flammability of both carpet and backing. Fabric floor coverings of dimensions greater than 24 square feet must meet the standard, and this applies to virtually all carpets. Carpet squares are included. There is also special fire-retardant treatment that is applied to some carpeting.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are air pollutants that are emitted by new carpets. The presence of these compounds means that special care must be taken with ventilation when new carpeting is installed. More desirable are carpets, padding, and installation adhesives with low VOC ratings, which may be signaled by their carrying a “green label.”

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Indoor/Outdoor carpeting
  • Introduction to Carpets
  • Types of Flooring
  • Introduction to Rugs
  • Oriental Rug Buying Guide
  • Introduction to Carpet Cleaners
  • Introduction to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Safety
  • Introduction to Formaldehyde