Floor Show

Soft and warm, carpeting stages a return to the footlights

Over the past decade dark-stained hardwood floors and the clean look of stone have dominated, but it is becoming clear that consumers miss the warmth that carpeting can provide and the way area rugs can help define a space. This year carpeting is back. Here’s how to select the best style and keep it looking fresh.

Get more fibre

Carpeting is divided into natural fibres and synthetics like nylon, Olefin, polyester and acrylic.

Synthetic rugs are hard wearing, much less expensive than hard flooring and easier to clean than natural fibres as many are treated with Scotchguard or Stainmaster. Some acrylics can approximate the look of wool, for half the price of the real thing.

Wool is incredibly soft, durable, anti-allergenic, and more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based carpets like Olefin. Silk area rugs are made by unfurling the cocoon of the silk moth, made with a single thread. They hold rich, saturated colours with a beautiful luster.

Plant derived fibres include paper, hemp, bamboo, sisal, jute, seagrass, and coir (from the husk of the coconut). These carpets are hugely popular of late for their natural appeal and rugged wear. There is a rustic charm to natural textures that lends itself to modern as well as traditional spaces.

Sisal carpeting is extremely tough; it’s often used in beach houses since sand won’t abrade it. The tight weave resists wear, making a great choice for stair runners and hallways, but the downside is that sisal is very absorbent. Spot cleaning can leave a watermark and rubbing can make it larger, so this is not a good choice for parents of small children, or leaky pets.

An easier to clean natural option is seagrass, grown in paddy fields in water, so it can stand up to a damp brushing or light mopping, which actually makes the fibres stronger. To maintain plant-based carpets, vacuum with a suction attachment instead of beater, to really lift the dirt in between the fibres.

Out, out damn spot!

No matter what type of carpet you have, get rid of spills immediately by blotting with a clean cotton cloth. Rubbing can make the spill even larger, and force the stain deeper. Work from the edge of the spill toward the center to contain it. For hardened spills, scrape with the edge of spoon or dull knife edge.

If using a cleaning agent (Folex is a wonder), test it first on an inconspicuous part of the carpet. When the carpet is completely dry, brush or vacuum the pile to restore the texture.

Splurge on a good professional steam cleaning at least twice a year, and use mats near doorways.

Slate and marble might be chic, but when it comes to comfort, carpets add a tactile, inviting touch that is unparalleled!