Selecting carpeting like buying sport coat

Q. Where can I obtain information on carpets which includes weight per square yard, specifications on materials, and guidelines for evaluating an investment in new carpeting? Jean G. Keating San Antonio

A. In the last 25 years carpeting has gone from woven wool to a tufted manmade face. The result is a more appealing carpet with greater wearability.

Carpet purchases increased from about 60 million square yards in 1950 to more than a billion yards today, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute in Washington.

Carpets are bought by the consumer for color, style, and, of course, price.

To the average buyer, carpet weight is important only to achieve the desired style.

The purchase of carpet by the consumer may really be little different from buying a sport jacket. How many sport jackets have the fabric weight listed on the tag? And even if they did, what would it really mean? Wouldn't you buy a jacket because you liked the color, the way the coat fit, and the fact you could afford it?

Selling carpet by the pound is somewhat similar. The denser and higher the pile, the more fiber and yarn you are buying; and, assuming that all other factors are somewhat equal, the higher the price.

Types of fiber and backing also influence costs up and down.

Two carpets that may appear to be identical may have a different price because it costs more to produce the color or design of one of them. Just as in the sport coat, the lighter-weight one may actually cost more because the fabric itself is more expensive, the cutting and sewing may have required more time, and the dyeing costs may be greater.

"Carpet manufacturers do not normally supply the specifications along with their carper," according to Richard N. Hopper of the Carpet and Rug Institute.

Why don't you get in touch with a reliable carpet dealer. The two of you, working together, may do a better job of selecting a carpet than if you, as a consumer, were to worry about comparative specifications of various carpets.

If you still want to know the weights and specifications, you may have to get in touch directly with the mills that produce the carpets.

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