Whether you’ve just moved into a new house and you want to plan for the future, or if you’re looking at the carpet in your home and you want to know how long it will be before you can justify replacing it, it’s a good idea to know as much as you can about your carpet. There are a lot of different types of carpet, however, and each one will last for a different amount of time and have different signs that it needs to be replaced.
How Long Should Carpet Last?
While there are many different types of carpets with a lot of different lifespans, most carpets will last between five and fifteen years. Carpet that is properly installed in an interior area will usually last around ten to fifteen years if it is taken care of properly. Exterior carpet has a lot more variables that can factor into its lifespan, but it isn’t uncommon for it to last anywhere from five to twenty-five years.
Why Does Carpet Wear Out?
Most people think that since carpet wears out quickest in high-traffic areas, that the force of people walking on the carpet is what will wear the carpet out. In actuality, however, carpet wears out from being exposed to dirt and other elements.
Carpet is designed to be walked on. In most cases, the individual threads or pile of the carpet can handle being crushed multiple times a day. High-quality carpets can withstand incredible amounts of sustained forces, and can often maintain its shape for years.
What destroys carpet is the addition of dirt and liquid. Small particles enter the carpet and are forced down to the bottom of the carpet where the individual threads attach to the base. These pieces of dirt and crumbs are then rubbed against this junction every time that force is applied.
While a single crumb may not seem like much, on a microscopic level this debris has incredibly sharp edges. Over time the sharp edges of the debris and the fiber of the carpet will destroy each other.
If liquid is added to the carpet, this process accelerates. Even a neutral liquid like water will mix with the small debris particles and form an acidic solution. This acid will also attack the fibers of a carpet, slowly destroying it.
If the liquid is allowed to sit for a long period of time, the dark, warm environment coated in organic material is an ideal place for fungus and bacteria to grow, further degrading the pile of the carpet.
How Can I Get Carpet to Last Longer?
There are high-quality carpets that have protective coatings that protect the fibers of the carpet from both the sharp edges of debris and the onslaught of acid and other liquids. There are also commercially available products that allow a person to apply a protective coating on their own. While these products can extend the life of a carpet, they cannot make it last forever.
Regularly removing the debris from the carpet with a vacuum cleaner can also help to extend the life of the carpet. When vacuuming, be sure to move the vacuum over a carpeted area slowly. This allows the suction of the vacuum to have enough time to actually lift the debris away from the carpet.
Shampooing carpet will help to loosen debris from a carpet. This is often necessary because the sharp edges of a lot of debris will embed or stick themselves to the fibers or base of the carpet, making it difficult to remove the debris with vacuuming alone. Shampooing will also help to remove oils from the carpet.
Be aware that there is very little difference in having a carpet professionally cleaned versus doing it yourself. While professional cleaners are usually able to do a more thorough job, there is very little difference in cleaning solutions. The important thing is to ensure that the carpets are cleaned regularly.
To preserve and extend the life of a carpet, a person should have them professionally cleaned at least once a year, and twice a year or more for carpets that have suffered a lot of abuse.
It’s also a good idea to avoid wearing shoes on carpet. Shoes tend to introduce the majority of debris particles that get into a carpet. By removing them before walking around a home, it is possible to extend the life of a carpet.
How to Tell If Carpet Needs Replacing
Carpet needs to be replaced when it starts to look worn. Once the carpet is damaged to the point that the fibers can no longer stand on their own, the pile of the carpet will quickly become crushed. Areas of the carpet where the fibers are matted down flat cannot be rehabbed or fixed. The only option is to replace the carpet.
Outdoor and high traffic carpet (also known as commercial grade carpet) will take a long time to get to this point because their fibers are so short. These carpets are usually made of tightly woven fibers that are cut short. While they are not particularly soft or fluffy, they are ideal for areas where people are wearing shoes and/or bringing in a lot of dirt.
The tight weave makes it more difficult for debris to reach the base of the carpet, and the short fibers make it hard to tell if the fibers have been damaged.
How Does Carpet Get Replaced?
If it is time to replace the carpet in your home or office, you’ll want to start by getting accurate measurements of the area where you want to replace the carpet. Be aware that it is next to impossible to match carpet (unless you are working with carpet tiles). This means that carpet must be replaced for an entire area.
It is extremely difficult to only replace a small area of a carpet. Even if you have extra matching carpet available, it is still difficult to cut and match exact shapes to fix a hole or worn out patch.
Also be aware that most people will choose to replace all of the carpet in their home at the same time. While it is possible to only replace the carpet in a single room, it will likely be obvious that there are different types of carpets throughout the house.
In order to replace carpet, you will need to start by ripping out the old carpet. This is done by pulling up the existing carpet in the corners of a room, removing the carpet tacks, then rolling up the old carpet. Be aware that all of the furniture will need to be out of a room to do this job properly.
Under the carpet is usually another layer called underlayment. This layer is a protective barrier between the bare floor and the carpet. It provides extra padding, and it also ensures that liquids spilled into the carpet do not reach the floorboards. In most cases, this layer will also need to be replaced. Underlayment usually only lasts about as long as the carpet it is placed under.
After new underlayment is laid out and tacked down, the carpet will be rolled out. Be aware that you may need to stretch the carpet to prevent it from gaping and forming small peaks after it is laid down.
Like many fabrics, carpet will change shape as it adjusts to the unique temperature and humidity of a space. This may mean that it will expand or contract. A good carpet installer will take the time to see how a carpet behaves, then wither stretch or cut off the excess after it adjusts. If your installer does not do this, tell them to come out after a few weeks and adjust the carpet.