Getting the Best From Your Carpet


The first essential in ensuring that a carpet will perform well over many years is to select the right material for the job. Too often the carpet is selected only on price rather than quality.

The famous nineteenth century writer John Ruskin summed it up well:

‘It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, all you lose is the additional money – that is all. When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything, because what you bought was incapable of doing well, the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business prohibits paying a little, and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is as well to add something for the risk you run: and if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.’

We offer a set of information sheets that will help you to make your selection armed with the latest information. These will help you to avoid the most obvious pitfalls.


Underlay is a vital part of the carpet installation. Buy the best you can afford. An extra pound spent on underlay will usually make far more difference to the useful life of a carpet, than several additional pounds spent on the carpet itself. Soft underlays are fine for bedrooms, but for heavily used areas a hard, resilient underlay is better. Best of all, although expensive, is the hard rubber/wool felt combination underlay. This is made for use in hotels, but it is also the best possible choice for home.


First-class fitting makes a huge difference to the appearance and life span of a carpet. There are very few properly trained carpet fitters. We never use ‘cowboy’ fitters, although, unbelievably, they seem to be able to find carpet fitting employment elsewhere!


Where-ever possible, we plan carpets out of a single width. This allows us to reduce seams, and incorporate waste from one area into another – perhaps stairs. Unlike some retailers, we do not set seams at 90° or 180°. Many planners resort to this for the short-term advantage of reducing the material required (and therefore the quotation). The real price for this is ultimately paid by the consumer, who finds that the carpet seams soon begin to show, and the pile reverses (giving an ugly ‘stained’ appearance). On stairs, carpets laid in the wrong direction wear out very quickly.

Stain Resistance

There have been many treatments that have claimed to stain-proof a carpet. We have never found these products to be very effective in the long term. In our opinion, Intec® is by far the best product for the job. We recommend it for all living areas, and for all light-coloured carpets. When all-else fails, the Service Master company offer an excellent cleaning and spotting service. For irredeemable disasters you may have to resort to your insurers.

Grit Problems

We all tread-in grit on our shoes. It is desperately destructive stuff, with cutting edges that cut carpet fibres at the base of the pile. The first line of defence is a big door mat that is beaten regularly. The second line of resistance is regular vacuuming. Heavy-duty suction is OK, but an upright ‘hoover’ is far more effective. We think Dyson and Vorwerk uprights are the best.

Shoe Soles

This is important. People used to wear leather-soled shoes which polished rather than wore the carpet surface. The modern addiction to rubber soles is amazingly destructive of carpets. A growing family in ‘trainers’ can destroy a high quality carpet in very short order – particularly on stairs, which are subjected to tremendous load and abrasion.

Intensive Wear Areas

Some areas receive particular abuse: stairs, stair bull-noses, doorways, turning points, and areas immediately in front of chairs. Carpet under castors is very vulnerable. To off-set the worst of these problems, one has first to admit that they exist, then address then individually. Carpet should be selected according the wear expected at the highest wear points (a chain is only as strong as its weakest link). Bull-noses and stairs can be re-covered separately, provided a quantity has been set aside for this purpose.

Great Expectations

We have all been programmed by this ‘Which’ society to believe that if something goes wrong, it must be someone else’s fault: this is ridiculous. Carpets have a finite life, and generally look better when new than when old. We do not expect a car to last for ever, and we do not expect it to serve without regular maintenance. If a washing-machine goes phutt after five years it is not cause for complaint, it is cause for repair or replacement. Carpets should be seen for what they are – a diminishing asset. If you want a carpet to last for twenty years then you must pay for sufficient quality to make that requirement reasonable. In real terms, carpets are better value now than they have ever been before, and the best qualities are the best carpets that have ever been made. To put the current carpet market into perspective, it can best be illustrated by comparing like for like – in 1965 a good quality plain wilton carpet sold at £4.50 – the same carpet now costs £45. The average carpet sold today is about one third of that price. Common sense insists that something has had to go, and that something is quality. We all buy too little quality. Common sense also tells us that it is sensible to find the best possible value. It some cases that might be the cheapest, but not often. Most people find eventually that the additional cost of high quality is a very good investment indeed. If carpets need to be fitted within a prescribed budget, then of course it’s sensible to ensure that the best possible value for money is obtained. If carpets are bought to a price then the expectations for that carpet’s long-term prospects must be reasonable.


Our Part in All This

John Cooper Carpets opened for business in 1971. During the past 30 years nine other carpet shops have opened in opposition then subsequently closed down. We must be doing something right because we are still here. More than anything, we believe, it is our dedication to quality, both in materials and workmanship, that has allowed us to thrive. We offer total integrity, and an intelligent, interested approach to our clients. We promise always to give you the best possible information and advice that is available.

This information is the very best that is available to the author at the time of writing. Qualities and specifications can change, and is advisable for clients to ask for the most up-to-date news. We cannot accept responsibility for any difficulties experienced, or losses suffered, due to the above advice and information, unless the materials have been provided through John Cooper Carpets.