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Specialising in quality carpets and selected hard floorings.


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Little known facts about wool

The best things about wool

You might have seen in the news about the “Campaign for Wool” which is gathering pace, supported by the Prince of Wales.
 
There are lots of interesting facts about wool that you may not know and most of these facts mean it’s a great product for carpets and you as a customer:
 
IT’S COMFY!
  • Warm & soft underfoot – think how a sheep uses it to drive out the cold and rain, the natural insulating properties mean wool is really cosy and good for keeping the warmth in your rooms.
  • Shhh – wool is great at reducing noise in a room, naturally it absorbs footfall and echoes.
 
IT’S PRACTICAL!
  • Strength - over the long term very few fibres can match wool for its strength and resilience. It has a natural twist to the fibre so it acts like a spring. It bounces back, that helps reduce flattening.
  • Easy to care for – contrary to popular belief it is hard to care for, the natural oils in a fleece help repel dirt and soiling. The higher grade the wool the better it will clean but don’t keep washing it, you’ll take out the oils that protect it!
 
IT’S SAFE
  • Soft landings – not all fibres are good at absorbing falling objects. Wool is a good cushion for when little ones or the older ones in our lives take a tumble. Might help stop the odd broken vase aswell as broken bones.
  • Fire Retardant – it’s very difficult to set fire to wool. Hold a match to it and will go out within seconds so good is its natural resistance. You don’t need to add any chemicals to enhance this.
 

Wool is great for the environment

  • Sustainable – well you can’t argue with the fact it grows back year on year. 100% natural and with sheep benefiting from the shearing it’s a perfect low impact product.
  • Biodegradable – unlike a lot of the man-made fibres used today wool will breakdown and produce naturally occurring elements such as carbon, water and nitrogen which are not harmful to the environment
  • Insulating – helps with energy efficiency in your home by keeping heat in, there are now many wool wall/roof insulating products as it is considered one of the best products to use
  Enough bleating on – wool really is a bit of a wonder, why not give it a try in your home?
 
 
 
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How does cost of a carpet affect its wear & performance?
With so much choice and availability these days it’s difficult to say sometimes whether you “get what you pay for” at first glance. Hopefully, these few tips will help you decide on how much you need to pay for your home. 

The thing that makes the most difference as to how you carpet will perform is the type of material it’s made out of, and how much of it has been used to make it.
 
For example with the grade/quality of yarn:
 
  • Higher grade wool – more costly but springs back better showing less pressure marks where you tread
  • Higher grade wool – dyes much better, its cleaner in its natural form hence a cleaner , solid colour is achieved but its rarer, hence more costly
  • Higher grade wool – natural oils in the wool protect against spills, its hold dust until vacuumed
  • Lower grade wool – different sheep’s wool has different qualities, a low grade wool might not have so much of the twisty spring that gives it that “bounce back” and so flattens more readily
  • Lower grade wool – often patchy or grey/yellow tinted so makes a mottled effect carpet, more commonly found, hence less expensive
  • Lower grade wool – often blended and the fibres are often not so smooth and hold on to dirt etc
  • Manmade fibres – Nylon is stronger than Polypropylene (Polypropylenes can vary in quality too) and so costs more but performs better over the long run
  • Manmade fibres – cheaper versions do not have the strain resistant, fade resistant or warranties of the more expensive lines 
The other main issue is how much yarn is used (pile weight) and how that affects appearance and wear:
 
  • Density – this is key, the more tightly packed the pile the less room there is for it to find a gap to flatten down into
  • Length of pile – often you can get a higher pile weight but the weight has come from making the strands longer rather than closer together, good for comfort not so good against flattening
  • Short pile – less comfort but much better at hiding tread marks, great for stairs

TOP TIP – if you can easily get you fingers down into the pile its likely to squash down no matter what the pile weight or quality label says (there can be differences between manufacturers on this), trust you touch test and try samples against each other 

The main thing to remember is to ask what the differences are and ask to be shown samples to compare. Also buying a carpet is often a compromise between comfort and practicality!
 
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Why do some carpets cost more than others?
We had a customer this week who had been totally confused and asked why should she pay more for one carpet than another . A fair question and one not often answered fully when people are browsing. 

Most of the cost comes from the raw materials used, in general:
  • Manmade fibres tend to be lower cost than wool – cheaper to produce
  • Lower grade/ priced  wool - be wary of the quality (it can be recycled wool, yak/goat hair, low grade wools from outside Europe/New Zealand)
  • Felt/ manmade fibre backing costs less than natural jute,
  • Different  cost/quality adhesives can be used to stick carpet together or with woven carpets its the time and extra materials to actually weave the materials in place that costs more
  • The number of tufts per row and how tightly packed the rows will effect how much fibre is used to make the carpet (known as ounces per sq yard)
  • Some have added benefits like stain guards, moth proofing, anti-allergen treatments 
Bearing the above in mind it can be useful to work the cost of production backwards to find out how good your carpets raw materials might be. As an example:
 
A carpet £9.99 per square metre including VAT
  • Take off the VAT of £1.67 the value is now £8.32
  • From that a the retailer needs to make their profit
  • From that the supplier needs to make their profit
  • From that the manufacturer/yarn producer needs to make their profit
  • It would probably only leave a few pounds at most for the cost of the raw materials

How long can you expect carpet that costs just a few pounds per square metre to last if you walk on it everyday, often with abrasive footwear (like trainers, grippy soles)? We suspect it may not be that long.
 
So the next question is to ask how long you want it to last? Do you want a carpet to keep looking good for years or have something more short term that you might want to change more frequently? You could change it every 5 years and pay half the price or pay more for it to last 10 years?
 
We like to ask lots of questions to find out exactly how good, comfortable and long lasting our customers need their carpets to be. Never be afraid to ask why something is more or less than another, you need to know what you are buying!
 
In our next blog I’ll explain a little as to what benefits some of these price and quality differences have for you as a customer.
 
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