The benefits of choosing carpet for your floor

Carpets reduce heat loss better than the alternatives

Carpet is a very good insulating material so reduces heat loss in the home.

The material itself is insulating and the structure of carpet – all the tiny fibres – trap air making it even warmer.

Floor insulation (how much warmth a type of flooring will offer) is measured by something called the “R-value”. The higher the value, the warmer the floor.

R-value is comparable to the tog of the material times the R-value by 10 to get the tog.

Compared to other flooring options, carpet generally has a much higher R-value:

Material

R-value

Tog

Concrete (10 cm)

0.07

0.7

Plywood (1 cm)

0.08

0.8

Carpet (1 cm)

0.18

1.8

Fibreglass insulation (1 cm)

0.22

2.2

The thickness of the carpet is the determining factor in how warm it will be, along with the type of underlay you use. Different synthetic materials tend to have similar R-values. Wool is generally warmer than most other materials.

Here’s an approximation of how thickness increases warmth for synthetic carpets:

Carpet Thickness

R-value

Tog

1/8inch

0.6

6

1/4inch

1.0

10

1/2inch

1.4

14

3/4inch

1.8

18

1inch

2.2

22

Approximate R-Value of synthetic carpet. For wool carpets multiply R-Value by 1.5.

How to estimate the R-value of your carpet:

Rule for estimating R-value of carpet

Carpet thickness in inches X 2.6 = approx. R-value

The underlay provides the most insulation, not the actual carpet

It is actually the underlay of the carpet that provides the most insulation – underlay will often have a higher R-value than the carpet itself. Different types of underlay provide different levels of warmth.

Again thickness is the main factor, as well as density. Crumb rubber is the densest type of underlay so this will generally be more insulating than a waffle or foam underlay.

Rule for estimating R-value of underlay

Carpet underlay in inches X 2.6 = approx. R-value

Rule for estimating total R-value:

R-value of carpet + R-value of underlay = approx. R-value

Since carpets are warm, you should also save money on energy bills compared to other types of flooring when you install a carpet. Carpets can save approximately 4– 6% of your energy bill.

Comfort

Most alternatives to carpet are hard floors so don’t deliver the same kind of comfort under foot. The softness and give of a carpet is also influenced by its thickness and the type of underlay you choose.

Safety

If you have young children, carpets are the safest option, since your children are less likely to hurt themselves if they fall over. Carpets are also less slippery than hard floors meaning your children are less likely to fall over in the first place.

It is also harder to break things on carpet if you drop them.

Noise reduction

Carpet absorbs sound better than hard floors, up to ten times as much, in fact:

Source: The Building Performance Centre, Napier University, Edinburgh - 2004)

According to a study by the Scottish Building Standards Agency, replacing carpet and underlay with hard floor significantly increases noise pollution within the home. Depending on the type of original floor, noise increased by between 9 and 34 decibels. For reference, 10 decibels quieter is considered about half as loud – listen to this video to get an idea:

Increase in noise when flooring changed from carpet to something else:

On top of timber floor

Surface change:

Noise increased by:

Carpet & underlay to laminate

17 dB

Carpet to laminate

9 dB

Carpet to sanded floorboards

13 dB

On top of concrete floor

Surface change:

Noise increased by:

Carpet & underlay to laminate

34 dB

Carpet to laminate

25 dB

Other factors to consider

Sensitivity to moisture and stains

Since carpets are fabric, they are more sensitive to moisture and stains that other flooring. Stain-proof carpets are available.

In most situations a carpet will only become mouldy if moisture levels are already too high indoors. Mould will most likely form on wall surfaces as well.

Sources:

Further resources:

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