How to choose carpet for high traffic areas

Choosing carpet can be difficult if you don’t know where to start. We know how easy it is to get lost amongst the lingo and end up wondering what the right choice for you is. But don’t worry: we are here to help. This guide will walk you through how to choose carpet for high traffic areas and help you make the right choice.

We’ve broken down the process into the 4 points that you will need to consider when making a carpet purchase.

If your carpet is going to be busy and you want it to look and feel good for longer then this is the guide you need. There are four big enemies of carpet – fading, flattening, shedding and tracking. This guide will teach you how to combat them.


Before we start, we’ll need to explain a couple of terms that will get talked about within this guide.

Footfall: A word meaning how many people are walking on your carpet

Fading: A potential colour-changing hazard caused if your carpet is exposed to too much sunlight.

Flattening: Crushing caused by lots of traffic or heavy furniture.

Pile: This is the wear surface of a carpet. We will use this word when describing the pile construction (the type of carpet tufting) and the type of yarn (material) used to build the pile.

Tracking: The direction in which pile flattens based on footfall direction and furniture placement.

Traffic: This is the amount of footfall that your carpet is likely to encounter.

Shedding: Loose fibres that have come loose from the carpet – often a problem as a carpet settles post installation.

Introducing our experts

To help us give you the best possible guidance, we have three of our carpet experts on hand to share tips on how to choose carpet for high traffic areas

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  carpet for high traffic areas

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Rob is our Store Manager in St. Helens. He has 32 years of experience in the carpet industry.

Janis is the Franchisee of our Rochdale branch. She has 30 years of experience in the carpet industry.

Mick is the Franchisee of our Idle branch. He has 13 years of experience in the carpet industry. 


Keep an eye out for their names as we talk you through how to choose carpet for high traffic areas.

1. Different carpet types - what to choose?

Janis' Top Tip: When it comes to picking a carpet that is going to last, remember, the shorter the pile, the better!

When choosing between carpet types, there are three different main varieties to consider before making your final decision.

Saxony (or Deep Pile Saxony for a deeper and softer option) carpets should be avoided in the busiest parts of the homes – that’s halls, stairs and landings. This is because Saxony carpets have two main features that make it difficult to maintain in high traffic areas: long, soft, cut pile. This kind of pile can become flattened if too much traffic falls over it and affect the appearance and performance of your carpet. They are most suitable for quieter rooms like bedrooms, living rooms or dining rooms. Twist Pile carpets will face the same issues as a Saxony or Deep Pile Saxony carpet, so be certain before you decide to place one in a high traffic area.

Alternatively, the most resilient carpet option available is a Berber Loop. Berber Loops are carpets with tight, heat set loops which can stand up to plenty of comings-and-goings and toing-and-froing. Berber Loops have the shortest pile of any of these pile choices, which makes it firmer and more resilient in the face of a busy home. They also tend to be the carpets with the most densely packed strands, meaning they stay fixed and robust. Do be aware, however, that Berber Loops aren’t suitable for homes that have pets, as their claws with pull at the loops and leave a carpet that is frayed with shed fibres.

Cut and Loop carpets are a mix of the above. Cut and Loop pile carpets have the comfort of cut tufts along with the resilience of a Berber Loop. It has a nice variation of shading and texture which can hide day-to-day dirt and damage well. The heavier the carpet, the better performing it tends to be.

2. Carpet backings - which is best?

Rob's Top Tip: There isn’t much difference between our three main types of backing when it comes to resilience but remember this: Super Felt Backing combines the best qualities of Felt and Action Backing.

There are three main types of backing that our carpets feature. These are:

-          Action Backing.

-          Felt Backing.

-          Super Felt Backing.

Of the three, the choice we would recommend as a carpet for high traffic areas would be Super Felt Backing. Super Felt Backing combines the resilience of action backing with the extra comforting touch of felt backing. We would recommend choosing a carpet with a Super Felt Backing if you want a soft, yet durable finish with an easy installation – it doesn’t necessarily need underlay, but would benefit from having it. Felt Carpets are also easy to install because in the same way, they don’t require an underlay. They are not, however, as resilient as a robust action backing.

3. Which carpet colour do I need?

Rob’s Top Tip: If your carpet is for a high traffic area that will catch a lot of sunlight, avoid darker colours – they are the most prone to fading!

It’s not a straight forward case of light or dark colours being better when it comes choosing carpet for high traffic areas.

Lighter colours are often the more sensible choice for high traffic areas like halls, stairs and landings. The reasoning behind this is as follows:

  1. Sunlight can have a very damaging effect on darker carpets, fading them dramatically away from their original colour.
  2.  Likewise, tracking can cause abrasions in your carpet that begin to damage the appearance of your carpet and change it.

You do, however, have to be careful and put steps in place to ensure the dangers from outside the home don’t come in to damage the carpet. Have a look at our guide to looking after your new carpet if you want to put some steps in place protect your carpets further.

Dark carpets are perfect in homes that kids, pets or clumsy grown-ups (we’ve all been there spilling a glass of something expensive of an evening) … The darker shades of carpets are also easier to keep clean and appear in better condition as factors like staining and fading have less of an effect.

4. Carpet pile material - how are they different?

Janis' Top Tip: Polyamide carpets will outperform any other option when it comes to durability, resilience and ease of maintainence - .

If you are looking for resilient carpets, you will want them to be made from a synthetic (or man-made) material.

Two of the two best options available are Polyamide – also referred to as Nylon – and Polypropylene carpets.

Polyamide carpet is the supreme choice when it comes to man-made yarns for carpet pile to be made from. It outperforms all other yarns available today with regards to durability, resilience and easy maintenance. They perform well too in homes that have pets or children. They are, therefore, the top choice of carpet for high traffic areas.

Polypropylene carpet is the emerging favourite of more and more buyers. It’s bleach cleanable, highly resilient and very stylish meaning it doesn’t compromise on any of the top features you desire. They are wonderfully colour fast – the colour is spun in with an extrusion process and is hard to budge or fade. They are bleach cleanable, meaning that in case of any damage or dirt that a high traffic area could cause should be less of an issue. Polypropylene carpets are the more affordable option between the two top synthetic choices.

For a carpet with a natural material that is a little more resilient, consider investing in a Wool Blend carpet. Wool Blend carpets combine wool with a synthetic material – normally Nylon – to increase its resistance to abrasion. The inclusion of Nylon in the blend does, though, make it a greater flammability risk than a 100% wool carpet. They have good water resistance - although water vapour can still be an issue - and they have a fairly high resistance to soiling and spillages can be easily cleaned. If spills are quickly dealt with, the risk of staining can be reduced. Wool blend carpets are also extremely colourfast as all natural fibre carpets are. Despite this, they won’t perform as well as a polyamide carpet would in a high traffic area.

Underlay – yes, you do need it, here’s why!

A good underlay can be the perfect companion to a carpet – and especially a carpet for a high traffic area like a hallway, stairs or landing. There are a couple of performance related reasons that we recommend the installation of underlay with every carpet we fit. 

Underlay extends your carpet’s life.
Underlay acts as a great shock absorber against the everyday wear and tear that your carpet may encounter. It does this by enhancing the elasticity of your carpet and making it more resilient when absorbing impact. It’s great at combating the danger of dampness too. This is because it significantly reduces the amount of moisture that passes through the subfloor into your carpet’s backing and pile. The correct underlay can extend the life of your carpet by as much as 50%.

It also maintains your carpet’s appearance
The shock absorption of the underlay soaks up impact from footfall and heavy traffic. This allows your carpet’s pile to keep its ‘spring’, stops pile from flattening and helps the carpet look brand new for longer. What’s more, a good underlay will improve the hygiene of your carpet and thereby it’s appearance. The underlay acts as a barrier to embedded dirt and potential damp, helping preserve the carpet pile and making it easier to vacuum and giving you less to spot clean.

Mick's Top Tip: A good quality underlay makes even a relatively inexpensive carpet feel great - Make sure that you stand on your choice of carpet with different underlays underneath before buying to get the feel that you want underfoot.

Our FREE measure and estimate service

Before you go ahead and make your purchase, remember: we offer a free, no obligation measure and estimate service.

Our professional estimators will expertly measure your room and provide:

  • An accurate measurement of the area/room in question.
  • Suggest any preparatory work that may be needed before your flooring can be fitted.
  • Suggestions for required underlay and accompanying accessories.
  • An estimate for the most cost-effective way to fit the floor.

If you already have a carpet, vinyl, laminate or luxury vinyl tile product in mind, simply add the name of the range to your message. We will then be able to provide an incredibly competitive quote.

Click here to book your free, no obligation measure and estimate NOW!

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That concludes our guide on how to choose a carpet for high traffic areas. Picked a carpet for a high traffic area after reading our advice? Share it with us by tagging us @unitedcarpetsandbeds on Instagram or use the hashtag #UnitingHomes to join the conversation.

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