Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sweeping Beauty: Your Carpet's Best Friend Is Your Vacuum

Image from
"The beauty and life of your carpet depends on the care it receives. Quality carpet that is well-maintained should last 10-15 years. Proper cleaning will keep it looking great for its full lifetime, help improve your indoor air quality and help you adhere to your carpet warranties."

So says the Carpet and Rug Institute about maintaining your carpet. And it sounds like the CRI means business. Simply by keeping your carpet clean, you can protect your investment and the environment at the same time: a well-maintained carpet means that it lasts longer and stays out of landfills.

A major component of maintaining your carpet includes vacuuming, which we've discussed briefly here at Carpetology. In "Keeping Carpet Clean," Christine reminds us that vacuuming is your carpet's best friend. And in "Dog Day Afternoon," I reiterate that vacuuming is the easiest and most effective way to keep carpets clean, especially for pet owners. Now, I realize that very few people actually enjoy vacuuming (my friend Carrie is an exception to the rule; she vacuums daily. Sometimes twice daily. She loves to vacuum). But if you think really hard about the long-term benefits, vacuuming more frequently doesn't seem so bad.

You can read tips and tricks on how to vacuum from CRI and eHow and follow along with a video at But even if you vacuum daily, like Carrie, none of this matters unless you use a quality vacuum appropriate for the type of flooring you have. Let's face it - there are many vacuums out there so it's difficult to know which is best for you and your home.

Let's start with the basics: canisters v. uprights.

Canister vacuums generally work best on hardwood floors. These Vacuums Suck calls them versatile, with numerous attachments (wands, tools, a hose) for cleaning crevices, curtains, stairs and below furniture. Canisters can be easily maneuvered around the home, often much more so than uprights. Since Carpetology is all about carpet, I should mention here that although canisters haven't been known for their effectiveness on carpets in the past, Consumer Reports says that the best canisters can clean carpet just as well as upright vacuums.

Miele vacuum ad, compliments of
Regardless, uprights still rule the market, especially when it comes to carpet. Generally they're cheaper, more compact, easy to store, and equipped with a variety of features, says, including dirt sensors, wide cleaning paths, unique tools, self-propelled motors, on/off brush rolls, height adjustments and several filter types. For adjustments between carpet pile heights or between carpet and hardwood, the height adjustment feature is especially handy. Plus, you have a choice in an upright vacuum's filter: bag or bagless? Now things really get exciting...

"The current trend in upright vacuums is 'bagless,'" writes How Stuff Works. "This means the vacuum forgoes the traditional disposable bag in favor of a reusable, often filtered canister to collect debris. Bagless vacuums use centrifugal force to separate particles from air flowing through this cylindrical collection vessel."

It sounds fancy, doesn't it? How Stuff Works warns, though, that unless a vacuum is built correctly, bagless vacuums can sometimes clog, causing the vacuum to lose suction.

Vacuums with bags, on the other hand, lose suction as the bag fills with dirt and debris. But their bags allow easy disposal of all those particles that you've extracted from your carpet while cleaning. Ultimately, the bag versus bagless debate depends on your own personal preference. It seems that some of the newer bagless vacuums are more effective overall, but they're also available in a higher price range.

Learn all about the physics of vacuums here on and vacuum-cleaners. Interesting and helpful!

A word of caution: As a carpet owner, you should understand that brush rolls and beater bars, those busy little spinners on the bottom of upright vacuums, need to be used with care. If they're used on carpets with twisted piles or casual textures (friezes or shags, for example), they might tangle or damage the carpet. As beneficial as beater bars can be, use them wisely. You may also want to refrain from using them on expensive rugs.

Happy vacuuming!

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Blue Around The World

Blue. With the sun shining so brightly overhead in a cloudless blue sky, I can't help but associate blue with summer, delicious days outdoors, magnificent sunsets, and balmy, relaxing evenings that seem to go on forever....

Kate Smith from Sensational Color states: "Blue is the overwhelming "favorite color." Blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable, and committed."

It's a classic color, filled with rich meaning.

So, continuing with our series about Color Around The World, here is Blue Around The World, courtesy of Ann Hurley, Woman of Wear-Dated and Ultron carpet fiber color expert, who lives and breathes color and product trends.

Ann says...

Blue has been symbolic of fidelity in western cultures since early times. Blue flowers such as forget-me-nots and violets symbolized faithfulness in Europe.

Blue often indicates the sky, heaven, water, and life.

You’ve heard the saying, “once in a blue moon” – a blue moon is the phenomena of a full moon occurring twice in one calendar month. And occurred this past May--

In Egypt, ultramarine Blue was a natural color taken from the stone - lapis. It was also a symbol of the Nile, and was associated with crops and fertility.

At the end of the 13th century in Japan, the introduction of cotton clothing dyed with indigo changed the lifestyle of the rural peasant worker.

During Chairman Mao’s reign, the demand for blue work clothes grew considerably, leading to the development of synthetic blue dyes.

When first introduced in this country, US-grown indigo produced the most vivid shades of blue. Its affordability helped the growth of the color and of course, today, a synthetic version is used in the mass production of denim–for jeans!

In the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, Russian icons were seen often to commemorate the deceased. Their popularity reached a peak during the reign of Tsar Peter the Great, when the color blue had a supreme symbolic importance.

In the West, 12th century painters had become uninterested with traditional green, red and black, but were enchanted with the color blue. It was then that we first saw the Virgin Mary painted with a blue mantel. At that time, blue began to be associated with the heavens and spirituality, thus the popularity of blue soared.

In early Europe, a flower called the woad was the source of pigment used by ancient tribal warriors to paint their faces before going into battle. [Think Mel Gibson in Braveheart.] The Romans referred to these warriors as Picts – a Celtic (Keltic) meaning for ‘painted.’

We’re all familiar with the wedding custom of “Something old, something new – something borrowed, something blue.” According to an old English custom, a bride wears blue ribbons in her wedding gown and a blue sapphire in her wedding ring.

In Japan, the all male Kabuki performances use theatrical makeup symbolically: Red symbolizes bravery & justice, while blue symbolizes evil and the supernatural.

In India, Shiva, the Hindu Lord of Destruction is always shown with blue skin.

In ancient Persia, blue was a sacred color symbolizing paradise – and is lavishly incorporated in the Shah Mosque in Isfahan [check out Horizon's photos of the Shah Mosque].

And, now, for a question relating to Blue:

In our modern day tradition of dressing boys in blue and girls in pink, what does the blue and pink symbolize?

Answer: ancient associations of blue with the earth, and pink (or red) with fertility.

With that, I wish you a most wonderful Memorial Day Weekend and official beginning of Summer!

For previous posts in this series, see:
+ Green Around The World
+ Red Around The World
+ White Around The World.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Foot's Perspective - Episode 4

This episode of A Foot's Perspective comes from the St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Terminal A. Not the most glamorous spot, and not on the most inspiring carpet, but still a relatively quiet, carpeted airport spot from which to discuss carpet in the workplace.

Ramona and I have just completed 'basic training' for our new, soon-to-be-launched Wear-Dated website [stay tuned for more on that!], with Integrity, our web developers.

At dinner the night before, I got to talking with Integrity about a study I came across from the Carpet and Rug Institute about carpet in schools. More specifically, carpet significantly enhances acoustics in learning environments, improving the opportunity to learn. It improves communication and helps focus attention.

[Note - Acoustical Characteristics Of Carpet Technical Bulletin provides data on how effective carpet is at absorbing sound and muffling background noise. Beware, it's a bit dry.]

From schools, we moved onto to work spaces. John Simanowitz brought up that Integrity would be moving in a few months and that the new space featured carpet [among other important things].

[Subscribers, please follow this YouTube link to view the video.]

Have you thought about how sound affects your productivity? Some background noise - from a favorite radio station or your iPod - may increase it, whereas too much can seriously detract from it, making your irritable and quite frustrated. I notice it in my home office space - I must have classical music playing to concentrate - as well as where my daughter does her homework.
What are your thoughts?

Previous episodes can be viewed by clicking on these links:
+ A Foot's Perspective - Episode 3
+ A Foot's Perspective - Episode 2
+ A Foot's Perspective - Episode 1

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Way-Finding With Carpet

...or another originally uploaded by FredArmitage.
Our world is filled with signals that help us find our way. Some subtle, some not-so subtle, and many that carpet contributes to.

For example, have you noticed how welcoming and relaxing public places with carpet are? The soft surface absorbs sound and creates an atmosphere more conducive to intimacy and conversation. It signals that you've reached a place for sitting and communing.

If you don't believe me, go eat at a Wendy's. Have you noticed that their dining section is carpeted? Compare that to the bright echo-y effect of a McDonald's sit-down experience. Which do you find more civilized?

Think about Casinos. Although NY-NY Casino seems to have abandoned its branded carpet, most casinos view carpet as a subtle means of generating excitement, reinforcing a sense of location, and generally signaling the uniqueness of that casino experience [for more, read Empty Pockets, Happy Feet & Casino Carpet]. Notice that solid color or differently patterned carpet tends to signal a passageway compared to a gaming area where one should linger and interact.

Think how a red carpet conveys glamour, glitz and specialness to events; it also literally leads you to the event. Red Carpet Treatment and Create Your Own Red Carpet Experience! only highlight how powerful a signal that red carpet is.

Inside your home, carpet [or the lack thereof] signals to visitors that they have entered a formal or casual space, one focused on comfort & lounging around or one about functionality and efficiency.

Similarly, in retail venues, the interplay of soft and hard surface sends signals to shoppers. In Target, the Target-red carpet indicates sections for moving around more slowly on in contrast to the non-carpeted aisle way surface which, like a highway, takes you to other destinations in the store.

Were you aware that way-finding with carpet is critical on cruise ships? Readers Cruise Tips by Cruise Traveler Magazine highlights the importance of not only finding your state room once you board, but also paying attention to the hallway carpet. "Pink carpet denotes even number state rooms, blue color carpets will be odd numbers. With more than 50 cruises and mega ships, this is a time saver." I've never been on a cruise, but am impressed with the practicality of using carpet color to convey vital information about room location.

Finally, I learned about "The Deaf Family -A hilarious sitcom about a dysfunctional deaf family" in A comedy film for the deaf and hearing-impaired which lead me to the original 04/07/2008 article titled "A comedy film for the deaf and hearing-impaired, Virginia premiere to feature interpreters, technology display."

To celebrate the opening, which showcases really neat Video software that will enhance communication options for deaf, the article explains that "Sign Language Associates and Hands On VRS are calling the event a "Purple Carpet Premiere." Why purple? Marketing to deaf communities has to be visual, Camp explains. So the color purple is a visual key."" Isn't that fascinating? The purple carpet takes one to the event, and it also signals that this is an event for the deaf.

What examples have you come across for way-finding with carpet?

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Goodbye, Metrorail Carpet!

DC Subway originally uploaded by sierragt2k.
I recently learned that the DC Metrorail system will be replacing its carpet with a non-carpeted surface.

I'm saddened because I hate to hear of carpet being permanently removed, especially when I have positive associations with the venue.

I remember when DC Metrorail first opened. We lived on a bus line, so I had to come up with excuses to experience it. Luckily, I also took trains and Union Station connected with the subway. I fell completely and madly in love with the interior spaces of the Metro and couldn't get over how beautiful concrete could be with the lines and patterns created overhead. If you've never experienced it [or you have and want to revisit it virtually], check out the flickr photos that come up when you search on "DC Subway". It's breathtaking.

I remember, too, the carpet. According to Metro Starts Bagging Carpet On Rail Cars, the Metro carpet added a luxury touch to the public transportation experience, signaling that this was something unlike other subways. It certainly created a genteel, rounded auditory experience, muffling sharp sounds, and cushioning foot steps. It even seemed to prevent the kind of sliding around on seats that happens in many other subways [probably a psychological benefit as the seats weren't carpeted]. But, I also wondered how it would weather inclement weather conditions.

Others must have, too, otherwise there wouldn't be reactions like Wonkette's in DC Metro To Lose Iconic Filthy Frayed Moldy Carpet and Second Avenue Sagas' in DC Metro carpets may go the way of the dodo applauding the decision.

Not too long ago, I came across a story about the San Francisco BART system making a similar decision [see BART Pulls The Rug Out. Agency Will Swap Out Dirty Carpets For Easy-To-Clean Plastic Floors In 80 Of Its Cars Before Gauging Whether To Revamp Entire Fleet by Rachel Gordon from 11/24/2006. At the time, I didn't make a connection between the two subway systems, but then, too, I regretted the loss of carpet.

However, I'm a practical person and I have to wonder what possessed the various decision makers to place carpet in subway cars to begin with.

I've travelled subway cars in Paris, Atlanta, New York City, Tokyo, Chicago and DC. Given what happens on those floors, carpet doesn't strike me as being the best flooring solution.

I've also visited places like China where the fact that carpet covered the floor never stopped anyone from treating the floor like a -- well, worse than we do our carpeted floors, and a place you wouldn't dare walk on barefoot.

So, in this case, I applaud the decision to remove carpet from the DC Metro cars [and the BART cars, too].

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why Save Carpet Scraps From Your Installation?

originally uploaded by Roger Stephens.
In my last post, In The Garden, Around The House: Endless Uses for Carpet Scraps, I mentioned that the Carpet and Rug Institute recommends that you retain a piece of newly installed carpet for future use....

I found the statement somewhat cryptic so I decided to ask Annette Smith, our Wear-Dated expert on all things carpet and warranty related, "why save carpet scraps from your installation?"

She listed two reasons.

1. For repairs.

2. For warranties.

Most carpet warranties - including the Wear-Dated carpet fiber warranties - require that you send in a piece of your carpet if you have a claim related issue. More specifically:

+ For any static electricity claims: according to the Wear-Dated Lifetime Anti-Static warranty [see general conditions], you must supply a 2' x 3' remnant.

Why? The warranty states that carpet made with Wear-Dated carpet fiber is manufactured in a way that resists the build-up of static electricity. In other words, the carpet will not generate static electricity greater than 5.0 kilo volts. The only way to determine if it was manufactured to those standards is to send the 2 x 3 foot piece to the lab and test it.

+ For stain complaints: depending on the nature of the complaint, we test to make sure that the carpet was manufactured with adequate stain protection and fluorocarbon. For that determination, we generally need a 1' x 1' to send to the lab for testing.

+ For manufacturing claims: carpet manufacturers usually require carpet samples to confirm if the carpet was manufactured to standard. For example, to test for tuft bind.

Finally, another good reason to keep a remnant of the new carpet if you need to do any repairs. Especially for stains that do not come clean, and particularly if they aren't covered by a warranty, the area can be cut out and a new piece of carpet cut and inserted in that area. In cut pile carpets, and if done correctly, you would not see the inserted piece, depending of course on how old your carpet is.

NOTE: it's best to call a professional for that kind of surgery!

I certainly plan to hold onto my remnants!

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Friday, May 9, 2008

In The Garden, Around The House: Endless Uses for Carpet Scraps

scrap carpet originally uploaded by la femme jen.
I am a pack rat at heart. I get it from my French grandmother who unfailingly extricated for me treasures from her vast storage cabinets, the perfect box or bottle or ribbon or scrap of fabric, all items she had saved from the trash bin.

To this day, I save fabric scraps [I sew], and plenty of fabric samples from my Wear-Dated upholstery fabric days [now collector's items]. To those, I've added carpet pieces and samples.

My daughter uses many of those, some for doing her "work" [per her school's Montessori model], some for play [as an upcoming episode of "A Foot's Perspective" will demonstrate].

However, several articles about carpet scraps have offered me renewed appreciation for Carpet In the Garden and Carpet Around the House. If you're like me, you'll be impressed!

From the March/April 1972 issue of Mother Earth News comes CARPET YOUR GARDEN by John Krill. Says the article: "You can reap rich garden harvests on slim expenditures of time and physical exertion by putting a rug in your produce patch."

The proper technique calls for using the carpet "bottom-side-up" in the garden. Note the timing: "in the fall or at least a month before planting time in the spring." I've used rubber/tire composite tomato rugs and they worked well to control weeds. I wonder how carpet scraps work. Do read the article for expert and detailed advice, and let me know how your garden grows!

Reader's Digest offers "Extraordinary Uses for Carpet Scraps" with 14 practical ideas in total. There's protection [as in knees, floors, workshop tools, and for changing tires], sound absorption [for appliances and noisy pots/pans], and shine [as in buffed shoes]. Then there's keeping floors dry [i.e., when watering plants] as well as your dog, exercising, catching socks and distracting cats from clawing. I really like the car mat idea, and it, too, mentions weed control in gardens.

[eHow offers similar carpet scrap recycling suggestions.]

6 Ways to Use Carpet Scraps (With bonus tips.) from Mrs. FIXIT's How-To Library has some tips I hadn't thought of: placing carpet at the level where your car door opens to prevent nicks and scratches, to move furniture, in a drawer to keep tools in place, on your sawhorse to protect your project and on the bottom rung of a ladder. Wow! Oh, and use it to make cat furniture.

My additions:

+ Place larger pieces of carpet by doors that connect a garage to the home to help catch dirt and grit and keep it out of the house [also listed in Mrs. Fixit's list].

+ Keep a mat size piece by a sunny spot in the house for your pet to sleep on or for your cats to do claws on.

+ Keep a stack in a common room to keep visiting kids from bickering about who gets to sit where. Each piece carves out personal territory and levels the playing field. [NB: make sure all pieces are the same size.]

And, the Carpet and Rug Institute recommends that you retain a piece of newly installed carpet for future use.... I'll go over some of those uses in my next post.

I was amazed to discover these Endless Uses For Carpet Scraps... from the garden to around the house. If you come across others, please let me know so I can add them to the list.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Foot's Perspective - Episode 3

This episode of A Foot's Perspective takes place outside, on the relaxing grounds of the Villa San Jose in Morelia, Mexico [in the state of Michoacan].

The grounds of this hotel represent an outdoor common room, with benches, and table/chair arrangements located in a multitude of areas. Some on tile, many on the grass carpet, all extremely welcoming and conducive to relaxing, conversing, reading or even recording an episode of A Foot's Perspective!

From this photo, you see the range of colors coming from flowers, plants, trees, wall surfaces and decorative elements. What it doesn't show is the view [from a mountainside], or capture the sounds.

This next episode offers a different dimension, or A Foot's Perspective, on outdoor carpets and garden details. If you listen closely, you may even hear some of the sounds. I hope you enjoy it!

[Subscribers, please follow this YouTube link to view the video.]

Other episodes can be viewed by clicking on these links:
A Foot's Perspective - Episode 2
A Foot's Perspective - Episode 1

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Monday, May 5, 2008

NY-NY Casino Abandons Branded Carpet

Carpet at NY,NY originally uploaded by lukeadelphia.

After reading Empty Pockets, Happy Feet & Casino Carpet, I can't help but nurture an affinity for casino carpet.

So, imagine my disappointment when I learn from Kizer & Bender's Retail Adventures in the Real World and their post titled Until now ... that New York New York Casino has opted to go generic with its carpet rather than use it as a means of reinforcing its brand and uniqueness compared to other destinations.

Look at this photo. The carpet captures NYC subway tokens. How much more NYC can you get, even if we have gone to MetroCards? Why would anyone -unless they were replacing the current carpet with Metro Card inspired carpet - change what so perfectly captures the NYC vibe and brand?

I explored NY-NY Casino with Kizer & Bender [see Kizer & Bender - First Impressions: The Art of Store Layout & Design] and saw firsthand the fun carpet themes they picture in their post. The change to something as drab and generic as they capture makes no sense. After all, isn't casino carpet supposed to be about preposterous whimsy and so epitomize a sense of unique space that one is overcome and unwilling to go elsewhere?

If you've seen the new carpet, what's your take? Is it more soothing and hence more conducive to spending time at New York New York?

Or is it so bland that it does nothing to reinforce and remind you why where you are is special and that you should remain there because it is so unique?

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Carpet Style Provides World Palette of Choices

So. You're looking for just the right carpet style.

Something classic. Something that's more about coordinating color and creating total comfort underfoot than it is about a trendy visual statement.

Not that this won't create a luscious statement, but the statement is somewhat understated and subtle, one where A Shag or Cable Carpet or even a Frieze Carpet just won't do.

You want something classic. To me, that calls for a textured carpet style with color options galore!

Here is one with 80 color options to choose from....

World Palette and it's available at every Carpet One Floor & Home in the US and Canada.

My photos of World Palette's color palette aren't the best, but I do hope you can see the range of color options available. And so many beyond beige! Imagine, 80 colors to choose from!

And it has colors!

Color that can add character, personality and life to any room! Color that lets you express yourself, allows you to coordinate with unique heirlooms, upholstery patterns or simply other colors [in my case, a Bermuda ocean green wall color.]

The carpet itself, a classic texture construction, has substance. It has presence.

Here's how to find this carpet.

Visit any Carpet One Floor & Home.

Go to the Classic section of the Select-a-Floor system, and find World Palette. You'll see a large piece in beige [as pictured in photo below.]

You'll also see additional cards with all 80 wonderful colors...

In some stores, you may find World Palette displayed in a Good Housekeeping stand alone display - in addition to to the sample card in the Classic section [see below]. There, you can really get up close and personal with the different colors which range from traditional to contemporary...

The product carries Carpet One Floor & Home's Platinum Series warranty [yes, it is made with Wear-Dated® carpet fiber] and delivers definite beauty, comfort and durability.

In the photo below, I tried to get as close up as possible so you can see for yourself how lusciously dense and thick this textured carpet is. I have something very similar [I purchased it over 4 years ago, otherwise I would have selected World Palette.]

It's in my daughter's room. A deep purpled ocean blue. It has been the perfect backdrop to her activities. It's delicious to stand on; even more comfortable to sit, lie down and occasionally sleep on! [I hope to let it star in an upcoming episode of A Foot's Perspective.]

Will you consider Wear-Dated World Palette? Look for it in the Select-A-Floor Classic Pod of Carpet One Floor & Home.

And, let me know what you think!

Thank you.

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