Its been a while since I posted, and I’ve had to make an effort to structure my life such that regular blogging becomes viable. But I think I have just about achieved that, so here we are!
Rather than going on about what I’ve been up to, I’ll instead give you some CONTENT on one of two major changes to the tiny house in the past few months…
All About Carpet
Most folks who move into a static home, especially if they are renting like me, will probably find any carpet already installed is a rather poor, cheap variety.
This may not be the first thing they notice or in fact they may not ever notice it, but I am now attuned to such things – you see, at time of writing, I work for a carpet company.
This will be the first and last time I ‘talk shop’ on my blog, but I thought I might impart a little of my knowledge and a few suggestions.
1. Go For Quality
A good carpet is a good investment – if you (like me) are planning on being in your tiny home for a good long time, and wish to have any portion of it carpeted, then you have to go for quality.
I have an idea of what makes a good product (see below), as my company deals almost exclusively in high-end designer carpets, the sort of stuff you would never find at CarpetRite.
To be more precise, my company deals with high-end carpet remnants.
This leads me to my second piece of advice…
2. See If You Can Find A Remnant
Remnants are pieces left over on the ends of huge 30-metre rolls of carpet; Say you have four meters of your once vast roll left, and someone asks for five – you can’t do it with the end, you have to make a whole new roll. And this happens many times until you are left with usable, most often perfect quality, but ultimately fixed-sized carpet. These are bundled together and sold on at an enormous discount to specialist retails (like my company) and therefore hugely discounted to customers. You can get insane bargains buying remnants – anyone frugal or thrifty should always check for remnants first!
3. Get A Decent Underlay
Underlay will extended the life of a carpet and give it an extra spring, pleasant under the feet.
It also helps with insulation, both heat and sound, which can be a major issue in small houses – or any house for that matter! My recommendation is polyurethane underlay. It is regarded across the board to be superior to rubber or felt underlays, with the added bonus that it’s almost 100% recycled so pretty green too. If you’re in the UK, I’d suggest buying from Ball & Young.
4. Hire A Professional Carpet Fitter
Carpet fitting is one of those jobs that may seem simple but requires finesse and skill. It also requires knowledge of how a carpet will behave – you don’t want to fit your carpet and then have it ruck up and crease a week later thanks to an issue with temperature!
For this reason I would say always hire a profession – in their hands it’s a quick and relatively painless job, and comparatively cheap too!
I knew for a long time what I wanted for my carpet, primarily because of the colour…I can’t help it, I’m shallow!
I had decided that, as I went on, I wanted a color scheme based around teal (aka aquamarine, turquoise etc), purple and grey. Early on I even made some bunting which reflected this:
So, I wanted a teal carpet – and into the hands of my company fell a carpet not only the perfect colour, but from a brand I trusted. The brand is Westex, and the Carpet is Ultima Twist Kingfisher. I knew my waiting was at an end.
But why is this particular carpet such a boon?
Well, Westex have been a favourite of mine since my first weeks in my current job, and I will tell you why as well as giving some general points about high quality carpet…
How To Spot A High Quality Carpet
1. High Wool Content
The cheapest carpets available are made from polypropylene or viscose, manmade fibres feel good and look good but are very prone to flattening and shedding. They are also victims of static electricity, are highly flammable and, as the fibres themselves are translucent, not good at hiding dirt. In addition, viscose (aka faux silk) does not react well to water, as it is partially cellulose which absorbs moisture.
Wool, on the other hand, is a naturally springy, opaque and long-lasting fibre which stays looking and feel great for ages. Its main issues? It can be difficult to clean, as alkaline products like bleach will damage it (alkalies are not even used in the dying process) and it can encourage moths and other beasties.
Its natural advantages can be enhanced and its problems diminished by mixing it with a man-made fibre, such as nylon. Almost all Westex carpets are 80% Wool and 20%, although they do have one or two pure wool ranges.
2. High Tuft Rating/Stitch Gauge/Pile Count/Pile Density
These are all essentially measures of the same thing – literally how closely the fibres of the carpet are packed together. In a cheap carpet, you’ll more or less be able to see the backing through the carpet. This is a bad sign.
Westex use stitch gauge measurement to determine density – they use 1/8th and 1/10th guages in their ‘Ultima Twist’ range (infuriatingly there are eight – yes EIGHT – different qualities of Ultima Twist, each with differing specs, but they will be either 1/8th or 1/10th.
Mine is Talisman quality, which is 1/10th gauge – this essentially means that there are 10 ‘tufts’ every linear inch – in metric, that’s one roughly every 2.5mm.
3. Two (or Three) Ply
Ply is a count of how many strands of fibre are twisted together to make each tuft of carpet – if there are two or three this helps prevent flattening over time. Most of Westex carpets are two or three ply, and they have their own particular process for twisting them to ensure maximum lifespan.
4. Check The Backing
A jute or hessian backing to a carpet is general a good marker of quality – strong, long lasting and flexible, proof against the rigours of transit, plus sustainable and eco-friendly – all Westex carpets have this.
Many decent carpets will have a synthetic backing – you may see ‘Actionbac®’ mentioned, which is a manmade polypropylene backing produced by US company Propex, this is standard for many carpets.
The lowest-grade carpets tend to have felt backing – these are reserved for cheap rental properties, and I would say steer clear of them.
Many top carpet manufacturers ensure their products – especially wool or natural fibres – are protected from stains and other issues (moths, dust-mites, moisture) before they leave the factory – Westex does this for every carpet (as far as I know), making them hydrophobic and proof against creepy crawlies!
I’d like to assure everyone that, once again, just like I’m not getting any money from Berghoff or Wilkos, that I am not profiting in any way shape or form from Westex. I just like the brand, that’s all…though their website could do with some work.
Now after singing their praises I have some bad news for those outside the UK – you are unlikely to be able to get hold of a Westex carpet. In a country which has largely given up on making its own goods, carpet is peculiarly domestic, with a great deal of stuff being made on our sceptred isle.
So, after much deliberation, I went ahead and bought my Ultima Twist Talisman Kingfisher Carpet.
I emptied the bedroom, bed and all, into the front room and pulled out the old carpet, which had been infuriating me since around day one.
The best way to get up old carpet is to cut around the side with a craft knife, like so, and cutting it into small strips or squares, allowing it to be put in the bin, avoiding a time-consuming trip to the dump.
Mine was easy to shift, it was basically glued and stapled to the floor, and there was no underlay – but WATCH OUT – whether yours is stabled down like mine or secured with ‘gripper rods’ (long wooden poles covered in sharp tacks) there will probably be pointy things which need to be treated carefully.
Pictured: Some things you wouldn’t want to step on.
Also, on ripping it up I allowed myself a moment of sneering gratification – it was felt backed!
On side note – my bedroom is always the coldest of the four in my tiny house, and on taking up the carpet I discovered one of several ventilation slots on the floor only partially covered the hole which had been made for it – so through most of the Winter the only thing protecting me from this draft was a skinny little carpet!
I decided I would have no more of this and covered it over with a small piece of plywood – there are four other vents in my room (for safety) which I think is quite enough.
My new Makita Cordless Drill (the subject of an upcoming blog) had not arrived so I used my regular corded drill for possibly the last time to drill and screw the thing in.
The carpet was fitted in a twinkling by my friendly fitter (a gentleman who often works alongside my company) with the aforementioned polyurethane underlay, (I chose Cloud 9 ContactCloud 9 Contact from Ball & Young) and I was delighted. My bedroom feels far more my own now than when I arrived – I also took the opportunity to move things around, including the bed, as I put things back in. I haven’t got pics of that yet, but will soon!
I may also have the leftover bit made into a rug!
Well, there we go kids – that’s my boring carpet story! If you have any carpet-related comments or questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them.