Carpet is in a league of its own in the flooring world because it’s soft. Tile, hardwood, laminate, natural stone – those are hard surfaces. The truth is, there is no objective number we or any other flooring business can give you to answer that question. What we do instead is try to equip you with the tools and knowledge to make your carpet last. Here we answer the question of how durable carpet is, along with what you should pay attention to keeping its original, purified condition intact.
The short answer: It depends.
The long answer: In reality, how long your carpet lasts isn’t set in stone.
Like it is with most facets of the flooring industry, your carpet’s durability hinges on multiple factors, which we’ll discuss more in depth below.
There is a measuring stick available, though. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) devotes hours of research to the shelf-life of home appliances, flooring, products, and materials, aggregating that data into their Standard Estimated Life Expectancy Chart For Homes.
While they’re clear that foot traffic volume and maintenance impact carpet’s durability, their research shows that, on average, carpet lasts for about eight to 10 years.
Carpet has the shortest shelf-life for flooring types researched by InterNACHI. The chart below, part of InterNACHI’s Life Expectancy report, compares carpet’s durability to other types of flooring:
Quality means different things for different products. In carpet’s case, quality is interpreted to mean durability. Quality is strongly tied to brand and how the carpet is made. Brands manufacture their carpet differently from each other. Brands also have different manufacturing techniques for their carpet products, i.e. Carpet A is manufactured with Technique A and Carpet B with Technique B.
Two factors influence how long a carpet can last: foot traffic and stain-resistance.
We discuss foot traffic in-depth later on in this blog. Right now, we’ll focus on stain-resistance. Stain resistance has everything to do with how the carpet is built. Some carpets are made with nylon, while others are made with PET and Smartstrand. Nylon is indeed long-lasting, but Smartstrand is known for being more stain-resistance because of the way its fibers are constructed.
Before you buy carpet, ask about the stain-resistance and how the carpet is made.
*Check out this highly informative article over at CarpetCaptain.com for a breakdown of the different types of carpet.
The Foot Traffic
It’s the carpet owner’s paradox: you invest in carpet to handle foot traffic, but foot traffic wears your carpet down.
The reason carpet is more susceptible to wear-and-tear than hard surfaces is the fact that it’s constructed with fibers. When subjected to the consistent pressure of feet, these fibers lose their bounce and become matted/crushed over time. It’s why manufacturers like Mohawk Flooring are constantly innovating how they build their carpet’s fibers. In Mohawk’s case, they build their fibers in complex coils with spring-like features, allowing the carpet to “bounce back” and counteract foot traffic. These kinds of innovations certainly affect how long a carpet lasts, but the technology isn’t at the point where carpet becomes immune to foot traffic.
So, the lower the foot traffic, the longer your carpet lasts.
Carpet installed in hallways and living rooms is probably going to last about eight to 10 years, as InterNACHI’s data suggests. Bedroom carpet, on the other hand, might last longer. In fact, our owners have carpet in their bedroom that’s 18 years old. They credit its durability to both proper maintenance and low foot traffic.
*Carpet brands normally include an estimated number of steps a style can withstand with its warranty information. Check with your salesperson or search the manufacturer’s website if that information isn’t on-hand.
- Clean up spills immediately – don’t let them sit and fester
- Vacuum carpet regularly to remove soil and dirt
- Seek a professional cleaning every 12-18 months for areas of high traffic
- Clip snags with scissors – don’t rip them out
- Remove furniture dents by brushing the area with the edge of a coin
What else you should pay attention to:
Where it’s installed. Installing in your home’s entryway or hallway? Don’t expect it to last longer than eight to 10 years. You can make carpet in low traffic areas, like bedrooms or home offices, last more than a decade.
Wildlife. Pets can decrease the life span of your carpet. It’s extra foot traffic and more stains.
The warranty. It should clue you into how durable the carpet is expected to be. Not all carpets carry the same warranty length. Mohawk has carpets with a 25-year abrasion warranty and others with a 10-year warranty, for example.