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Brent’s magic carpet ride

Choosing the perfect carpet is easier than you might think

Posted: July 19, 2008 12:33 a.m.
Updated: September 19, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Ben Griffiths, part owner of Brent's Carpets in Newhall with his father Brent, shows Maria Castillo a selection of carpet samples on Wednesday. Brent's Carpets will be coming up on 30 years of business next year.

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You wouldn't necessarily make the connection, but rising oil prices have increased the cost of carpet.

"Nylon is the principal ingredient of carpet and it is a by-product of oil refining, so the prices are linked," said Ben Griffiths of Brent's Carpet One in Newhall. "In the last 60 days, two major price increases (from the leading manufacturers) have added up to a 10 percent increase. That's more in the last year than maybe in the last 10 years." And he noted that there are fuel surcharges added to carpet delivered to his store these days. Unfortunately, the increased costs get passed onto the consumer.

So maybe now is the time to get your carpet, before costs go even higher.

With most folks squeezing their pennies these days, choosing the right carpet, and the right carpet dealer, has never been more important. Brent's has been serving the Santa Clarita Valley since 1979, first from a location on Apple Street, and for the last nine years from the store at 24220 Lyons Ave. And Ben Griffiths,

Brent's son, has grown up in the business. "I grew up playing on the carpet racks," he said.

From those years of experience, he offered a few insights.

Carpet for sure?
If you were only considering buying carpet because you thought you couldn't afford other flooring materials, you might reconsider. The price gap is narrowing. With the price of carpet rising and competition on hard surface materials driving their prices down, "The price of good carpet is nearly the price of what I would call value-oriented tiles and wood," Griffiths said.

New fibers

Griffiths noted that there haven't been any significant advances in carpet recently, but there have been fiber innovations that increase durability and comfort. "You used to have to get a stiff, hard carpet to make it last," he said. "Now you get the same durability with softer piles. They're coming out with new versions of polyester that will perform like nylon." But he noted that nylon is still probably a better choice as far as durability is concerned.

Features
Beyond the fiber material, Griffiths discussed the primary features you should consider in your carpet:
n Construction - Some carpet materials have the fibers "stapled" in, while more durable types have the fibers woven in.

n Density - The density of the fibers will affect the feel and the durability of your carpet.

n
Backing - The quality of the carpet backing will greatly affect the quality of the carpet.

n
Stain resistance - The type of stain resistance treatment your carpet receives is extremely important. While most carpets have a five to 10 year warranty with many exclusions, many of the carpets that Brent's Carpet One carries have the "titanium warranty," which lasts 25 years and has no exclusions.

Griffiths said that, when comparing carpets, don't just look at the price. Be sure to compare "apples to apples" - that each carpet has the same features as the other.

With woven fibers of fairly high density, on a quality backing and with good stain resistance "in place."

Griffiths said the "average, middle of the road" carpet will cost you $3-$4 per square foot. That's for the material only, not installation.

But you can certainly raise the bar by adding even more fiber density - and by adding in other design and appearance features. "When you get into these kinds, you're in a whole new ball park, the $7-$10 range," Griffiths said, and he offered three examples:

n Some carpets, such as Masland's Toccare Indole, offer two textures in piles together. One is a bit longer and softer. This adds an attractive look that is out of the ordinary.
n Carpets with longer, plusher piles, such as Masland's Cabaret, are, naturally, more expensive.
n Another top-price way to go might be Masland's Braided Touch II, which has a rope-like look to the piles.
Padding
"When it comes to carpet, one of the most important factors of longevity is what you put underneath it," Griffiths said. And he explained that the padding absorbs 62 percent of the foot impact. If the padding breaks down, the carpet takes the whole impact. "It shortens the life of the carpet dramatically."
"The most common pad sold in the industry is made from chopped foam," Griffiths said, and he explained that this will not last as long as a premium, prime urethane pad. "It's like putting $40 tires on a Porsche. It would ruin the performance of the entire car."

Warranties and service
Griffiths emphasized that working with a reputable carpet dealer is very important. He explained that people often think buying flooring is like buying milk - that you can get the same thing at any store. But, with flooring, you won't get the same service at every store. "We're probably one of the heaviest service industries," he said. If the dealer is not reputable, or won't respond to problems, it can cause you stress and cost you money. "Sometimes you have to get it redone or you end up hating it."

"You have to be talking to somebody who has the expertise to guide you to a floor that will hold up under your specific conditions," he said.

Naturally, Griffiths felt Brent's was your best choice when it comes to reputable, experienced carpet dealers. "It's our name. We want it to perform and last," he said. With that in mind, Brent's Carpet One offers what is called the Beautiful Guarantee. As the literature states: "We want you to be 100 percent happy that the floor we've created together is as beautiful as the one in your dreams. If not, we will replace it for free. We are that confident.... And we offer an easy-to-understand warranty system that gives you a level of protection that is tailored to you."

And working with a reputable dealer doesn't mean you have to pay more. "People looking to do floors.... There are two ways to look at it," Griffiths said. "One is ‘I want to do this once, and I want to do it right,' and the other is ‘Money's tight. I'm going to spend as little as I can to get this done.'" He explained that those from either school of thought will find what they need at Brent's because, as part of the Carpet One franchise, Brent's has huge buying power and can compete with the prices at "big box stores."

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