Tuesday, 20 March 2018


I'm so excited we have finally replaced our old stairs/landing carpet. It may have taken us 6 years (I'll explain to you later why it took so long..), but I do think it was worth the wait. Our old carpet was a wool mix and although it didn't look that bad, considering it was probably 15+ years old, it was definitely time to upgrade. I decided to go for an elegant wool carpet with a herringbone pattern and so far I'm loving it. I'm not convinced wool carpets are for everyone though which is why I'm going to give you some pros and cons in this post that will hopefully help you to make up your mind.

So, the main reason why we were stuck with our old carpet for so long was that we realised early on that redoing the stairs and landing would also involve stripping off the old wall paper. You don't want to install a new carpet and then a year later start painting the walls and potentially ruin your carpet. Makes sense, right? It took 2 weeks for our painter/decorator to remove the old wall paper and paint the walls, so you kind of get an idea how big of a job it really was. When my eldest daughter was born, we installed safety gates on the stairs and I knew they'd mark the walls. Then when my second daughter was born I realised that I'm still probably not getting rid of them for a year or two, so we decided to redo the landing and stairs anyway. Having a brand new carpet is worth retouching the paint work and filling a few holes, right?

Here's what our old carpet looked like. It wasn't that bad I guess, but it was old and I wasn't mad about the custard colour either. It was a wool mix and I didn't really see any wear and tear anywhere which is amazing considering how old it was. By the way, our safety gates left a deep dent on the old carpet, so remember to leave a small gap between the safety gates and the carpet so it doesn't get ruined.

And here's the new carpet! I went for a natural 100% fine wool carpet. My dream carpet would have been a natural material like jute or sisal but unfortunately they are not great if you have kids as they don't like any moisture and cannot be professionally cleaned (they are also not that comfy barefoot). I have been eyeing up herringbone carpets for a while now and I found the most perfect patterned carpet on Pinterest, Tuftex silver pruce, but annoyingly you can only buy it in the States. Luckily, I saw the Alternative Flooring Iconic Herringbone carpet (colour gable) in our local carpet shop and thought it looked very similar. I brought home loads of different carpet samples (carpet shops are usually happy to loan them, so you see what they look like in your own home). The carpet shop also ordered me a larger sample (you may have to pay for it, but luckily I got it for free) and then I knew straight away that this carpet would work beautifully in our stairs and landing. It really helped me to see the larger sample by the way. Lighting in the shops is usually brighter and I found that the sample looked slightly darker in our home, which I was happy with. 

We used fitters recommended to us by our carpet shop (it was part of the package) and although they did a decent job, they cut the carpet by mistake. It's hard to see the cut as it's next to the wall which is probably why I didn't complain about it. Also, I only realised this after a few days and had already signed off the paper work. I guess the other reason was that I didn't really want them back. It was stressful listening to all the banging noises as they also fixed some of the floor boards. They also installed new grippers as well and glued the sides of the carpet to the underlay which is a pretty standard procedure with natural carpets. 

Now choosing the right underlay was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. There is so much information out there and every carpet shop told me a different thing. It didn't help that I looked online too, just to find out that it's not so much about the underlay but also what kind of carpet you're partnering it with. Natural carpets tend to go better with a rubber backing as it will hold it in it's place and can be stretched to a tight fit. In most cases the carpet will also be glued onto the underlay or the underlay will be glued to the floorboards like with sisal or jute. I must say my biggest disappointment was that our carpet shop didn't mention to me that I may need different type of underlay for the stairs. Stairs will have to take up a lot of foot traffic, so you'll want something with higher tensity. Since our carpet was quite thin (4 mm), I went for a luxurious thick underlay. If you're planning to get a high pile carpet, make sure your underlay isn't too thick or you may have to cut the doors so they close. I'm not convinced that thicker underlay is always better (it's more expensive too) which is why if in doubt go with what your carpet manufacturer recommends. Thick underlay is supposed to stop the carpet digging into the floorboards, so it will last longer. Some people claim it does just the opposite as it can provide more movement. I'm not sure what to believe. Thicker underlay will feel more luxurious and comfy barefoot but if you wear shoes inside you won't really get to see (or feel) the benefits.

I wanted to keep this post short and sweet but somehow I've managed to write an essay. You see, there are so many different things you need to consider when buying a new carpet. Google, ask friends and visit showrooms. Spend a bit of time testing the underlays and carpet samples. Don't forget to get an underlay sample too and see what it feels like with the carpet on top.

I guess the main thing is that I absolutely love our new carpet. It has transformed our stairs and landing and the newly painted walls help too of course. I should probably add that since this is not our forever house, I'm hoping to get at least 5 years out of this carpet, although I'm sure it will last longer than that. The quality feels just amazing.

One more thing, I do find that the herringbone pattern hides dirt pretty well as I only need to hoover the carpet once or twice a week. We've had it for 2 months now and have already managed to get a stain few weeks ago. Luckily, I managed to get rid of it thanks to the Natural Flooring Care Kit I bought from Alternative Flooring. I found the Host Dry Carpet cleaner (powder) amazing and you can also buy it on Amazon. We also got our carpet scotch guarded but I don't think it made a difference.

Top tips on buying a carpet

- Go for an independent carpet shop as they will usually give you a more competitive price.

- Negotiate. I got free grippers, door bars and free scotch guarding as part of the deal. It's always worth asking!

- Take carpet and underlay samples home with you and do order a larger sample so you get a realistic idea what it will look like.

- Pick a carpet that suits your lifestyle. If you have pets or children, wool and/or other natural materials might not be ideal for you.

- If you're also decorating, make sure all the paint work is finished before you start (also ask your decorator to cut the sides of your old carpet, so that he can paint them and avoid possible gaps).

- Make sure that your floor boards aren't loose. If you have uneven floor boards, a good quality underlay will hide some of the imperfections (although in some case you may need to replace the floor boards with new ones).

- You may need different underlay for the stairs, so do double check that it's suitable and go for heavy domestic rating. Also make sure that your stairs carpet isn't too slippery, otherwise it will be dangerous.

- Buy a spot cleaning kit and get the carpet professionally cleaned every 2-3 years.

- Don't buy a light coloured carpet unless you are willing to do some spot cleaning.

- Pick a style you love. Many people these days want a new carpet/rug every 10 years, so there's need to go for something bland or boring just because you're hoping it will be timeless. Get the carpet you love in stead.

Have you bought a new carpet recently? Let me know if you have any carpet buying tips you'd like to share by leaving a comment below!

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  2. Hi Pia. Hope you get this message as I've just been so delighted to find this carpet, and your review, but now, a year down the line I wondered how you are finding it? I note from the stair gate you either have small children (or pets!). We seem to be on the same page - our old (current) stairs landing carpet looks very much like your old one but has actually lasted us 20yrs (just a bit thread bear on the stair curves where 3 children and their friends have pillow-sledged over the decades!) Anyway, I've been reluctant to change it because I just couldn't find anything i could fall in love with - until the Tuftex - and now this. Our 3 children are growing up and two have (almost) left home, so this looked perfect....BUT....having visited a few carpet shops and heard their negative comments, we have become a little concerned. They tell us 1). It's pure wool so once stained, is stained for life. 2). Natural loop carpets need special fitting - laying one day then fitting properly after 48hrs rest??? 3). They don't move/stretch so need proper gripping rather than underlay - but most grips pierce through the short depth . 4). It can't be cut (as our landing has a T-shape offshoot, we would need a small join). All in all, they seem very keen to put us off! Just wondered if you are having and regrets/stains 1year down the line? many thanks , Heather x

    1. Hi Heather,

      I've responded to your email but here's a little summary :)

      To answer your questions:

      1) It won't be stained for life. 100% wool carpet can be professionally cleaned just like a synthetic carpet. Just get a reputable company for the job. It's actually pretty good you asked me this question now because about a month ago my daughter was ill and got sick on the carpet. It was quite a big stain and I tried to remove it myself with the Host dry carpet cleaner. It's great on small stains but wasn't enough to get rid of a big wet stain like we had. Anyway, I left the stain for 5 days and then got a carpet cleaner in who told me he would have 80% success rate getting the stain out (they all say this to protect themselves in case it doesn't) but the stain came out COMPLETELY. The carpet looks like new and it didn't get damaged in the process.

      2) 48 hour rule applies to natural carpets like jute and sisal but I've never heard about doing this with wool! Check the installation manual on the AF website: https://www.alternativeflooring.com/collection/wool/fine_wool/Iconic/wool_iconic_herringbone/gable.html
      You can download the pdf file for all the details and it says nothing about the 48 hour rule.

      I would make sure you get a very good fitter and pay the extra. Fine wool carpets are delicate and you'll want someone who knows what they are doing and some of the advice you have been given is pretty appalling. Also, make sure you get a good quality underlay and that you are happy with the thickness (and the feel of it) before going ahead. Request a larger sample and place the underlay under the carpet to get a good idea.

      3) I think you may have misunderstood the cutting part? Our carpet was cut to size (I saw them do this with a knife). What I meant was that our fitter cut the carpet by mistake in one of the corners. I don't know how but I think he may have dropped his knife on it. Annoyingly, I noticed this after he had left so it was a bit too late to complain. I should have inspected the carpet more carefully at the time but these things happen. It was 100% the fitters fault though. The cut can't be fixed but it doesn't really look worse now. You only see it you're looking for it. I was worried there would be more cuts but luckily we haven't had any since then. But yes sharp objects could damage the pattern permanently but it would need to be a knife or something similar. Luckily the cut kind of blends in with the pattern.

      We actually had the fitter back few weeks ago as the carpet had become loose in one of the corners. I've got a new Miele hoover and accidently hoovered it on a strong setting next to the wall (where it's glued) and it lifted the carpet enough to see a gap between the wall and the carpet. Luckily it was easily fixed by the fitter (they just stretched the carpet again and attached it to the floor). There was no damage to the carpet either.

      It's such a tricky decisions isn't it? I'm not expecting 20+ years out of this carpet so I was kind of willing to risk it. But with proper care it could last a long time. I guess it depends on your lifestyle too. If your children are all grown up it might be just the right time! I kind of see why carpet companies don't want to recommend wool. It's a bit more high maintenance (can't be bleached) and low quality wool can look pretty naff after a year or two. But I do think good quality wool will last 10+ if you look after it. Hoover the carpet twice a week, clean spillages with dry carpet cleaner etc.

      Honestly, our carpet still looks like new! I bought the dry carpet cleaning pack from AF and it has been a godsend with small stains. I don't worry anymore if one the kids goes upstairs with muddy shoes as I know the stains will come off.

      Pia X

    2. Sorry, I think I didn't answer your question about grippers. We needed new grippers as the underlay was much thicker than our old one. They certainly haven't pierced the carpet but there is a chance they may have used another method? I think they used spray glue gun to attach the carpet onto the underlay too. Pia X

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