Do I need a brand name nylon carpet or is generic enough?
Why are there so many options? Many people ask themselves this during their carpet shopping spree. They’ve picked out “exactly” what carpet they want only to find there are more decisions they have to make when they get into the store. I received an email from a lady the other day who was concerned because she knew she wanted nylon carpet but got cold feet when she found out she had to choose between more expensive name brands or generic nylon.
I knew she wanted a straightforward answer on which she should pick, but I just couldn’t give it to her. Instead, I told her the reality with branded and generic is that the generic nylon is cheaper but its quality varies. Sometimes the quality is just as good as the branded version, but sometimes it’s not.
How much is risk worth to you?
Everyone can put a price on how much risk they’re willing to take, but many people don’t know this number off the top of their head. Let’s assume you walk into a store and there are two carpets that look exactly the same (we’ll call them ‘carpet A’ and ‘carpet B’). ‘Carpet B’ saves you $2,500 over ‘carpet A’. The catch is that even though 99% of the time these carpets have similar performance, there is a 1% chance that ‘carpet B’ will last only 4 years instead of the 10 years you expect.
Which carpet would you buy?
Nearly everyone would choose ‘carpet B’ because you save $2500 and odds are strongly in your favor that it will perform the same as ‘carpet A’. However, there is a small percentage of people who would choose ‘carpet A’ and gladly pay the extra $2500 to avoid any risk of having a bad carpet.
This is the game you have to play with branded vs generic carpets, and it’s typically not this easy. The savings is usually there—it’s not uncommon to save over $1,000 by buying generic. The hard part is knowing how much greater of a chance the generic has of failing you. There’s no straightforward answer to this, but her ares a few tips to help you make the decision:
The difference in branded and unbranded/generic nylon
You wouldn’t think there would be a difference between one nylon fiber to the next, but there is. The difference is found in the type of stain protector used and the types of nylon (type 6 or type 6,6—I’ll explain this later).
Branded nylons have their reputation at stake, so they use higher quality nylon (type 6,6), and a good stain protective coating. The pressure is on the brand to give you a good carpet because if they don’t, you’ll say bad things about their brand, and this hurts their future sales. Examples of brand name nylon are Stainmaster and Wear-Dated to name a couple.
Generic nylons selling point is usually the price, but it’s easier for generics to skimp on quality because generics don’t have a reputation to keep up. This is why you will find that generic carpets are more likely to use type 6 nylon and a lower quality stain protection.
I’m confused, what is type 6 and type 6,6 nylon?
Type 6,6 nylon is supposed to be slightly better performing and more durable than type 6 nylon. However, new technology is closing the gap between type 6 and type 6,6 nylon, and some people in the industry claim there is not a difference between the two anymore. I say there is a difference, but it’s not a major difference. If all things were equal and I had my choice between type 6 and 6,6 I would go with the type 6,6, but if there was a big difference in price, I would stick with the type 6 and take my savings.
How much difference is there in stain protection?
The truth is there can be a big difference in stain protection. Good stain protection can make a big difference in your carpet’s appearance a few years down the road. In the past, stain protection is what made some of the branded nylon so well known. Today, I think stain protection technology is becoming wide-spread and much more cost effective than it used to be, so even most generics do a very good job against spills and soil.
So… how much is risk worth to you
Now we’re back to the start of this article. When you walk into the store, you’ll be forced to decide how much you’re willing to pay or not pay for the comfort of knowing you have a less-risky branded carpet. With the information in this article, you can now make a better judgment on how much risk you’re taking by buying a generic—it’s not a huge risk, but it’s more than the 1% I used in the example above.
Captain’s parting words!
If you don’t care much about how your carpet looks or plan on moving in a couple of years, going with generic is an easy choice. If you want your carpet to last, you’re going to have to debate whether the amount you will save with generic is worth the risk that it may not be as high of quality. Personally, if I were going to save $1,000 or more (~$1 sq/ft on an average home), I’d take the generic nylon. A couple of other things to keep in mind: The first is that branded generics aren’t perfect. When I say branded are better than generics, I’m talking in general, meaning odds are in your favor with the branded version and all other things being equal. Similarly, keep in mind that density, twist level, and padding also affect your carpet quality. Now you have the tools to choose exactly what type of nylon fiber you want, and you can sleep well knowing you made an informed decision.