Shopping for new carpet can be exciting and overwhelming. Naturally, the right color and texture are the first things shoppers look for, but it’s also important to know something about a carpet’s overall construction. The ingredients that go into a carpet - like the backing (or bottom) - can have a huge bearing on how it performs over time. In carpets of good quality, the backing is an integral component of performance. Much like a skyscraper, if a carpet’s foundation is poorly built, no matter how beautiful the style, it will not withstand the test of time. Although agreeing on color and style may be a challenge, there are a few simple facts that make shopping for a carpet backing easier than ever. A decade ago, there were virtually no options in carpet backing. All products were basically the same, and backing was a commodity. Now, carpet manufacturers are differentiating their carpet products by offering technologically- enhanced backings that provide a better foundation for carpet. They want consumers to know that a stronger foundation is a critical component in making a soft, durable carpet that will maintain its original appearance over time. Carpet options now include the choice of a “luxury” or “premium” backing as opposed to a “traditional” or “standard” backing. Premium backings are “double built,” which means there are two layers of backing to ensure stability rather than the traditional single layer. It begins with the traditional open weave fabric, but then it is encapsulated with a soft fleece felt. It is common to walk into a home and see wrinkled carpet. This occurs when the standard backing expands over time due to changes in temperature. However, this does not happen to carpets with premium backing. They are more dimensionally stable, and their soft felt layer inhibits expansion, keeping the carpet from “growing.” Luxury backings are also softer underfoot - a feature much easier to feel than to describe. When shopping for carpet, ask a salesperson to show you a carpet with a luxury backing, and one with a standard backing; then step on both. After stepping on a carpet with a luxury backing, the difference will be obvious. Premium backings not only have a higher “plush” factor, they have a much softer feel. Enhanced insulation properties are also a benefit of premium backings. Luxury backing products provide better thermal and sound insulation. This means warmer winters, cooler summers, and less noise traveling from room to room. The bottom line is that choosing a well-made, beautiful carpet is a shopper’s primary objective, but if softness and performance over time are just as important, the type of backing you choose should be carefully considered.