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5 things people most regret about their carpets

From the wrong colour to a flat pile, find out the main pitfalls to avoid when choosing a new carpet for your home.
Dog lying on a light carpet

There are plenty of things to consider when choosing the right carpet for your home, including the type, pile and colour or pattern. And then, once your carpet is fitted, you need to know how best to care for it and keep it in tip top condition. 

We surveyed more than 6,380 carpet owners last year to find out all about their carpet experiences – from where they bought it to what colour they chose, as well as what, if anything, they regretted about their carpet.

Surprisingly 40% of those we surveyed told us they were dissatisfied with their carpet and wished they'd done things differently. 

Read on to find out what these regrets were so you can avoid making the same errors. 

Still deciding where to buy your carpet? Find out which are the best and worst carpet retailers as ranked by carpet owners.  

1. Walking on a carpet with shoes on 

The biggest regret was ruining the look and feel of the carpet by letting people walk on it with their shoes on, and as many as 15% of those we surveyed told us that they wished they had banned shoes on their carpet.

Dirt from outdoors will show up particularly on a pale carpet, which could mean that cream carpets swiftly turn grey. 

If you wear shoes indoors you can also crush your carpet pile, giving it a flatter look over time, even if your carpet started out as tight or dense to begin with. 

A recent study by scientists from Macquarie University and Indiana University Environmental Institute (IUPUI) found that walking around wearing shoes in your home can lead to poorer air quality due to the shoes bringing outdoor contaminants in. 

Find out more about how to improve your indoor air quality at home

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2. Choosing the wrong carpet colour

Glass of red wine spilt on carpet

This is one of the biggest decisions you'll need to make when furnishing a room. As with the colour of your walls, your carpet colour can completely change the look and vibe of any indoor space. 

Light-coloured carpets are popular, with a third of carpet owners we surveyed opting for white, cream or beige. These carpets can all make a room look lighter and more spacious than darker carpets. 

But pale carpets are a risky choice as things can easily go wrong. In our survey, 13% of people regretted not having gone for a darker, more practical colour. 

Unsurprisingly, the most common issues were related to removing stains and colour fade, with 25% experiencing each of these problems.

If you're set on having a light-coloured carpet in your home, you should consider the following:

  • Think carefully if you're laying the carpet in a high-traffic area, such as a hallway.
  • Don't allow family and friends to walk on the carpet wearing shoes. 
  • A flecked pattern will better hide stains. Carpetright told us: 'There’s definitely a movement building to be a little less neutral and flecked carpets are popular in heavy-wear areas because they can disguise everyday soiling.'
  • Buy a doormat and make sure to clean it regularly.
  • Be prepared for more maintenance - check out our guide to cleaning carpet stains for more help.

Although stains and dirt aren't as visible with darker carpets, dark carpets aren't completely problem-free. 

Those with black or dark carpets were the most likely to experience their carpet wearing away too quickly, which was something that 25% of carpet owners reported to us.

3. Choosing the wrong type of carpet

Woman looking at carpet samples in a showroom

Different areas in your home need different types of carpet, so it's important to choose wisely. 

A luxurious woollen carpet may make your bedroom more cosy and inviting, but it would be a poor choice for high-traffic areas such as the hallway or stairs, as the pile would flatten easily. 

In our survey, 10% of carpet owners complained that their carpet showed stains and wished they'd opted for a more stain-resistant carpet, while 9% regretted buying a cheap carpet. Conversely, 4% wished they hadn't bought such an expensive carpet. 

It can be tricky to choose between synthetic and natural carpets - 6% told us they wished they'd opted for a natural carpet. 

However, while natural carpet is hardwearing and long-lasting, manmade carpets are often more versatile, as they are typically more stain-resistant, durable and perfect for sticky fingers and spill-prone zones. 

Find out more about the pros and cons of different carpet types in our guide on how to buy the best carpet.

4. Skimping on underlay

It's easy to forget how important underlay is, especially as it's hidden below your carpet. Also, after having spent hundreds of pounds on a new carpet, buying cheap underlay, or not buying underlay at all, might be tempting. 

12% of the carpet owners we surveyed said they went without underlay and regretted it. Some even reported the shop telling them that they didn't need it. 

But no underlay will lead to your new carpet wearing out faster and it will look less plump. Underlay is an essential part of keeping your carpet's overall comfort and quality, offering protection against wear and tear.

Underlay should be adapted to your needs and the type of carpet you have. Read our tips for choosing underlay in our how to buy carpet guide.

5. Choosing the right carpet when you have a pet

If you have a pet then make sure you buy a suitable carpet; 9% of the carpet owners we surveyed told us that they regretted buying a carpet with looped fibres as they catch easily on a pet's claws, and 24% said their pet's claws snagged more with natural fibre carpet compared to other carpet types. 

Some told us that they regretted not properly researching carpets that are resistant to damage from cats, while others were upset that cat hair was stuck deeply in their carpet. 

Choosing a material that's easy to clean, durable and scratch-resistant can make a big difference. Think about:

  • Scratch resistance
  • Damage resistance 
  • How easy it will be to clean
  • Water resistance 

Other pet owners lamented their decision to buy a carpet altogether, saying that in retrospect another type of flooring might have been better.

Keep muddy pawprints at bay by having a doormat at your front and back doors, and also have a towel handy to clean mucky paws before your four-legged friend walks inside.

Find out which are the best vacuums for pet hairConsidering hardwood flooring instead? Check out our guide to the different types of wood flooring.

Other carpet issues to consider

Here are some of the other carpet issues reported by our survey respondents. 

Carpet moths

Carpet damaged by moth

Carpet moths can wreak havoc if you don't take early steps to tackle them. 

Some types of carpet are more appealing to moths than others. Moths feed on keratin – a protein found in wool. They only attack natural fibres, so woollen carpets are the most vulnerable. Fortunately most manufacturers offer carpets that come with anti-moth treatments. 

By default, any manmade carpet fibre is moth-proof, as there are no natural fibres for them to feed on. 

Struggling to push your vacuum on your carpet

Vacuum cleaner in carpet up close

Choosing a carpet with a dense pile can be a good idea because of its comfort, warmth and insulation, but a carpet with a very high pile may be more difficult to vacuum. 

Experts told us that regular vacuuming is crucial as it will help to prevent dirt and grit from getting into the carpet fibres, while helping to keep the tufts upright. 

Besides testing how well vacuum cleaners remove dirt from carpets, we also test how easy (or hard) a vacuum is to push along the most popular thick carpet types found in UK homes. 

Choose a vacuum cleaner that scores the maximum five stars for both dirt removal and ease of vacuuming on carpet, as this could save you feeling like you’ve had a full body workout by the time you’ve finished cleaning.

Read our tips for vacuuming your home more effectively or see all our Best Buy vacuum cleaners.

Carpet or hard flooring?

Think about whether carpet is definitely the right choice for you. 7% of those with regrets told us that they wish they didn't choose carpet at all. 

Read our guide to choosing the best carpet and our guides to types of wood flooring before you commit to a flooring type.


This article uses insights from the Which? Connect panel, collected from research activities with our members. Find out how to get involved