If you're stuck inside this winter, you may be thinking about different home improvement projects that can spice up your living area. New carpeting is a great way to give rooms personality and can make your space more comfortable overall while boosting your home's value. Pulling up old carpet might even expose issues that you can fix before you commit to a home inspection during the selling process. There are many varieties of carpeting, and each has a litany of pros and cons, so it will take some research to find what's best for you and your home. That research will be worth it in the end, as a good carpet will provide years of comfort and style. Here's an overview of what to consider when you start shopping for new floor coverings:

Pick a pad

The padding that underpins a carpet is actually just as important to comfort and durability as the carpet material itself. A good carpet pad will supply a nice springy surface despite thousands of footstep and actually make your carpeting last longer, This Old House reported. That's because a high quality pad disperses the energy from each footfall, which prevents the carpet's surface from getting matted down. Proper padding even makes it easier to clean your carpet as it allows air to circulate under the surface. This prevents mold because it prompts faster drying and cycles air through the carpet's surface when you vacuum the floor. 

There are many types of padding available, ranging from foams and recycled rubber to different polymer compounds, and each has its own durability rating and accompanying cost. To decide which is right for you, consider the amount of traffic a specific area will see. Certain types of pads are more prone to compression because of heavy use, and the different levels are ranked by the Carpet Cushion Council. There are three classes, ranging from the less durable Class 1 to the very tough Class 3. Check the rankings to plan ahead when selecting a pad.

Select a height

While you might be enamored with luxurious shag carpeting, it's not the best option for every room. When you evaluate the different carpet heights, keep in mind where the carpeting will be used and what sorts of grime it will encounter. A deep pile carpet can be beautiful but will also hold in dirt and resist cleaning, so it might not be a good choice in the entryway to your home. If you are carpeting an area that children often play in, pick something short and stain resistant. It will make your life much easier during the inevitable floor cleaning.

Material matters

Carpet can be made out of many different materials, according to Houzz.com, and what works for your home will be an issue of use and cost. Wool has traditionally been a great choice for high-traffic areas, as it's very resilient and odor-resistant, but this natural option is notoriously expensive to install. While it will not crush down like other options, wool can easily stain, so it might not be the best idea for areas where people regularly eat and drink. Synthetic materials like nylon or polyester can do away with some of wool's limitations but are often less pleasant on bare skin and sometimes release chemical smells over time. They are generally cheaper, however, and may be a good choice for a child's playroom or other areas that are likely to get dirty. 

It's also common to find carpets that have been pretreated with stain-resistant chemicals and coatings. These are a great option for dining rooms or other areas where spills are a part of life. If you're sure that a carpet will get dirty during it's lifetime, make a smart decision when it comes to color. A white carpet in an entryway is bound to look dingy over time, but it might be a perfect choice for a living room.