Guide: Which Carpet Fibre is Ideal for Your Home?
With its cushiony feel underfoot and inviting warmth, carpet has long been a go-to flooring choice. When it comes to choosing carpeting, there is more to consider than just appearance. The fibres used to create the carpet can affect how it feels, its performance, and more.
What Are Carpet Fibres?
All carpets are made with fibres, each of which have their own benefits and strengths. There are two general types to choose from: synthetic (which accounts for about 97% of carpeting) and organic fibres such as wool.
What Are the Different Types of Carpet Fibres?
Generally, nylon, polyester, PET (recycled polyester), polypropylene, wool, and acrylic are the most common types of carpet fibres. Here, we’ll take a look at each, including the pros and cons of each and how to care for them.
Around since the ’60s, nylon is the most popular, and strongest, of all the carpet fibres for homes. With strength, texture retention, and exceptional resilience, it is also widely popular for commercial use.
Nylon carpet is usually less expensive than wool but more expensive than polyester and polypropylene.
Pros of nylon carpet
- Excellent resilience to insects, mould, mildew, many chemicals, abrasions, and rot
- Shows colour brilliantly
- Easy to maintain
- Easy to dye
- Cleans easily
- Minimal pilling and shedding
- Maintains fibre height
- Mid to high-quality level nylon carpets can last between 12 to 15 years
- Soft yet strong
Cons of nylon carpet:
Nylon fibres are non-breathing, meaning they do not have the ability to regulate indoor air like other fibres such as wool. Nylon can be hot underfoot in summer, cool to the touch in winter, and feel damp in high humidity conditions.
The use of polypropylene in carpet has grown drastically over the past decade due to the popularity of Berber style loop carpets. After nylon, polypropylene (also known as olefin) is the next-best seller, making up about 80% of commercial carpet installations and a growing number of residential applications.
Polypropylene is solution-dyed, meaning colour is added during the fibre production and not dyed later. This makes it extremely colourfast. Its excellent resistance to mildew and moisture makes it a good choice for kitchens, playrooms, and dens.
Pros of polypropylene carpet:
- Extremely resistant to stains, moisture, and fading
- Relatively easy to clean (bleach can even be used safely in certain cases)
- Suitable for high traffic areas
- Less expensive than wool, polyester, and nylon
- Has a similar look to wool
- Water resistant and quick-drying
Cons of polypropylene carpet:
Polypropylene can be prone to a certain degree of matting or general scuffs.
Although it is highly resistant to stains, it does hold on to oils, which can then collect dirt. While it is less expensive than nylon, it does not last as long.
Polyester is beloved for its versatility and ability to hold vibrant colour. It is extremely soft and makes a good choice for areas with low to medium traffic.
Pros of polyester carpet:
- Fade resistant colours
- Naturally resistant to water-soluble stains and easy to clean
- Known for its softness and high lustre
- Exceptional colour retention and clarity
- Durable against abrasions
- Luxurious feel
- Easy to clean
- One type of polyester carpet, PET (short for Polyethylene terephthalate) is made from recycled plastic bottles, making it an ideal choice for environmentally conscious individuals
Cons of polyester carpet:
Polyester’s main disadvantage is that it is prone to flattening, making it less than ideal for areas with high traffic. It is also susceptible to fading when consistently exposed to bright sunlight.
It is also at risk of oil stains, which can be very difficult to remove from polyester fibres. While it is more affordable than nylon, it is not as durable.
Wool was the original fibre for carpets. It is the main natural fibre option for carpets, it offers durability, strength, and resistance against dust, oil-based stains, and dirt since it naturally releases substances rather than absorbing them.
It bounces back well in high-traffic rooms and is environmentally friendly since it comes from a renewable resource.
Since high-quality wool is on the pricier end, it is typically only used in area rugs and luxury carpets. Being purely natural, it is an excellent option for individuals who are prone to allergies.
Wool tends to have a more comfortable feel than other carpet fibres and hides soil better than synthetics. Unlike synthetic fibres, it is also fire-resistant, making it a safer option for areas close to wood stoves or fireplaces.
Pros of wool carpet:
- Renewably sourced
- Does not emit VOC’s
- Somewhat stain resistant
- Easily dyed
- Rich in appearance
- Natural resistance to wear and tear
- Excellent at maintaining fibre height
- Dense and comfortable
- Acts as a natural humidifier since it absorbs water
Cons of Wool Carpeting:
As lovely as it is to look at, wool must be maintained properly to avoid certain pitfalls. It is prone to fading in direct sunlight and can attract insects such as moths.
Although it is naturally stain resistant, it does tend to absorb water and other liquids, meaning spills need to be cleaned up as quickly as possible to prevent stains. Many people choose low pile options to cut down on stain absorbency and make cleaning easier.
It also has a tendency to build up static in the winter, just like wool socks.
Because it absorbs moisture, it is at risk of damage from mould and mildew, making it a less than ideal choice for areas with high moisture or humidity.
Sometimes marketed as “synthetic wool” due to its feel and appearance, acrylic offers good resistance to staining, static electricity, moisture, fading, and mildew. However, it is not widely used.
Pros of acrylic fibres:
- Cleans fairly easily
- Soft, wool-like appearance
Cons of acrylic carpeting:
Acrylic is not very durable and does not perform well in high-traffic areas. It is also at risk of turning brown when stained with certain chemicals, such as those found in some cleaning products.
Find the Right Carpet For Your Home or Business
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