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Choosing the Right Carpet Fibers

There is no shortage of carpet fibers on the market, making it that much more difficult for you to make the right choice among fibers. In order to come to an informed decision, you must be educated on the most commonly used fibers, as well as the pros and cons of each type. We help you sift through it all so that you can make the right decision. One thing to remind yourself about, first and foremost, is that there are different grades and qualities of each fiber. More often than not, the grade, or quality, refers to the density of the fiber and the level of twists of the fiber. Generally, if a fiber is dense, meaning there are more stitches per inch, and if it has a tight twist level, it will be a better quality and give you a longer life, regardless of which fiber you are considering.

Nylon: Nylon is the most common, and widely used carpet fiber, making up about 65% of all fibers used in carpet products.
Nylon fiber is extremely durable and abrasion resistant. It’s known for its retention, meaning its ability to “bounce back,” after being walked on, making it an ideal fiber for high-traffic areas. Nylon is also popular because of its price.There are specifically branded nylons, including Allied, Dupont Stainmaster, and Monsanto Wear-Dated, that incorporate additional state-of-the-art technologies developed by the manufacturer. These brand nylons are usually tested by the manufacturers.

Polyester: Polyester also ranks highly among common fibers, which is impressive due to their past. In the past, certain Polyester-based carpets were known to fall apart under heavy traffic. However, in recent years, Polyester technology has advanced, making this fiber just as durable and comprable to nylon. In order to get a high-grade Polyester carpet, be on the lookout for certain terms. You want to find a carpet that features: “Texture Retention” or a “No Matte No Crush” warranty. Without these claims or warranties, you’ll likely find yourself with a lower-grade Polyester carpet. See our Carpet Warranties and Ratings page for more warranty information.Polyester carpets are typically more stain resistant than nylon, which is evident by their stain warranties, which typically exceed those of nylon carpets. By choosing the right Polyester carpet, it’s our opinion that you’re buying the best carpet for the best dollar value.

Polypropylene: Polypropylene (also known as olefin) is more often used in commercial carpets and Berber style carpets, than in cut pile carpets (for a description of cut pile carpets and looped carpets, visit our Carpet Styles and Textures Page). While Polypropylene can be an effective stain resistant carpet, it fails in some areas. Polypropylene struggles with oil-based stains. The fiber itself is petroleum based, meaning certain stains can actually blend with the fiber, making it extremely difficult to remove.  For example, the oils of your feet could potentially give a light-colored Berber carpet the appearance of a muddy color. One way to avoid this is to stick with medium to darker colors with Polypropylene carpets.

Wool: Wool is likely the oldest of carpet fibers, however, it is not your best choice. Wool is nowhere near as stain-resistant as fibers such as Polyester or nylon. Furthermore, wool is a poor choice for humid climates, as it will naturally hold moisture, creating an undesired odor. However, many people choose wool because of its luxurious feel.
Wool is an expensive choice, particularly when comparing it to other fiber choices. Its high cost, and shortcomings, is making wool a less-popular choice for carpet fibers.Nonetheless, if you hope to capture a luxurious atmosphere in a room with little traffic or activity,  then wool could be the right choice for you.

Summary: Some carpets are constructed from a blend of the fibers we discussed above. However, most carpets are constructed from one fiber alone.

There are positives and negatives to every carpet fiber, and in the end, the decision rests on you. In our opinion, a properly constructed Polyester carpet ears our highest score, for price, appearance, and durability. But in the end, your flooring choice is a personal preference.Whatever style you do go with, it’s important that you are well-informed before you even begin to shop around. Salespeople often try to sell you a product that they’ll make the most profit from. That product might not be the best fir for you. If you know more about each fiber, and where in your home you’ll install it, you can come to an informed decision on your own without the influences of salespeople.Choosing the right carpet fiber can be overwhelming and stressful. This is why we stick to a simple approach. We recommend  choosing a carpet from one of the major manufacturers; also, choose nylon or Polyester fiber on cut pile carpets, or Polypropylene if it’s a Berber carpet. Lastly, select the “Texture Retention” or “No Mate, No Crush” warranty, if it’s within your budget.  If you subscribe to this approach, as well as use the correct padding and installation method, then you should enjoy a long life from the carpet you purchase.

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