The Facts About Carpet Fibers


Thinking it’s time to replace that old carpet?

Well, “not all carpets are created equal” and in most cases “you get what you pay for”…. But enough of clichés!!!

Before you make a decision, it’s important to learn about the many materials available and their main features, so you better align them with your lifestyle and needs.

How is the space used?  What functions will be performed in the space?  What level of traffic will the carpet will be exposed to?  What is the potential for spills?  Will dirt be tracked in from outside the home?  These are questions you want to ask yourself, when evaluating different carpet options.  So, here are the facts about carpet fibers:

The most commonly used carpet fiber is nylon. Nylon fibers are extremely strong and flexible and do not readily absorb moisture. Most carpets made from nylon fibers are solution-dyed. During the solution dyeing process, the color is added to the nylon crystals before they are processed into individual fibers. As a result, the fibers offer very good color stability and resistance to fading.

Another popular fiber is Olefin. Carpets constructed using olefin fibers are less expensive than those that use nylon.  Olefin fibers are not as hard or crush-resistant as nylon.  Olefin fibers offer excellent resistance to moisture, making them suitable for indoors or outdoors.  They resist fading from sunlight and are chemical and stain resistant.

Polyester fibers have become very sought after because they are able to hold vibrant, dramatic colors that do not fade much over time.  They are non-allergenic, and in many cases the material is crafted from recycled plastic bottles, making it eco-friendly.  The only drawback is that it’s susceptible to having its fibers flattened under repeated exposure to weight, making it a bad choice for high traffic areas.

Wool is the most expensive of the fibers used in carpet manufacturing.  Its fibers are durable, resisting both crushing and matting.  Wool fibers hide dirt very well, due to the fiber’s construction that tends to scatter light.  The fibers also resist binding to dirt, making cleaning an easy task.  It is recommended that wool carpets be cleaned more frequently than those made from synthetic fibers as embedded dirt, while not visible, can readily damage the surface of the fibers.  In spite of its expense and limitations, its elegance is unmatched by synthetic fibers.

While knowing the different facts about carpet fiber is an important aspect in choosing your carpet, other factors will determine how well a particular carpet will perform in your home.  These factors include dyeing methods, pile types, attachment methods, and the type of backing used.  Make sure to discuss them with your local flooring professional.

Remember that carpet is no longer considered primarily a decorative material to be selected solely on its appearance.  Carpet is a building material, whose quality and construction will impact its performance and its life-cycle costs.