How To Buy Carpet and Flooring Wisely
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Best Carpet Fiber Choice
Nylon, Wool, Polyester, PET or Olefin?
What homeowners need to know about Carpet Fibers
Selecting the right Carpet Fiber is one of the most important aspects in selecting the right carpet for your home. Learn what you need to know about Carpet Fibers before you begin shopping for new carpet for your home, home office or rental property.
Nylon 6 and Nylon 6.6
Nylon is a synthetic fiber and outperforms all other synthetic fibers.
Nylon is the best wearing, most durable carpet synthetic fiber available today. Nylon also comes in hundreds of beautiful styles and colors. You may choose another type of fiber for various reasons, but Nylon is well known for being the best choice if you have heavy foot traffic and want your carpet to last a long time.
Nylon wears well, resists abrasion and is easy to clean thanks to anti-stain treatments which are applied or designed into the fiber (Scotchgard®, Stainmaster Duratech®, R2X®, etc.).
Nylon comes in two variations, 6 and 6.6, both types are very DURABLE AND RESILIENT and either would be a good choice. Stainmaster carpets are well-known for using Nylon 6.6 which used to have the Teflon™ technology infused into the strand making it very stain resistant, but they have since changed from that to a topically applied solution called Duratech®.
Nylon's Good Qualities:
Soft Nylon Fibers
Some people really love the look and soft feel of natural wool carpets but don't want to pay that much. Now consumers have a less expensive option with a new type of "softer" Nylon carpet fiber. Sold under the registered names of Tactesse®, Lisse'®, Caress® and many others, this synthetic nylon carpet fiber may be exactly what you are looking for, and at a price you can afford.
While less expensive than wool, the prices for this softer nylon carpet will be higher than standard nylon carpets. And there are drawbacks to these "softer" nylon fibers, mainly the higher cost and possibly being less durable or resilient than a standard fiber denier (non-soft) Nylon fiber. Learn more about fiber denier
Ask to see these softer nylon carpet styles at your carpet dealer, but more importantly, be sure you know if this style of carpet will meet your needs and lifestyle. These softer nylons are not meant for every residential situation. How Much Does New Carpet Cost?
Article: What is Continuous Filament Nylon? (BCF)
Olefin (aka Polypropylene)
Olefin is a strong good-looking synthetic fiber that is inexpensive to manufacture. Some carpets that are usually made of Olefin are Looped Berbers or commercial carpets. Olefin wears well and has good stain resistance when anti-stain treatment is applied.
Olefin has good anti-static properties. However, Olefin is hard to keep clean and tends to attract dirt like a magnet. It has poor resiliency and tends to look dingy when soiled. Olefin is also called polypropylene or polyolefin. Commercial carpets and outdoor grass styles are usually made from Olefin.
Olefin is not the best selection for rental units in most cases, however some have had great success using a commercial level loop Olefin carpet in apartments. Glued directly to the floor it will last significantly longer than if used with a pad placed under it.
Wheelchairs roll easily over glued down (no pad) commercial grade carpets. Commercial grade carpets made from Olefin are a good choice for handicapped units, schools, offices, businesses, institutions and retirement home applications when glued down without padding.
Olefin's Good Qualities:
Polyester (also called P.E.T.)
(Manufactured from recycled materials?)
Don't be fooled by the bright colors and softness of this fiber. This is a very soft synthetic fiber that holds its color well; however it has very poor resiliency. Medium to high foot- traffic areas tend to mat down quickly and may never return to its original appearance.
When new, polyester looks great and feels so soft and wonderful, but it won’t be too long before it doesn’t. Many sales people recommend this type of carpet to consumers without sufficient fiber knowledge or experience.
They may tell you that carpets made of polyester are as durable as a carpet made from Nylon. This is not true. Nylon is the most durable and the most resilient fiber available today. Nylon is more costly, but is still the best choice if you want to buy a carpet that is the most durable and most resistant to matting and crushing of the pile.
Because polyester, or P.E.T. Polyester is so inexpensive to manufacture, retailers stand to make higher profits from selling carpets made from this fiber, carpet manufacturers continually try to enhance carpets made with polyester hoping that they can create a carpet that is more durable and less prone to matting down. In the past 60 years they have had VERY limited success.
Because prices are slightly lower for polyester carpets you may be tempted to buy a carpet made from polyester. Just be sure that your expectations are not very high. Generally, I do not recommend buying carpets made from polyester fibers to those who need a carpet that wears well and resists matting and crushing.
Finally... You might be able to get 10 years of use from a well-made polyester or PET Polyester carpet in a low-traffic application. In a high traffic application you might get 2 to 5 years of use before you see significant matting or crushing of the pile in main walkways, traffic lanes and on stairs and hallways.
Polyester's good qualities:
Smartstrand™ by Mohawk®
(aka Triexta, Sorona (PTT)
Another relatively new fiber on the market is called Sorona®, or Smartstrand®, and is a polymer made from corn. (Actually it was invented back in the 1940's) Invented by Dupont™, they claim this new fiber has great anti-stain properties and is very durable.
Should you buy carpet made with this newest fiber? If you want a carpet that resists stains, then perhaps you might want to consider buying this product. If you want your carpet to last as long as possible and still resists stains and cleans easily then I suggest you buy a carpet made from Nylon.
Is Mohawk's Smartstrand Considered a Polyester?
Smartstrand by Mohawk is a little different than polyester as it is not quite as prone to matting down like Polyester or PET Polyester is. It is more durable than polyester, is stain resistant, is easy to clean and comes in many beautiful colors. However, if you want the most durable carpet fiber and the longest wear then choose a nylon carpet.
Nylon doesn't resist stains quite as well as Smartstrand, so you have a choice...What's more important to you, stain resistance or durability? That's the choice you have to make! There is more you need to learn about carpet fibers before a wise choice for you can be determined. Your choice must be made based on your needs, goals, expectations and your lifestyle.
If you have kids or pets that needs to be considered too. If you choose a carpet that cannot handle the amount of foot traffic you have, the carpet will wear out much sooner than you might expect.