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What Homeowners Need To Know About Carpet Fibers
By Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate
How to Compare Carpet Fibers - Nylon vs. Polyester
The #1 most important aspect in selecting the right carpet for your home is selecting the right Carpet Fiber that can meet your needs, goals, lifestyle and budget.
The most popular synthetic Carpet Fibers are: Nylon, Olefin, Polyester and Sorona (aka Smartstrand). Each carpet fiber has advantages and disadvantages. It's up to you to learn about all the options available and choose the right carpet fiber that will meet your needs and goals and fit your budget too. I can help you!
Here's my expert advice for you on this very important subject:
The NYLON Fiber (The most durable and most resilient synthetic fiber)
Nylon is the best wearing, and most durable synthetic fiber available today. It is more expensive then Olefin and Polyester and you may choose another fiber for this reason, but nylon is well-known for being the best choice if you want your carpet to last a long time and look like-new the longest.
Read all about Sorona / Smartstrand vs. Nylon
Nylon is the most resilient fiber and outperforms all other synthetic fibers with regards to matting and crushing. It wears well, resists abrasion and is easy to clean. It comes in hundreds of beautiful styles and colors. Nylon is the best wearing, most durable fiber available. Insist on a carpet made from Nylon to reap these benefits:
What are "Soft Nylon" Fibers?
Some people love the elegant look and soft feel of Wool carpets but can't afford to spend $100+ per square yard.
Homeowners have a less expensive option with a new type of "softer" nylon carpet.
Sold under the registered or trademarked names of Tactesse®, Lisse'®, Anso Caress® and many others, these are branded soft nylon carpet fibers, and may be exactly what you are looking for.
What to watch out for...
While less expensive than wool, the prices for a soft nylon carpet fiber will be higher than most standard denier nylon carpets, and there are some major drawbacks to buying a "softer" nylon carpet... mainly durability and resiliency. There is always a trade-off you must consider if you want to have a softer carpet. Price is number one, and carpet durability and resilience is number two.
Carpet makers are well aware the many homeowners want to buy a soft carpet. They go out of their way to meet those needs by creating a thinner strand. However, a softer carpet often translates into a less durable carpet.
A softer carpet may also be more prone to matting and crushing of the pile, especially in moderate to heavy foot-traffic areas like hallways, main traffic lanes and stairs.
Choosing The Right Carpet Fiber.
If you have moderate to heavy foot traffic in your home and you want your new carpet to last 20 years or more... then you might want to stay away from a soft nylon. You definitely want to stay away from Olefins, P.E.T and Polyesters. I also would steer clear of Sorona (aka Smartstrand by Mohawk) as this not a product I would suggest for moderate to heavy foot traffic areas. In a moderate to heavy foot traffic application, a standard denier, non-soft nylon is what I would suggest.
These softer nylons are not meant for every residential situation. They may not be suitable for heavy traffic applications where you expect your new carpet to last 20-years or more.
Soft nylons have a thinner strand and that might make the pile less resilient and more prone to matting or crushing. In any case, a thinner nylon strand will be less resilient and not as durable as a standard denier nylon strand.
In low to medium foot-traffic applications, you have more options to choose from and less concerns about carpet durability and resiliency. Check out all carpet fibers and the softer nylon carpet styles at your carpet dealer.
Avoid the Soft Polyester Carpet Scam... Learn more about Polyester vs. Smartstrand Carpet Fibers
Learn more about Carpet Fiber Denier - The fiber strand is the key to choosing the most durable carpet.
Side by Side: Continuous Filament Fiber vs. Staple Fiber
Nylon is the most durable Carpet fiber, but not all Nylons are created equal. You need to understand the difference between a carpet labeled 100% Nylon and another carpet labeled Nylon B.C.F. Choosing your carpet fiber wisely can make a huge difference in how DURABLE your carpet is and long your new carpet look like new!
Carpets Made Of Olefin Fiber (aka Polypropylene)
Olefin is a strong and good-looking synthetic fiber that is inexpensive to manufacture. Most inexpensive Berbers are made of Olefin. 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 because it tends to attract dirt like a magnet. It has poor resiliency so it mats down easily and tends to look dingy when soiled. It is also called polypropylene or polyolefin. Outdoor grass styles are also made from Olefin.
Olefin is not the best fiber selection for homes in most cases, however some have had great success using a commercial level loop Olefin carpets. Glued directly to the floor, commercial grade carpets made of polypropylene will last significantly longer than if used with a pad.
Wheelchairs roll easily over glued-down commercial-grade level loop carpets made of Polypropylene and is a good choice for handicapped applications, schools, businesses, offices institutions and retirement homes who want a carpet that is easy to clean and tolerate heavy foot traffic.
More about Polyester vs. Sorona Carpet Fibers
More FREE Carpet Fiber Information:
What are Carpet Specifications and where do I find them?
Take my free Carpet Foot - Traffic Test to help determine what Grade of Carpet you need to buy.