In our last blog article, Preferred Carpet Care of Redding discussed the two commonly used construction methods for manufacturing carpet. Now we present some more information about the six types of fibers typically used as the material in these carpets. As we have discussed before, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Selecting the right carpet largely depends on the traffic you expect to experience, the stains that are likely occur, and whether you have sensitivities to chemicals.
The Six Basic Carpet Fibers
Carpets are generally made with one of the following materials:
You will notice that the predominant materials are all synthetic. Chemical fibers have significant advantages in economy and durability. Natural fibers are best, however, if you have chemical sensitivities. As long as wool or cotton fibers have not been treated with fire retardants, they should not trigger any allergic reactions.
Nylon is the 800 Pound Gorilla
Nylon is easily the majority fiber in carpet sales. The strongest fiber, nylon is naturally stain resistant, is easily cleaned and retains its shape well. It’s not the cheapest carpet material, but you do get what you pay for.
Polyester is Vibrant
Baby Boomers remember the colorful polyester shirts of the 70’s. That same material makes for very vibrant carpet colors. Less expensive than nylon, polyester is still stain resistant, but not on the same level as nylon. It also loses its shape more readily and should only be purchased in higher quality pile densities. This fiber is readily manufactured from recycled materials, so if “reduce, reuse, recycle” is your mantra, polyester is likely available in recycled options.
Acrylic — the Wool Substitute
If you want the durability and fade resistance of a chemical fiber, but with the feel of wool, acrylic is your choice. It is unfortunately uncommon in carpeting, in part because it is highly flammable unless treated. So this is not the carpet you want near your fireplace.
Polypropylene is Olefin
These two names refer to the same material, another product that tends to cost far less than its competitors. Color fastness is excellent, since the dye is added to the material when in its molten state. Color is thus fixed into the fiber, not just applied to the exterior. It’s very resistant to moisture damage, a benefit if you’re in the mountains and deal with a lot of snow in the winter. Like polyester, you want to buy polypropylene carpets in higher densities to ensure a stronger pile that avoids crushing from traffic.
Wool is the Original
Long the favored material for area rugs, wool carpeting is the ultimate in natural fibers. Deep and rich, it actually cleans well, but does require special techniques to prevent damage. It is not good for areas with heavy traffic or in entryways that are likely to encounter moisture. But for luxury and comfort, wool is hard to beat and well worth the higher price.
Cotton — Natural Fiber for Less
It is difficult to find cotton in wall-to-wall carpet, although it’s common as an area rug. Like wool, it has the excellent feel of natural fibers. Some also recommend it for music or audio/video rooms, as it has good acoustic properties (a characteristic it shares with acrylic). Like wool, however, cotton does not hold up well to dense traffic.
If you have questions about how well your carpet will clean up, or if you want to have a new carpet treated to prevent staining, contact Preferred Carpet Care of Redding and we can help with answers. Preferred Carpet Care – professional carpet cleaning for “a deeper clean that stays clean longer”!
- Posted by Rod Barth
- On June 20, 2017