One of the most important steps in the carpet buying process is choosing the right type of carpet fiber for your application. The most common fibers used in wall-to-wall carpet today are wool, nylon, polyester, SmartStrand® Sorona®, Triexta, and olefin, whereas specialty fibers like viscose and sisal are often used for rugs or in more decorative rooms. Below we will provide a snap shot of each fiber.

Wool

Wool is perhaps the most luxurious of all carpet fibers. It is long-lasting and pleasing to touch, and natural crimping of the yarn allows the fiber to bounce back over time. Wool offers beautiful natural colors and can be dyed with multiple colors not equaled by any synthetic fibers. For that reason you will often see wool utilized in stair runners, rugs and rooms that require a higher level of design. For those green at heart, one of the most attractive features of wool is its eco-friendly characteristics as it takes much less energy to produce than synthetic carpets and has great sustainability.


"Wool...can be dyed with multiple colors not equaled by any synthetic fibers"

 

A drawback to wool carpet is that it will shed and pill more than synthetic carpet due to its shorter yarn. Additionally wool will clean up beautifully after being professionally cleaned, though because it is natural, it will absorb day-to-day stains faster than most synthetic carpets. It is very important to avoid vacuuming with a beater bar on wool carpets. Ask your vacuum dealer for a suction vacuum.

 

Nylon

The key benefit of nylon versus other synthetics is that it will perform the most similar to wool in terms of its ability to bounce back over time. In addition, most nylon carpets (like all Stainmaster® and Relax it's... Lees® nylon) have excellent stain performance characteristics. On a day-to-day basis nylon requires less maintenance than wool carpets and is less likely to shed or pill after the first few weeks of usage. Although the variety of colors and patterns available in nylon is endless, there aren’t that many options if you want your carpet to have more than one color in it or a very distinctive, crisp pattern. The other downside to nylon versus wool is that over time it will lose the crisp appearance that it had on the first day.

Triexta and Smartstrand

These carpets utilize corn glucose for an eco-benefit

Triexta and SmartStrand® Sorona® are relatively new fibers used to make carpets. Made using corn glucose instead of petroleum these carpets provide an eco-benefit over nylon carpets, extreme stain resistance and incredible softness. The biggest drawback to these fibers is their ability to bounce back overtime. With the softer version of these fibers, like SmartStrand® Silk™, it is very important to select the proper vacuum.

Polyester

Polyester fiber dyes well and is available in an array of striking colors and textures. It is extremely fade resistant, stain resistant and affordable, but is known to attract oils. Thus, any oil substance will bind to the carpet and can be a challenge to remove. Polyester will crush rather easily as compared to nylon, so it is not recommended for stairs or other high traffic areas.

Olefin

Olefin is a synthetic fiber often used for commercial applications or rental units and is one of the least expensive carpet fibers. While difficult to stain, it is also difficult to clean. Oils bond to oloefin fibers causing discoloration. In addition, it is the least resilient of all the fibers, crushing easily. Another downside to olefin is that friction from moving furniture can burn streaks into your carpet.

Tencel Fiber

Tencel is a man-made fiber derived from wool pulp from sustainable trees. It offers the feel and appearance of silk at a lower cost. While similar in softness to Viscose, it is easier to spot clean and doesn’t stain as easily. Tencel carpet should be dry cleaned.

Viscose

Viscose is man-made cellulose fiber often used to give a silk-like appearance to carpets. Viscose is among the softest fibers on the market. While it is beautiful, it is very delicate and stains easily. Even water can stain viscose. The best practice for a viscose carpet is to have it sealed after installation to reduce the chance of discoloration and staining.

Sisal

Sisal is stronger and more durable than other natural fibers

Stemming from leaves of the agave plant, sisal is an environmentally friendly choice that grows in semi-arid regions of Africa and Brazil. Not to be confused with coir or jute, sisal is stronger and more durable than other natural fibers with a textured look ideal for area rugs.

A key consideration for sisal is that it is a harder material with a limited color pallet. It is also impossible to hide a seam with sisal.

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