Carpet Buying Today ? What Carpet Fiber should I choose?

Is the raw material that carpet is made of important? Of course. How do I know how to pick the right one for me? That?s easy. Have they changed much in the last 20 years? Enormously. Where do I start? I?ve spent 6 days a week for the last 40 plus years running a flooring business with giant warehouses. We inventory every class of fiber in this article and know the strengths and weaknesses of each one. I?m one of the people the big flooring mills call during product development to make sure a new intro hits the mark.

This article is about buying carpet for your own home. It?s not about buying carpet for an office building or a rental. It?s about making sure you spend your hard-earned dollars correctly and not make a mistake that could cost you later. Next to buying a home or car, floorcovering replacements are the next biggest investment for a typical family. The two things we will assume are that you need a carpet that performs well and cleans easily without breaking the bank.

The five fibers we will be talking about are Polyester, Nylon, Triexta (Smartstand), Wool and Olefin. Yes, they are all very different and each has things that make it worth buying.

Polyester is the first to discuss because it has forgone the biggest transformation in the last 15 years. Prior to that time, Polyester was the bottom of the barrel. It would clean poorly and wear out quickly. Today, Polyester is not just good, it is excellent. The amount of money spent on re-engineering this fiber in the last decade is probably greater than any other fiber. When you are buying mid-grade, or spending less than $20 per yard on carpet, Polyester is what you want and probably what every dealer will show you for good reason.

Today?s Polyesters are completely different than the old ones. I speak to the heads of claim departments at all the mills and their claims percentage on Polyester is no higher than the most expensive fibers. Even though we haven?t talked about Nylon yet, a roll of Polyester carpet that sells for $18 sq yd is twice as thick as a roll of Nylon because Nylon costs so much more. Polyester is a great value. Dollar for dollar, one of the best on this list.

Wool carpet is still a popular choice with many of our customers. Wool is a completely natural fiber and everything else is synthetic or man-made. It?s interesting since Wool used to be the top in many categories. It was the softest fiber for decades but not anymore, Smartstrand Silk is now. It had the least off gassing but Smartstrand has zero, so it gets beat again. It was the best wearing fiber at one time but it?s not even close now, the synthetic fibers are better. When a sheep falls into a pile of mud, a week later the sheep is white again thanks to the Lanolin oil in its coat. Because of this, wool carpet is naturally very stain resistant but compared to the powerheads that blast 150-degree Scotchgard treatments onto synthetic carpets, there?s no comparison in cleaning either. Combine all this with the fact that wool carpet is the most expensive, who would buy it?

Every fiber that carpet is made of has different properties that make the carpet look different. Often the most expensive fibers will be blended with lesser quality ones to create a visual effect. We sell Wool carpet every week because it does not look like any other carpet made. A friend of mine recarpeted his entire home with one of the highest grades of Wool carpet we carry. ?I?ll never forget it and remember; this is what I do for a living. The carpet did not look, smell or feel like regular carpet. It was an extraordinary experience that changed my opinion of Wool carpet forever. It made Wool the elite fiber in my book. If you look at any Wool carpet and compare it to any synthetic carpet, you?ll discover that Wool carpet looks different. Customers that discover this usually don?t care about the other details.

Olefin, also commonly known as Polypropylene, is a carpet fiber used primarily with commercial carpets and heavy patterned carpets. It has been a mainstay with commercial carpets because Olefin is stain proof and very inexpensive. If someone is renting a small space for a new business and only has a 3 year lease, this is the perfect fiber for the job. The problem is that it does not wear well so the mills are beginning to make these carpets with a stain proof version of Polyester instead. The mills have discovered that when they make heavy patterned carpets out of Olefin, the wearing issue goes away so Olefin is finding a new life there. I would say the future of Olefin in the carpet business is going to be a limited role.

I mentioned earlier that Polyester was an excellent wearing and cleaning fiber. There is a step above it, however. Nylon and Triexta are the best of the best. They both cost more than Polyester but not as much as Wool. They are very different than one another but synthetic fibers do not get better than these. They deliver the best in cleaning and wear with warranties that back up their promises. There are several types of Nylon Fiber - Stainmaster, Weardated and Anso to name a few with only one type of Triexta, Smartstrand. If you are buying carpet for your own home and want the best in cleaning and wear, both would give you that.

Nylon has been recognized as the best fiber to make carpet out of for over 60 years. If you decide to buy a Nylon carpet for your home, you really can?t go wrong. Seat belts and parachutes are made from Nylon fiber so what more needs to be said about its strength? I already mentioned there were a few brands of Nylon fiber and there are some differences between them but don?t worry about any of that. They are all good. If you want a carpet that can take a ridiculous beating and still look good, Nylon is a great choice.

Triexta is a relative newcomer to the carpet market compared to Nylon. Triexta was licensed as a new fiber only 20 years ago and comes under one name, Smartstrand. ?This fiber has shown itself to be equal to Nylon in every test and even does better in a few categories. Smartstrand does come in a few varieties. Smartstrand Silk is extremely soft and Smartstrand Forever Clean is a little coarser so customers that like a little denser carpet can find something they like. Smartstrand comes from Corn and as I mentioned earlier, there is no off gassing, the only carpet that can make this claim. Nylon carpets have been known to fade, something that does not happen with Smartstrand. If you check consumer reports, you?ll find Smartstrand scores very high in customer satisfaction. Mohawk owns Smartstrand so nobody else has this fiber.

A few things to remember when buying a carpet for your home. Carpets lighten up a great deal when installed in your home. Always pick a color a shade darker than you want it to be. Bigger rooms and natural light cause this so be aware. If you have a smaller home where the traffic is concentrated in a hallway or something similar, you need to get a better grade of carpet that can take the wear. If you buy an average grade, it won?t do the job. Carpet Cushion, also known as pad, is important. Try to get at least an 8 lb pad and if you have the money, get a 10 lb Memory Foam. Lastly, you must vacuum your carpet. Imagine never doing an oil change. The dirt will get to the backing and wear it excessively if you do not vacuum. Professionally clean your carpet about every year or two depending on how much traffic it gets. Just remember your favorite shirt, the more you wash it the older it will look. The same applies to your carpet cleanings. (If you want to know what carpet brand to buy, look at our article under Top 4 or Top 5 carpet brands)