Carpet remains one of the most popular types of flooring materials because of the cushiony comfort that the surface provides to the feet. However, different types of carpets can offer varying degrees of comfort. They can also differ in their wear characteristics. These differences are a direct function of the type of fibers that the carpet uses. Knowing the different types of carpet fibers will give you an idea about the right type of carpet to use in an area of your home.
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What is Carpet Fibers?
Carpet fibers are the individual strands of materials that form the carpet. You can think of carpet fibers as the strands that make up your clothes. These fibers come in different types. Each one has a unique set of characteristics that give it an advantage over other types. Each carpet fiber type also has its weaknesses.
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Types of Carpet Fibers
There are two principal types of carpet fibers: natural and synthetic. Most of the carpets available today use synthetic carpet fibers. These fibers are synthesized from chemical compounds and mass-produced by machines. On the other hand, natural carpet fibers grow from nature. People harvest these materials and woven into strands to form the carpet. The following are the most common specific types of carpet fibers.
This is a synthetic carpet fiber that is well-known for its durability and ease of maintenance. It is the most popular type of carpet fiber today. Nylon is a very strong synthetic fiber that is capable of withstanding abrasion. It has excellent texture retention and is very resilient.
The resiliency of nylon is due to its unique chemical structure. Steam cleaning ‘reactivates’ or ‘revives’ the hydrogen molecule in the fibers to allow the carpet to retain its shape. This often happens due to an increase in foot traffic, where the fibers flatten.
Modern nylon fibers are more stain-resistant than their historical counterparts. Many nylon carpet fibers undergo stain treatment. A dye is added into the synthetic solution during the process of nylon fiber production. This locks the dye within the fiber and make the carpet fade- and stain- resistant.
Most people call polypropylene carpet fibers as olefin. One of its main advantages is that it looks very similar to wool. That is why many carpet manufacturers use olefin in the production of area rugs and Berber-style carpets. Polypropylene also has good stain-resistance because of its hydrophobic characteristics.
Unfortunately, olefin does not do well in areas of high traffic. It does not have the resiliency of nylon or other carpet fibers. That is why this type of carpet is best reserved for areas of low traffic. While olefin is stain-resistant, it is not soil-resistant. One of the drawbacks of this type of carpet fiber is its ability to attract oils because of its oleophilic property.
The hydrophobic and oleophilic properties of polypropylene set forth its fundamental uses. It is ideal as a marine and outdoor carpet. You can also use it in the basement because of its mold-resistant and quick-drying capabilities.
People choose polyester carpet fibers because of its exceptional stain resistance, affordability, lustrous appearance, and eco-friendly characteristics. Carpets of this fiber type have a more vibrant appearance.
Its main chemical compound is polyethylene terephthalate or PET. One of its main strengths is the closed-cell nature of its fibers. This structural characteristic allows polyester fibers to keep stains out, even without stain treatment. Polyester is also more eco-friendly than other synthetic carpet fiber types.
The only drawback about polyester is that its durability is not as noteworthy as nylon. It is for this very reason that polyester carpets should only be used in areas of the home with low traffic. The good news is that recent advances in polyester technology have somehow closed the durability gap between nylon and polyester.
This is the latest type of synthetic carpet fiber, made by the same company that invented the nylon fiber. It bears a very close chemical semblance to polyester, having the same terephthalate base. The only difference is that polyester has a polyethylene bound to the terephthalate molecule. The terephthalate of Triexta is bound to a polytrimethylene compound.
The chemical difference gives Triexta a few advantages over polyester carpet fibers. It is more resilient and durable. Some say that Triexta is as durable and strong as nylon carpet fibers. Triexta is also more resistant to staining and soiling compared to nylon. Another advantage of Triexta is its softness. In fact, it is almost like wool in terms of softness. There is also an eco-friendly version of this carpet fiber type.
The main disadvantage of Triexta carpet fiber is that it is not as vibrant as polyester.
While it is the most expensive type of carpet fiber, many people still pick natural wool over any other type of carpet fiber material. It is a very durable material. A well-maintained wool carpet can last many decades.
However, wool is second only to nylon in terms of resiliency. It does not retain its texture as well as nylon does. Also, wool requires a very strict maintenance regimen to keep its integrity. Only a professional cleaning service will suffice when it comes to wool. This is because this fiber is quite susceptible to shrinkage if not maintained in the correct manner.
Wool is also not very resistant against stains as it is an absorbent material. It does have good soil resistance. Wool carpet fibers are also resistant to flame. You will only see a burn mark in the carpet. The absorbent nature of wool also makes it a good alternative natural humidifier.
What Type of Carpet is the Most Durable?
Despite advances in carpet technology, no synthetic material can outclass natural wool fibers when it comes to durability. High-quality wool carpet fibers can last up to 50 years. On the other hand, the toughest nylon fiber carpet on the market can only last about half that. There are people who believe that newer synthetic materials possess exceptional texture retention and resistance against soiling and staining.
Learning about the different types of carpet fibers can pave the way for understanding which type of carpet to use on your floor. Each of these types has their pros and cons that every homeowner should think about when picking the right carpet to use in the home.