About Carpet Fibers
Fletcher - 30-Year Carpet Expert and Trusted Consumer Advocate
Selecting the Right Carpet Fiber
The type of Carpet Fiber you select will
determine how long it lasts, how soft it feels, what colors are available, how
easily it cleans and how much it costs. This is one of the most critical
factors when choosing and comparing carpets. You must compare apples to apples.
For example, you cannot compare a NYLON carpet to a POLYESTER carpet, or a WOOL carpet to an
OLEFIN carpet. This would be like comparing apples to
oranges. You have to compare similar carpets and narrow it down to the one
that best meets your needs and lifestyle as well as your budget.
Learn about Carpet Styles
Nylon is a generic name or
designation for a family of synthetic polymers first produced in 1935 by the
DuPont Company. As far as fibers go, Nylon is the most durable and the most
resilient of all carpet fibers. A resilient fiber is defined as having the
ability to return to its original form or position after being bent, compressed,
or stretched. Nylon is the most resilient fiber used to make carpet. This is
what keeps a nylon carpet looking like new longer than any other fiber. Nylon is
one of the more expensive fibers second only to wool. I would consider choosing
a Nylon carpet if you have a lot of traffic and longevity was my biggest
"Do the Tactesse, Caress, Lisse' and other
hold up as well as the "regular" nylon fibers do?"
This is an excellent question. From my experience, I have found that the
"soft" nylon fibers are not quite as resilient as a standard denier
nylon fiber. The higher the denier, the heavier the filament. The way they make
a standard nylon fiber softer is to make the strand thinner. By doing so, I
believe that some of the resiliency is lost. This thinner strand creates a
carpet that is softer to the touch but may be more susceptible to matting and
crushing. Don't take this the wrong way, I'm not steering you away from buying a
soft nylon, but if you want to have the absolute most durable and most resilient
nylon for the money, I suggest you buy a carpet made with a standard nylon
What is Fiber Denier?
Note: Fiber denier
is easiest understood if you have ever gone fishing and used a nylon filament
fishing line. The thicker the line is, the stronger it is. When
fishing for Trout most fishermen use a thin 6-pound test line. For bigger fish
like Steelhead or Salmon, a thicker 10 or 12-pound nylon test line may be
selected. Some carpet fibers are manufactured thinner to make a carpet that
feels softer to the touch, but in doing so some of the strength, durability or
resiliency may be sacrificed. Therefore I believe a carpet made with a standard
Denier Nylon fiber will be more durable and more resilient than a carpet made
with a thinner strand as used in today's branded "Soft Nylons"
Read My Article: Lifestyle Often Dictates Best Carpet Choice
(AKA Smartstrand® by
If you want a carpet that is durable, soft and resist stains, Sorona® may be
the fiber you are looking for. Sorona
has permanent stain resistance that is engineered into the fiber and will
never wear or wash off. But remember, no carpet is completely stain proof.
also known as Triexta or PTT was
developed by DuPont™. It is a polymer derived from corn. It is said to have
anti-stain properties and cleans easier than any other fiber. They also say it
is very durable. Sorona™ is clearly more
durable than PET or Polyester, but is it as durable as Nylon? I do believe that Sorona resists stains and cleans easier
than Nylon, but the durability and resiliency of Nylon is hard to beat. Either
way, Sorona may be the fiber you need for your busy home and lifestyle.
Sorona® is not a new fiber, it was invented back in the 1940's and was deemed too
expensive to manufacture at that time to be able to compete with other carpet
fibers like Nylon. Carpet prices have increased enough over the past 10 years to allow Sorona™ to be manufactured at a comparable cost.
has a line of carpet styles using the Sorona fiber and they have branded it and
call it Smartstrand®TM.
DuPont™ and Sorona® are a trademark and a registered
trademark of E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company.
/ Smartstrand UPDATE January 2013
Latest Opinion Regarding Sorona®
(Smartstrand™ by Mohawk)
has been around for about 10 years now, do you think it is as good a fiber as
they claim it is? -Tom
I have come to believe at this point is that Sorona IS a durable fiber, it also
cleans easily and resists stains better than Nylon. However, it is imperative
that you choose the right quality or grade in order to be satisfied with the
overall performance. This is true with any carpet no matter what fiber it is
made of. This means having
enough face weight, high pile density and adequate tuft twist to meet or exceed your
needs, goals and lifestyle. It is also important to keep the pile height below
3/4 of an inch or risk potential matting and crushing.
Knowing what grade of carpet to buy is the key and many folks end up buying a
carpet that is incapable of tolerating their level of foot traffic. This always
ends in disaster and makes for an unhappy customer. That's why I created a
simple Carpet foot traffic test so folks would have some idea about where they
stand and what grade of carpet to consider buying.
This is my take so far and I still believe that Nylon is more durable and has
better resiliency than Sorona, but Sorona does seem to clean easier and resist
stains better than nylon.
Thanks for your question I will post this information (and date it) so everyone
can be updated on this subject. Most of the information about Sorona (on the
internet) is written by the manufacturer or the authorized Sorona dealers. You
just don't get the whole story from those sources.
Polyester or PET Polyester
Polyester is one of the least
expensive fibers to manufacture. A thick polyester carpet may feel nice and
soft, but it is not a resilient fiber, and it does not a make a long-lasting
carpet. Polyester carpets mat down in a hurry, and that has always been the
problem with carpets made from this fiber. When you walk on a carpet, with every
footstep you bend and compress the fibers and soon they begin to fall over. Once
polyester fibers are crushed, they won't spring back to their original position.
This is why warranties for polyester carpets do not cover claims against matting
Don’t be fooled by salespeople who recommend carpets made with
polyester. It may be acceptable to buy a carpet made with polyester as long as
you know what to expect and don’t pay a lot of money for it. I wouldn't expect
to get a life span of more than 5 years on a polyester carpet, regardless of its
tuft twist, density rating or warranty claims. I might consider choosing a
carpet made of polyester if I wanted to spend as little as possible on a carpet
that looks nice for a very short amount of time. How
much does carpet cost?
Some carpets are made with a
blend of polyester and nylon. Usually a small amount of nylon is added to the
mix. They do
this to try to make a polyester carpet a little bit more resilient and durable.
While this may have a benefit in some situations, I personally do not believe it
worthwhile or more valuable product. It's like putting a Mercedes hood ornament on a Ford Fiesta.
It doesn't make much sense to me. But carpet makers have long tried to come up with a
way to make polyester more durable because it is so cheap to make.
Olefin (also called
Olefin is a very strong fiber. It
is often used to make Berber carpets, commercial carpets and outdoor grass
carpets. Olefin wears well and has good stain resistance when anti-stain
treatment is applied. Olefin also has good anti-static properties. However,
Olefin is not easy to keep clean and tends to look dingy when soiled. It has
poor resiliency so smaller looped Berber styles wear better than do larger
Commercial looped carpets wear very well, as the loops tend to be
very small which leaves little room for the loops to become matted or crushed.
Wheelchairs roll easily over commercial level loop Olefin carpets that are
glued-down without padding and may be a good choice for handicapped areas,
hospitals and retirement home applications. When comparing Berber carpets made
of Olefin smaller loops, in a tighter weave will yield a longer wearing
All about Carpet Comparison
Wool and Wool Blends
Some carpets are offered with a
blend of nylon and wool in varying amounts. Usually I see 20% nylon and 80%
wool. This gives wool some of the characteristics of nylon like increased
resiliency and durability as well as lower cost. This can be a very good
blend to consider having.
Wool carpets are considered the
most elite of fibers and are the most expensive of all carpet fibers. Wool is a
natural fiber and is very soft. It has excellent insulating qualities and is
naturally fire resistant. However, wool carpets must be professionally cleaned
by specialized carpet cleaning methods and is more expensive to maintain and
install than synthetic carpet styles.
Comparing wool carpets based on price and
quality can be more difficult because well known brand names can increase the
cost dramatically and the quality may be more difficult to determine. If
you can afford wool carpets it would be an excellent choice for most people.
However, children and pets can be very hard on any carpet so careful
consideration should be taken if you have small children or pets prone to having
Next: How to Select the Right
Grade of Carpet