With the huge emphasis today on all things ‘natural’ (whatever that means), you’d be forgiven for thinking that the answer to this question, at least as far as carpet was concerned, would inevitably be ‘natural’. In practice it’s not quite as simple as that.
There are many factors to take into account when deciding which way to go. Of course cost will be a factor, but also durability, ie will the carpet last for any length of time and, a related issue, how likely is it to stain and how easy will it be to clean. Finally, depending on where the carpet will be, appearance and its ability to maintain its appearance will also be factors. Let’s have a quick look at the commonest options for materials for carpets today, which are:
- Wool (and wool blends)
Of course only the first of these is ‘natural’ in the true sense, all of the others are hydrocarbon based, ie derived from petroleum oil.
Wool ticks pretty much all of the boxes above, except cost – it’s pretty pricey compared to the synthetic options. Other than that, it is very good at resisting wear and tear and stains and has the natural ability to ‘bounce back’ into shape after it’s been trodden on or had an item of furniture standing on it. Wool blend is a way of getting some of the benefits of wool at lower cost: 80/20 mixes (80% wool / 20% synthetic) are common and blends are in fact add more durable than pure wool. And in terms of presentation and looks, it’s hard to go past a pure wool carpet.
Originally created by Dupont back in 1941, acrylic carpets do not absorb moisture well (which is good) and are resistant to staining. In terms of texture it is very similar in look and feel to wool, although it is more prone to pilling and fuzzing than the natural fibre as acrylic fibres degrade more quickly. Another important benefit of acrylic fibre is its resistance to sun damage, so acrylic is a good choice for sun exposed areas.
One of the main benefits of polyester as a carpet material is that it repels water, so has a degree of stain resistance built in. Although it is relatively inexpensive, it is prone to crushing down and matting, ie it doesn’t bounce back like natural fibres do.
Another inexpensive option, polypropylene (sometimes called Olefin) is not as durable as either wool or nylon. Its durability also depends on how the carpet is made. Most polypropylene carpets are made using the Berber construction method, ie loop pile. Large looped carpets are subject to matting and so are best suited for domestic use. Commercial grade polypropylene carpets have very small loops and are much more resistant to heavy foot traffic. These carpets are fairly stain resistant, but are vulnerable to staining by oil based liquids.
Nylon is probably the most common material used to make carpets. It has the benefits of being reasonably priced, relatively easy to print and dye and it is very durable. The downside of nylon is that it is very prone to staining unless it has already been treated with a stain resistance product.
Of course, Elite operators are well versed in the world of carpets and can generally tell you exactly which of these carpets types you have, if you don’t know yourself, and then the best way to protect them from damage and keep them looking good. And if you’re looking to get a new carpet, there’s no harm in giving us a call – we’d be happy to help you decide your best options.