Carpet Fibers Explained

One of the most important parts in selecting carpet is understanding what it’s made of, because different carpet fibers have different characteristics. Before you head to the showroom, figure out which type is right for your room’s style and traffic pattern with this handy guide.

contemporary closet by PPDS

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  • Hides soil
  • Strong, elastic and resilient; great for heavy traffic
  • Responds very well to cleaning, as moisture makes the fiber swell and release dirt
  • Naturally flame retardant
  • Neutralizes indoor air contaminants and does not remit them
  • Environmentally friendly


  • High cost
  • Prone to distortion by excess agitation
  • Stains easily, due to its absorbency and ease of dyeing
  • Very sensitive to chlorine bleach

Cost: About $5 to $24 per square foot, installed

traditional living room by Dunlap Design Group, LLC

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  • Most commonly used fiber; readily available in a wide range of colors and textures
  • Good elasticity — very important in heavy traffic areas where furniture may be dragged across the carpet
  • Abrasion resistant, surpassing even wool
  • Wear guaranties often available
  • Resilient; can be crushed for long periods and regain its original shape
  • Responds very well to most professional cleaning methods and treatments


  • Can have problems with bleaching, fading, urine reactions and so on
  • Synthetic, so it off-gases

Cost: $4 per square foot or more for high grade, best for heavy traffic; $3 to $4 medium grade; $2 to $3 base grade; $2 or less apartment grade

contemporary family room by Robert kiejdan

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  • Moisture resistant
  • Difficult to stain
  • Great for outdoor applications (pool, stadium)
  • Chemical resistant; most chemicals and bleaches won’t damage it at all
  • Fade resistant
  • Low static


  • Not a resilient fiber; when crushed it does not regain its original shape easily
  • Like polyester, extended exposure to oil-based soils may become permanent
  • Difficult to dye due to its low absorbency rate; almost always solution dyed
  • Synthetic, so it off-gases.

Cost: About $2.25 to $6.50 per square foot, installed

traditional living room Traditional Living Room

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  • Very resistant to bleaching, fading and soil-dye reactions
  • Resistant to water-based stains


  • Difficult to dye; usually must be solution dyed, which limits the variety
  • Not resistant to oily stains
  • Can mat down quickly and will not come back the way nylon does
  • Synthetic, so it off-gases

Cost: About $2 to $7 per square foot installed

mediterranean bedroom by ON Design Architects

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  • Can stand up to high traffic; good for stairs
  • Gives your room a great natural look while adding texture
  • Biodegradable and nontoxic


  • Uncomfortable against bare skin
  • Can be pricey (but generally less so than wool)
  • Susceptible to moisture damage
  • Can be difficult to clean

Cost: About $4 to $8.50 per square foot installed


About hemphillbrett
Floorcovering specialist

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