Carpet fibres are made up three main types of raw material; wool, synthetic and plant fibres. More details on carpets made with plant fibres, such as sisal, coir and seagrass can be found in the natural flooring section of this website. In this page we look at wool and the other synthetic carpet fibres.
Wool is the most popular carpet fibre used for carpets in the home. This is because wool has a number of qualities that make it great for carpets. It is feels nice, is naturally flame-retardant, hard wearing and easy to clean. In additon it has “bounceability”, which means the fibres spring back after being crushed by our feet, making it look good longer.
Wool is also very eco-friendly as it is a sustainable fibre and it is degradable. 100% wool carpets are available but more normally it is blended with other synthetic fibres. To get the benefits of wool carpet pile fibres there should be at least 50% wool in a mixed fibre carpet.
There are two main reasons why wool carpet fibres are mixed with other fibres in the manufacture of carpets. Firstly the synthetic fibres are stronger and more durable, so by adding these to the wool fibres, gives extra wear without removing all the natural advantages of wool. Secondly as wool is more expensive (at the moment!) than synthetic fibres therefore a mixed carpet fibre product be less expensive than a 100% wool carpet. The most common carpet fibre blend is 80% wool and 20% synthetic fibre mix, giving the benefits of look and feel of wool, with the wear qualities of synthetic fibres.
Synthetic Carpet Fibres
There are three types of synthetic fibre, polypropylene; polyester and nylon. These are all manufactured using oil hence are not as sustainable or eco-friendly as wool. Carpets made of a mix of synthetic fibres or a combinations of these fibres with wool are commonly available.
Polypropylene Carpet Fibres
Polypropylene is an inexpensive, highly stain resistant, easy to clean, durable and with good colour fastness. It’s very good value for money, and comes in a range of different pile types and so can be a good budget carpet option. However, it flattens easily and doesn’t retain its appearance so well it is often mixed with some of the more bouncy fibres.
Polyester carpet fibres
This is a soft and luxurious fibre, but it softness means it is not very resilient to traffic, so it is only recommend for low wear areas like bedrooms.
Acrylic Carpet Fibres
Acrylic is a resilient fibre which outwardly looks the most similar to wool carpet. However it does not have the stain resistant qualities of wool so tends to soil more readily.
Polymide Carpet Fibre
Polymide is a type of nylon. This fibre is luxurious and soft to the touch and very hardwearing. Many of the anti-soil, anti-stain carpets are made of Polymide. This is one of the most common fibres to be blended with other fibres to improve durability. In the past the biggest problem with this carpet fibre was it used to generate static electricity. Nowadays most products made with this fibre will have been given and anti-static finish.