Carpet Fiber Choice vs Durability
(Nylon vs. Smartstrand vs. )
Learn The Facts About Carpet Fibers, Carpet Specifications and Carpet Durability.
Carpet Fiber Choice vs Durability? This is practical information homeowners need to know in order to make wise and informed Carpet buying choices.
You Need Answers To These Questions…
The Best Fiber for Kids and Pets?
What Fiber is Most Durable?
Which Fibers Should I Avoid?
The Fiber You Select Determines…
- How soft it feels
- Stain resistance
- Ease of cleaning
- The price you’ll pay
- Available styles and colors
- How long your carpet will last
These are the most important factors you need to consider when shopping for new carpet and choosing the right carpet fiber to meet your needs and goals.
When it comes to carpet fibers, you must compare apples to apples.
For example, you cannot compare a NYLON to a POLYESTER, or a WOOL 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, goals and lifestyle.
New Names for the Same Old Fibers
All fibers can be modified in many ways to make them look or feel different. Some fibers are “bulked up” to make them look and feel thicker.
Some fibers are extruded thinner to make them feel softer.
These changes are common in the fiber industry and have been so for decades. This is nothing new. Still, the main characteristics of the fiber hold true.
For example, polyester is not a very resilient fiber. This means it will mat down easily in moderate to heavy foot traffic areas in your home. This is especially true in hallways and on stairs.
Making the fiber thinner or beefing it up to make it thicker will not change the fact that polyester is not a resilient fiber.
Nylon is the most durable and most resilient Synthetic fiber.
Nylon does not mat down easily, that’s why Nylon is the best choice for moderate to heavy foot-traffic applications.
There are several other synthetic fibers to choose from, including Polyester, PET Polyester, Sorona and Olefin.
All have their good and not-so-good qualities. Carpet makers are constantly trying to convince consumers that there’s is a new and improved fiber that is well worth having in your home.
The Carpet Professor Says…
“Don’t believe everything you hear about a newfangled carpet fiber or new manufacturing process that makes an old fiber better now than it was before.”
These altered or manipulated fibers are often marketed under fancy new names. They are still the same fiber as before with all the same limitations they have always had.
The superficial changes they make do not cause them to perform much or any better than before, but the carpet makers surely want you to believe so.
In fact, making the strand thinner will make the fiber feel softer, but it may also cause the fiber to be less resilient. However the price you pay for a new and improved fiber will likely be much higher!
Learn more about Carpet Styles
Nylon Carpet Fibers
Nylon is a generic name or designation for a family of synthetic polymers first produced in 1935 by the DuPont Company. How is nylon made?
The Carpet Professor Says…
A resilient fiber is defined as having the ability to return to its original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.
Nylon Fiber Facts
(Nothing to argue about here)
Nylon is a synthetic fiber that outperforms all other fibers. It wears exceptionally well, is very resilient, resists abrasion, resists stains and is easy to clean.
- The most expensive synthetic fiber to manufacture.
- More durable than all other synthetic fibers.
- The most resilient fiber.
Being resilient is what makes a nylon carpet looking like new longer than any other synthetic fiber. Wool is a natural fiber and it has excellent resiliency and durability.
I would always choose a Nylon carpet if I have medium to heavy foot-traffic and durability was my biggest concern.
Carpets made of nylon tend to look like-new longer than any other fiber. Nylon comes in virtually all styles and colors. What more can you ask for? Nylon is the best wearing, most durable fiber available.
Insist on a Carpet made of Nylon to reap these benefits over all other available fibers:
- Most resilient of all fibers (doesn’t mat down easily)
- Maintains a new appearance longer
- Resists stains
- Easy to clean
- Very durable
- Can be color-dyed
I Think Antron’s Nylon 6,6 is the Best Nylon
How much better? Not so much that I would pay a lot more to get it, however if all specifications and price were about equal then I would certainly opt for carpet made with nylon 6,6.
There are two types of Nylon fiber, one is referred to as Type 6.0 and is made by Anso® and the other is Type 6.6 also known as Stainmaster®, made by Antron®.
Stainmaster®carpet became a popular household brand because of the millions spent on television advertising and marketing since 1986.
Update: Stainmaster® Carpet Brand
The Stainmaster brand name was recently purchased by Lowe’s.
So from now on, the only way to purchase any carpet with the Stainmaster® brand name is to buy it at Lowe’s.
However, the same Nylon fiber known as 6,6 is still available at other retailers under a different brand name.
You can now buy carpet made with Antron’s nylon 6,6 at most local carpet stores and still enjoy all the benefits without having to pay more for the Stainmaster® brand name.
I think this is good news for homeowners. Now you are not limited to shopping for carpets made from the Nylon 6.6 fiber at Lowe’s just because they own the Stainmaster® brand name.
The Carpet Professor Says…
“Best Carpet Fiber Choice vs Durability? Take my free Carpet Foot-Traffic Test to help determine what grade of carpet you need for your home.”
Q. Do Tactesse, Caress, Lisse’ and other branded “Soft Nylons” hold up as well as regular (non-soft) Nylon fibers?
This is an excellent question. From my experience, I have found that “soft nylon” fibers are not quite as resilient or as durable as a standard (non-soft) 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.
A thinner strand creates a carpet that is softer to the touch but may be more susceptible to matting and crushing.
I’m not trying to 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 denier nylon fiber.
What is Fiber Denier?
Denier is the measurement of the strand diameter. Fiber denier is easily understood for those who gone fishing and used a nylon filament fishing line.
The thicker the line is, the stronger it is. When fishing for Trout, fishermen may use a thin 4-pound test line. For bigger fish like Steelhead or Salmon, a thicker 6, 8 or 10-pound nylon test line may be used.
Denier is the measurement of the diameter of the extruded fiber strand.
Some carpet fibers are purposely 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.
A carpet made with a standard (heavier) Denier Nylon fiber will be more durable and more resilient than a carpet made from a thinner strand as is commonly used in today’s branded “Soft Nylons”.
What does “branded” mean?
A branded product is one made by a well-advertised or well-known maker with label or name attached to it. Coca Cola is a well known brand of soda.
When it comes to carpet, a specific type of product can be branded and advertised and marketed to attract consumers.
Soft nylon styles have been branded under certain names and advertised to market the product to consumers who are interested in having a carpet with soft qualities similar to those made from a carpet made from wool, but not as costly.
The cost of “branded” products are more costly because of their characteristics and marketing.
Sorona® – PTT – Triexta – (aka Smartstrand® by Mohawk™)
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.
Sorona, also known as Triexta or PTT was developed by DuPont™. It is a polymer derived from corn. Yes, corn.
It is said to have the best anti-stain properties of all synthetic fibers and cleans easier than any other fiber too. 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 impossible to beat.
Either way, Sorona may be the fiber you need for your home and especially if stain resistance is your main concern.
Carpet Fiber Choice vs Durability? I would not suggest Sorona for those with heavy foot- traffic applications, especially if you expect your new carpet to last more than 10 years.
Sorona was introduced to compete with nylon and to be manufactured at a comparable cost to Nylon. Mohawk has a line of carpet styles using the Sorona fiber and they have branded it and call it Smartstrand.
Sorona / Smartstrand Carpet Fiber
Q. Sorona has been around for many years now, do you think it is as good a fiber as they claim it is?
What I have come to believe at this point is that Sorona IS a durable fiber, it also cleans easily and resists stains a little better than a Nylon 6.0.
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, 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 of the pile in medium to heavy traffic areas. (stairs and hallways)
What is your level of foot-traffic?
I created a free and simple Carpet Foot Traffic Test so homeowners would have some idea about where they stand and what grade of carpet to consider buying.
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 frustration and makes for an unhappy customer.
My final thoughts about the Sorona fiber 2021
I still firmly believe that Nylon is more durable and has better resiliency than Sorona, but Sorona does seem to resist stains a little better than a nylon 6.0 to some degree, how much is debatable.
Most of the information I find about Sorona (on the internet) is written by the carpet manufacturers or authorized carpet dealers. You just don’t get the whole story from those sources.
Polyester or P.E.T. Polyester Carpet Fibers
Polyester is one of the least expensive synthetic fibers to manufacture. This is why carpet manufacturers try so hard to convince you to buy it.
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.
The Carpet Professor Says…
“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 or crushing of the pile.
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.
The Carpet Professor Says…
“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 would consider choosing a carpet made of Polyester if I…
- Want to spend as little as possible.
- Need carpet that looks nice for just a few years.
- Have very low foot-traffic in my home.
- Install it in a room that is seldom used.
Carpet Fiber Blends
Some carpets are made with a blend of Polyester and Nylon fibers. 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 slightly more durable.
While this may have a benefit to consumers in some situations, I personally do not believe it makes a more valuable product.
It’s like putting a Mercedes hood ornament on a Ford Fiesta. It doesn’t make much sense to me. Some people think it is a viable option.
But carpet mills have long tried to come up with a way to make Polyester carpets more durable and less prone to matting and crushing of the pile, mainly because it is so cheap to manufacture.
Olefin Carpet Fibers (aka Polypropylene)
Olefin is a very strong synthetic 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 and maintained. 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 looped styles.
The Carpet Professor Says…
Read My Article: Lifestyle Often Dictates Best Carpet Choice for those with kids or pets.
Commercial grade level-loop carpets wear very well, as the loops tend to be very small which leaves little room for the loops to fall over, become matted down or crushed.
Wheelchairs roll easily over commercial level-loop carpets that are glued-down without padding. This is a good choice for handicapped areas, hospitals and retirement home applications.
When comparing Berber carpets made of Olefin, smaller loops and a tighter weave will yield a longer wearing carpet. If you want the most durable Berber style make sure it is made from a nylon fiber.
About Berber Carpet
Wool and Wool Blend Carpet Fibers
Wool is a natural fiber and should not be compared to a synthetic fiber. 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 in your home.
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 accidents.
It’s hard to find an honest and reputable carpet store these days! That’s why I created my own special hand-picked list of carpet stores who are locally owned, give free estimates, offer fair prices, have knowledgeable staff, provide honest measuring and hire qualified installers. Homeowners want to know…Are there any reputable Carpet Stores Near Me?