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Types of Carpet Fibers

If you’re considering new carpeting, there are many options! From learning more about carpet care and maintenance to considering which type of carpet pile you want, there’s a lot to consider. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of carpet fibers so you can choose the best material for your project.

Types of Carpet Fibers

About 97% of carpeting is made from synthetic fibers which are more resistant to stains and much less expensive than natural materials. The other 3% are natural fibers which tend to resist crushing from traffic. There are seven primary types of fibers used in rugs: acrylic, nylon, olefin, blends of nylon & olefin, new polyesters, recycled polyesters, and wools.


Acrylic fiber is known as man-made wool because it is an artificial fiber that provides the look and feel of wool at a fraction of the cost. Advantages of acrylic are that it resists static electricity, moisture, mildew, fading, crushing, staining, and sun damage. However, it is not durable enough for high traffic areas.


Nylon is the strongest fiber of all the carpets, with excellent resistance to abrasion, insects, molding, mildew, rot, and many chemicals. It is easy to maintain while upholding its color admirably. Nylon is durable and static free, maintains fiber height, and resists soiling or staining. All of which makes it the most popular carpet fiber by far (90%) for homes and heavily favored (65%) for all uses – both residential and commercial. Nylon carpet is usually moderately priced, not quite as expensive as wool, but more expensive than polypropylene, and polyester. Nylon carpet of mid-level and higher quality can last up to 12 to 15 years.

Olefin or Polypropylene

Olefin (polypropylene) is the next-best seller after nylon, making up about 80% of commercial carpet installations. Olefin fibers are colorfast, strong (resisting abrasion), mildew & moisture resistant, and easy to clean (bleach can be used safely in some cases). It is suitable for high traffic areas – even actually used for artificial sports turf! Less expensive than wool, nylon, and polyester, olefin/polypropylene continues to gain popularity. Polypropylene is not exactly ‘crush resistant’ and can be prone to matting, crushing, and general scuffs depending on the pile cut.


Blends are typically made from nylon and olefin. This blend is resilient but the different fiber types often resist stains unevenly. Stains will often stand out prominently with these blends.


Polyester does not hold its fiber height under traffic and shifting weight as well as other carpet fibers, and it can fade with bright sunlight. However, polyester has a luxurious feel, is durable against abrasions, resistant to water soluble stains and easy to clean.

Polyester Recycled Carpet Fiber

Polyester/PET or Polyethylene Terephthalate carpet has bright colors and is available in many textures. It is more stain resistant than nylon carpet and at least as resistant to mold and mildew. It is also non-allergenic. Some of it (if not all) is made from recycled bottle caps…about 50 soda bottle caps go into a square yard of carpet! Polyester/PET is also less expensive than wool and nylon. Since it is actually made of plastic, it would be a good idea to first test this in a single room to see how you like it, before going all out with this environmentally-friendly carpet.


Wool is a purely natural product — luxurious, strong, and stain-resistant. It maintains its fiber height very well. Soft to the touch and very dense, wool has a more comfortable feel than other carpet fibers. Plus, it will hide soil to a much greater effect than other synthetic fibers, mainly in part due to its opacity (other fibers are clear, and thus soil can be seen through it). Wool is also quite durable, and easily dyed in many colors. It is an excellent choice for its rich appearance and luxury image. However, it must be maintained properly. It does tend to fade in sunlight, has low-resistance both to stains and to the chemicals used to remove stains. Unlike the synthetics, wool can attract and suffer damage from moths, beetles, and other types of insects.

What is the Best Carpet Fiber?

The best carpet fiber for you depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Each type of carpet fiber has its unique benefits and drawbacks. To choose the best carpet fiber for your application, consider these factors:

  • Durability: If you have a busy household with pets and kids, nylon might be your best bet.
  • Budget: Polyester and olefin are more budget-friendly, while wool tends to be on the higher end.
  • Moisture and Stain Resistance: Olefin offers excellent moisture and stain resistance, making it suitable for areas prone to spills.
  • Eco-Friendliness: Wool is more environmentally friendly compared to fully synthetic fibers, but with a slightly heftier price tag.

Ultimately, the best carpet fiber for you will depend on balancing these factors with your personal needs and preferences.

What is the Most Durable Carpet Fiber?

The most durable carpet fiber is generally considered to be nylon. Its resilience and ability to bounce back after compression from furniture or foot traffic make it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas in homes and commercial settings. It's also highly resistant to abrasion, mold, and mildew, and can be treated for added stain resistance, enhancing its durability further.

While other fibers like polyester and olefin offer various benefits such as stain resistance and eco-friendliness, nylon consistently ranks as the top performer in terms of overall durability and longevity. Its strength and resilience help it maintain its appearance and texture for years, making it a preferred choice for areas that see a lot of wear.

What Carpet Fiber Type is the Most Expensive?

The most expensive carpet fiber is typically wool. Wool is a natural fiber that offers a range of benefits, including a luxurious feel, excellent durability, and natural stain resistance. It's also environmentally friendly, as it is a renewable resource and biodegradable.

Wool carpets are known for their ability to retain their appearance and resilience over time, contributing to their higher cost. The cost of wool carpets reflects their quality, comfort, and the sustainable practices often involved in their production. Despite the higher initial investment, wool's longevity and timeless appeal can make it a cost-effective choice in the long run for those prioritizing quality and natural materials in their flooring options.

Get New Carpet from the Experts at Floors USA

“I had a runner made for my steps. The carpet we found was beautiful. The binding matches perfectly and the installation guys were professional, efficient, and cleaned up after themselves. I am very happy with this whole process. I have had carpet installed by Floors USA in King of Prussia before and I can honestly say that that was also an excellent experience.” – Roxane

Interested in getting carpet tips straight from the pros? Floors USA has a huge selection and our Warehouse Clearance Sale is on now with deep discounts on top brands like Karastan. Customer satisfaction is our number one priority, so our staff will work with you to ensure you are 100% happy with your purchase.

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