Carpet Wearability: What is the best?

When buying a carpet the most important thought apart from the price is: how will it wear? As significant as wearability and the length of service is its appearance: will it remain good looking? There is nothing more distressing than a carpet which loses its good appearance while it still has a long life span, for there is little advantage in a carpet that will last indefinitely if it looks awful.

The carpet’s appearance will depend very much on the fibre content. Carpet pile and surface fibres fall into five main categories: natural fibres, such as wool, cotton and silk; acrylics; cellulosics; nylons and polypropylenes. In the main, the man-mades and synthetics generally are used for the tufted qualities, while the pure, natural materials are used in the medium to best-quality carpets. Some carpets, however, are composed of mixtures of these fibres, the mixtures containing some of the benefits and disadvantages of each individual component.

Natural fibres

Of these, wool is the most important and the most widely used, either blended or as a 100 per cent wool-content carpet.

Wool has unequalled resilience to crushing and does not soil as readily as most other fibres. Neither is it prone, under normal conditions, to static as are most of the synthetics. Its other advantages include flame resistance and the greater choice of colour design and texture, making it the most widely used carpet fibre.

The quality of wool varies, dependent on the type of sheep from which the wool has been taken and the conditions under which they are bred. The best-quality wool comes from sheep which live in hilly and mountainous country, the pelts invariably being thicker and of better quality, because of the hard conditions under which they live.

All wool and wool-mixture carpets keep their appearance well and will offer years of hard wear if properly looked after. For this reason and because the price of raw wool fluctuates, all-wool carpets are generally to be found in the higher-price brackets.

Other natural fibres which make carpets are cotton, which is used for bathroom rugs, and specially woven cotton carpeting, for use in bathrooms and bedrooms. Cotton is absorbent, dries quickly and is washable. The pile flattens, however, and it soils easily.

Silk has been used for centuries for superb Oriental and Chinese carpets and rugs which are in the top luxury class.

At the other end of the scale are sisals and jute. Sisal is coarse and tends to be stiff, but can be dyed to strong colours, is hard-wearing, inexpensive and mostly used for mattings and rugs, with a boucle or flat surface. It does stain easily and provides, in this respect, a slight maintenance problem.

Jute is mainly used for carpet backing or underlays, but it is occasionally used with viscose rayons to make inexpensive cord carpeting.

Cord carpeting was originally made from the hair of animals and apart from the synthetic varieties still is. Haircord makes a tough, durable floor covering, rather harsh to the touch, which is sometimes blended with wool or viscose yarns to make it softer.


Of all the man-made fibres acrylics have the nearest appearance to wool, for this looks and feels similar but soils quicker and burns readily.

Acrylics are less prone to static electricity, however, than some of the other synthetics and because they do not absorb liquids, acrylic carpets can be cleaned more easily.

Modacrylics are claimed to be less in- flammable than the acrylics and are often blended with them.

Nylon is used mainly in the cheaper tufted carpets and is very hard-wearing, although it does not keep its good appearance which is why it has not proved very popular.

Nylon fibre reflects and magnifies the dirt lodged in it so that a nylon carpet may appear dirty when it is not. A modern nylon with improved properties has been developed to overcome this difficulty. This fibre has been constructed in such a way that the light no longer shines directly through it, magnifying the dirt, but is refracted away from the eye. Despite this tendency to show soiling very easily, nylon can be simply and easily cleaned.

Its other disadvantage is that it is prone to static electricity which can impart shocks, when, for example you touch metal or a wall when standing on nylon. This can be kept down by occasionally spraying lightly with water. When exposed to flame, nylon melts into a mass.

Man-made fibres

These are cellulosics and are produced from wood pulp or cotton linters and include viscose and rayons. Rayon in its pure form is definitely a spare-bedroom carpet. These are bulky fibres which, if used on their own, flatten easily, but add bulkiness to blends of other fibres. A mixture of cellulosics are sometimes added to a nylon carpet to combat static electricity. The greatest advantage is its cheapness.


This is one of the newer synthetic fibres and is used in a variety of forms. Polypropylene is making headway in the cheaper ranges and is used widely for cheaper cord carpets, which are proving to be one of the most popular of the in-expensive carpetings. This can provide a cheap form of wall-to-wall carpeting. Carpets made from polypropylene are durable and generate little static and generally are easily cleanable. Polyester offers a lush pile construction which is both soft to the touch and hard-wearing.


Many carpets are blends of synthetics or synthetics blended with pure wool. Though purists may claim that nothing can approach worsted wool for softness of touch, the price often puts it out of reach. Blended with synthetics it becomes reliable but a cheaper purchase. The most popular blend is 80 per cent wool and 20 per cent nylon, which gives all the advantages of wool with the tried durability of nylon and produces a hard-wearing pile. Inexpensive carpets blend viscose with nylon to produce a pile with a good resistance to flattening which also gives a reasonable performance in use. There are many blends.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Carpet Wearability: What is the best?


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