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About Carpet Fibers - (What Homeowners Need to Know!)

By Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert and Consumer Advocate

 

Selecting the Right Carpet Fiber for Your Home

 

In this section we will be discussing carpet fibers, one of the most important aspects in selecting the right carpet for your home, office or rental property.  

 

 

The NYLON Carpet Fiber

 

Nylon is a synthetic fiber and is more durable all other synthetic fibers. It wears very well, resists abrasion and is easy to clean when treated with a anti-stain treatment like R2X™ or Scotchgard™. It comes in all styles and colors. This is the longest wearing, most durable fiber available. There are two types of nylon fiber available. Nylon 6 and Nylon 6.6, they are both very good. Retailers will tell you which one they think is better. I prefer Stainmaster™ 6.6 nylon fiber infused with Teflon™.  Learn more about Carpet Specifications

 

 

Softer Nylon Carpet Fibers - Tactesse, Caress, Lisse' and others...

I have found that the popular "softer" nylon fibers are not quite as resilient as a standard denier nylon fiber. The higher the denier, the heavier the filament and the more durable it is. The way they make a standard nylon fiber softer is to manufacture the nylon strand thinner. By doing so, I believe that some of the resiliency and durability is compromised. This thinner strand creates a carpet that is softer to the touch but may be more susceptible to matting and crushing. Don't take this the wrong way, I'm not steering you away from buying a soft nylon, but if you want to have the absolute most durable and most resilient nylon fiber for the money, I suggest you avoid the more costly softer nylons and buy a carpet made with a standard 100% Nylon BCF. (What is BCF?)

 

 

What is Fiber Denier?

 

Note: Fiber denier is easiest understood if you have ever gone fishing and used a nylon filament fishing line. The thicker the line is, the stronger it is. When fishing for Trout most fishermen use a thin 6-pound test line. For bigger Fiber Denier Example for Soft Nylon Carpet Stylesfish like Steelhead or Salmon, a thicker 10 or 12-pound nylon test line may be selected. 

 

Some carpet fibers are manufactured thinner to make a carpet that feels softer to the touch, but in doing so some I believe some of the strength, durability or resiliency may be sacrificed. This means in medium to heavy traffic applications, the carpet made with a thinner strand will not hold up as well, will be less durable and be more prone to matting and crushing of the carpet pile.

 

Therefore I believe a carpet made with a "standard" Denier Nylon fiber will be more durable and more resilient than a carpet made with a thinner fiber strand as is used in today's branded "Softer Nylon Carpet Styles."

 

The OLEFIN Carpet Fiber

 

Olefin is a strong synthetic fiber that some say a similar appearance to wool, but is very inexpensive to manufacture. Some common carpet styles that are made of Olefin are Berbers and commercial grade carpets. Olefin wears well and has good stain resistance when anti-stain treatment is applied. Olefin has good anti-static properties. However, Olefin is hard to clean and it tends to look worn out and dingy when soiled. Olefin is also called polypropylene or polyolefin. Olefin has poor resiliency which means it will mat down easily. 

 

 

The POLYESTER Carpet Fiber  (may also be called P.E.T. Polyester)

(P.E.T. may be manufactured from recycled soda pop bottles)

 

Don't be fooled by the softness of this fiber. This is a very soft synthetic fiber that holds its color well; however it is difficult to keep clean and has very poor resiliency. Traffic areas will usually mat down quickly and may never return to its original appearance. When new, polyester looks great and feels so soft and wonderful, but it won’t be too long before it doesn’t. 

 

Sales people often recommend this type of carpet to consumers without sufficient fiber knowledge or experience. Because polyester is so inexpensive to manufacture and higher profits using this fiber, carpet manufacturers continually try to enhance carpets made with polyester hoping that they can create a carpet that wears well. So far they have had limited success. 

 

 

Triexta, PTT or Sorona® aka Smartstrand™ by Mohawk®

 

Another somewhat new fiber on the market today is called Sorona®, or Smartstrand®. It is a polymer made from or derived from corn. (Actually it was invented way back in the 1940's but it was too costly to manufacture) Originally invented by Dupont™, they are very proud of this fiber and go so far to say that this fiber has the best anti-stain properties, cleans easier than any other fiber and is very durable too! 

 

Reports from my readers and other flooring professionals have been very favorable so far with only a few negative reports. I believe Sorona is a viable option for many consumers if it fits into your budget and you have need for a carpet that is practically stain proof! However, no carpet fiber is totally stain proof. 

 

Some of my recommended carpet dealers think Smartstrand is as good as nylon. Other dealers absolutely hate it. I think it is a matter of selecting a carpet with the right specifications to meet or exceed the application. Smartstrand is not a miracle fiber, and if you buy a carpet with low specifications and expect it to tolerate a ton of foot traffic you will be very disappointed. Learn more about Carpet Specifications

 

Should you buy carpet made with Sorona (Smartstrand)? 

 

If you want a carpet that is able to resists stains and clean easily and have good durability, then yes, you should seriously consider buying Sorona. However, if you want the absolute best and most durable carpet fiber known to man for the past 70 years then you should consider choosing a good quality continuous filament Nylon carpet.

 

Learn more about Carpet Specifications

 

UPDATE

 

My Latest Opinion Regarding Sorona® (Smartstrand by Mohawk)

 

Alan, Sorona has been around for about 10 years now, do you think it is as good as nylon?


I hear from many homeowners and confer often with my preferred carpet dealers about Sorona, (AKA Smartstrand by Mohawk) and I get conflicting reports. Some homeowners hate it and say it mats down quickly and is hard to clean, others say it's great and are very happy with it. Some carpet dealers say they get nothing but complaints about it and yet others sing about how wonderful it is and say it's better or "as good" as nylon. 

 

What I have come to believe at this point is that Sorona IS a durable fiber, it also cleans easily and resists stains better than Nylon in most cases. However, it is imperative that you choose the right quality or "grade" of carpet 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 sufficient face-weight, pile density and adequate tuft twist to meet your needs, goals and lifestyle. I think it is also important to keep the pile height at or below 3/4 of an inch or risk potential matting and crushing.

Knowing what grade of carpet to buy is the secret to success and sadly, most folks end up buying a carpet that is incapable of tolerating their level of foot traffic. This always ends in disaster and makes for an unhappy customer. 

 

To help homeowners make wise choices I created a simple Carpet Foot Traffic Test

 

It gives homeowners a general idea about what grade of carpet to consider buying, based of the amount and type of foot traffic in the home. It's a free test that can help you choose new carpet wisely!

 

Here is the actual link: http://www.homecarpetshopping.com/carpet_foot_traffic_test.htm

This is my take on Sorona so far and I think it will take a few more years to give my final report on the durability of Sorona. For now, I still believe that Nylon is more durable and has better resiliency than Sorona, but Sorona does seem to clean a bit easier and resist stains better.


Thanks for your question I will post this information (and date it) so everyone can be updated on this subject. Most of the information about Sorona (on the internet) is written by the manufacturer or the authorized Sorona dealers. You just don't get the whole story from those sources.

 

Learn more about Carpet Specifications

 

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Continued...     Back     Home     Carpet Comparison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Carpet Foot Traffic Test    Carpet Q&A   Retail Big Box Carpet Scams  

Carpet Installation Cost   Carpet Wrinkles - Top 10 Causes

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Should I buy New Carpet or have my old Carpet Cleaned?  Carpet Pad

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Learn more about Carpet Specifications      Learn How to Avoid Common Carpet Scams

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Learn more about Carpet Specifications      Learn How to Avoid Common Carpet Scams

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