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Carpet Comparison

What Makes One Carpet Better Than Another?

by Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert and Consumer Advocate


How Do I Compare Carpets?


Generally speaking, carpet is graded by the materials used, the amount of fiber-weight and how well it is constructed. There are many ways for you to make wrong choices if you don't get accurate and honest carpet information. 


The key is for you to fully understand Carpet Specifications before you make any final carpet or padding choices.



Carpet Fibers


The fiber you select will determine how long your new carpet lasts, how easily it can be cleaned or resist stains and how much it will cost. Carpet Fiber is one of the most critical factors when comparing carpets. You cannot compare a Nylon carpet to a Polyester carpet, Smartstrand to a Nylon or a Wool carpet 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 meets your needs and lifestyle as well as your budget. 



The Nylon Fiber Types


Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers first produced in 1935 by the DuPont Company. As far as fibers go, Nylon is the most durable and the most resilient of all synthetic carpet fibers. A "resilient" fiber is defined as having the ability to return to its original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched. This is what keeps a nylon carpet looking like new longer than any other fiber. Nylon resists matting and crushing of the pile better than all other synthetic fibers. 


However, not all Nylon fibers are created equal, some are more durable than others and some are more resilient than others. 


Some are softer and some resist stains better, depending on what type of nylon your carpet is made with. There are different fiber manufacturers that provide Nylon fibers to carpet manufacturers. This can make choosing the right nylon carpet quite challenging. 



There are two main types of nylon fiber made today... 


Nylon 6.6, made by INVISTA, and Nylon 6.0, made by Anso. 



Q. Do Softer Nylons hold up as well as the regular Nylon fibers do?

This is an excellent question. From my experience, I have found that the "softer" nylon fibers are not quite as resilient as a standard 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. 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 for the money, I suggest you buy a carpet made with a standard denier nylon fiber.



What is Fiber Denier?


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 4-pound test line. For bigger fish like Steelhead or Salmon, a thicker 8 or 10-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 of the strength, durability or resiliency may be sacrificed. 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 strand as is used in today's branded "Soft Nylons".   




Polyester / P.E.T.  


Polyester is one of the least expensive fibers to manufacture. 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. Polyester carpets mat down in a hurry, that has always been the problem with this fiber. When you walk on any carpet, with every footstep you bend and compress the fibers and soon they begin to fall over. Once polyester fibers are crushed, they don't spring back to their original position.



Olefin (also called polypropylene) 


Olefin is a very strong 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. Olefin has good anti-static properties. However, lower grades of Olefin are more difficult to keep clean and tends to look dingy when soiled. Olefin has poor resiliency so smaller looped Berber styles tend to last longer and resist matting better than do larger looped Berber styles. 



Sorona® aka Smartstrand® by Mohawk™


DuPont is the leader in fiber technology and they have a new product on the market, a polymer made from corn. It was actually invented back in the 1940’s but was too expensive to manufacture back then to compete with other fibers on the market. Today with carpet prices rising due to higher oil prices it has become a viable product to produce. (Sorona is also known as Triexta or PTT)


DuPont calls this fiber Triexta or Sorona®, it's a proprietary polymer with engineered stain protection that they claim will never wash off or wear off. With exceptional clean-ability as its main claim to fame it will be a product that many consumers will want to have. You might consider selecting this type of fiber if stain resistance and clean-ability is your biggest concern. 


Don't make the mistake of thinking that this is a miracle fiber, as it is still more prone to matting and crushing of the pile than is the Nylon fiber. If you read the new carpet warranty for Sorona you will find that matting and crushing of the pile is generally not covered. Learn more about Buying Carpet Wisely



Carpet Pile Density


Carpet pile density is a major key to having a carpet retain its "like new" appearance longer. The higher the pile density the more durable the carpet will be. This means the carpet will resist matting and crushing of the pile better, especially in moderate to heavy foot-traffic applications.


Pile density is determined by pile yarn weight and pile height. Think of pile density like a densely wooded forest where the trees are thick and growing very close together. Carpets with a pile height of less than 3/4" are more likely to tolerate a higher level of foot traffic and resist matting and crushing of the pile.


Dig your fingers into the pile of the carpet. Are the fibers tightly packed or are your nails digging into the backing of the carpet?  


More information about Carpet Cost and pricing.



Carpet Tuft Twist


The Carpet Tuft Twist Rating is an important key to helping your carpet retain its like new appearance longer. With most carpets, the tufts of fibers are twisted in the same way that people curl their hair. Carpet fibers are grouped together and formed into tufts and twisted while heat is applied to "set" the fibers permanently, hence the term "heat set". The more twists the more durable the carpet will be. Plush styles often have a tuft twist of 4 to 6 per lineal inch, while Frieze styles tend to have a higher tuft twist of 6 to 8 per lineal inch. 


Carpet Tuft Twist

This tuft has 7 twists and is a sign of a well-made, more durable carpet. Frieze styles have tufts similar to this.



Carpet Tuft Twist Rating

This tuft has 4 twists and is not as durable. This is a sign of a lower-grade carpet. Inexpensive Plush and Textured Plush styles often have tufts similar to this. 



Learn more about Carpet Specifications




Alan's Preferred Carpet Dealers


It's hard to find an honest and reputable carpet dealer these days! That's why I have compiled a special list of hand-picked carpet retailers who I believe are reputable, are locally owned,  give free estimates, offer fair prices, have knowledgeable staff, provide honest measuring and hire qualified installers.

See who I recommend near you!



*DuPont™ and Sorona® are a trademark and a registered trademark of  E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company. Smartstrand is a registered  trademark of Mohawk Industries™. Read My Update about  Sorona




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