Carpet fiber

Selecting the right carpet fiber is a very important decision in selection of your carpet. This page provides information about the nine most commonly used carpet fibers. The fibers are cotton, wool, rayon, acrylic, polyester, olefin, triexta, and nylon. Each type of fiber has its own characteristics.

Yarns and fibers in carpet

The following are most commonly used materials in production of carpet fiber:


carpet fiber Cotton is used for a carpet fiber in throw rugs and areas rugs. Cotton is not used for carpet fiber in wall-to-wall carpets these days very much because of cotton's lack of crush resistance. Cotton will flatten out after a regular use. Cotton also absorbs a lot of moisture which makes it difficult to clean. Cotton is not a very suitable fiber for wall-to-wall carpets and takes up less than 1% of overall carpet sales. Cotton fiber carpets are susceptible to stains and matting (see clean stain and clean carpet for carpet and stain cleaning tips).


Rayon has a low melting point and is hard to dye; therefore, Rayon is not the best material for carpet fiber by today's standards. Some inexpensive area rugs are made of rayon, and they are not designed for heavy traffic.


Wool is a very good material for carpet fiber. Wool is a good carpet fiber for a berber carpet, plush carpet, and frieze carpet. The down side of wool is that it is very expensive these days. The best quality wool is from New Zealand. The up side of wool carpet fiber is that it naturally resists general soiling, crushing, and most stains. Another benefit of wool carpet fiber is also that it is naturally resistant to fire (fire-retardant). The soft look and the rich feel of wool is still unmatched by any artificial fiber. Wool carpets are used for their long-lasting qualities. Wool carpets are suitable for low to moderate traffic area.


Nylon is the most commonly used fiber in carpet production. The reason is its strength and availability. Nylon is one of the strongest and most durable of the carpet fiber types. Nylon carpet is one of the easiest carpets to clean and maintain. Nylon is also easily dyed and can be designed for any type of use and traffic. Some nylon fibers also include fluorocarbon to resist staining. Some carpet manufacturers of nylon include Invista (formerly DuPont), Mohawk (formerly Monsanto), BASF, Shaw (formerly Allied Chemical). Nylon can be recycled.

Soft nylon

Carpet manufactures came out with new carpet fibers called "soft nylon". Soft nylon has been around for a long time, but has always been too expensive. The nylon carpet fiber feels soft due to its extremely small diameter. The new soft feeling nylons are made from a very fine nylon fiber. Soft nylon is sold on the market under various brand names, for example Tactesse, Luxerell, DuraSoft, Anso Caress and others. Nylon is today a very common carpet fiber.


Acrylic fibers were popular in the 1960's and 70's. Acrylic carpet fiber looks and feels like wool; however, the fiber has a tendency to pill, shed, and fuzz. Compared to wool carpet fiber, an acrylic fiber also does not insulate as well as wool. Acrylic is known for its resistance to dirt, mildew, moths, and fading.

Polyester (PET and PTT)

fiber Polyester fibers, also known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), have natural and permanent stain resistance (because it is hydrophobic) and also relatively good abrasion resistance which makes them suitable for office space and other commercial carpet use. Polyester carpet fiber has a higher melting point which makes it compliant with fire regulations. Some polyester carpet fibers are made from recycled materials (soda pop bottles). Color is infused in a molten state (solution dyeing). The disadvantage of PET is that it tends to crush or mat down easily. PET is typically used in mid- to low-priced carpeting. Another polyester, polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT) is a variant of PET. A PET carpet can be recycled.


Triexta is a special carpet fiber manufactured by Mohawk (see Mohawk carpet). Triexta carpet fiber is stronger than polyester fiber and has better colorfastness and resistance to stains. Triexta carpet fiber is very soft. Triexta fiber is suitable for households with kids and pets.

Polypropylene (Olefin)

Polypropylene is one of the most color-lasting carpet fibers which makes it suitable for outdoor carpets in both loop and grass styles. The height of the pile however needs to be low. If polypropylene is puffed up to add some bulk to the fiber, the abrasion resistance is low and polypropylene fibers crush and mat down quickly (steer clear of dragging furniture across the surface). Polypropylene has also a very low melting point. Polypropylene is difficult to dye and does not wear as well as wool or nylon. Polypropylene is commonly used to make berber carpets. Commercial grade level-loop carpets have very small loops. Polypropylene carpets are popular due to its inexpensive price point.
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