Carpet options buying guide

The basics of buying a wall-to-wall carpet.
 
Learn more
 
 
 
 
 
  • Updated:1 Jul 2008
 

03.Materials

Wool

Wool carpets remain a favourite for their warmth, luxurious feel and durability. Generally, wool is more expensive than other fibres, but price depends on the quality and construction of the carpet. Wool is often blended with other fibres, such as nylon (see Blends).

Good points

  • Wool has excellent resilience, so it recovers well from crushing and retains it appearance.
  • It resists liquid-based spillages and releases dirt easily due to the unique structure of wool fibre.
  • A good-quality wool carpet should outlast any other type.

Bad points

  • Unlike nylon, wool can’t be treated for stain resistance, therefore spillages need to be attended to immediately.
  • It’s generally worth spending a little more on wool — the experts we spoke to agreed that cheap wool carpets should be avoided as the poorer-quality wool yarns are likely to pill.

Where to use

  • Living areas where appearance is important.

Polypropylene

Polypropylene is a synthetic fibre, popular for its low price and durability.

Good points

  • It’s a lot less expensive than wool or nylon.
  • It’s colourfast and durable and resists water-based stains and mildew.

Bad points

  • It’s more likely to show up soil marks than some other fibres, especially grease.
  • It has a rougher feel and cheaper look than other fibres.
  • It will wear out a lot sooner than other fibres.
  • When choosing polypropylene, make sure you buy loop pile, as the pile flattens easily (see Cut or loop?).

Where to use

  • Rental properties, playrooms and garages — or for those who are on a budget.

Nylon

You might remember the cheap and shiny nylon carpets of old, but improvements over the past decade have made nylon the market dominator. The biggest advance in nylon in recent years is the expansion of solution-dyed nylon in the residential market. In solution-dyed carpets, colour is added to the fibre during production, rather than applied to the surface afterwards, meaning it’s more colourfast against cleaning and sunlight. It’s very stain-resistant and stubborn spots can be removed with bleach-based solutions without damaging the carpet’s colour.

Good points

  • Nylon is a tough and durable man-made fibre.
  • It resists mildew and insect damage.
  • Many of the better-quality nylons mimic the luxurious look of wool with added stain resistance.

Bad points

  • Make sure you avoid cheap brands of nylon, as they can flatten and matt rapidly and may also have problems with static electricity.
  • The range of solution-dyed nylon is still fairly limited but increasing all the time.

Where to use

  • High-traffic areas for families with children and/or pets as you can get stains out of it easily.

Blends

The luxurious Axminster and Wilton carpets use an 80/20 wool/nylon blend.

Good points

  • This blend has the same quality and durability as pure wool.
  • These carpets are known as woven because the individual threads are woven into the backing, rather than stitched as with the regular tufted carpets, which makes them extremely durable.

Bad points

  • 50/50 wool/nylon blends as they can be difficult to clean, as stain-resistance can’t be added to the nylon when it’s blended. These blends also tend to use poorer-quality wool yarn that will pill.
 

Sign up to our free
e-Newsletter

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.