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The Pros And Cons Of Natural Carpet Fiber

Choosing a new carpet involves a lot of decisions. You’ll want a color and a pattern that fits your room and your furniture, you’ll have to think about how they feel under your feet, and you’ll want to think about the long-term durability and ease of cleaning of your carpet going forward.

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to think about the material your carpets are made of. You have dozens of choices, both natural and synthetic, from animal hair fibers to plant-based fibers to various polymers. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Pro: Natural Fibers Are Durable And Long-Lasting

Many natural carpets are made of wool — the natural fleece of sheep. Wool has been used in textiles for thousands of years, and for good reason — it’s soft, warm, and durable. Wool also hides dirt very well, since the individual fibers are opaque.

Wool fiber also boasts unusual strength. The fibers are slightly stretchy, so they can bend and shift when stepped on rather than being strained to the point of breaking — then they’ll bounce right back to their original shape. Wool will look good in high traffic areas since it won’t show visible wear over time.

Con: Natural Carpet Is Expensive And Easily Stained

Despite wool’s durability and strength, it has some downsides as well. First, it’s likely to be more expensive than synthetic fibers. While that cost will likely be offset by its long-term durability, it usually costs more.

Wool also stains easily. Its absorbency is a double-edged sword — while wool is easy to dye, which is part of what makes it such a popular textile, it will also absorb wine, juice, and pet stains and prove difficult to clean. If you live in a household with lots of stain potential, like one with pets or small children, or are thinking of carpeting a high-traffic entryway, wool might not be the best option to serve your needs.

Pro: Synthetic Carpet Is Stain-Resistant

There are several different types of synthetic fiber — nylon, polyester, and Olefin are some of the most popular — but in essence, synthetic fibers are tiny threads of plastic of one sort or another. They’re also often treated out of the factory, coating each minuscule fiber with Scotch-Gard or some other form of stain resistance.

This combination of material and treatment makes them extremely resistant to staining, fading, and discoloration — virtually any spill can be removed with proper cleaning. For homes with small children, young pets, or any other regular source of spills, synthetic fibers are an excellent choice.

Con: Synthetic Carpets Have Less Variety And Are More Easily Damaged

Synthetic fibers are harder to dye, so it’s harder to create the wide variety of colors and subtle shades that wool carpets can create. Nylon carpet is generally colored with a process called acid dying, which makes it react poorly with bleach, pet stains, and other alkaline liquids.

Synthetic carpets generally resist stains better but are more susceptible to oil-based stains, which can oxidize and permanently damage the fibers.

Synthetic fibers are also much more susceptible to heat damage: fireplace embers, tipped candles, space heaters, or even hot water can melt and deform the fibers, while wool carpet is much more fire resistant.

In the end, the carpet you choose will depend on your individual circumstances — consider cost, durability, stain resistance, and longevity before you make your decision, and you’ll get a carpet that will last you for years to come!