For the most part a cut or loop pile carpet made of 100% wool is used in the residential sector. Unblended wool i.e. not blended with any other fibre (such as nylon) is 100% renewable and biodegradable. Wool has a natural crimp, which enables the yarn to recover naturally from heavy footfall. It has a natural waxy coating that repels stains and therefore naturally resilient, as well as being fire retardant. Wool is also hypoallergenic, purifying indoor air for up to 30 years while absorbing toxic VOCs. Finally, it acts as a natural insulator and is breathable, helping to control moisture.
Wool carpets are typically offered with British Wool, New Zealand Wool, or unspecified origin which is often from warmer nations. British wool comes from more than 60 breeds of sheep, offering lots of variety and character and it’s known for its robust resilience. New Zealand wool is a little softer and lighter in shade so can be better for lighter, plainer colours. Wool from warmer climates include Greece, Turkey, and Far Eastern sources which can vary in quality depending on source and may be less resilient due to the less harsh climates in these countries. This is a factor that also makes some blends softer than standard wools.
Contract or 'high traffic' carpet is manufactured using a blend of 80% wool and 20% nylon and has proven to be the ideal blend providing the best balance between long term appearance retention and durability. The addition of 20% nylon in cut pile carpets helps to improve its wear properties whilst still meeting flammability requirements. This blend has become the most popular in commercial environments, but it is still important for the quality wools to be used within the blends.
Nylon is the premium synthetic fibre for carpets; a versatile fibre, with exceptional abrasion characteristics. There are two types of nylon used in carpeting: type 6 and type 6,6 while both are nylon, their molecular structure is different from one another. Nylon fibre takes colour well to give cleaner, sharper tones. It has strong stain resistance as nylon is non-absorbent and stains do not soak in. Nylon 6 is more easily recycled back into carpet than nylon 6,6 is but neither are biodegradable, and some nylon is more prone to colour fade.
The most stain resistant type of nylon is solution-dyed nylon, which locks the color in by adding it during the production of the fibre (rather than dyeing the fibre after production).
However it is a softer fibre, which may flatten more readily which can result in a matted look where design clarity is compromised.
Econyl is a “regenerated" nylon fibre brand made by Aquafil in Italy and is found in a number of domestic and contract carpet products as well as clothing and fashion accessories. It is nylon, with the same strong performance characteristics, but with the added environmental credentials that it’s made from waste and recycled nylon, and can, itself, be recycled again. It is famous for a component of the recycled source material coming from abandoned nylon fishing nets which would otherwise damage marine life.
Viscose is a semi-synthetic fibre which is sometimes known as rayon. It is a natural (but chemically processed) fibre derived from cellulose in wood pulp. It is commonly used in a wide range of rugs, with some made from 100% viscose, and many others incorporating at least some percentage of the fibre in their overall makeup as it has a velvety soft-sheen. Viscose is known for having silk-like properties but it does have some drawbacks. Fibres can shed easily so are not the best choice for high traffic areas and they are not ideal in areas where spillages may be likely. When a viscose carpet gets wet, it can lose up to half its strength so coupled with high foot traffic a carpet or rug can quickly fall apart.
Polypropylene is a synthetic material, popular due to its combination of stain resistance, softness and affordability. Often used to make outdoor flooring as it's water resistant and won't develop mould and is bleach-cleanable. Cut pile polypropylene carpet has poor resilience and appearance retention properties — heavy objects and footfall can crush the fibres causing unsightly flattening.
PET or polyethylene terephthalate is used as a raw material for making packaging materials such as bottles and containers for packaging a wide range of food products and other consumer goods. Examples include carbonated soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, detergents, cosmetics, produce, pharmaceutical products and edible oils. PET is one of the most common consumer plastics used and highly recyclable and can also be used in fiber applications for carpet and apparel. Carpets made from PET can be used as outdoor area rugs as the fibre is water and mould resistant.