The type of fiber used to make a carpet will determine its look, durability, feel, stain resistance - and its cost.
About 97 percent of all carpets sold today are made with synthetic materials that are easy to maintain and can be adapted to a wide variety of styles and uses.
The most common materials used for carpet fibers are:
Nylon is an excellent choice for all traffic areas because it is durable, static-free, stain-resistant and repels mildew. Nylon also keeps its fiber height - so it can withstand the weight of both people and furniture. Colours don't run, since dye is added during fiber production.
About 90 percent of all home carpeting is made from nylon. Prices range from about $10 per square yard for cut piles to $30 for multi-level loops.
After nylon, Olefin is the next most common carpet type - and the most inexpensive fiber. Olefin is used in about 80 percent of commercial carpeting.
Olefin is strong, easy to clean and resists both moisture and mildew. For those reasons, it is commonly used both outdoors and indoors, as well as in artificial sports turf.
A great-looking carpet option, and less expensive than wool or nylon.
Polyester is commonly used in soft loop piles or Berber loops, making carpets that are luxurious and crush-resistant. Polyester is known for its vibrant colours and is naturally resistant to fading. It is easy to clean and resists water-based stains.
Acrylic is a wool-like fiber that is often used in velvet and level-loop carpets. It offers the look and feel of wool at much less cost, and is moisture and mildew-resistant. Also a strong performer in resisting stains and crushing and fading due to sunlight.
The one weak point for acrylics is that they don't stand up to heavy traffic and so are not suitable for all household areas.
The royal family of carpets, wool offers superior performance when appearance is what matters. Soft fibers with a rich, luxurious feel that maintain their fiber height well.
Wool repels water and can be dyed in a wide range of colours or purchased in natural colours ranging from off-white to black. Commonly seen in cut pile and textured carpets, wool cleans easily and lasts a long time.
The major downside is its price, but wool is also less moisture-resistant than synthetics and tends to fray.
The four fiber types listed above are often blended in a variety of ratios to create hardy new carpets that take advantage of the best qualities of each type.
Wool/nylon blends combine the superior look and comfort of wool with the durability of nylon.
Acrylic/olefin and nylon/olefin are also common, although these blends are more vulnerable to staining.
It's amazing what can be made from empty pop containers these days!
PET carpet is made of polyethylene terephthalate - recycled plastics and packaged goods, the most common ingredient being soda containers. PET carpet is durable, water resistant, and static resistant, though it may lack the comfortable feel of other carpet types.