Carpet is still the flooring of choice for many American homeowners where warmth and comfort are a priority in their decorating. Choosing the right color and style with confidence is easier if you have a basic understanding of today’s carpet fashions and how they apply to your personal tastes and lifestyle.

Low-luster yarns will show fewer footprints, while high luster, shiny yarns show more highlights and accents. To minimize maintenance light colors are best when restricted to low traffic areas such as dining rooms, formal living rooms and guest bedrooms. Carpets with higher twist levels will hold their like-new appearance longer, even in traffic areas.

Types

Understanding a few simple basics about carpet construction will help you make the right choice for your lifestyle and budget.

Textured Plush
  • Most decoratively versatile cut-pile carpet
  • Textured surface helps hide footprints and vacuum marks
  • Adds casual beauty to any room
  • Looks great between vacuuming
  • Preferred style for busy households
  • A great “whole-house” carpet
texture illustration
Saxony
  • Refined cut-pile surface
  • Luxuriously smooth, soft finish
  • Beautiful with traditional interiors
  • Adds distinctive elegance to any room
  • Ideal for living and dining rooms
  • Shows subtle highlights and accents
Saxony illustration
Berber Loop-Pile
  • A wool-like look and rugged loop surface
  • Natural, hand-crafted appearance creates a warm, personal atmosphere
  • Tight loop texture helps hide footprints and vacuum marks
  • Subtle patterns fit a variety of room styles
  • Ideal choice for contemporary to country to cottage furnishings
Berber Loop-Pile illustration
Berber Cut-Pile
  • A new berber look with all the wonderful color and interest of traditional loop berbers
  • The great plush “feel” of thick, cut pile carpet
  • Beautifully crafted and colored yarns add personality to any room
  • Very versatile decoratively, ideal for casual rooms, kids’ rooms, etc.
  • Subtle color flecks help hide soil that might appear between cleanings
Berber Cut-Pile illustration
Cut/Loop
  • Carved definition with cut-and-loop pile
  • Accent colors spice up floor surfaces
  • Multicolor effects hide soil and stains
  • Looks great between vacuuming
  • Choose from soft tones to bolder color combinations
cut loop carpet
Commercial Loop
  • Versatile styles blend comfortably with any decor
  • Durable long-wearing surface pile engineered for high traffic areas
  • Intriguing color choices suitable for professional and practical installations
  • Textured surfaces provide subtle highlights
commercial loop-pile

Fibers

SmartStrand - Sorona - Triexta - (PTT)

Triexta was invented by DuPont, the same company responsible for the invention of nylon fiber. Triexta is currently produced exclusively by DuPont under the brand name Sorona, so you may hear the names triexta and Sorona used interchangeably.

Mohawk Industries is currently the biggest manufacturer to use Sorona triexta in carpet, and it markets the fiber under its brand name SmartStrand. Godfrey Hirst, a much smaller manufacturer based out of Australia, also uses Sorona in its eco+ collection.

The full technical name for triexta is polytrimethylene terephthalate or PTT for short.

In 2009, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officially recognized triexta as a new generic name for PTT, a subclass of polyester.

Basically, that means that the chemical structure of the two fibers is similar enough that triexta could not become an entirely new classification of fiber (in the way that polyester or nylon is), but that PTT and PET are different enough that PTT could not simply be lumped in with PET.

There are several reasons why triexta stands out from polyester:

  1.   DURABILITY AND RESILIENCE – triexta is recognized as being more durable and resilient than conventional polyester. In fact, many in the industry consider triexta to be as durable as nylon carpet fiber, which has long been considered the king of synthetic carpet fibers.
  2. APPEARANCE -triexta is more similar to nylon than to polyester. Polyester has a higher luster, giving it a shinier look than other fiber types. Triexta, like nylon, has a more matte finish.
  3. STAIN RESISTANCE – Triexta is naturally very stain resistant. Many spills can be cleaned with only water, rather than using a spot cleaner.  The primary reason for triexta’s high level of stain resistance is that the fiber is hydrophobic, meaning that it does not absorb moisture. Triexta has actually been used in the clothing industry longer than it has been used in the carpet industry – in the clothing industry triexta uses the tag-line “dry-fit” to reflect the non-absorbent properties of the fiber.
  4. FADE RESISTANCE – triexta fiber also resists fading. It is very colorfast, so direct exposure to sunlight and UV rays will not cause discoloration of the fiber.
  5. SOFTNESS -triexta is significantly softer than both polyester and nylon. Its softness is due in part to the fact that it does not have chemicals applied to the fiber for stain protection. Even the looped Berber styles, which can have a tendency to feel rough when made of nylon or olefin fiber, feel soft to the touch and very comfortable underfoot.
  6. ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY – One of the most appealing aspects of triexta is that it is available in an environmentally-friendly version. In attempting to lower the cost of producing it, DuPont began using biotechnology based on fermentation of corn glucose. This replaces the use of petroleum in the production of the fiber, up to 37% in DuPont Sorona. As a renewable resource, corn glucose is much more sustainable than petroleum.
  7. AIR QUALITY – Additionally, replacing petroleum with corn glucose means that fewer chemicals are put into the fiber, which in turn means that fewer chemicals will come out of the fiber in the form of VOCs (off-gassing).

SmartStrand Forever Clean by Mohawk

Nylon - (PA 6/66)

Nylon is the most popular fiber type in the residential carpet industry today. It has a solid reputation of being durable and relatively easy to maintain.  There are many features of nylon that make it an ideal choice for carpet fiber:

  1. DURABLE – Nylon is a very strong fiber, and as such it stands up very well to abrasion. It is also highly resilient and has very good texture retention to maintain its original appearance.
  2. RESILIENT – Nylon’s resiliency is due in large part to the hydrogen molecule that constitutes part of its structure. This molecule can be revived by the hot water extraction cleaning method (steam cleaning). The heat from the steam cleaner actually reactivates the hydrogen molecule, so that when the fibers have begun to flatten due to foot traffic, cleaning the carpet helps the fibers to bounce back.  For this reason, it is extremely important that nylon carpet be maintained regularly by having it steam cleaned every 12-18 months at minimum (more often in very high traffic areas) to ensure longevity.
  3. STAIN RESISTANCE – Nylon is a very absorbent fiber, so to prevent spills from sinking deep into the fibers and leaving stains, it must be protected with a stain treatment. Advances in stain treatment technologies mean that today’s nylons are more stain-resistant than ever before.  The most stain resistant type of nylon is solution-dyed nylon, like Stainmaster PetProtect, which locks the color in by adding it during the production of the fiber (rather than dyeing the ‘greige’ fiber after production). When the color is actually part of the fiber, it is permanent and fade-resistant, and spills are unable to attach themselves to the fiber’s cells to create stains.
  4. TYPES OF NYLON – There are two types of nylon:  type 6 and type 6,6 (so-named for the double strands of carbon atoms it contains). While both are nylon, their molecular structure is different from one another. type 6,6 is the best option, due to its increased colorfastness and resistance to static.

STAINMASTER® carpets

Polyester - (PET)

Polyester remains a popular choice in carpet fiber due to its lustrous appearance, high level of stain resistance, eco-friendly properties, and low cost.

There are several characteristics of polyester that make it a suitable choice for carpeting:

  1. APPEARANCE – Polyester by nature has a very high lustre appearance, which translates into carpets of beautiful colors. Compare a polyester carpet with a nylon carpet of the same color, and you will notice the difference: the polyester appears much more vibrant, while the nylon has a more dull or matte finish.
  2. STAIN RESISTANCE – Perhaps one of the biggest draws of polyester is its inherent stain resistance. Polyester is referred to as a closed-cell fiber, which means that it does not have any open dye sites for stains to adhere to. That is not to say that it is completely stain-proof, of course.  Most of the spots on a polyester carpet that people attribute to staining are more likely due to soiling.  Soiling is different from staining. In the case of a stain, a substance has come into contact with the fiber and has embedded itself into the fiber, by attaching to open dye sites within the fiber.  Soiling, on the other hand, is the result of a residue left behind on the fiber, either from a cleaning product that was not fully removed or from the oils on the bottom of your feet. This residue becomes a magnet for dirt, and then gives the appearance of a stain on the carpet.
  3. ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY – polyester is easily recycled. In fact, much of the polyester in today’s carpet industry is made from recycled PET, derived from the ever-popular plastic soft drink bottles. This helps to keep millions of these bottles out of landfills and saves on the use of resources in the production of polyester.
  4. DURABILITY – One noted weakness of polyester is that it is not as durable as nylon carpet fiber. Historically, polyester couldn’t come close to the strength of nylon and thus was recommended for lower-traffic areas of the home.
Olefin or Polypropylene - (PP)

The terms olefin and polypropylene are typically used interchangeably, as they both mean the same thing.  Characteristics of this yarn are different from other synthetic yarns used in carpeting:

  1. APPEARANCE – Olefin is valued in the carpeting industry for its wool-like appearance. For this reason, it is often used in looped berber styles and in area rugs, both of which are commonly made from wool.
  2. DURABILITY – Olefin fiber is not as resilient as other fibers, meaning that it does not have the same ability to “bounce back” after being compressed by foot traffic. Because of this, it is typically used in looped styles of broadloom, such as berbers and level-loop commercial carpets. Specifically, low-pile, tightly looped styles of olefin offer the best durability.  In residential applications, olefin is best suited for lower-traffic areas.
  3. STAIN RESISTANCE – Olefin is hydrophobic, meaning that it does not absorb liquid. Due to this, olefin must be solution dyed (the color is added into the fiber during production, instead of dyeing the fiber after it’s made).  Because solution-dyed fibers have no open dye sites (since they are technically not dyed) there is nowhere for stains to attach themselves to, so these fibers are highly resistant to staining. In fact, even bleach would not affect the color of the fiber.
  4. SOIL RESISTANCE – olefin is also oleophilic, meaning that it attracts oils. In fact, polypropylene is often used to help clean up oil spills in lakes and oceans, by skimming a polypropylene net across the surface of the water to soak up the oil.  Unfortunately, olefin’s weakness for oils means that any oil-based spill or residue will not easily be cleaned from the carpet’s fibers. Because of this, olefin is not recommended in areas susceptible to spills of oily substances, such as kitchens or dining rooms.
Wool

Wool is the most commonly used natural fiber in carpeting. Wool definitely has its own niche in the marketplace and continues to be a sought-after fiber option and has several key differences when compared to synthetics.

  1. DURABILITY and RESILIENCE- Wool is a naturally resilient fiber, although not as highly resilient as nylon.  (The term resiliency refers to a fiber’s ability to bounce back after compression.) Being resilient means that wool has good texture retention, which is the ability of the fiber to retain its original appearance. As such, wool carpets are generally pretty durable, although wool’s resistance to abrasion is not as high as that of nylon or triexta.  Wool carpets have been known to last for decades in a home when properly maintained.
  2. MAINTENANCE – It does require a bit more work to maintain a wool carpet compared to carpets made of synthetic fibers. Wool carpets must be professionally cleaned by cleaners who have experience in working with wool carpets. As a natural fiber, wool carries a slight risk of shrinking under improper maintenance, so it is imperative that it is treated correctly, by professionals who are familiar with the fiber and who can clean it effectively without damaging the carpet.  Additionally, it is worth mentioning that wool carpet will shed. Wool is a natural staple fiber, and so is prone to shedding. Staple fibers are short, and so many are left “unattached” during the manufacturing process. A number of fibers shed from the carpet will diminish over time, and shedding does not mean that your carpet is falling apart.
  3. STAIN RESISTANCE – Wool is less stain resistant than most synthetic fibers. Wool is very absorbent, so it can be difficult to remove stains once they have been absorbed by the fiber. As with all fibers, the best method of preventing a stain when a spill happens is to treat the spill as quickly as possible. If the substance is allowed to soak into the fiber, it may not come out.
  4. SOIL RESISTANCE – Wool does have good resistance to soiling. Because wool is a natural fiber, the fibers have microscopic scales. These scales help to prevent dirt from embedding in the carpet fibers. In addition, the scales disperse light, so that any soiling that does occur on the wool is masked.
  5. FLAME RESISTANT – Wool’s flame resistance is worthy of note because it differs significantly from synthetic fibers in this regard. Wool will not burn; rather it will char (blacken).

Warranties

Cushion/Pad

Installation

Color

Color is always first on our minds when it comes to choosing a floor. Consider how you want the carpet to coordinate with your interior. Do you want the carpet to be the focal point or blend with your interior?

  • Light colors generally show fewer footprints, while dark colors show less soil and stains.
  • To minimize maintenance light colors are best restricted to low traffic areas such as dining rooms, formal living rooms and guest bedrooms.
  • Multi-colored carpets are extremely effective in minimizing the effects of everyday dirt and soil.

Foot Traffic

High Traffic areas, such as hallways and entry ways require durable carpets made of resilient fibers engineered to resist wear abrasion, crushing and matting. Other areas, such as bedrooms and family rooms may have high traffic areas as well. Take a moment to inspect the carpet you are replacing before it is removed to identify high traffic areas in your home.

Performance

The performance and quality of a carpet is directly related to the amount and quality of fiber that goes into the pile. The better the fiber and the denser it is packed, the better the carpet will perform. Thin, less dense carpet will lose its surface appearance faster. It is best to buy the highest quality carpet and cushion that you can afford.

Carpet Fibers

The most common fibers used in carpet today are nylon, olefin, polyester and natural fibers such as wool or sisal. The inherent characteristics found in each of these fibers helps determine their use and color offering. Premium, nylon soft fibers are extremely popular and offer superior soil-hiding characteristics, comfort, durability and brilliant color palettes.

Soil Resistance

With soil-resistant treated carpets you no longer have to be afraid of choosing a lighter, more vibrant color to enhance your decor. Mohawk’s Forever Clean provides the ultimate protection foryour carpet for when those inevitable accidents or spills occur.

Stain Resistance

Most residential carpets offer some type of stain resistance. Those who enjoy entertaining or who have children and pets should consider carpets with the highest levels of stain resistance such as Mohawk’s SmartStrand.

Carpet Construction

Carpet construction varies from loops, cut piles to patterns which produce different degrees of texture, appearance and durability. Each type of construction is designed to meet the diverse lifestyles of today’s families.

Carpet Padding

Carpets last longer and perform better when the proper Padding is used underneath. Although carpet Padding is often thought of as an add-on it is an integral part of the carpet system. See Mohawk’s Carpet Cushion for more detailed information.