An Insider’s Guide to Carpet Fibres
Considering very few people put a lot of thought into what they’re walking on, the amount of choice in buying a carpet can be astounding.
Before you even get to the varied styles – the textures, piles, sisals and berbers – there’s first the decision over the fibres that go into the carpet.
Man-made or natural, all fibres vary in how well they perform in factors such as colouring, resistance to fading or discolouration, resistance to dirt, how tough they are over time and how comfortable they are from the moment they are installed.
So we spoke to Harrisons Carpet One product manager Mike Dean to give us the inside word on what’s the real difference between the fibres in our carpets.
Solution dyed nylon
Solution dyed nylon accounts for the majority of carpets that Harrisons sell and that’s largely because it’s a very versatile fibre that – unlike some other fibres – it can be produced in a lot of different qualities and price points and will perform well even in lower weights. So consequently solution dyed nylon fits a lot of people’s wishlists for what they want from their carpet. It’s also the most common fibre on the market because it’s durable, and stain and fade-resistant. That’s the main reason why these products dominate – because we can offer them from low-end price points all the way up to the most luxurious.
Although the most traditional source of carpet in a country like New Zealand that has been synonymous for years with the wool trade, the fibre these days tends to be bought by those who actively seek it out because they have links to farming or simply like natural fibres. Our Just Shorn wool range of carpet is 100% from New Zealand farmers and are built to last, are flame retardant, absorb moisture to regulate humidity and are naturally stain resistant and good insulators.
There may be a lot of wool-blend carpets in homes around New Zealand but they don’t really make much sense any more. Many blends were introduced to create a less expensive product than 100% wool but that cut pile market has now been taken up by solution dyed nylon. For those who want a natural product, they will usually now buy a 100% wool carpet – our most common wool blend today is a combination of 80% wool and 20% synthetic, which has similar properties to a 100% wool carpet.
Our Zen 3 range is made from the synthetic triexta fibre (a combination of oil and renewable plant-based compounds that is hard-wearing but still soft to touch). It is an expensive fibre and more prevalent in top end products as it doesn’t perform as well in lower weights as our SDN offerings. It’s great for stain and fade resistance and has a luxurious feel.
There are plenty of man-made synthetic fibres that keep on improving though research and innovation. Polypropylene fibres used to be mostly used for entry level loop pile carpets which were often harsh to touch but Because it was the least expensive fibre and did a pretty good job in terms of being stain and fade resistant, we tended to see a lot of it used in loop piled carpet going into rental accommodation. We used to avoid cut pile polypropylene because they would flatten quickly and have quite a stiff feel. Also, because it was quite a brittle fibre and they would use oil in the manufacturing process which they couldn’t completely remove it would attract soiling. The latest generation of polypropylene is made like solution dyed nylon, is soft to touch but more resilient so less prone to flatten and they now use vegetable oils during manufacturing which can easily be cleaned off so they don’t attract soil. You’re actually getting polypropylene cut pile carpets that perform really well at a relatively low price. It’s still used in basic inexpensive loop piles but is now also being sold into many quality residential homes.
It’s a great fibre if you want to produce a luxurious feel at a lower price point as it’s quite inexpensive. They make soft drink bottles out of polyester so it’s very stain resistant like Triexta and good for fade when the fibre is solution dyed. We even have ranges which are made from recycled plastic bottles. We tend to sell it when people want luxury at an affordable price and are not so concerned with long term performance.
For more information or to book a free in-home consultation with a Harrisons expert who can help you find the best carpet for your lifestyle and budget, call us on 0800 421001, or fill out the booking form online.