By Alan Fletcher -
Carpet Expert and Consumer Advocate
Selecting the Right Carpet Fiber for You.
In this section we will be discussing carpet fibers,
one of the most
important aspects in selecting the right carpet for the home, office or rental
Nylon is a synthetic fiber and outperforms all other fibers.
It wears well, resists abrasion and is easy to clean if treated with an
anti-stain treatment. It comes in all styles and
colors. This is the longest wearing, most durable fiber
available. There are two types of nylon fiber available. Nylon 6 and Nylon 6.6,
they are both very good. Retailers will try to tell you which one they
think is better.
Soft Nylon Fibers
I have found that the
"soft" nylon fibers are not quite as resilient as a standard denier
nylon fiber. The higher the denier, the heavier the filament. The way they make
a standard nylon fiber softer is to make the strand thinner. By doing so, I
believe that some of the resiliency is lost. This thinner strand creates a
carpet that is softer to the touch but may be more susceptible to matting and
crushing. Don't take this the wrong way, I'm not steering you away from buying a
soft nylon, but if you want to have the absolute most durable and most resilient
nylon for the money, I suggest you avoid the more costly soft nylons and buy a
standard 100% nylon BCF carpet.
What is Denier?
Note: Fiber denier
is easiest understood if you have ever gone fishing and used a nylon filament
fishing line. The thicker the line is, the stronger it is. When
fishing for Trout most fishermen use a thin 6-pound test line. For bigger fish
like Steelhead or Salmon, a thicker 10 or 12-pound nylon test line may be
selected. Some carpet fibers are manufactured thinner to make a carpet that
feels softer to the touch, but in doing so some of the strength, durability or
resiliency may be sacrificed. Therefore I believe a carpet made with a standard
Denier Nylon fiber will be more durable and more resilient than a carpet made
with a thinner strand as used in today's branded "Soft Nylons"
Olefin is a strong good-looking synthetic fiber that is
inexpensive to manufacture. Some carpets that are made of olefin are Berbers or
commercial carpets with small loops. Olefin wears well and has good stain
resistance when anti-stain treatment is applied. Olefin has good anti-static
properties. However, Olefin is hard to clean. It has poor resiliency and tends
to look dingy when soiled. It is also called polypropylene or polyolefin.
POLYESTER (may also be called P.E.T.)
(May be manufactured from recycled soda pop containers)
Don't be fooled by the softness of this fiber. This is a very soft synthetic fiber that holds its color
well; however it is difficult to keep clean and has very poor resiliency. Traffic
areas will usually mat down quickly and may never return to its original
appearance. When new, polyester looks great and feels so soft and wonderful, but
it won’t be too long before it doesn’t.
Sales people often recommend this type of
carpet to consumers without sufficient fiber knowledge or experience. Because
polyester is so inexpensive to manufacture and higher profits
using this fiber, carpet
manufacturers continually try to enhance carpets made with polyester hoping that they can
create a carpet that wears well. So far they have had limited success.
Sorona® aka Smartstrand
Another somewhat new fiber on the market
today is called Sorona®, or Smartstrand®. It is a polymer made
from or derived from corn. (Actually it was invented way back in the 1940's
but it was too costly to manufacture) Originally invented by Dupont™, they
are very proud of this fiber and go so far to say that this fiber has the best
anti-stain properties, cleans easier than any other fiber and is very durable
too! Reports from my readers and other flooring professionals have been very
favorable so far with only a few negative reports. I believe Sorona is a
viable option for many consumers if it fits into your budget and you have need
for a carpet that is practically stain proof! However, no carpet fiber is
totally stain proof.
I’m not completely sold on this fiber yet
because it has not been available to consumers long enough for me to cast my
vote, but please understand that it is my job to question and test every
product before I recommend it to my readers. My gut feeling is that this is a
good product and worthy of consideration.
Should you buy carpet made with Sorona
(Smartstrand)? If you want a carpet that is able to resists stains and clean
easily and have good durability, then yes, you should seriously consider
buying Sorona. However, if you want the absolute best and most durable carpet
fiber known to man for the past 70 years then you should consider choosing a
good quality continuous filament Nylon carpet.
Latest Opinion Regarding Sorona®
(Smartstrand™ by Mohawk)
has been around for about 8 years now, do you think it is as good as nylon?
I hear from many homeowners and confer often with my preferred carpet dealers
about Sorona, (AKA Smartstrand by Mohawk) and I get conflicting reports. Some
homeowners hate it and say it mats down quickly and is hard to clean, others say it's great
and are very happy with it. Some carpet dealers say they get nothing but
complaints about it and yet others sing about how wonderful it is and say it's
better or "as good" as nylon.
I have come to believe at this point is that Sorona IS a durable fiber, it also
cleans easily and resists stains better than Nylon in most cases. However, it is imperative
that you choose the right quality or "grade" of carpet in order to be satisfied with the
overall performance. This is true with any carpet no matter what fiber it is
made of. This means having sufficient face-weight, pile density and adequate tuft twist to meet your
needs, goals and lifestyle. I think it is also important to keep the pile height
at or below
3/4 of an inch or risk potential matting and crushing.
Knowing what grade of carpet to buy is the secret to success and sadly, most folks end up buying a
carpet that is incapable of tolerating their level of foot traffic. This always
ends in disaster and makes for an unhappy customer. To help homeowners make wise
choices I created a
Foot Traffic Test. It gives consumers a general idea about what grade of
carpet to consider buying based of the amount and type of foot traffic in the
home. Here is the actual link: http://www.homecarpetshopping.com/carpet_foot_traffic_test.htm
This is my take on Sorona so far and I think it will take a few more years to
give my final report on the durability of Sorona. For now, I still believe that Nylon is more durable and has
better resiliency than Sorona, but Sorona does seem to clean a bit easier and resist
Thanks for your question I will post this information (and date it) so everyone
can be updated on this subject. Most of the information about Sorona (on the
internet) is written by the manufacturer or the authorized Sorona dealers. You
just don't get the whole story from those sources.