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Carpeting: wool vs synthetic

Finding the right carpet product for your home

Ahhh, carpet. These days it may not have the same cachet as cork or hardwood, but it remains a heavyweight in the flooring industry. And for good reasons – colours, comfort and coziness to name a few!

If you’ve narrowed down your flooring search and decided upon carpet, there are a few more decisions to be made, not the least of which is wool versus synthetics. At United Floors, we carry numerous suppliers and products and know their various benefits, so feel free to call on us when weighing your choices.

Not sure carpeting is right for you? Read on, and you’ll see carpet still has a lot going for it.

What’s so great about carpet?

Talk to anyone who has carpeting and inevitably the first benefit that comes to mind is comfort. Cozy, soft and warm underfoot, it not only feels great but also helps provide a nice thermal environment due to its awesome insulating properties. Available in a wide array of colours and textures, it can also be counted on for its resilience, as it doesn’t crack or scratch like other forms of flooring.

The other major benefit of carpet is its sound absorption qualities, not to mention generally less household noise due to footsteps, falling items and scraping chair legs.

In terms of health and safety, carpeting leads the list as it offers a safe, non-slippery surface for sure footing and provides a soft landing in case of falls. And, contrary to popular belief, carpeting actually traps dust and prevents it from becoming airborne, allowing folks to breathe easy. Any way you look at it, carpeting makes life at home a little bit better.

Carpet 101: the basics

Carpet is made of fibre, both natural and man-made. The look, feel and longevity of a carpet are determined by its fibre type. So, when you need to decide on carpet flooring, you need to know about its fibres.

 

Synthetic fibres: nylon, polypropylene or polyester

These days, 90 per cent of all carpet is made up of synthetic fibre, typically one of three materials: nylon, polypropylene or polyester. All three are created by similar chemical processes using oil and natural gas.

Nylon is the most popular of the synthetics. Known for its appearance retention, fade, heat and soil resistance, as well as colour and styling, it has a tight molecular construction that makes it highly resistant to stain penetration.

Polypropylene is also naturally stain and fade resistant, but not as resilient to abrasion as nylon. Because of its natural moisture resistance, it must be dyed before being extruded, so its colour options are more limited.

Polyester has been well accepted for its bulkiness, colour clarity and good stain and fade resistance. Not quite as resilient as nylon, polyester fibre carpet constructed with today’s new technologies is a good performer.

 

Natural fibre: wool and wool blends

Wool comes from sheep, so it is the ultimate natural, renewable and sustainable carpet fibre – plus it’s biodegradable. Composed entirely of amino acids, at the end of its useful life, pile from wool carpet can be returned to the ground, releasing nutrients as it decomposes. And wool actually improves air quality! It stabilizes relative humidity by absorbing or releasing moisture during periods of high or low atmospheric humidity. If well maintained, wool carpet absorbs and neutralizes airborne particles and fumes.

Wool has a natural soft and luxurious feel. Its unique fiber structure is strong and hard-wearing and provides natural protection to help resist staining and soiling. That being said, wool doesn’t stand up to abrasion and moisture quite as well as synthetics. However, it cleans well, is crush resistant and naturally flame retardant and is known to “age gracefully.”

So why doesn’t everyone use wool? Essentially, it comes down to cost. Wool is the most expensive of the fibres, so for that reason it is less popular than synthetics.

Wool blends are typically 80 per cent wool and 20 per cent synthetic but can come in a variety of other ratios. The versatility of wool allows it to be mixed with a variety of different fibres to create different attributes while keeping the natural appearance, resilience and luxurious feel. The blends allow for greater cost effectiveness.

 

Now that you have a better understanding of carpeting options, the next step is to get up close and personal with them. Come see us at United Floors in Courtenay, and feel free to kick off your shoes and walk all over our samples. Meet with our knowledgeable staff, and we’ll help ensure you get the flooring you need and want.

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