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Carpet Buying Guide Floor Types

Types of Carpet

Understanding the terms and definitions associated with carpet is one of the best things you can do before taking on a new carpeting project. The majority of carpet is made from one of six types of fiber. Each has its own characteristics to consider when buying carpet. While 99% of the carpet manufactured in the United States is made using synthetic fibers, staple fibers such as wool and carpet are still available.

Our carpet buying guide provides you quick and easy details of valuable things to know about carpeting, including fibers and styles. Whether you're searching for the softest carpet possible, or a durable carpet that can withstand a lot of wear and tear, you can find answers to many of the most common questions in this section.

Carpet Flooring Products

Carpet Pile Fibers


As the most common carpet fiber, nylon is popular for its strength, high resistance to heat, stains, fading, and retaining its appearance. Nylon is mildew resistant and has very few weak points overall when used for home installation. This type of carpet fiber should be treated to resist stains and static.

Recommendation: Nylon is excellent in high traffic areas of your home as it is the strongest and the most durable of the fiber types.

Polypropylene/ Olefin

Polypropylene is the fastest growing type of carpet fiber in the U.S. and is well–known for being naturally resistant to fading, staining and static. In fact, Olefin resists stains and static better than any other fiber. Polypropylene fibers are dyed in their solution state rather than after completion, limiting the selection of colors for this type of carpet.

Recommendation: Polypropylene's natural ability to resists stains makes it a good choice for areas from to food spills. Polypropylene also resists static so it's a good choice for areas around computer and electronic equipment.


With an appearance and texture similar to wool, acrylic carpeting can serve as a more affordable alternative to wool carpeting. Acrylic is dirt and static resistant. It is highly fade resistant and has a wide color range availability, but is likely to fuzz and pill easily.

Recommendation: Acrylic carpet is not in wide use today. Fuzzing/shedding of acrylic fibers should not last more than 6 months.


Polyester fiber is a synthetic material best known for 1970s Shag carpet. The polyester fibers of today bear little resemblance to their groovy 1970s ancestors. Polyester fibers dye exceptionally well, producing crisp colors. They are soft and feel luxurious to the touch, which makes them crush and lose resiliency faster than other fibers. Polyester is hypo–allergenic and extremely fade and stain resistant.

Recommendation: Your bare feet will love the feel of polyester carpeting and because bedrooms normally receive low traffic, this fiber's tendency to matt and crush will be minimized.


Wool is the oldest carpet fiber known to man. Extremely durable and luxurious, wool can be relatively expensive. Most of the wool used in carpets is imported, with the best quality wool coming from New Zealand. Wool is naturally fire retardant and extremely resistant crushing. As a natural fiber, it can aggravate the condition of specific allergies. Wool carpeting is a very long lasting product when not used in high traffic areas. Special care should be taken in cleaning wool fibers and in protecting against moths.

Recommendation: If can you afford to spend a fair amount of money on your carpeting, wool offers a luxurious alternative for your home


Although cotton is one of the softest carpet fibers, it is not very stain resistant and can absorb moisture easily. This results in faster wear and tear from foot traffic and frequent required cleaning.

Recommendation: Wall to wall cotton carpeting is not generally recommended.


SmartStrand, or Dupont Sorona, are nylon fibers with stain resistance incorporated into the manufacturing process, rather than added to the finished product. These stain resistant brands offer great durability with permanent, engineered in stain resistance that will never wear or wash off.

NOTE: Wear–dated and Stainmaster are a type of fiber brand.

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Carpet Styles

  • Berber: This style of carpet comes in cut and looped styles. It is one of the most well–known styles of carpet and resembles wool, with a hand crafted appearance. Pay special attention to seam placement when installing to ensure an attractive result.
  • Level Loop: With no exposed ends, a single layer of loops of twisted yarn of similar height make up the surface of carpeting. It can stand up to a lot of wear, making it good for high–traffic residential and commercial areas.
  • Multi–Level Loop: Featuring loops of different heights, this loop pile carpet has a uniquely textured surface. Multi–Level loop is great for busy, high traffic rooms.
  • Random Shear/Sculpted: This style, also known as tip shear, combines cut and uncut tips for a textured appearance. Good for both formal and informal environments.
  • Cut Loop: Cut loop carpets combine multilevel loops with random shearing for a great look that suits informal areas.
  • Saxony: A plush, closely packed carpet construction with smooth a soft finish. Each strand of yarn is uniformly twisted and generally provides a formal, elegant appearance suitable for formal rooms. This type of carpet may shed.
  • Plush/Velvet: This style of carpet is distinguished by its smooth and flawless appearance and elegant look. True Velvet cut has no twist to the fibers.
  • Frieze: Cut yarn strands are twisted extra tight making the ends curl. This creates a knobby appearance that both hides and stands up to wear and tear well. High–traffic areas like stairs and children's rooms do well with this type of carpet.
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