A few weeks ago I responded to a question I get frequently: what is the best carpet on the market? I explained that the ‘best carpet’ can mean a lot of things. After clearing this up, I have received a lot of interest in knowing what the most durable carpet is—the carpet that will last the longest. From the fiber to the color, I’m going to cover all the factors that will give you the longest lasting carpet possible. Keep in mind, the sole purpose here is for the longest lasting so there is no consideration for price.
Most durable carpet fiber
Of the major carpet fibers, the only debate for most durable is between nylon and wool. Both are very strong fibers; they show resilience to the stress of constantly being walked upon. This resilience helps them prevent premature aging that many carpets in high-traffic areas experience.
So what separates nylon from wool? While wool carpets are very durable, they also require special care. Wool absorbs water, so it can be prone to mildew if there are a lot of spills or any water damage. Wool carpets also can fade in sunlight and require special cleaning agents because many of the go-to cleaners are too harsh for the natural fiber. Probably the biggest factor separating nylon and wool is that wool carpets do not resist abrasion as well as nylon. In other words, claws of animals or rotating vacuum brushes can damage the carpet.
Almost all fiber types have good stain resistance, and nylon can actually be one of the best or the worst. It has poor stain resistance when untreated and possibly the best stain resistance when it is treated. How do you know if yours has stain protection? Some carpets will say they have a stain treatment. Another rule of thumb is pretty much all of the brand names nylons will come with stain resistance (DuPont, Mohaw, Shaw, etc).
Face weight and carpet density give you information on the amount of carpet fiber per square inch. This plays an important role in durability for two reasons: The first is that denser carpets look less aged. Compare it to looking down at a forest from above. A lot of trees will make for a beautiful green scenery. If there aren’t many trees (not very dense), you will see directly to the dirt. The second reason is that increased fibers mean there is increased strength. Imagine a bunch of people lifting a big 500 pound plate. The more people there are the greater chance that the people (fibers) will stay up and not crush.
For the most durable carpet, go with a face weight of over 60oz and a density of over 2500. Be aware that face weight can be deceiving. Density is more standardized, so it is best to go by the density when you can.
Twist level is one of the most overlooked factors that contribute to carpets durability. Some retailers won’t even list the twist level in the specifications and won’t be quick to answer when you ask the twist level of a carpet. However, overlooking the twist level can be costly. For maximum durability, look for a carpet with 7 or more twists per inch.
Most durable carpet style
Every carpet style can make a durable carpet. After all, ‘style’ inherently refers to how a carpet looks or is designed. However, some carpet styles naturally have certain advantages or disadvantages due to how they are constructed. A relevant example is frieze carpet which is a tightly curled or wavy carpet style—it gets its waviness from a high number of tight twists, usually 7 to 9 per inch. This makes frieze carpets the best choice for those seeking durability. And as stated in the previous section, sometimes it’s difficult to find information on a carpets twist level, but with frieze, the twist level is covered.
Most durable carpet colors
You may think it’s trivial to include color as a factor of durability. And for those of you thinking this, in many ways you’re right; color does not truly affect the durability of the carpet. However, color does affect the appearance of the carpet as it ages, and ultimately this is what durability is all about.
So what color should you pick to prevent your carpet from showing its years of abuse? Light-colored carpets show any and all stains and dirt, so they are out of the question. Dark-colored carpets are the next option. The problems with dark carpets is they have to be vacuumed very regularly or will show lint and crumbs. The best choice for durability are marbled carpets. Usually a lighter gray color with a brown or other dark-neutral color mixed in. These carpets camouflage most aging changes (dirt and stains) that occur while owning the carpet.
Captain’s parting words: So there you have it. The most durable carpet is (drumroll)… a marble-colored, 2500+ density, 7+ twist level, brand name nylon frieze carpet. This carpet should last most people over 15 years and may last much more than that. While this is the most durable, there are other very durable carpets on the market that don’t perfectly fit our description. With this in mind, carpet is only good as the weakest link, so changing any of the above specifications of the carpet could turn a 15-year carpet into a 5-year (or less) carpet… just read our case study on wool carpet gone bad from last week. The other thing to keep in mind is this will be a very expensive carpet. For those of you who want a durable carpet but cost is also a factor, I will have a future post on the best value (durability + cost) carpet.