Bulk Continuous Filament (BCF) vs Staple Fiber Carpet

Bulk continuous filament and staple fiber describe how a carpet is manufactured.

Before you run away (I get it… there’s not much less exciting to read about than carpet manufacturing), there are a few details that important to the carpet shopper.

Those details will be the focus of this article. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • what is BCF carpet?
  • what is staple fiber carpet?
  • how durable are variations such as BCF nylon, BCF polyester, and BCF triexta?
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What is BCF carpet?

BCF carpet stands for bulk continuous filament. This means the carpet is manufactured with one continuous strand of carpet fiber. The advantage of BCF carpet is it doesn’t shed like staple carpet will. The drawback is certain fibers, namely wool, are not an option with BCF. Also, staple fibers have a little bit more flexibility in design options.

Synthetic carpet fibers are almost always BCF carpet. I don’t believe you’ll find olefin in anything but BCF and nylon and

Other names: Continuous Filament, CNF

What is staple fiber carpet?

Staple fibers are manufactured with multiple individual strands of carpet. Most fibers are around 7.5 inches, but they can range from 3-10″.  Most carpet shoppers should avoid shorter cuts (eg. less than 5″).

The most common stape fiber you’ll find is wool carpet because it only is available as a staple fiber. Staple fibers advantage is more luxurious designs can be created, but its drawback is it sheds for about two weeks requiring frequent vacuuming (and sometimes a little panic by the homeowner).

BCF nylon carpet

BCF nylon carpet is possibly the most durable carpet you can buy. Nylon is a very resilient fiber that stands up to foot traffic, and it can also have great stain resistance (some of this depends on the brand of nylon). The advantage of nylon being BCF is that it will not shed early on, but a staple fiber nylon will be just as durable.

I’d generally buy a BCF nylon over staple nylon just so I didn’t have to deal with the shedding. However, there are times when the best looking designs can only be made as a staple fiber. In these cases, I have no issues going with staple nylon.

BCF polyester carpet

BCF polyester carpet might be the most popular carpet around. You take the most popular manufacturing technique in BCF and combine it with (what I think is) the most popular carpet fiber in polyester. The big disadvantage of polyester is it is not as durable as nylon, but it is usually cheaper. You can read more on my nylon vs polyester carpet page. Just like nylon, you might consider a staple polyester carpet if there is a certain design that really catches your eye (because it is not able to made in that design as a BCF carpet).

BCF triexta carpet

BCF triexta is the newest carpet material. Triexta is commonly sold under the brand name Smartstrand carpet. It’s one of the most controversial carpets I write about. Some people love it and others hate it. You can read my full opinion and breakdown on my triexta carpet.

Captain’s tips on what to do next before carpet shopping:

Now you know what it means when your carpet says “BCF nylon,” “staple wool,” “BCF polyester,” etc.

And you can confidently make a decision, or at least not be surprised how your carpet performs. Here what you should do next as a smart carpet shopper:

  • Go through my free step-by-step course on how to buy carpet.
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Any questions on BCF carpet or staple fibers? Let me know in the comments below.

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Chris
6 months ago

I am also in a power chair. It’s murder on flooring. I notice it marks up fake wood planks so I’m looking at carpet. So called office carpet is what was in here and it’s held up well but I’m looking for advice. I don’t expect to be here 20 years, maybe five. Price is an issue. Any advice? Your response to “Lori”, if you gave one, isn’t on the site.

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Carpet Captain
6 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Hi,

My response to Lori was seven years ago. Since then, I have completed and published my guide on best carpet for wheelchairs. Please have a look, I go into greater detail there.

In short, I recommend commercial grade carpet. You can also use carpet tiles with thin padding. Carpet tiles are easily replaceable, and make for a good solution, because when parts of your carpet get damaged, you can simply replace the individual tiles instead of the entire carpet.

Good luck!

Deb
1 year ago

what is your opinion of Stainmaster nylon BCF 6,6 pet protect 5 star and it’s longivity? We are planning to do our entire 1st floor with it. we have no pets or small children. Our last carpet was installed in 1994, seriously!

CarpetCapt
2021 years ago

Hi Julie, it’s good to be worried before the big investment. I think Smartstrand is a pretty good carpet, but I’ve also heard some reports of occasional durability issues. I tend to think it’s not quite as durable as a good nylon but the verdicts still out. I believe dreamweaver cashmere is a newer carpet made of polyester (https://www.carpetcaptain.com/carpet-basics/types/polyester-carpet). I think the carpet has many good qualities, but polyester isn’t the best if durability with kids is your number once concern.

Julie
2021 years ago

Hi I just had a pipe break and I am having to recarpet a very large house. Downstairs I have a berber, upstairs a plush. I have been looking at smart strand and the dreamweaver pure soft cashmere. I have seen some bad comments about the smart strand matting down and being hard to vacuum. I love the look and softness of these two products, but I am scared they wont hold up on stairs and with my two teenagers? How long have these two products been out and how are they wearing?

Carpet Captain
8 years ago

Hi Lori — I can see how that would be frustrating. To tell you the truth, I hadn’t thought about this situation a whole lot, so it’s a great question. I may create an article specifically about this post. In the meantime, I’m going to send you an email sometime today with more information that will help you out. As for now, I’d start by checking out commercial grade or low pile height carpets with dense padding.

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