Carpet Fiber Blends – Performance, Pros & Cons

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One of the most important factors in picking out a carpet is the fiber material you choose; the fiber has a tremendous impact on the performance of the carpet. This is why our website covers each of the major carpet fibers with a to-the-point grading system, as well as an in-depth explanation. But what about the carpet blends—the carpets that aren’t 100% nylon or 100% wool? Where do these fit in in terms of performance?

These are questions we receive frequently, and fortunately, the answer is usually very straightforward. You just “weight” the carpet appropriately. In other words, an 80% wool, 20% nylon blend will act 80% like wool and 20% like nylon. This is a good general rule of thumb, but can sometimes be hard to visualize. Below I’ll break down some common blends to give you examples of how this works.

Wool Blend Carpets

Wool is the most luxurious carpet fiber, and it is a very durable fiber if taken care of. Let’s see how some common wool blends make wool’s performance different:

Wool-Nylon Blend

You will usually find this blend in 80% wool 20% nylon. While wool is very durable, nylon’s durability is slightly better due to nylon’s ability to resist abrasion. Therefore, throwing a little nylon into the mix will result in a carpet that performs pretty much the same as a 100% wool carpet. The benefit of this blend is it can bring the luxurious price of wool down a notch—probably not a lot, but nylon is generally cheaper than wool. So if you’re not set on 100% natural carpet, a wool-nylon blend carpet is a good way to get a wool-like carpet at a slightly reduced cost.

Wool-Polyesterand Wool-Polypropylene (olefin) Blend

I lump polyester and polypropylene (aka olefin) wool blends in the same category because their performance is very similar. Think of these extra fibers as cheap filler. They are used to drop the price of the carpet but still have wool in the name. The problem is polyester and polypropylene are not durable. Even in only a 80%/20% blend, the poor durability of these fibers will likely reduce the life of the wool carpet. 50% or more blends are not worth buying—you won’t have any of the positive traits of wool carpet.

Wool Acrylic Blend

Acrylic is a rarely used fiber anymore, which is why we don’t cover it in the ‘fibers’ section of the website. Acrylic is a man-made fiber that has a similar feel to wool and is cheaper. So why isn’t it used more? Acrylic isn’t durable; it doesn’t hold up well in high traffic areas. Expect wool-acrylic blend carpets to feel similar to wool but have poor performance.

Nylon Blend Carpets

Nylon is generally considered the most durable carpet fiber. It doesn’t come with as high of a price as wool, but you still pay a good amount for it. For this reason, nylon is blended with other fibers are an attempt to lower the price. Here are a couple of the common examples:

Nylon Polyester Blend

This is probably the most common carpet blend on the market. Polyester blends in well with nylon because it’s a soft/ comfortable fiber and also is very stain resistant. However, polyester is not durable; it won’t matter how well the fibers blend if the carpet looks trashed in five years. If you really want a nylon polyester blend, a well-constructed 80% nylon 20% polyester will probably serve you well. Be aware, anything close to 50% polyester is unlikely to last long in trafficked areas.

Nylon Polypropylene/Olefin Blend

Polypropylene blended with nylon is generally not a good idea. Polypropylene’s only beneficial characteristic is its spill/stain resistance. Other than that, polypropylene will usually appear dirty much more rapidly the nylon, is not as comfortable and has a tendency to crush. I’d avoid any nylon propylene blend unless you’re in love with the carpet—even then, you should try hard to find something else.

Captain’s parting words!

Here’s a simple way to understand carpet blends: educate yourself on the two fibers that are being blended and assume the carpet will take on the worst characteristics of each. The exception is if the “worse” fiber is 20% or less—the 20% fiber will have an impact on the carpet, but it should take on more of the 80% fiber’s characteristics. Wool-nylon blended carpets are a great combination, and nylon-polyester can be an acceptable blend. Most of the other blends are not worth buying. If you love a particular carpet but are worried about the durability of the blend, just make sure that the density, twists, and other factors affecting carpet durability are top notch.

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30 thoughts on “Carpet Fiber Blends – Performance, Pros & Cons”

  1. I have som Wool / Polysilk ( 80 / 20) blends in my store.
    I am concerned about durability / stain resistance.
    What is your opinion

  2. I’m here to tell you this statement is 100% TRUE “50% or more [polyester-wool]blends are not worth buying—you won’t have any of the positive traits of wool carpet.”

    I have a customer who bought a 50/50 polyester/wool blend loop construction against my suggestion because it was cheaper than the 100% wools. She’s only had it for just over a month and now I get to file a claim for her against the mill because the loops are fraying like crazy. Let’s hope the mill actually helps her!

    Not all flooring salespeople/companies are out to “get” you. If a sales person tells you “I don’t like this one because it is a 50/50 blend” please listen to them!

  3. Hi there, what is your take on 80% wool and 20% viscose? is it advisable for a high traffic areas?

    Thank you

  4. I have an issue with a bad odor. I have traced the problem to a gas that our water treatment plant mixes into our water. The gas is called Chlorine Dioxide and when mixed with water it turns into chlorite Ion. Placed new carpet and when every I turned on the shower or another water source a bad odor would occur. Turn off the water source and the odor would lessen. I had the new carpet removed and the odor has gone away.
    Taking with people that have some knowledge of the carpet industry suggest that the latex used in the backing to hold the fibers and give stability most likely is the off gassing generator. I am looking to try to place a wool carpet without latex and it seems to be hard to find. Mohawk makes a Air.o carpet but my wife says it is shag carpet and she will not place shag carpet.
    Any suggestions?

    1. Sorry, don’t know if I”ll be much help on this one… can’t think of any. If it was the carpet, usually the VOCs go down considerably with time. If it tended to come out with higher humidity, having the carpet professionally cleaned may speed up the process. But either way, good luck with the search.

    1. It’s best to avoid wool. It’s got a high R-value (insulation value), so it will block radiant heat more than any other carpet fiber.

  5. Sheryl Miller

    We have a Shaw wool/acrylic (55/45) berber- sisal look- that wore just great and looked good until carpet cleaner saturated it and caused brown out and then tried to correct by spraying on a pH balancing mist. Our carpet is now lighter in areas and darker in others and smells horrible. What would be a comparable carpet to replace with?

    1. Carpet Captain

      Have you given it a little time? Wool can hold water for a long time, so that could be part of the multi-color affect. If you have, I don’t have specific brands. You could consider going with nylon which will have much of the durability of wool, but is less likely to be damaged with moisture or cleanings.

      1. Cleaning damage is from 4 months ago. Trying to price comparable carpet for the BBB and cleaners liability. Had carpet inspector investigate and carpet was damaged in cleaning. What would be comparable wool blend to price compare? ( Need a replacement evaluation.). Thanks.

        1. Carpet Captain

          If you can’t find a similar blend, I’d look for a 50/50 wool polyester or olefin as a similar carpet. Values of wool carpets can vary dramatically but maybe less so with the acrylic. This 50/50 wool carpet says it only goes for $1 a square foot, but some will definitely be considerably more.

          1. Thanks for suggestions. Btw- the link is for $1 sample. The carpet is $6.59 a square foot.

          2. Carpet Captain

            Should have caught that-seemed bizarrely low 🙂 Here’s a page with general references on carpet prices as well. Wool already has a huge range and the blends make it even more so. But I’d say a 50/50 blend 5-8$ seems reasonable.

    1. Carpet Captain

      I don’t have experience with cotton used in carpet. I know it used to be, but I assume it went out for good reason, but I could be wrong. Maybe other readers will have input.

  6. Thanks for this topic. I am trying to find information about 50% Wool and 50% Viscose carpet. Please advise if you have some information.

    1. Viscose (also known as rayon) isn’t durable, so it’s a cheap filler in a wool carpet. I typically only see this in rugs, and many times it’s okay because people don’t walk on rugs frequently. However, if you have moderate to heavy foot traffic, I’d avoid it.

  7. I’m looking at wool vs 50/50 wool/nylon blend for a high traffic stairwell. which is easier to clean?
    and do you recommend any pretreatment to prevent staining?

    1. The blend would be easier to clean. Wool has many great properties (naturally repels stains and oils, insulating, fire retardant, warm and soft) but may its biggest downfall is it takes a little more attention when cleaning. Certain chemicals and abrasive cleaning methods can damage it, and less “fussy” nylon can help limit some of that. A good carpet won’t need pre-treatment because it will be built in.

    1. I’d rate it weird 🙂 I’m not sure why some manufacturers blend so many fibers, but maybe to say they have wool etc in them. If you really like this carpet, I’d say it’d make a moderate durability fiber, but I’d tend to avoid it and try to go with pure nylon or wool if that’s what you want.

      1. Thank you for answering my question, this carpet is by Hagaman and it has a Berber quality…although more like a twisted braided style. Beautiful, but like you said a weird blend!

  8. Can’t thank you enough for this information. Just started my carpet search and you’ve already saved me from making a huge mistake! Very grateful…

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