“What is the most durable carpet I can buy?”
I usually avoid questions like this (I tell you why at the beginning of this article).
But as many times as I’ve been asked this, I feel like I have to answer.
So I will in this article (hint: if you want to go directly to the answer, it’s at the conclusion on the bottom of the page, but I think it’s a good idea to read the whole article).
Why I usually don’t answer questions like “what is the most durable [insert floor here]”
This is an important section to read because sometimes giving people a “most durable” or “best” floor suggestion leads them to buying the wrong floor.
And for a site that boasts I give flooring advice without a sales pitch, that’s the last thing I want.
The problem with these recommendations the “most durable” or “best” carpet can be different depending on what the shopper needs.
For example, the best carpet for someone who has a dog that pees on the carpet often might be completely different than a retired couple.
Or the most durable carpet might be different for a commercial office building than it is for a home with toddlers.
With that in mind, I think I can still give you what you want here. I’ll break down the most durable carpet with a few assumptions: you’re a homeowner, and I’m not taking price into consideration (meaning if one carpet costs you $5,000 and would last you 10 years and another carpet costs you $3,000 and lasts you 9 years, I’m still recommending the $5k carpet)
Alright, now let’s breakdown each part of the most durable carpet:
The breakdown of the most durable carpet
This section will cover each decision I made when choosing the most durable carpet.
I think it’s important to read because it will help you see if you can make a substitution anywhere.
But if you really don’t care, you can skip straight to the most durable carpet in the conclusion without the details
Of the major carpet fibers, the only debate for most durable is between nylon and wool (and maybe, Smartstrand). 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.
There is a catch with nylon: it isn’t naturally stain resistant. In fact, it has poor stain resistance if it’s not treated. On the other hand, it is one of the best against stains when it does have a good factor treatment.
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, Mohawk, Shaw, etc). You can read more about branded vs generic nylon here.
Further reading: comparison of all carpet materials
Face weight and Density
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 from the start. 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. Similarly, carpets with really low face weight just look worn even when they’re new.
The second (and maybe more important) reason is that more carpet fibers = more strength. Imagine instead of carpet fibers you have people. These people are holding up a big 1,000lb metal plate. If you have four people spread under the plate, they are probably going to collapse. If you have 10 people under the plate, they’ll hold up for a long time. Same thing with carpet: more carpet fibers means the carpet keeps its upright position for longer, and carpets that are matted down look old.
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.
Further reading: carpet face weight
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 cut pile carpets (carpet that don’t have loops like Berber), the tightness of the twists holds the carpet together.
For maximum durability, look for a carpet with 7 or more twists per inch.
Further reading: carpet specifications
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 carpet’s twist level, but with frieze, the twist level is covered.
Further reading: comparison of all carpet styles.
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.
Further reading: choosing carpet color
Captain’s tips on what to do next:
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.
Here’s what you should consider reading next:
- If you want to know learn more about carpet durability, check out the breakdown of exactly what numbers to look for in 6 important carpet specifications including face weight for a durable carpet.
- If you want unbiased help from the start to finish of the carpet buying process, check out my free carpet buying guide.
- If you want helping finding an installer in your area, click here to get 3 free quotes from HomeAdvisor selected installers (note: this helps support this site with a small commission)
Any questions on durable carpet? Let me know in the comments below.
We have thoroughly devoured your recommendations on how to choose new carpet. We felt educated and started our search for a nylon carpet. We have hit a few roadblocks but still felt confident in what we have learned from you. Today we were shown a sample of Dream Weaver and we noticed it was not Nylon. I won’t bore you with the explanation given. I will just say we expressed dismay in having to rethink what we had taken as the ‘gospel according to Nylon.’ We were optimistic in the sales pitch. We came home and did some research and… Read more »
I haven’t bought yet but this information is very helpful. Thank you!
Glad it helped!
Thank you for the great information. I installed new carpeting quickly before a move in 13 years ago, so did little research. Every time I vacuum, still, after all this time, the vacuum quickly fills with carpet fibers. What should I be looking for in future purchase to avoid that?
This is my common with staple fiber carpets. So I’d avoid staple fiber (wool is staple but most synthetics won’t be).
trying to find carpet that does not show tracks or sheen and that has a “bounce back texture”
Multi-colored and multi-textured are the best options. Less “plush” carpets like frieze can also work.
Im looking to replace our carpet in our home. Our children are grown now but I have grandchildren that are at our house quite a bit. We live out on acreage and husband works on ranch, wears boots, in the elements. We are prone to spills. I’ve had a lady showing me Southwind Carpet soft solutions. I had never heard of them before. Do you know anything of them and how their carpets hold up? Specifically the soft solutions Prisms.
I’m not familiar with that specific carpet, but you can still follow the basic principles on what makes a carpet durable: this page ranks durability factors and will be helpful. Just see how their carpet stacks up.