Wool Carpet Pros and Cons + Actual Owner Experiences From My Readers

“We are finally replacing wool carpeting installed in 1941.”

This is a snippet from an email I received on March 29, 2012. That means she had her wool carpet for 71 years! That’s in my record book of longest I’ve heard of a carpet lasting.

On the other end of the spectrum, I received an email from a person who’s wool carpet looked damaged in one year!

So how did the same wool carpet fiber perform so differently?

I can’t say for sure, but I have a few ideas. It comes down to the advantages and disadvantages. Wool does great in some situations and can be vulnerable in others.

Let’s dive into the wool carpet pros and cons and you’ll know if it’s right for you:

Captain grades wool carpet

*Explanation of report card categories

The common theme with wool carpet is all of its advantages are natural. As you’ll read below, many of wool’s advantages are seen in nylon but wool’s advantages come straight off the sheep’s back, rather than from a factory coating.

Wool Carpet
Captain’s warning! Be on the lookout for wool blends. Some carpets will say wool in the name but have other materials mixed in. This will be disclosed on the carpet information under ‘material.’ Also, you can check out my article on blended carpet materials if you’re considering one of these carpets.
If you want help finding a pre-qualified installer, HomeAdvisor is a company I recommend because they do the homework on the installer for you. Click here to enter your zip code and get connected with 3 installers in your area OR call this number instead: (888) 231-5203. I get a small commission if you use their service, but I believe it’s a great service.

Pros of wool carpet

Wool is the only carpet material I would classify as a luxury. Brands like Masland built on this. Let’s look at some of its advantages:

Resilient

Have you ever seen a sheep with a bad hair day? I haven’t (although to be fair, I haven’t been around too many sheep).

Wool is highly resilient, meaning it keeps its shape. Most carpets wear down and matt down over time. This can be one of the first things that makes a carpet look like it needs to be replaced.

This may be the secret reason that my reader’s carpet was able to last over 7 decades.

Stain resistance

Wool carpet’s ability to resist stains goes a step beyond other fibers. When properly treated, all fibers have a degree of stain resistance. Wool fiber naturally does a good job of repelling stains (treated nylon and Smartstrand carpets probably resist liquid stains better). In addition, wool does a good job of hiding soil stains and repelling oil stains, whereas the other fibers tend to attract oils. Oils are commonly tracked in from asphalt, garages, cooking agents (some even become airborne with heat or spray bottles), and they are even on our skin. Wool repels these oils, helping it maintain its clean appearance.

Wool Carpet
Captain’s warning! Wool’s natural stain resistance is excellent against oils. However, it’s not so excellent against spills. Just like wool carpet can be dyed to give it color (think of a wool rug), spilled juice can also dye it. If you want to protect against these kinds of stains, make sure your wool carpet comes with stain protection applied at the factory.

Unique comfort

Wool and polyester carpet are the go-to carpets when comfort is the highest priority. Wool is unique because it combines softness with springiness. Where many soft carpets crush easily, wool carpet maintains its comfort for years.

Hypoallergenic/Organic

Wool carpet comes off the sheep’s back and can be manufactured without any dyes or synthetic chemicals. This makes it hypoallergenic (for those not allergic to wool) and great for parents who are concerned about exposing their kids to chemicals.

Insulation

The one-way wool carpet might justify its cost is by reducing your heating and air conditioning bills. Wool is a great insulator, so it will limit the transfer of heat (or cool air) from the outside world into your home.

Fire resistant

Wool doesn’t melt. It has natural fire resistance. While this is a cool benefit, its practicality may be of little benefit. One “benefit” is it will not melt if you drop a cigarette on the carpet as other fibers will. The flaw in this is that if you invest in wool carpet, you’ll probably make sure people aren’t dropping their cigarettes on it. Also, while it may not burn up in a fire, it will surely be damaged by smoke and debris.

A “talking piece” in your room

If you have a wool carpet, you’re in rare company. So when people come over to your house and comment on how soft your floor feels, you can let them know it came straight off a sheep’s back (which is eco-friendly!), and all the other benefits of wool.

Cons of wool carpet

While wool is one of the highest-end carpet fibers, it still has disadvantages. It helps to know these to 1. decide if you still want to buy it and 2. decide the best rooms and environment for your new carpet:

Cost: the elephant in the room

If you want wool, it’s an investment. It costs 2-5x most other carpet fibers. You can check out my carpet cost calculator for more details.  Just know this, if you like wool, it’s a luxury. If you want to get by on a budget, you’ll want to look for another carpet.

Fades in sun

The color of your wool carpet can fade with time if it’s constantly exposed to sunlight. This usually isn’t a problem, and definitely doesn’t mean you have to avoid any rooms with windows. However, if you have a room that is constantly exposed to direct UV rays, you’ll either want curtains to block the midday sun or consider another carpet material.

Absorbs water which can lead to mildew

Wool can act like a sponge. So if you have water damage, it’s not as easy as the synthetic (man-made) carpet materials to absorb all the water.

In most settings, this doesn’t matter much. However, if you have a moisture problem at all (looking at your basements), the wool may be a carpet to avoid.

Moths and other insects

Apparently, insects like to eat sheep’s wool coat. That’s why you occasionally hear of people getting holes in wool sweaters due to moths.

To combat this, wool carpet manufacturers usually apply a mild insecticide to the wool carpets. And I personally don’t know anyone that’s had an issue with insects and their wool carpet.

That said, I would avoid wool carpet if you have a known moth problem. Want a simple test? Buy a wool sweater at goodwill and leave it out for a while. Any holes?

shedding

There are two basic ways to manufacture carpets, and wool is what is called a staple carpet. This means it sheds. Part of the normal lifecycle of the carpet is it will release fibers, especially when it’s new and your vacuum.

This can be alarming and maybe a little annoying at first, but it shouldn’t affect how the carpet looks long-term. You won’t (unless it’s defective) notice your carpet thinning.

Captain’s tips on what to do next:

Have a good idea if wool is the right carpet for you?

An important takeaway is the carpet fiber is only one part of the durability equation. You can have a great wool carpet, but if it’s made poorly, it won’t perform up to your expectations.

Here’s what I suggest you do next:

  1. If you want to learn about other carpet materials, check out my page on carpet materials comparison.
  2. If you want to learn the most important specifications that determine how well your carpet holds up, start with my article on carpet durability.
  3. If you want tips on how to buy carpet from start to finish, check out my unbiased carpet buying guide. 
  4. If you want help finding a pre-qualified installer in your area, click here to get free estimates from 3 installers (note: I make a small commission if you do this that helps support the site)

Still, have questions on the pros and cons of wool carpet? Let me know in the comments below.

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Joy
3 months ago

We have a large oriental rug on top of our carpeting and the rug keeps moving — creating humps in the rug. Why is that?

Editor
Carpet Captain
3 months ago
Reply to  Joy

This is natural, because a carpeted surface provides instability to your rug. You may want to anchor the rug down with furniture, or try an anti-slip mat.

JOLENE H ELLIOTT
5 months ago

I recently got wool carpet installed. Yes, its absolute luxury! I was wondering if its safe to lay rugs over the wool carpet? If so, is there any kind of backing on a rug or material that would make it wear out the wool carpet?

Editor
Carpet Captain
4 months ago

Hi, I don’t think the area rug’s wear on carpet is as much the problem per se. The way I see it, laying a rug on top of carpet decreases the stability of that area of flooring.

Suzanne
5 months ago

My thick plush wool carpet was put in by the homebuilders in 1986. Still amazing at 35!

Editor
Carpet Captain
4 months ago
Reply to  Suzanne

That’s awesome!

Sascha
5 months ago

How does wool carpet compare to nylon for static electricity buildup? We live in a very dry climate, and the static from the old nylon carpet in the house is terrible — some shoes are worse than others, but any kind of rubber sole will get you charged up and zapped the next time you touch anything. This is one of the reasons we’re considering replacing the carpet. Would wool be any different in this regard?

Editor
Carpet Captain
4 months ago
Reply to  Sascha

Hi, the moisture in wool fibers gives wool carpeting better static electricity resistance. So yes, it would be a viable alternative to nylon.

Catriona
10 months ago

I have wool carpeting that was put down in 1950 which makes it 70 years old. We have had tenants almost 20 years. It looks great. I never saw it when it was new but it looks good to me. It does mat down a little after walking on it for a while but a vacuum brings it right back. It gets partial sun in a couple of the rooms but shows no sign of fading. If they still make wool carpets like they used to then wool is the way to go.

Last edited 10 months ago by Catriona
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