Wool Carpet Pros and Cons
“We are finally replacing wool carpeting installed in 1941.”
This is a snippet from an email I received 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.
And we know, there are many things affect carpet durability, not just the material. But there is no doubt the carpet being made of wool also contributed to its durability. I’m not sure any other carpet fiber could have lasted this long.
On the other end of the spectrum, I received an email from a person who’s wool carpet looked damage in one year!
So what made such a big difference in how long wool carpet in these 2 homes lasted?
I can’t say for sure, but I have a few ideas. Certain carpet fibers to do great in some situations and perform poorly in others. Let’s dive into the strengths and weaknesses of wool, so you can make sure it’s the right carpet for your home.
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.
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 it 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.
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.
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 kind of stains, make sure your wool carpet comes with stain protection applied at the factory.
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.
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.
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.
Wool doesn’t melt. It has a 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 like 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.
Fades in sun and absorbs water
Wool carpets have a couple of disadvantages: one is that it fades in the sun and the other is it absorbs water. You’ll want to avoid putting wool carpet in any room that gets constant sunlight. Exposing the carpet to a little sunlight here or there isn’t going to be a problem, just make sure to limit it. Another disadvantage is wool carpets hold water. This makes them prone to mildew, so avoid wool in any rooms with a moisture problem.
Captain’s parting words!
Wool is the luxury carpet fiber. It probably holds the most advantages over all fibers, but it requires a good sum of money to own it and a bit of care once it’s installed. Wool carpet is unique compared to the other high-end fibers, namely nylon and Smartstrand. What distinguishes wool is that it has more advantages such as being all natural, more comfortable, fire resistant, and arguably is as durable, but it requires more care. Typically, nylon and Smartstrand carpets take whatever you throw at them: spills, moving furniture, and constant foot traffic. It’s best to install wool in rooms where it will be treated a little more formally, and who knows, maybe it will last you 71 years too.
Looking for where to go next? Check out our unbiased carpet buying guide to learn how to get the best deal and avoid getting ripped off on carpet.
Any questions on wool carpet? Let me know in the comments below.