Installing carpet in your home is a wonderful way to instill warmth and comfort into your space. Available in a vast array of colors, styles, and patterns, carpet can help you achieve the aesthetic you are aiming for, often at a fraction of the cost of hard surface flooring options. With today’s modern technologies, carpet is seeing a revived popularity amongst homeowners.

When shopping for the perfect carpet, there are several factors that you will want to consider. The density, weight, pile height, fiber, and construction will all affect the overall appearance and texture of carpet and will also play a factor in cost.

Today we are going to examine the synthetic fiber options you will encounter while shopping for carpet, as these are more popular than natural fibers. While there are several options available, there is not one right choice. Consider your needs and lifestyle and make the choice best suited for you.

Synthetic Fibers

Synthetic fibers are fibers that are man-made and do not occur naturally. Typically, these fibers are produced using petroleum and/or plastic products. The most common types of synthetics in carpets are nylon, polyester, and polypropylene or olefin. Based on appearance, one would hardly be able to discern one fiber type from another, but the manufacturing process contributes to its performance. So, let’s examine each type and learn what may be best for you.


Considered the most durable of synthetic fibers, nylon carpets typically have superior fiber retention compared other carpets. Due to the strength of the fibers, nylon resists crushing and will bounce back to its original form after compaction. This makes it ideal for high-traffic areas such as stairways, living rooms, and busy commercial areas.

Color is achieved in nylon fibers using a post-production piece dying technique where dyes are applied after the fiber has been manufactured. This process lends itself to more vibrant hues and a larger selection of colors than you will normally find in solution dyed fibers such as polyesters. 

Because the nature of nylon is more absorbent to liquids, it is not naturally as stain resistant as other synthetic fibers. Though, through the addition of stain resistant treatments such as Stainmaster and Scotchgard, today’s nylons offer more peace of mind than previous versions.

Nylon carpets are typically more expensive to produce than other synthetics. If cost plays a determining factor in your choice, you may find that nylons are higher priced than polyester or olefins. However, it is feasible that these costs are offset when the durability and life expectancy of nylon is considered.

If you are interested in nylon, stop by our showroom and check out the Shaw Anso Nylon line.


One of the most common and popular carpet fibers today, polyester, has several characteristics that have led to its demand. Made from recycled plastic, polyester carpets are deemed more eco-friendly, create less static, and offer superior stain resistance compared to nylon.

Polyester fibers are hydrophobic, meaning they repel, rather than absorb liquid. This leads to easy clean-up of spills and messes without worrying about staining. Using a solution dying technique, color is engrained into polyester during the manufacturing process creating fibers that are fully saturated with color. Compared to surface or piece dyed fibers, solution dyed polyesters are better able to resist fading and retain colorfastness during even the most rigorous cleaning. However, oil-based stains may require extra steps to remove.

When compared to nylon, polyester does lack in its fiber retention abilities. While nylon has high “bounce back” capabilities after being compressed, polyester does not. Because of this, matting can occur over time, particularly in high-traffic areas such as stairs. One way to combat this is to choose short pile or looped carpets for high-traffic areas, as these styles show less wear.  

From a cost standpoint, polyester is generally more economically priced than nylons. Pricing does vary, however, depending on carpet height, weight, pattern, and density. Some lower quality nylons can be cheaper than higher quality polyesters, so it is important to carefully compare each potential selection to determine which best suits your needs.

Dream Weaver Soft Polyester and Mohawk Smart Strand are two popular polyester lines to look into.

Polypropylene (Olefin)

Polypropylene carpets are not as popular for residential areas with moderate-to-high traffic, like living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways, but they can be useful for other applications.

Like polyester, olefin carpets are solution dyed, giving them similar stain and fade resistance. Olefin is also hydrophobic; in fact, it is the most hydrophobic fiber available for rugs and carpets. This does not make it waterproof, rather, it is considered highly weather and water resistant. These qualities make it ideal for indoor/outdoor rugs, basements, sunrooms, and commercial or marine applications where moisture may pose an issue. However, olefin does attract oil, so it is suggested to avoid installations in areas where oil-based stains could be prevalent, like kitchens and dining rooms.

Because of its structure, olefin fibers are easily compacted and show wear quickly. You will typically see these types of carpets in very low pile or looped styles like Berber, so that wear and matting is not as evident. Olefin also has a low melting point; even the friction from moving heavy furniture could be enough to noticeably damage fibers. It is important to keep these factors in mind when contemplating polypropylene.

As for pricing, polypropylene is the cheapest of fibers to produce, so the cost will be amongst the lowest you will find. Bear in mind that the longevity of olefin is significantly less than other synthetics, so you may find yourself having to replace olefin more often than other carpets.

Needing carpet for a sunroom or basement? Ask about our Aladdin polypropylene selection.

Deciding which carpet type is best for you will ultimately depend on your specific needs and desires. Every carpet will vary in warranty offerings, density, plushness, and visual design. Do your research and arm yourself with the knowledge of your selection before you purchase. Doing so will ensure that you will enjoy your carpet for years to come!