When buying new carpet, there are many different choices for your fiber. Nearly all carpets sold these days are either Nylon or Polyester as they are two of the most common fiber types. There are other choices like Wool, Triexta, Olefin and other exotic fibers but because these are less common we will primarily be focusing on nylon vs polyester.
Before we get into the more common questions and comparisons, I first want to take a second to acknowledge a technological term you’ll hear a lot in this article called ‘Solution Dyed’.
Most people are unfamiliar with the term ‘Solution Dyed’ but its one of the most amazing advances in carpet technology. When you hear the term Solution Dyed, it is referring to the process in which the color is created and it goes all the way through the fiber. The most common way to explain the difference between SD (Solution Dyed) and PDF (Post dyed fiber) is the carrot and the radish.
A carrot’s orange color goes all the way through the vegetable; much like a solution dyed fiber’s color goes all the way through the fiber.
A radish is red on the outside and white on the inside; much like a Post dyed fiber carpet’s color is only on the outside of the fiber.
So for example, if you spill red wine on a solution dyed carpet – you can easily clean the carpet and not worry about using cleaning materials to get the wine out of the carpet. Why? Because the color of the solution dyed carpet goes all the way through the fiber so you cannot damage or strip the color of the solution dyed fiber when cleaning it.
By contrast, if you were to spill red wine on a Post dyed fiber carpet, you’d find that the fiber will absorb the red wine much quicker and if you use aggressive cleaning products you can damage or strip the color of the fiber.
Thankfully, you can find both nylon and polyester fibers available in this solution dyed option. This manufacturing breakthrough is one of the equalizers when comparing the two fibers side by side.
When it comes to stain resistance, polyesters still win in a landslide. Polyester is naturally more stain resistant and the solution-dyed fibers strictly do not absorb like a traditional nylon carpet. The reason why so many manufacturers have been able to offer lifetime pet stain-resistant warranties is because of the nonabsorbing characteristic features of the solution-dyed materials.
Nylon stain resistance has improved over the years and they too have solution-dyed fibers now. However, at the end of the day, I can tell you firsthand that polyester carpets clean up much easier and do not show the stains and soiling that are typical to see on a nylon carpet.
Over the course of carpet history, Nylon’s have out performed polyester carpets in this department. Nylon materials are known to ‘bounce back’ and not crush as much over time.
That said, Polyester materials have significantly improved in the last 5-7 years. Dreamweaver Carpet (started by Robert Shaw, yes – the same man that founded Shaw Carpet in 1946) has been one of the leaders in the improvement of solution dyed polyesters durability and their toughness to rival a nylon carpet.
In most cases over a 5-15 year comparison, a modern day polyester will hold up just as well as a nylon carpet. Over a 15-20 year period is where you will start to see the nylon outlast a polyester in its durability.
Bottom line, if you want a great carpet for 5-15 years, give polyester a good look. If you want a carpet to still hold up 15-20 years from now, you’ll want to consider increasing your budget to accommodate for a nylon carpet.
Thankfully, technology has improved and the ability to use plastic bottles in the carpet fiber process has been incredible. Both carpet types can be eco friendly but some brands use more recycled content than others. Read the labels on the carpet products you are looking into and talk to your local salesperson about these eco options.
Over the last 20 years or so, one of the bigger complaints about nylon carpets was their softness. In this category, polyester carpets have traditionally passed nylon with flying colors. That said, over the last few years Nylon carpet fibers have become softer and in some cases, they are equal to the soft polyester fibers you see today. So using today’s modern fiber options, they are normally equal in this category but this is still a case-by-case comparison.
On average, a soft, stain-resistant, durable solution dyed Polyester can run anywhere from $3-$5 per SQFT installed. By comparison, a soft, stain-resistant, durable nylon carpet option will run around $5-$7.50 per SQFT installed. Keep in mind, if you’re looking at a $3.50 (45-ounce) polyester and want a nylon carpet with a similar ounce weight, you’ll be spending closer to $5 or more to achieve the same bells and whistles as the polyester.
Nylons are the most expensive fiber to produce in a factory. The raw materials cost about 30% or more than polyester fibers. This results in most nylons costing north of 30% more in cost. But with this increase in cost, does that give you a carpet that is 30% better?
In many cases, the answer is no. In fact, Dreamweaver Carpet stated in 2019 they will be exiting the nylon category because the increase in nylon cost does not reflect the increase in quality. They will become a polyester-only carpet manufacturer to give their clients the best products for the best value. Here at Carpet Now we sell both nylon and polyester carpets. However, most of our clients select polyester carpets because of their increase in quality and value for the dollar.
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