Carpet fibers are specifically designed to perform under diverse conditions, from light traffic (often shoeless) in bedrooms and family rooms, to heavy traffic in hallways and on staircases. The newest technology twists more and more ultra-fine filaments together, much like the cables on a suspension bridge, for the ultimate in softness AND durability. Most carpets are now made using continuous filament construction instead of the old staple-back construction, so the "fuzzing" that would occur under foot traffic and vacuuming is essentially a thing of the past.
Wool is king. Nature provides a fiber that is renewable and environmentally friendly to produce, and out-performs man-made fibers in almost every way. Wool offers a unique combination of softness, warmth and resilience, and wool fibers resist soiling, naturally, due to a unique filament structure. Though it is priced higher than most carpet with synthetic fibers, wool carpet can often outlast your mortgage!
Nylon has been the synthetic fiber industry's gold standard for toughness and longevity, as well as beauty and softness for many decades. Nylon is semi-porous fiber and typically has to be chemically treated from the factory to be stain resistant (familiar treatments include Scotchguard or R2X). Brand-name nylon options like Anso, Stainmaster, and Wear-Dated typically carry the most thorough warranties and highest quality standards.
Triexta is the newest of the fiber types, boasting nearly stain-proof filaments and incredible durability on-par with Nylon. It has quickly built a strong reputation for exceptional quality, durability, softness, and cleanability. The structure of the fiber is designed to "bounce back" to reduce the appearance of traffic. Up to 40% of the polymer in Triexta fiber is made from corn for greater sustainability. There are currently two triexta fiber options available: Dupont Sorona and Mohawk Smartstrand. Both typically carry either 20 Year or Lifetime Stain Warranties.
Polyester is a popular fiber choice that offers stain resistance superior to nylon at a fraction of the cost. Polyester fibers often contain recycled plastics (and are typically called "PET" Polyester), and offer excellent levels of softness and stain resistance at lower price than nylon or triexta. Most brands offer entry-level Polyester carpets as well as top-of-the-line soft-touch Polyester carpets such as Shaw's Cleartouch PET Polyester or Mohawk's Everstrand Eversoft PET. Stain Warranties tend to rival those of the highest Nylon or Triexta carpets.
Polypropylene, also called Olefin, is a fiber that is normally used in entry-level to mid-level, looped carpets (or "berber") due to its low cost and good durability in a tightly-woven carpet. Soft-touch versions of the fiber can offer an exceptional value to those seeking the comfort of soft carpet with the durability and style of berber.