Nylon and polyester carpet fibers are both synthetic and share many of the same qualities. In terms of longevity, nylon tends to last longer but is more expensive than polyester carpet. There are pros and cons to both types of carpet fibers, and the best choice for your home depends on the foot traffic, the room you need to carpet, and your budget.
Nylon Carpets at a Glance
Nylon’s chemical name is Polyamide. It’s a synthetic fiber made from polymerization. Polymerization is a process where two molecules—diamine acidic and dicarboxylic acid react together.
Nylon carpets maintain their fiber height, making them suitable for high-traffic areas. It comes in two varieties—nylon 6.0 and nylon 6.6.
Both contain a different number of carbon atoms. Nylon 6.6 is more durable and has less static electricity.
Polyester Carpets at a Glance
Like nylon, polyester is a plastic or polymer. It’s a synthetic fabric manufactured using the polymerization process. Polyester carpets come in two variations. The first is made of recycled materials like plastic bottles. It’s eco-friendly and makes the yarn sturdier, unlike traditional polyester.
The second type is triexta, a newer variation in the carpeting market. Triexta has characteristics similar to nylon. It’s durable and ideal for high-traffic areas.
How Nylon & Polyester Carpets Stack Up
Comparing the two carpet fibers helps determine which suits your needs.
Nylon carpet is the most durable synthetic fiber, taking longer to show signs of wear than polyester. However, polyester’s newer variation, triexta, is more resilient than traditional nylon.
It’s worth noting that both polyester and nylon are available in various quality options. You may find a high-grade polyester carpet more resilient than a standard-grade nylon carpet. When comparing the two, ensure they’re of the same quality grade.
In terms of abrasion resistance, polyester ranks better. It’s less prone to peeling and aging. Nylon, on the other hand, stretches better than polyester. Overall, carpets made of nylon should last longer.
Polyester carpets are cheaper than those made of nylon. They cost between $1 and $3 per square foot. Nylon may cost twice the price. Again, it’s best to determine the quality grade between the two synthetic options. Being more durable and weather-resistant makes nylon a bit pricier.
3. Feel & Performance
Most synthetic carpet fibers don’t have the soft feel of natural fibers like wool. To counter this, manufacturers make synthetic fiber strands thinner and finer. The fine fibers give the carpet a soft texture but create more static electricity due to friction.
Both polyester and nylon come in different styles and are easy to customize using the dyeing process. Dyeing creates different hues and patterns.
4. Stain & Water Resistance
Polyester is a hydrophobic polymer, so it does not absorb liquid spills. Nylon, however, absorbs liquids fast. Both fibers are treated using chemicals during manufacturing to increase their water resistance. When treated, a nylon carpet becomes as stain-resistant as a polyester one.
Because nylon absorbs more water, the fiber does not hold dye well. Its color fades when exposed to sunlight, unlike polyester. Polyester carpets maintain their original color over time.
5. Odor & Mildew Resistance
Both synthetic fibers are resistant to mold, mildew, and rot. Nylon and polyester fibers retain less moisture than natural fibers. As a result, both carpets repel mildew growth and are suitable for use in the basement.
While both fibers handle pet odors and stains, nylon is ideal for households with pets. It’s more durable and needs less replacement compared to polyester.
6. Ease of Maintenance
Polyester carpets are naturally stain-resistant and easy to maintain. You can also dry-clean the carpet pile with solvents. We discourage dry cleaning a nylon carpet, as the solvents can melt the fabric. Use a steam cleaner to clean your nylon carpet, or wash it by hand.
Most residential homes use nylon carpets for high-traffic areas. Oil spills bond with polyester, making it difficult to clean. Nylon is an easy-to-clean fabric and holds up better in heavy foot traffic.
7. Common Uses
Nylon and polyester carpets are made in different carpeting styles and textures. When deciding between both materials, it’s best to consider the pile height, color, and room. Nylon has good crush resistance and cleans easily. Choose a nylon carpet or rug for hallways, living rooms, or study areas.
8. Stretch & Shrink Tendency
Nylon is desirable for its ability to recover from stretching. Due to high resiliency, the carpet fibers spring back when crushed or bent. However, exposing a nylon carpet to high moisture levels causes it to shrink.
Polyester does not shrink at room temperature. But, the fibers mat and tangle over time, losing the carpet’s original texture. Carpet piling is also common in polyester, especially in the Berber style.
Pros & Cons of Nylon Carpet Fibers
- Elasticity and Resilience: Nylon stretches over 33% of its original size and springs back to its original shape.
- Stain-resistance: Nylon carpets undergo stain treatments to make them stain-resistant. However, this quality isn’t common in all nylon carpets.
- Recyclable: Recycling nylon reduces waste sent to landfills. Most nylon carpets are made of recycled fibers. Use the manufacturer’s label to check if your nylon carpet is eco-friendly.
- Abrasion resistance: Nylon is sturdy and abrasion-resistant. The carpet fibers maintain their integrity under high foot traffic and when exposed to UV rays. Most manufacturers offer a wear warranty for good-quality nylon carpets.
- Acid-dyed: Nylon only retains acid dyes, unlike other synthetic fibers. Solution-dyed yarns fade less but are not common in residential nylon carpets.
Pros & Cons of Polyester Carpet Fibers
- Inexpensive: Polyester carpets average around $2 per square foot. Polyester is cheaper than nylon, which ranges between $4 and $10 per square foot.
- Less static electricity: Polyester carpets have a soft underfoot comparable to wool. These carpets don’t generate static electricity—an undesirable nylon characteristic.
- Available in various colors: Polyester fabrics are easier to dye. Manufacturers avail polyester carpets in vibrant colors and a wider shade selection.
- Stain and water resistant: Polyester is resistant to water-based stains. Since it doesn’t absorb liquid spills, it’s easier to spot-clean a polyester carpet. It also dries fast.
- Shorter lifespan: Polyester carpets have a lifespan of 5-15 years, depending on their use. Using a polyester carpet in hallways subjects it to wear and tear. Polyester carpets are also prone to matting and piling.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
How can you tell the difference between nylon and polyester?
Nylon has a silky feel. It’s sturdier and more stretchable than polyester. Polyester is a bit dull and has a rough texture. It leaves a heavy black smoke with a chemical-like odor when burnt.
Which has more tensile strength?
Nylon has a higher tenacity than polyester. It withstands a higher tensile load than other synthetic carpet fibers.
Which absorbs more moisture, nylon or polyester?
Nylon absorbs more moisture than polyester. For this reason, it doesn’t hold dye so well. It’s’ prone to fading when exposed to the sun.