It is very convenient (or more likely a coincidence) that carpets are made from either Man-made materials or Natural materials, meaning the two can be reviewed together for the purposes of an A-Z!
The terms ‘man-made’ and ‘natural’ relate to the materials used to construct the pile of the carpet; they do not relate to the material used for the backing of carpets (which was discussed in an earlier article here).
What are man-made carpets?
Man-made carpets are constructed using artificial fibres. They come in a variety of materials such as Acrylic, Polypropylene, Polyester, Polyamide and others. The most common man-made carpets used domestically are constructed of either Polypropylene or Polyamide (also known as Nylon).
What are natural carpets?
As you might suspect, natural carpets are made from naturally occurring fibres. The most common material used is wool but you can also find carpets made from coir, jute, sisal and seagrass.
What are the advantages of man-made carpets?
- Generally speaking man-made carpets are more fade and stain resistant. They are also more durable when compared directly to a natural fibre (carpet quality and construction methods will affect this factor though);
- they are good for allergy sufferers as they are more resistant to mould and mildew than wool;
- cost is another advantage: man-made materials are cheaper than natural materials meaning a mid quality man-made carpet will cost about the same as an entry level natural carpet.
What are the advantages of natural carpets?
- Wool carpets are great insulators and will help regulate the temperature in a room;
- natural fibres bounce back and so natural carpets will look great for a large percentage of their life;
- wool carpets are hydrophobic so cold liquids won’t soak into the fibres;
- natural materials are environmentally friendly and sustainable making them very ecological choices.
What are the disadvantages of man-made carpets?
- man-made carpets are not as soft to the touch as wool carpets (whilst technically true people’s opinion can vary on this);
- man-made fibres don’t bounce back naturally so they do not retain their appearance as well as natural fibres;
- another factor to consider is that man-made carpets are essentially made of plastic, a material that is rapidly going out of fashion.
What are the disadvantages of natural carpets?
- More susceptible to mold and mildew than man-made carpets and can rot in very damp or humid environments;
- can be affected by insects if the fibres are untreated;
- not as hard wearing as man-made alternatives;
- can fade and stain easily if not treated;
- more expensive than equivalent man-made options.
What else is there to know?
It’s not just the advantages and disadvantages discussed above that one has to consider, but also the differences between individual products. Modern manufacturing is closing the gap and some high-end man-made carpets are now considered better than a wool carpet of cheaper construction.
Some man-made fibres can feel even softer than wool but on the other hand wool carpets are now treated for stain, fade and insect resistance.
One option, commonly referred to as an “80/20” sees wool carpets being blended with man-made fibres, aiming to offer the best of both (not so good for the environment though).
So what is best for me?
It depends on a number of factors such as the area to be covered, the home lifestyle, the budget, and more. Man-made carpets are a more budget friendly option, they are hard wearing and ideal for homes with children or pets. Wool carpets are sustainable, and will retain their appearance for much longer when cared for.
At Grimley Flooring we will work with you and guide you through these considerations to find the best solution for you and your home. Call us for your free, no-obligation consultation.