If you’re recarpeting an area of your home, you’re probably wondering which is better: wool or nylon carpet? As with most comparisons, the battle between wool vs nylon carpet is decided by the details, and by what you want out of your carpet. That’s why we put together this quick comparison of the two, so that you can quickly decide which is best for you.
Wool carpet: pros and cons
Humans have been using wool since about 10,000 BCE. It’s the original fibre that we used to warm ourselves and make our living spaces a little comfier1, and for good reason—wool is super-comfortable, good-looking, resilient, and has excellent elasticity which helps maintain its “spring” despite plenty of use.
This is why wool carpets are so popular. They feel nice, look great, and if maintained property, will last for decades. Wool carpets tend to keep their colour over many years, and are often available in a huge variety of colours and patterns. Because of their unique material, they can also absorb about 30% of their weight in moisture, which makes them an excellent natural dehumidifier, and great for humid climates like Queensland.
These types of carpet are easy to clean because their overlapping structure helps to repel dirt, and keeps any water-based liquids on the surface, rather than sinking deep into the carpet. They also happen to be great insulators, so will keep your heat inside during winter.
On the downside, oily or greasy spills are much tougher to clean, and will need to be attended to immediately to prevent permanent staining. Wool carpet is also on the expensive side, especially compared to nylon.
Nylon carpet: pros and cons
Nylon is an artificial fibre that has become incredibly popular for carpets. It’s best quality is its extreme durability—nylon carpet can stand up to excessive foot traffic and the heaviest of furniture, due to the hydrogen molecules that make up its structure, and enable it to quickly bounce back to its original state (something known as “yarn memory”). The material can be stretched to over 33% of its original length for long intervals, and will still go back to its former shape when released. This is similar to wool but intensified. Nylon will also hold its colour for a long time, and may not look as faded as carpet during the same period.
The molecular makeup of nylon carpet is what makes it so durable, and also easy to clean. It will resist most stains, which makes it a great choice if you have kids or pets. It’s cost-friendly too—about 25% less than wool carpet, depending on where you buy it (more on this below).
As far as disadvantages go, nylon isn’t as soft as wool, so won’t feel as comfortable underfoot (but that’s what slippers are for right?) It also doesn’t look quite as lush as wool carpets (especially thick shag piles), and has a tendency to produce static electricity, especially in dry climates. But this issue can be resolved using a spray-on anti static treatment, or by using the dehumidify setting on your air conditioner.
Wool vs nylon carpet—a breakdown
High foot traffic areas
Cost of wool carpet vs nylon
Carpet is measured in broadloom metres, which is 3.66 square metres. According to Choice, here’s the cost of wool carpet vs nylon:
- Wool carpet can range between $140 to $500 per broadloom metre
- Nylon carpet is between $125 to $300 per broadloom metre2.
Wool carpet vs nylon cleaning
A big difference between wool and nylon carpet is cleaning stains. Because of the molecular structure of wool carpet, stains can enter into the fabric more easily, so will need to be cleaned up immediately (especially greasy liquids). Nylon, on the other hand, is extremely effective at resisting stains, so you won’t need to be so diligent. When it comes to dirt in the carpet, it’s harder to spot in wool fibres, because they’re opaque and so reflect less light.
As far as professional cleaning goes, both types of carpet should be cleaned by a pro once every 12 months.
Wool or nylon carpet for allergies
If you’re a hayfever sufferer, should you get wool or nylon carpet for your allergies? Good news—both are great! Wool has hypoallergenic properties, which makes it nice and dry, and tough for dust mites to get into. Nylon also resists dirt and dust extremely well (especially short-pile nylon), so is also a fantastic choice if you have bad allergies.
Wool vs nylon carpet for stairs and high traffic areas
Some areas of our homes bear the brunt of our foot traffic, and normally, the carpet in that area ends up ruined. So if you’re recarpeting a high traffic section of your home for the third time, nylon is probably your best bet because it’s more durable than wool.
Wool vs nylon carpet flammability
While flammability may not be on your list of priorities, it’s worth discussing because there’s a slight difference between the two carpet types. Wool is a natural flame retardant, which makes it difficult to light (but not impossible). If it does ignite, the spread of flames is kept low, and it will likely extinguish by itself if the fire is small. This makes it an incredibly safe type of flooring.
Nylon carpet has similar properties but will ignite a little easier, and burn when it does so. But as with wool, nylon will usually self extinguish before it causes problems.
Wool vs nylon carpet in Australia—which to choose?
If comfort and appearance are your biggest priorities, wool carpet is sure to tick the relevant boxes. It looks luxurious, feels lovely underfoot, and is well suited to cosy parts of the house (like the bedroom). It’ll also absorb a solid chunk of humidity from the air, which is fantastic for states like Queensland. On the other hand, wool wears down more quickly than nylon, and you’ll need to clean up any spills quickly to prevent staining.
If you’re looking for something that looks pretty good, is easy to clean, and lasts a long time—nylon is your pick. It’s a little cheaper than wool too, so you can keep your bank balance up.
Ultimately, each carpet has its strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll need to pick the type that best suits your home and circumstances. Good luck!