Carpet has been around in some form for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that manufacturers turned away from wool and towards new types of fibers. While wool is still an option, olefin, polyester, acrylic, and nylon are more affordable alternatives and what you’ll typically find in most homes today.
Out of those fibers, nylon and polyester are the most popular and two of the most common options found in carpet stores. If you’re wondering which one is better for your home, our guide will clear up any questions as we compare key areas and pit the two fibers against each other.
Comfortable, but not quite as soft as polyester
Soft and cushy beneath your feet
Very durable carpet, ideal for high-traffic areas
A sturdy, durable and long-lasting building material
Stain-Resistance & Upkeep
Not as resistant as polyester, but treated carpeting comes close
Hydrophobic fibers, excellent natural liquid stain resistance
The Green Factor
Certified products are available, but generally not eco-friendly
Wide variety of carpeting made from recycled plastics
Professional installation recommended
Professional installation recommended
$1.25 to $5 per sq. ft.
$1 to $4 per sq. ft.
When shopping for the best flooring material for your home, comfort is usually one of the first things to come to mind. A lot of elements can factor into how comfortable a style of carpet is, but every type of carpet is more comfortable underfoot than hardwood, linoleum or luxury vinyl flooring.
Density and twist both affect how cushy your carpeting is along with the texture. With that in mind, polyester is softer than nylon, although the gap has closed considerably. If you love the type of carpet your feet can sink into, you’ll want to invest in polyester carpeting.
Nylon is durable and used in a wide variety of consumer goods today. It’s also an excellent choice for carpet fibers due to its durability. This synthetic material is known for its resiliency and its ability to bounce back after it’s been walked on. That makes it ideal for any high-traffic areas in your home and rooms that take a lot of abuse on a daily basis.
While polyester may be softer than nylon, it is not nearly as durable. It will still hold up well with proper care but will begin to show wear quicker than nylon if the carpets are of the same grade. You can still use it in any room of your home; just keep foot traffic in mind if you choose a budget-friendly carpet. The warranty can make a difference however along with the overall quality of polyester carpet you choose.
Stain Resistance & Upkeep
Do you have pets? If so, polyester may be the best option for your home. This hydrophobic fiber can repel water instead of soaking it in, so it’s not absorbent and works well against liquids that can leave stains behind. Pets can be responsible for both, and so can children. As for soiling, it doesn’t handle that quite as well although stain-resistant treatments can help in that regard.
By comparison, nylon is not naturally resistant to liquids or soiling like polyester. Just like with polyester carpeting treatments can make a considerable difference in how easy stains are to clean or remove. Overall, we feel polyester is a better option for stain resistance this is another area where the difference is minimal if you stick to top-tier options. Neither are as pet-friendly as flooring with a slick surface when it comes to pet hair or allergies, however.
You’ll need to take a similar approach with maintenance when it comes to the upkeep of nylon or polyester carpeting. A good vacuum cleaner is a must-have along with recommended products for spot cleaning when needed. A steam cleaner is also an essential tool for nylon carpet as it helps the fibers stay firm and resilient over time.
The Green Factor
Nylon isn’t exactly the most eco-friendly carpeting around considering it’s a by-product of petroleum. Manufacturing aside, it was known as being difficult recycle although several companies have made significant strides in that area over the past decade. It’s not as hard to recycle as it used to be, and you can even find nylon carpet made from recycled material if you’re willing to pay a premium.
Polyester carpet is greener, although still a synthetic product. That said, there are a variety of styles and color made from recycled plastics including Continuum from Mohawk, which contains an average of 64 reclaimed bottles per square yard. If you want “green” carpet in your home, polyester is an ideal choice unless you opt for Cradle to Cradle certified nylon fibers.
The issues you can experience with carpet in your home are generally the same whether you choose nylon or polyester fibers. Excess moisture can be a major concern along with flooding, so carpet isn’t the best option for areas like the kitchen. It is commonly found in finished basements and bathrooms, however, so it all comes down to where you’re comfortable having carpet installed.
Both styles of carpet are prone to static, but nylon can build up static electricity easier than polyester. You may experience a few shocking surprises depending on the conditions inside your home, although it won’t shed and pill like polyester.
Out of all the styles of flooring we cover here at Flooringclarity, carpet and hardwood are the most difficult for homeowners to install themselves. There is no “easy” way to install carpet despite what guides or online videos may lead you to believe unless you have experience w installing flooring or general construction. This will give you a rough idea of what to expect.
While they make it look fairly simple, the video doesn’t take into account installing the carpet pad or your existing flooring. Seams are also difficult to deal with, and a mistake can be costly with carpeting as well. Simply put, you are usually better off hiring a professional to install carpet regardless of whether it’s nylon or polyester. The actual cost to install carpet can run anywhere from $1,000 to $14,000 depending on square yardage and your location, but our pricing tool can give you a good idea of what to expect.
Nylon and Polyester Carpet Cost
Polyester carpet is cheaper than nylon, but how much you save depends on the overall quality of the product and a number of other factors. A plush polyester carpet from Shaw may outlive and outperform a mid-tier nylon carpet from Stainmaster. The carpet style, texture, and even the pattern can play a part with pricing as well.
per square foot
Promenade Color Drive
Phenomenal I Ashford
Palm Beach Sha
Swirling Vines Desert Sand Pattern
Nylon and polyester are excellent options for homeowners as long as you keep your needs in mind. Both add comfort and warms to your home, but nylon will last long even if it isn’t quite as cushiony or stain-resistant as polyester. If you’re still on the fence about these fibers or want to look into other alternatives, be sure to check out our carpet buying guide!