How to choose your carpet material

Click on the links below to move to the relevant section:

What difference does the material make?

In the same way that your carpet style can impact on the whole room, the material it is made from also affects the following factors:

  • Warmth
  • Softness
  • Cleanliness
  • Durability
  • Noise insulation

What different fibres are available?

Carpet fibres fall into two broad categories:

  • Natural, including animal and plant fibres
  • Wool (natural)
    • Jute
    • Seagrass
    • Sisal
    • Coir
  • Synthetic or man-made
    • Polypropylene (synthetic)
    • Polyester
    • Nylon


Summary of wool:

  • The best natural material for carpet because of the unique structure of its fibres
  • Naturally has almost all of the characteristics you want in a carpet
  • The height of the pile makes a difference to durability
  • Can last 20-25 years

The unique fibre structure of wool means it has a lot of useful characteristics



Cuticle cells

The outside layer of wool (known as the cuticle) isn’t completely smooth. It’s structured in a way that makes it a bit rough and this gives it a much tougher exterior, protecting the fibre from damage.

Waxy coating

The outside layer of wool is covered in a waxy coating – this makes it water-repellent and naturally resistant to soiling and spills.

Spring-like interior structure

Each cell inside a strand of wool is has spring-like structure inside it, a bit like the springs of a mattress that are all linked together by chemical bonds. This spring structure makes wool very flexible, elastic and highly resilient. When pressure is put on wool it springs naturally back in to place.

Internal matrix

The spring-like interior is surrounded by an internal matrix. This matrix contains high sulphur protein. This protein is what makes wool fire-resistant, antistatic and helps to absorb odour. It is also instrumental in creating extra heat through water absorption.

How can wool be water-repellent and absorb water?

The waxy layer repels water from the top surface of the wool. The matrix is structured in a way where moisture from the air is absorbed – this is what makes wool so warm. Wool can hold a lot more moisture than alternatives without getting saturated, and the process of absorption creates heat as it takes cold moisture out of the air.

Wool carpet characteristics:

  • Natural “springiness”
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Moisture absorption
  • Water repellence
  • Resistance to soiling and also easy to clean
  • Hard wearing (very flexible fibre)
  • Low static generation
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Fire retardant
  • Absorbs odours
  • Good acoustic insulation

Wool is a fantastic, hard-wearing carpet that has a natural ability to bounce back in high traffic areas, keeps itself clean and can handle cleaning products.

Investing in a thicker wool carpet often pays off as pile height does make a difference to durability. A wool-mix blend is often a good option for high traffic areas such as the hall, stairs or landing.

Wool carpets – the pros and cons:

Wool Carpet – pros and cons



Slightly more expensive than other options

Very resilient – will spring back into place and resist abrasions

Thin wool carpets are far more vulnerable to wear – you should invest in thickness or go for a wool mix if you want a thinner carpet

 Incredibly warm


Naturally repels spills, making cleaning easier


Can last 20 -25 years


Fire retardant, odour absorbing, and quiet


Softer than polypropylene

Which rooms does wool work well in?

Hall, stairs or landing. Suitable for living rooms too.

Find out more about choosing the right carpet by room here.

What colour should I go for?

Find out more about colour selection here.


Summary of polypropylene:

  • A family- friendly, durable carpet
  • Cheaper than alternatives, bleach cleanable and stain-resistant
  • Not as soft as wool or wool-blend

Polypropylene, also known as olefin, is a great all-round carpet for families looking for an affordable carpet. It’s considered family-friendly because it can handle stains easily and can be cleaned with strong cleaning products. It also has low static generation which makes it suitable for young children to play on.

Polypropylene carpet: the pros and cons

Polypropylene Carpet – pros and cons



Not as crush-resistant as nylon so can look worn over time.

Can be cleaned with bleach and other strong cleaning products.

Vulnerable to heat – hot liquid stains can mark it

Cold stains can be washed out easily

Not as soft as wool, or wool blend

Cheaper than alternatives


A family-friendly option


Low static generation


Polyester fabrics have vibrant colours that are highly fade-resistant. They are also incredibly difficult to stain, making them ideal for children’s rooms. This man-made material is also known for its softness, though this does come at the expense of durability.

For a synthetic fibre, polyester is relatively eco-friendly: it takes less energy to produce than nylon and is easily recyclable.

Summary of polyester:

  • Stain resistant
  • Vibrant colours
  • Slightly softer than poly
  • Inexpensive

Polyester Carpet – pros and cons



Less durable

Stain resistant


Colours appear vibrant


Holds colours well


Eco-friendly for synthetic material

Carpets can also be made from nylon.


Summary of nylon:

  • Very durable
  • PA IMPREL is a brand of nylon fibre
  • Best all-rounder carpet material
  • Less expensive than wool but more expensive than other man-made fibres

Nylon has long been considered the strongest and most durable of the synthetic carpets. When you add its resistance to both heat and water, you can see why it is known as the best ‘all-rounder’. The dense polymer structure of nylon makes it very resilient and able to easily bounce back when flattened under foot. Nylon’s high melting point also means it is resistant to heat caused by friction.

Nylon carpet — the pros and cons:

Nylon (Polyamide) Carpet — pros and cons



Slightly more expensive than other man-made fibres

Relatively water resistant and easy to dry


Stain resistant


Can be colour-dyed


Maintains a new appearance for longer


Comes with antistatic protection


Has low flammability


Easy to clean

Which rooms does nylon work well in?

Living room, hallway — anywhere with a high foot fall.

What colour should I go for?

Nylon carpet is available in a range of colours due to its ability to be easily colour-dyed. To find out more about the best colour for your carpet, click here.

Alternative fibres

There are a number of natural fibres that can be used in the production of carpets. These types of fibre tend to have a shorter lifespan.


Seagrass is a natural fibre grown in paddies and marshes that are flooded with seawater. After flooding, the grass and reeds are cut, sun dried and woven. It’s an environmentally friendly product, but because it isn’t treated heavily it can wear down easily. It’s a very soft carpet under foot and is 100% biodegradable.


Sisal is made from the leaves of a cactus plant grown in semi-arid regions. It’s a very strong fibre used for rope and twine as well as carpet. It has a textured look like jute carpet, but is less soft than seagrass.


Coir is made from the husk of a coconut. The husks are soaked in water for several months then crushed to soften the fibres. The fibres are then spun by hand into a yarn called “kayar”. This is what the carpet is made out of. It isn’t as soft as alternatives, but it is very sturdy and hard-wearing.


Jute is the same thing as hessian. It is made from the fibres of the jute plant. Fibres are taken from under the bark near the central part of the stalk. These fibres are then spun into long threads that make the jute material.

Find out more:

> Return to Advice Centre

Follow us for the latest offers and inspiration