Polyester carpet FAQs: benefits, durability and safety

Polyester carpets are a popular type of carpet. In this guide, you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about polyester carpets.

In this FAQ guide:

What is polyester?

First invented by British chemists in the 1940s, polyester is produced by putting coal, petroleum, air and water through a chemical process involving very high temperatures. The resulting plastic can be turned into fabric for clothing, carpets, upholstery and so on, or used for a range of different products such as bottles, tents, umbrellas and mouse mats.

Why is polyester good for carpets?

The design of its fibres allows a polyester carpet to stay vibrant-looking for longer—more so than a nylon equivalent, which will dull over time. And because they hold their colour so well, there’s less room within polyester fibres for liquids and other spillages to get into, which is why the carpets have a reputation for being excellent at resisting stains.

As far as man-made plastics go, polyester is one of the most environmentally friendly, much more so than nylon. Not only does it take less energy to produce, but it’s easily recycled—in fact, a lot of carpets nowadays are made from recycled polyester or other plastics.

Are polyester carpets easy to clean?

Polyester carpets attract dust and dirt very easily and so need to be cleaned regularly. Keeping them looking their best means vacuuming at least once a week—and as often as every day in rooms or areas that get the most footfall (entrances, hallways and so on). Not only does this get rid of all the grime that’s accumulated, but it fluffs up any areas of carpet that might have been crushed or pressed down by people walking on them. (This is why you should move heavy items of furniture every now and again to avoid deep indentations in the pile.)

Though polyester carpets are very stain-resistant, you should still clean up any stains or spillages as promptly as you can. Our guide to cleaning and maintaining your carpet tells you everything you need to know about how best to do this.

Are polyester carpets durable?

Though their soft feel means they’re less durable than nylon—and less able to ‘spring back’ when compressed—polyester is still resilient and will withstand a fairly high amount of foot traffic before it starts to show signs of wear. It’s also resistant to fading caused by sunlight.

It’s worth remembering that there are different grades of polyester carpet, some of a better quality than others, and so a high-grade polyester carpet may actually be more hard-wearing than a lower-grade nylon carpet.

Do polyester carpets shed?

Generally, synthetic carpets are made of one of two types of yarn—BCF or staple. A BCF carpet consists of yarn made from one long, continuous strand of fibre that’s twisted together (a bulk continuous filament, or BCF), while staple yarns are made by twisting short lengths of fibres together to produce longer strands of yarn.

If your polyester carpet is made of staple yarn, it will likely shed fibres for a short time after the carpet has been laid. It should settle after a week or so, once you’ve vacuumed the carpet several times.

Are polyester carpets safe?

Because of how man-made fibres are produced—and how they’re chemically treated to protect against static, bacteria, stains and so on—brand-new carpets can release a chemical smell. This has no effect on most people but in some it can cause headaches and nausea. The smell usually goes away after 72 hours.

While polyester clothing can be highly flammable, modern polyester carpets are made according to strict British Standards guidelines. This means they’re designed to be fire-resistant and—if they do catch fire—burn out within a very short space of time.

Can polyester carpets be dyed?

Because polyester is resistant to moisture, it’s hard to dye—the dye just won’t absorb into the fibres.

Can polyester carpets be recycled?

Certain polyester carpets are actually made from recycled plastic such as drinks bottles and lids. The carpets themselves can also be repurposed (cleaned and dyed for re-use) as new carpet, avoiding the need to send them to landfill, where they’ll sit and deteriorate for a long time.

Are polyester carpets better than nylon carpets?

If you’re not having to worry about cost, nylon just pips polyester in terms of its general durability. However, polyester carpets are exceptionally resistant to stains, and you’ll be able to remove severe stains such as ink providing you use the correct carpet cleaner.

If the cost is a deciding factor, you’re likely to be charged less for a polyester carpet than a nylon one of the same quality, as polyester is less expensive to produce.

Are polyester carpets good for basements?

Carpets resistant to water work best in basements and cellars. Polyester is an excellent choice due to its resilience to mildew and its low cost—which means it can be replaced with relatively little expense.

Other things to consider for a basement carpet are as follows:

  • Short pile – Will dry out fairly quickly if flooded; a long pile carpet absorbs more water.
  • Carpet tiles – These can be replaced easily if only part of the floor is damaged by water.
  • Synthetic materials – Man-made fibres such as polyester, nylon and polypropylene will not rot when damp.
  • Less underlay – Underlay is effectively a big sponge. This makes it difficult to dry out the overlying carpet if it becomes damp.

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