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The esthetics and performance of carpet is similar to the fabric in your clothing. The type of fiber used, the construction of the cloth, and the color all play a role in the styling, cost, and performance of that garment.

All carpet yarn is manufactured from either a Staple or Continuous Filament (BCF) fiber. Staple fiber is a series of short, 6 to 7 inches in length, strings spun together to form one continuous filament. Several of these are twisted together to form a strand of yarn. BCF fiber is a continuous filament manufactured as one long string. These are twisted and heatset together to form a strand of yarn. Both of these processes create yarns that produce carpet products with distinctly different looks and characteristics.

A Description of Common Carpet Fibers


The most frequently used carpet fiber, highly desirable due to its exceptional durability, versatility, and reasonable pricing. It can be dyed in an endless variety of colors and made into numerous styles and textures. Nylon is commonly used in residential and commercial applications.


Used in residential and a few commercial applications, polyester has good color clarity, colorfastness, and resistance to water-soluble stains. All of Mohawk’s staple polyester yarn comes from our state-of-the-art plastic bottle recycling facility. This “food-grade” PET Polyester fiber might be considered to be better quality than “carpet-grade” polyester fiber.


Also known as Olefin, this fiber resists fading, generates low levels of static electricity, is favorably priced, and can be engineered in outdoor applications. Due to its manufacturing process, polypropylene inherently resists stains. When used in specific carpet constructions, this yarn will perform as well as most resilient fibers.


The most expensive of the fibers listed here, it is a natural fiber with moderate soil and stain resistance. Durable, luxurious “hand”, reduced visible soil due to fine, light-scattering characteristics.

Fiber Performance in Carpet

Nylon (filament) Nylon (staple) Olefin (filament) Polyester (staple) Wool (staple)
Fiber Strength Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Good
Appearance Retention Excellent Excellent Fair Fair Excellent
Stain Resistant* Very Good Very Good Excellent Very Good Very Good
Soil Resistant** Very Good Very Good Fair Good Very Good
Cleaning Very Good Very Good Very Good Good Very Good
Available Colors Excellent Excellent Fair Very Good Fair
Pilling & Fuzzing Excellent Fair Very Good Fair Fair
Resistance to Household Cleaners Very Good Very Good Excellent Very Good Good

* assuming nylon is treated with a stain resistant chemical.
** assuming treatment with a soil resistant chemical.

Types and Characteristics

Fiber Type Definition Characteristics
Nylon Fiber-forming substance of any long-chain, synthetic polyamide having recurring amide groups as an integral part of the polymer chain.First used in 1959 in carpet. Offered as BCF or staple. Used in residential and commercial applications. Produced as a solution-dyed fiber or white yarn to-be-dyed. Accounts for 65% of all face fibers in carpet. Durable, resilient Abrasion-resistant. Versatile in coloration possibilities Favorably priced. Must be treated to be stain and soil resistant.
Polyester Made from terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol. Offered primarily as a staple product, although some BCF in being produced. Used in residential and commercial applications. 100% of Mohawk’s Staple Polyester is PET Polyester, manufactured from recycled plastic bottles. Color clarity Colorfastness Resistant to water-soluble stains. Noted for luxurious “hand”.
Polypropylene  (Olefin) Fiber-forming substance of any long-chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85%, by weight, of ethylene, propylene, or other olefin units. Offered primarily as BCF with some staple product available. Primarily sold as solution-dyed or pre-dyed fiber. Can be engineered for outdoor applications. Resists fading. Inherently stain resistant. Limited color selection. Generates low levels of static electricity. Chemical, moisture, and stain resistant. Favorably priced.
Wool Natural fiber. Offered as staple yarn. Luxurious “hand” Durable Inherent resilient property Scaly character of fiber scatters light and reduces visible soil. Largely self-extinguishing when burned. Will char rather than melt and drip