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Grappling with wool versus synthetic carpet?

1 April 2016

Carpet can change the look of a room dramatically. The range of styles, textures, fibres and colours allow this versatile flooring option to enhance any interior space. Whether your new home is channelling a modern rustic, homely, tailored or glamorous look, carpet offers a solution for every budget.

Carpet is one of the most popular flooring options in new homes. It creates a sense of warmth in the cooler months, reduces noise and feels luxurious under foot. With so many styles and textures hitting the market it’s important to seek professional advice before designing your home’s interior spaces.

Today, the biggest carpet dilemma facing new home buyers is choosing between a wool or synthetic carpet. Both fibres have strengths and weaknesses but when it comes to quality and performance, the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true.

Monique Richardson, marketing co-ordinator of Cavalier Bremworth & Norman Ellison Carpets – the national suppliers to Generation Homes – says the first step to finding a high quality carpet is to check for an independent grading by the Australian Carpet Classification Scheme (ACCS).

“A good quality carpet should be always be graded ‘extra heavy duty’ for residential homes, and if you’re carpeting a stairway ensure that it includes a ‘+ Stairs’ grade,” says Monique.

The grading should be located on the back of a carpet sample as ‘ACCS Residential Extra Heavy Duty + Stairs’ with a star rating, similar to that of a restaurant. The best star grading is ‘6 Stars’.

The ACCS grading scheme is accepted in New Zealand and ensures consumers can identify the highest quality carpets on the market.

Why wool? 

Wool used in Cavalier Bremworth and Norman Ellison carpets is a 100 percent sustainable, renewable and biodegradable fibre sourced from New Zealand sheep. Warm, comforting, soft and luxurious, wool carpet provides an unmatched sensory experience that can have positive benefits on your health and home.

  • Wool fibres naturally regulate humidity due to its ability to absorb and release moisture.  This also means wool carpets won’t conduct static electricity and always feel fresh and dry, as opposed to synthetic carpets which can feel wet to touch (due to fibre not being able to breathe).
  • It acts as another form of thermal insulation helping keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer. The thicker the carpet, the better the level of insulation provided. This makes wool a top choice for New Zealand’s climate.  
  • Wool carpet is a noise insulator, with some studies citing noise reduction of up to 55 percent.
  • It’s naturally non-allergenic making it a great option for those suffering from asthma. The fibres naturally absorb and filter airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs), unwanted toxins and irritating odours. 
  • Wool is one of the safest carpet fibres because it’s fire resistant. It’s slow to burn and hard to ignite.
  • It’s easy to clean due to being naturally water and stain resistant. The surface of wool has a very thin waxy, lipid coating chemically bonded to the surface. This causes water droplets to bead and roll off before being absorbed into the fabric.

Most companies will offer a 15 year abrasive wear warranty for wool carpets. This means a carpet cannot lose more than 10 percent of its surface fibre to abrasive wear within 15 years. Abrasive wear is the wearing away of carpet fibres due to external friction. Wool carpets by Cavalier Bremworth also come with a lifetime warranty against carpet defects and a five year insect resistance warranty.   

A lifetime insect resistance warranty is not available for wool as some areas of New Zealand can be affected by carpet beetles. This is why it’s so important to clean around your home’s skirting boards and vacuum your carpet regularly, says Monique. 

Why synthetic?  

Synthetic carpet, particularly solution-dyed nylon, is more popular in New Zealand due to its ability to resist fading and stains for a longer period of time – and it has good warranties to back these claims. However, Monique warns, it’s important to read all warranty terms carefully because no carpet is fully stain proof, even with a warranty.

In terms of durability, the type of synthetic fibre used (solution-dyed nylon versus polypropylene or polyester) will impact how it will perform. Generally the best performing synthetic fibre is solution-dyed nylon. 

Cavalier Bremworth’s Enduro solution-dyed nylon carpet range offers a six-point warranty including 20 year stain resistance (common food and beverage stains), 20 year fade resistance, 20 year abrasive wear warranty plus lifetime warranties for insect resistance, anti-static and manufacturing defects.

A fibre for your home and lifestyle

The final deciding factor in selecting a carpet fibre should come down to your home and lifestyle. If you have a north-facing home with large windows and doors, a solution-dyed nylon carpet may be best due to its strong fade resistant qualities. On the other hand, if you want a house that’s warmer in winter and cooler in summer, non-allergenic and reduces noise then a wool carpet is the best option.

Stain resistance is another common feature people look for, and both wool and synthetic carpets meet this criteria, says Monique.

“Choosing a carpet for your home and lifestyle is important, so ask yourself whether you love the natural, sustainable story behind wool – or will the extended warranties of a synthetic carpet give you greater piece of mind,” she says.

Home buyers should always take grading and price into consideration when selecting a carpet for a new home. Then it’s best to weigh up the positives and negatives of each fibre to ensure your carpet is the perfect option for your home and lifestyle – now and in the future.

Photos courtesy of Cavalier Bremworth & Norman Ellison Carpets.