Carpet Fiber and Padding

Choosing the correct carpet fiber is invaluable to selecting and caring for your flooring investment.

Fiber is carpet's basic ingredient
The four basic fibers used in carpets today all have their individual strengths. Even more importantly, our ultimate choice will be determined by the characteristics that are most important to you.

Although some carpets are made of blends, most are made entirely of one of the following four fibers:


Nylon is the most widely used carpet fiber. Though it has many strengths, the greatest is its...strength. Nylon is incredibly durable and resilient. Its resistance to matting and wear make it an excellent choice for the heavy traffic of an active household. Nylon carpet fiber is soft yet strong, shows color brilliantly, and cleans well. Though not inherently stain resistant, most nylons are treated with a stain-resist carpet treatment for protection against household spills and stains.

Polypropylene (also called Olefin)

The use of polypropylene in carpet has grown dramatically over the past ten years due to the popularity of Berber style loop carpets. Polypropylene is extremely resistant to stains, fading, and moisture. Polypropylene, a value-oriented fiber, is also notably colorfast because it is solution dyed, which means the color is added during production and not dyed later. The color is such an inherent part of the fiber that you can even clean polypropylene with bleach.


The appreciation for polyester's versatility as a carpet fiber continues to grow. Polyester offers exceptional softness, making it ideal for thick, cut pile styles. Polyester is also naturally and permanently stain resistant and fade resistant. It has excellent color clarity, color retention, strength, and abrasion resistance. Carpets made from this fiber are easily cleaned and they resist water soluble stains.


The preeminent natural fiber, wool yields a soft, warm, comfortable feel. Although wool does not possess natural resistance to moisture or abrasion, it ages well and is easy to clean. Because it is the most expensive carpet fiber, wool is generally used only in luxury carpets and area rugs.


Cushion or padding is a critical flooring component. It's the foundation for your carpet, responsible for enhancing both comfort and durability.

Padding is constructed of several different materials, including sponge rubber, foam rubber, urethane foam, bonded urethane and felted combinations of hair and jute. Learn more about types of carpet pads from your 50 Floor Carpet Expert.

Most manufacturers' warranties require that you select padding with appropriate thickness and density to handle the traffic on the carpet. In a bedroom, a thick, soft cushion works well, but in a family room with lots of coming and going, a thin cushion is better.

The right padding will:
Make carpet feel better by absorbing the constant pressure of foot traffic
Keep your room quieter and warmer through sound-absorption and thermal insulation
Keep the carpet from matting down and looking worn: no more ugly carpet
Keep your carpet cleaner by providing air space allowing the carpet to "breathe".

The wrong padding can:
Cause wrinkling and buckling
Trigger the carpet to separate from the backing or pull apart at the seams
Break down the carpet
Invalidate the warranty