Carpet – Natural or Synthetic Which is Best for You?

There are so many types of carpets available, how do you know which is the best one for you? We will have a look at the composition options available and their pros and cons.


Wool is an entirely natural fibre grown year round by sheep, consuming a simple blend of air, sunshine and grass. Unlike most man-made fibres, when wool fibre is disposed of, it naturally decomposes back into the earth in a matter of years. Every year sheep produce a new fleece, making wool a completely renewable fibre source. Buying a woollen carpet also supports New Zealand farmers and the New Zealand wool industry.

Wool will exhibit some fading over time in areas consistently exposed to sunlight. It is strongly recommend that you use UV window protection along with curtains, blinds, shades and awnings to reduce the impact in highly exposed areas.

The unique scaly structure of wool fibre gives it a natural stain resistance. Provided you attend promptly to spills and stains, most common household spills should be able to be removed.

Wool has a unique ability to breathe, able to absorb and release up to a third of its weight in airborne moisture – controlling the humidity levels within a room and keeping the air temperature more constant. Wool carpet feels dry and warm to the touch in winter and dry and cool in summer.

Wool is harder to ignite and is slower to burn than most other common textile fibres. It also produces much lower levels of smoke and toxic gas if ignited. Wool is almost the last interior furnishing to catch alight when a house is on fire. Unlike synthetic carpets, wool doesn’t melt or stick on burning and can be self-extinguishing. It forms an insulating char when it burns which can be brushed or clipped off.

You may wish to avoid a wool carpet if your family suffers badly from allergies, as allergens and mould can thrive in it. Regardless of material, avoid shag — the shorter the strands, the fewer places the pollen can go. Also choose carpet with tightly woven strands for the same reason.


Carpet technology has come a long way recently.

The synthetic blends are constructed out of lab-developed fibres that repel allergens, in part because they are nonorganic and offer an inhospitable climate. For example, mould has nothing to eat and pollen dries out. Nylon is the most effective allergy-controlling carpet fibre.

Synthetic carpets don’t hold moisture but this also means they don’t have the ability to breathe or regulate the indoor air environment. They can become cool to touch in winter and hot under your feet in summer. They can feel damp if there is high humidity.

Most of the new synthetics have a man-made backing – an attractive anti-rot feature for homes where concrete subfloors may have moisture issues.

Solution Dyed Nylon Carpets

Solution-dyed nylon carpets have the colour locked into the fibre, protecting it from fading. You should see no significant colour change with a solution-dyed nylon carpet as a result of exposure to UV light or atmospheric contaminants.

Solution dyed nylon carpets have superior anti–stain characteristics, are extremely fade resistant and the piles do not shed, which mean most manufacturers back them with extensive warranties. Anti – static features are common in most solution dyed carpets, and yarn memory ensures cut pile fibres hold their twist and appearance for longer.

PET Polyester Carpets

These carpets use recycled plastics – plastic bottles. The fibre tends to have deeper and richer colour holding its appearance for longer. It is also has a luxurious handle and is resistant to water soluble stains. The yarn is great for asthma sufferers.

Polypropylene and polyester carpets also enjoy the same level of colourfastness as solution-dyed nylon carpet but some non-solution dyed synthetic carpets may exhibit fading over time.

Triexta Carpet

Triexta carpet is largely made up of yarn derived from corn sugar. Using the latest technology it has superior colourfastness, stain resistance and pile recovery or ‘bounce back’ every time you walk on it. The feel is very soft to touch and has similar appearance retention characteristics to nylon.

New Zealanders have historically been drawn to wool carpets but the array of other options is fast changing, with new synthetic products from around the world now available here.  There is no right or wrong option, as a good quality wool carpet and an equally graded synthetic one both provide great comfort underfoot.

The key issues to think about when selecting your next carpet, in terms of natural or synthetic are:

  • The amount of sunlight and traffic in the home.
  • Allergies in your family.
  • Environmental factors.
  • Look and feel.

Nicola Manning Design

Phone 09 523-0106, 0274405091