When it comes to choosing carpet, one primary consideration is the type of fiber used in its construction. The characteristics of the carpet fiber can determine the carpet’s appearance and feel underfoot, as well as its ability to hold up over time. While many types of fiber can be used in carpet, one of the most common pile fibers is nylon. Distinguished by its durability and resilience, nylon asserts a well-regarded reputation in the contract carpet industry. Nylon is an adaptable fiber with a host of characteristics that allow it to act as an ideal choice for many applications. “Nylon is the most commonly used fiber in the commercial space today,” says Mark Oliver of Mohawk Group. “It is an incredibly durable fiber that can withstand severe traffic for long periods of time.” The information below explores key characteristics of nylon carpet fiber, including durability, resilience, stain resistance, and versatility, while also highlighting the two types of nylon that are used in commercial carpet today.
Durability and Resilience
Sought after for its strength, nylon is the hardest synthetic carpet fiber and it stands up well to abrasion and heavy wear and tear. Since it is able to resist high foot traffic with ease, carpets constructed with nylon fiber are able to stand strong for years to come. Embedded with the ability to bounce back easily after being bent, nylon’s resilience is supported by the strength of its yarns and their ability to hold a twist. Carpets constructed with nylon have less of a propensity to show indentations or markings. Nylon’s highly resilient fibers have tried-and-true texture retention, which allows it to maintain its original look for longer.
Stain Resistance and Versatility
As an absorbent fiber, nylon possesses a penchant for spills to saturate its surface when left untreated. However, advances in stain-resistant technologies have allowed the fiber to be able to aptly avoid spills. “Nylon’s vulnerability is staining, and all flooring manufacturers address this through chemical topical treatments,” says Oliver. “These can provide temporary stain protection through changing the polarity of the fiber to match that of common stains. Thus, permanently preventing stains from attaching.”
Along with the advantages offered by its durability, resilience, and resistance to stains, nylon is a very versatile carpet fiber. “The flexibility with nylon allows us to utilize different lusters, textures, and yarn sizes, along with building sustainably recyclable styles that fit today’s specifications,” says Sherry Dreger of Milliken. Its unique characteristics collectively allow it to adhere to a variety of carpet styles and construction methods. Included among these are frieze, textured, shag, loop, and cut loop constructions, which work in tandem to make nylon suitable for almost any application.
Nylon 6 and Nylon 6,6
Type 6 and type 6,6 refer to the two types of nylon that can be used in carpeting. Their names are derived from the double strands of carbon atoms that they comprise, and the defining differences between nylon 6 and nylon 6,6 comes down to disparities in their molecular structures. Comparisons between the two are often contested in the design industry. “There is a longstanding debate on the differences of nylon 6 versus 6,6, but years of testing have shown there is no difference in the durability of the different fiber types,” says Oliver. “Nylon 6, however, can be easily recycled whereas nylon 6,6 cannot be and generally must be down-cycled.” Disparities between the two types can be contested but are of little consequence overall when considering carpet performance. When deciding between the two types, it should be noted that there are benefits to both. “It really comes down to how the design team needs to utilize color and texture in order to build the best performing and best looking product,” says Dreger. “We utilize both type 6 and 6,6 fibers to build superior performance and beautiful products.”
Nylon is an adaptable fiber with a host of characteristics that allow it to act as an ideal choice for many applications. “Fiber alone won’t make or break the performance of your commercial carpet, but it will play a large role in its success or failure,” says Oliver. When searching for a stead-fast and sturdy solution underfoot, an understanding of nylon carpet fiber’s key characteristics reveals the advantages of its use across actively used interiors.