If you’re looking for new carpet, you might have noticed that carpet comes in different qualities and grades. The most basic difference you’ll find between carpets is commercial and residential carpeting, but the grades matter as well. Each manufacturer has its own grade standard, but usually the grades are actually broken down into the types of product that’s used to make the carpet itself. When comparing grades, you can safely ignore the ‘letter’ or ‘number’ grade and look at the material:


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Expensive, comfortable, and durable, wool is the only natural product that you’re likely to find with carpet. Wool is almost always the highest carpet grade. It will last a long time and it will feel fantastic, but because of its price it’s often relegated to bedrooms and other low traffic areas.



Acrylic is a step down from wool and wool blends. It’s a more expensive option than some lower grade carpeting and can be just as comfortable as wool. Acrylic often shows up in plush carpeting and it can be advantageous in dry areas because it doesn’t conduct static.



A medium-grade material, polyester is a synthetic that’s very durable and extremely cheap. Polyester is often used for commercial applications. It can be either soft or durable depending on the pile and the cut and is generally a very versatile type of carpet.



Olefin is often used for very brightly-colored and modern carpets. It’s also frequently used outdoors because it is water-resistant. Olefin is a rougher carpet and can be used for commercial applications, carpeted decks, and other areas in which comfort is not important. It’s usually considered one of the lower grade carpets.



Finally, nylon and nylon blends are among the most common types of carpet. Nylon is used for both residential and commercial carpeting and it’s considered to be fairly comfortable. But this does come at a cost: nylon is not as durable as the other options, which makes it a lower grade. Its color will often fade and it may become dull and worn looking more quickly than the other above options. Nylon can be improved by blending it with acrylic fibers or may become more durable by blending it with olefin.


The type of carpet you want is actually mostly dependent on your application. For outdoor use, olefin is best. For bedroom use, wool or acrylic will usually be more comfortable. As a general, all purpose carpet installation, either nylon or polyester is usually a versatile option.


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Photo Credit: Vesna Cvorovic