Depending on fiber, carpets are divided into two main categories – natural and synthetic fiber carpets.
Natural Fiber Carpets
Carpets made from living plants or animals are natural fiber carpets. Fibers produced from plants (cellulosic fibers) are mainly used for the backing material of the carpet. Examples of cellulosic carpets are cotton, jute, rayon, sisal, sea grass, and cordage. Those types of carpets absorb liquids easily and a natural cellulosic browning appears quite often.
Fibers produced from animals (protein carpets) include wool and silk. Wool fibers are flame resistant and quite strong, but they can be easily stained and dyed if a liquid is spilled out. Silk fiber is also very strong and non-flammable, but is very absorbent.
Synthetic Fiber Carpets
Synthetic carpets are more widespread than natural fiber carpets these days. Synthetic fibers are made from petroleum, coal or natural gas by-products. Nylon, polypropylene (olefin), polyester, and acrylic are the most popular types of synthetic fiber carpets.
Nylon is one of the most commonly used carpet materials. It is easy to clean, its properties make it soil and stain resistant, easy to dye, moth and mildew proof. The major disadvantage of having a nylon fiber carpet is it´s prone to getting discolored by sunlight or stained by food and other substances that contain dyes.
Olefin carpets are extremely easy to maintain because they are truly resistant to stains, while being mildew and moth proof. The disadvantage to having an Olefin-based carpet is that it is easily matted and crushed by foot traffic.
Polyester carpets are similar to their nylon siblings, but sport better soil and stain resistance thanks to their lower absorbency of water-based substances. Polyester also boasts better color, moth and mildew resistance in addition to being non-allergenic and easy to recycle. Polyester, however, is susceptible to damage by oil based liquids.