Choosing the Best Carpet for High Traffic Areas

By Samuel N •  Updated: 02/03/23 • 

When choosing a carpet, you want it to be comfortable to walk on, look good, and last long enough. However, with the different styles, materials, textures, and patterns, how do you know the best one for your needs?

High-traffic areas, whether at home or commercial premises, require a carpet that can withstand everyday traffic and wear and tear. Hallways, staircases, family rooms, dining rooms, entryways, and doorways are some of the areas that receive high traffic in our homes. Which carpet option is best for these areas?

This post will show you how to choose a carpet that will withstand high foot traffic. We’ll look at the different carpet fibers and piles to help you make an informed decision. Enjoy.

Types of Carpet Fiber

There are many types of fibers used to construct carpets. They can be grouped into natural and synthetic fibers. The most common fibers are nylon, polyester, wool, polypropylene/olefin, and acrylic. Most carpet fibers are synthetic because they are cheaper and can withstand some tough conditions.

Nylon Carpet Fiber

Nylon is the most popular carpet fiber around. It is a synthetic fiber and features both residential and commercial carpets. It is durable, has excellent abrasion resistance, and, when solution-dyed, can resist most types of stains and color fading. Nylon fiber makes for a very good carpet for high-traffic areas due to its resiliency. When nylon fibers are subjected to high foot traffic and heavy weight, they bounce back and resist matting down or being crushed.

Besides its resiliency, nylon carpet fibers have excellent resistance to abrasion and wear. Because nylon fibers do not hold up to stains, it is pretreated to improve stain resistance and make it colorfast. Look for a nylon carpet that is solution dyed to help enhance its stain resistance and color fading resistance. See the pros and cons of nylon carpet fiber.

Wool Carpet Fiber

If you’re looking for a natural fiber carpet, wool is the best. Wool is soft and luxurious, and if you’re looking for a green, renewable, and environmentally-friendly carpet fiber, this is it. The biggest disadvantage of wool carpet fiber is the cost. It is one of the most expensive carpet fibers and requires proper care and maintenance.

Wool is naturally resilient and can handle high-traffic areas better without wearing out. Individual wool fibers have a spring shape that helps them bounce back and retain the texture of the carpet. Wool is also naturally resistant to soiling.

Although wool is excellent for high-traffic areas, it is susceptible to staining and prone to damage when installed in high-moisture areas. See the pros and cons of wool carpet fiber.

PET Polyester Carpet Fiber

PET polyester carpet fibers are known for their bold and vibrant colors. This carpet fiber is made from recycled plastics, such as water bottles, making it a ‘green’ synthetic fiber. PET polyester is stain-resistant, luxuriously soft, and cheap compared to other synthetic carpet fibers like nylon.

However, the fibers of a PET polyester carpet are not crush-resistant and resilient. When subjected to high traffic, PET polyester carpets can easily mat and wear down faster. Although PET polyester fibers are not great at resisting crushing, they can be used in carpet styles that improve their disadvantages. For example, a Berber carpet style made of PET polyester makes it suitable for high-traffic areas. See the pros and cons of polyester carpet fiber.

Olefin/Polypropylene Carpet Fiber

Polypropylene, also called Olefin, is a popular type of carpet used indoors and outdoors. Polypropylene is hydrophobic, which makes it great for use in moisture-ridden areas like basements and outdoors. The fibers are also solution-dyed, which makes them stain and fade-resistant.

Like polyester, polypropylene is not as durable or crush-resistant. High foot traffic and heavy objects can crush the fibers and cause matting. Therefore, Olefin is used in looped and low-pile carpets to make them more durable where crushing is not a concern. See the pros and cons of olefin/polypropylene carpet fiber.

Looped Pile vs. Cut Pile

Loop Pile Carpets

Also known as uncut carpet piles, looped carpets have the fibers looped back into the carpet backing. Looped carpet piles are durable, easier to clean, and more resistant to staining. These qualities make looped carpets great for high-traffic areas. They are also cheaper because the fibers are left uncut, thus eliminating this process and saving money.

However, looped carpet fibers can get snagged and pulled by sharp objects, such as a beater vacuum cleaner and pet claws. If you have a pet that likes to pull on things, this might not be the carpet for you. Also, you should be careful when pulling objects over a looped carpet to avoid snagging and unraveling the carpet.

Cut Pile Carpets

Cut-pile carpets are the most popular in most homes. The fibers of cut pile carpets are sheared off at different heights. This makes cut pile carpets softer, more comfortable, and more luxurious than loop pile carpets. However, cut pile carpets are less resilient, but the height of the pile will have a significant effect on durability.

Cut pile carpet fibers are twisted to help hide footmarks, vacuum trails, and other carpet surface marks. The heavier the twist, the more resistance a carpet will offer against crushing and matting down. For high-traffic areas, low-pile cut carpet is the best option. Avoid high pile cut carpets such as the shag carpet because the long fibers will easily mat down when subjected to high traffic.

Carpet Pile Height

The carpet pile height refers to the length of the carpet fibers from the carpet backing. There are two main carpet pile heights – low and high/deep.

See our in-depth article on low vs. high pile carpets.

Which is the Best Carpet for High Traffic Areas?

That said, choosing the best carpet for high-traffic areas will depend on your preferences and budget.

Nylon and wool carpets both have good resiliency for use in high-traffic areas. However, wool is more expensive compared to nylon. Loop and low carpet piles, made from different materials, are the best styles if you’re looking for a carpet that will handle high-traffic areas and still serve you in the next few years or decades.

Samuel N

Samuel N is the founder of Improve Floor and has been in the flooring industry since 2005. Since then, his mission has been to make flooring easier for everyone. He helps countless people with flooring installation, finishing, maintenance, and repairs each year.