Most of the carpets in the market feature synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, and olefin/polypropylene. However, wool is the most common natural fiber used to make carpets. Wool for carpets comes mostly from sheep’s fur. New Zealand’s Merino breed is thought to have the best fur quality. However, other breeds are also like Shetland wool from Scottish Highlands and Merino sheep in Vermont, Saxony, South Africa, and Tasmania Island.
Apart from sheep wool, wool carpets can also be weaved from other animal hair like alpacas, llamas, goats, camels, and angora rabbits. Although wool can also be synthetic, in this article am talking about natural wool and its pros and cons.
Pros of Wool Carpets
Wool is one of the most durable carpet fibers on the market. It can take high-traffic footsteps and still look good. This is because wool is naturally resilient and will bounce back after compression. Synthetic carpet fibers are heat treated to give them better resiliency. However, the coiled strands of wool give it natural resiliency.
This means wool carpet fibers retain their natural appearance and still look good in the years to come. The resiliency of wool is why wool carpets can last for many years, if not decades, when well maintained.
Wool is naturally resistant to soiling. Because it’s a natural fiber, wool fibers have microscopic scales. These scales prevent dirt and other debris from attaching to the carpet fibers. Wool is also opaque, which helps hide dirt and debris since it does not reflect light like synthetic materials. However, this does not mean dirt and debris will disappear magically, and you’ll need to maintain and take care of wool carpets to keep them in good condition.
When I talk about wool being flame resistant, it does not mean wool will not burn. This means wool when exposed to fire, chars (blackens) rather than burning down and going up in flames.
If a lit cigarette or sparks from a fireplace jump and land on a wool carpet, it will not cause a fire. This is a good characteristic, especially if you install a carpet near a fireplace. This differs from synthetic carpet fibers, which will melt and might go up in flames when in contact with fire.
Wool is a greener carpet fiber to produce compared to synthetic carpet fibers. First, it comes from animals, mostly sheep, which makes it environmentally friendly. Second, wool carpets are also recyclable and biodegradable, which reduces waste pileup in our junk yards. Wool carpets readily decompose to produce nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous.
Allergens can be found in soft furnishings, bedding, pillows, carpets, and almost all over your home. Most carpets, like polyester, are not hypoallergenic. However, wool is naturally hypoallergenic and will absorb most allergens, like dust and pollen. Wool carpets act as air purifiers trapping allergens in the carpet pile.
Wool will absorb other pollutants like nitrogen, sulfur, and formaldehyde. Not only do they absorb these pollutants, but wool carpets also prevent them from being emitted into your home’s atmosphere.
Cons of Wool Carpets
Wool is one of the most expensive carpet fibers out there. This is even pricier than nylon, one of the most expensive synthetic carpet fibers. The high cost of wool is from processing and producing it. However, wool carpets are pricier, but if cared for and well maintained, they are durable. This will even out the cost compared to regularly replacing carpets.
Wool is a highly absorbent material. If the air in your home is humid, wool will absorb the excess moisture. If the air gets dryer, wool will release the moisture back into the air. A wool carpet is good if you’re looking for a natural humidifier come dehumidifier.
However, this can be a disadvantage and ruin your carpet over time. If a wool carpet is subject to spills and regular water exposure, this can result in mold formation over time. This can further lead to discoloration and undesirable smells.
Susceptible to Staining
Compared to synthetic carpet fibers, wool is less stain-resistant. Because wool is highly absorbent, it can take in stains which can be hard to remove once the fibers absorb it. To avoid staining, cleaning up a mess as quickly as possible is best. Do not leave liquids to cool or dry, making them harder to remove.
Moths and other Insects
Moths, carpet beetles, and insects feed on the keratin in wool fibers. Given a chance, moths and insects can eat through your carpet. Food traces, moisture, and hot temperatures will make them thrive.
There are several ways you can get rid of moths and other insects from destroying your carpet., However, the most effective method is permanently pre-treating your wool carpet with Permethrin. Though this is not a natural method, it removes the need for regular vacuuming and cleaning. If you’re not up for this, check out these natural and chemical-free ways of removing moths and insects on your carpets.
Is Wool Carpeting Right for Your Home?
Wool is one of the best carpet fibers available. It is a luxurious product with distinct qualities that make it different from other carpet fibers. However, it is expensive and needs more care than synthetic carpet fiber. I hope these pros and cons will help you make an informed decision when choosing between wool and other carpet fibers.