The Synthetic or Wool Carpeting Debate

Really, any carpet you will install in your home is an investment. And so it’s inevitable that the question of whether to install wool or synthetic carpeting will come up. Both types of carpet can work well in a home, but it really depends on what goes on in your home.

Synthetic Carpeting

Those looking for a carpet that can handle stains from kids and pets are likely to benefit most from synthetic. This is because synthetic carpet is available in a wide range of stain-resistant levels. The most stain-resistant synthetic carpet is treated with Teflon as well as other highly-protective solutions. Of course, no carpet is immune to staining from spills, but stains on synthetic carpeting can be cleaned even if the stain was left to sit over a long period of time. This is due to the inability of stains to permeate synthetic fibre.

Wool Carpeting

Where durability and long life is desired, wool carpeting is difficult to beat. Those households without pets or children will see their wool carpeting lasting a lifetime. Its natural elasticity is provided by its three-dimensional, crimped and spiralling fibres. Wool carpeting’s elasticity allows it to stretch up to 30% beyond its original length and then bounce back, much like a spring would. This makes it great for high-traffic areas. However, as far as stains are concerned, liquids can penetrate wool quickly, and so are best removed before they’ve had a chance to set.

Wool Carpeting Cleaning Myths

Wool has sometimes been the less popular carpet to purchase due to a number of myths that it is notoriously difficult to clean. Some see wool carpeting behaves in the same way that wool clothing does, which is likely the most common misconception.

Wool isn’t like clothing. It won’t shrink if it is wet-cleaned. However, if wet cleaning wool carpeting, cold water is recommended. As well, it’s important not to saturate wool carpeting, as it can absorb a lot of moisture. Another myth is that having wool carpeting doesn’t allow for the use of chemicals during wet cleaning. This is untrue, as chemicals can be used to wet clean wool carpet. However, it’s important to ensure that any chemicals used are of a neutral ph.

Yet another wet cleaning myth is that doing so will change the colour of wool carpeting to brown. The wool fibres themselves won’t change colour. The backing of the carpet is likely to discolour, however.

The drying of wool carpeting is also misunderstood. Some are of the opinion that wool carpeting should be allowed to air dry at a natural pace. However, the truth is that the best drying of wool carpet occurs rapidly, so having a fan or other air mover in a position that facilitates drying is best.


There is a fact about wool carpeting that’s true, and it has to do with the use of bleach. Bleach should never be applied to wool carpeting, as it will dissolve the fibres if applied at certain concentrations, or if left too long.

Really, the question of synthetic or fibre is up to the homeowner. There may also be plenty of myths surrounding the price of wool and synthetic carpeting. For example, wool is considered to be the “Cadillac of carpet”, causing many to think that it is expensive. The truth is that wool carpeting can cost less than other kinds.

While this post may answer many questions about synthetic and wool carpeting, you may still be wondering about some things. This is why it is important to speak with someone who understands the different benefits of each carpet type.

How the Indoor Climate Affects Your Flooring

If you’ve ever installed or are thinking about having laminate, wood, cork or bamboo flooring, you’re likely familiar with ‘acclimation’. This term refers to a required pre-installation process which allows the above flooring types to adjust themselves to the indoor environment where they will be installed.

The Acclimation Process

Flooring is first placed in the location in a home where it will be installed and then left for up to 3 days at a set indoor temperature and humidity, typically between 18 and 23 degrees Centigrade, and between 35 and 55% humidity.

Of course, the level of humidity will fluctuate, based both on the season and the geographical location of the home. Those living in coastal regions will experience higher humidity levels than those in desert areas.

Laminate Floors

Laminate flooring is often considered to be little more than ‘plastic’ flooring. However, its core is made of wood, which can be affected by humidity levels. Therefore, laminate flooring must go through the acclimation process and be maintained just as bamboo or real wood flooring would be.

Bamboo Floors

Although bamboo is technically a grass, it has a fibrous construction that is affected by moisture. In fact, bamboo flooring is affected by humidity in virtually the same way that wood flooring is. Maintaining the dimensions and stability of bamboo flooring requires controlled humidity levels after installation as well as an acclimation process beforehand.

Cork Floors

Although far less vulnerable to the swelling and shrinking that fluctuating humidity levels can cause, cork is still a natural product, as it comes from cork oak tree bark. Therefore, it will be affected by humidity on some level. Most manufacturers of cork flooring recommend the acclimation process as well as continuous humidity control following installation.

Real and Engineered Wood Floors

Because actual wood is used in engineered wood floors, both types require acclimation. The fibrous material will acclimate itself to the humidity of the environment it’s in. Should humidity levels begin to decrease, both real and engineered wood floors will release any accumulated moisture. If moisture levels within the flooring drop below the saturation point of 28% but indoor humidity is high, this will cause swelling.

However, once the flooring reaches its saturation point again, it becomes stable and will remain so until moisture content reaches twice the saturation point. It is because of this that manufacturers recommend that rooms with wood flooring have a humidity level of between 35 and 55%.

How to Control Indoor Humidity

In areas where humidity is low, the successful maintenance of humidity levels is done with humidifiers. This allows flooring to be acclimated in the recommended range. This will prevent the shrinkage and separation of the flooring.

In locations where humidity is high, dehumidifiers as well as air conditioners are used so that swelling and buckling of the flooring can be prevented.

Although it may seem like a lot of work to first acclimate and then install your chosen flooring, it must be remembered that flooring is an investment. As such, ensuring it’s done right from the beginning will mean that you have a floor which lasts for many years. Another thing to consider is the warranty coverage of your flooring. In order to ensure coverage, all recommendations of the flooring manufacturer must be followed, and to the letter.

Really, the acclimation of flooring is less a pre-installation process than it is an ongoing one. The best way to maintain your flooring’s warranty, as well as its integrity, is to control and maintain the humidity of the indoor environment of your home.

Spring Cleaning and your Floors

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and homeowners are cleaning. After a cold winter, there’s much to be done around your home, including cleaning your floors and carpets. But this doesn’t mean that spring cleaning your home has to be a chore. It can actually be a satisfying process.

Cleaning Products

Of course, in cleaning, several chemicals can be introduced into your home that can place both humans and pets in harm’s way. Fortunately, there are many ‘green’ products on the market which can help drastically reduce the amount of chemicals that enter your home.

There are many products you can make at home to clean your floors and carpets. However, the most important thing to remember with all of them is that one cleaner will not work for all types of flooring. When in doubt, always test cleaners in a small but hidden spot before cleaning.

Green Cleaning

For hardwood floors, tea can be used. Steep a handful of tea bags in warm water. Then, dip a soft rag in the solution and wring out and wipe down the floor. This will really help to make them shine.

Floors made of tile or ceramic can benefit from either steam cleaning or warm water. Stains and scuffs can be eliminated by combining baking soda and water in a paste, and then scrubbing.

Vinegar is another very powerful cleaner that can be used throughout your home as well as on some floor surfaces. Because vinegar is very acidic, lower amounts are best when unsure. It is also a good idea to keep track of how long vinegar is allowed to set before wiping, blotting or vacuuming away.

Frequency of Maintenance

Some floors require frequent cleaning in order to maintain their finish. One example of this is a floor made of ceramic. These floors require daily maintenance in order to avoid the build up of grime, mildew and mould. Plain water is best for this purpose. After washing, dry thoroughly with a clean cloth or towel. Discoloured or stained grout can be addressed with a solution of mild detergent and water at a ratio of 50ml to 1 gallon respectively.

Carpets are best maintained with a good-quality vacuum cleaner. It’s also crucial to ensure any filters are clean to ensure optimal suction. Any spot cleaning can be done by attempting to remove any stains, first with water, and then with harsher solutions. Blotting is usually better than rubbing, which can cause staining to migrate farther down the carpet fibre where it cannot be reached.

Wood floors can be refreshed with vacuuming or sweeping, but mopping is best for stains or spillage. Steam cleaning can remove all manner of dirt and stains as well. When mopping, care should be taken not to moisten the mop too much, as this can cause water to leak between planks and damage the adhesive. Mix mild detergent in a small amount of water, finishing with plain water to ensure that no residue is left behind.

Vinyl flooring can be very low maintenance, as all that is usually required is to sweep or vacuum on a regular basis. Vinyl floors can be occasionally mopped with water alone, or with a water-mild detergent mixture for stubborn spills or stains. For a polished finish, vinyl flooring can be coated with an acrylic polish, which can be purchased at a home supply store.

Although floors are only one part of a multi-surface spring clean, they are an important part, especially if your flooring was recently installed. The better your floor is maintained at the start, the longer it will last.

Filament Processes in Carpet Manufacturing

All of the available carpeting on the market is made in one of two ways: via the bulked continuous filament (BCF) process or the staple process.

The Processes, Explained

The BCF process involves manufacturing carpet fibres in a single long string. Once the string has been produced, several fibres are twisted together and then heat-set, which creates a strand of yarn. The staple process produces carpet fibres in a series of short strings which are then spun together into a long strand of yarn.

Staple fibres are used to manufacture a number of higher end carpets. This is because a manufacturer can spin a yarn bundle of any size, which provides more flexibility in the styling of the carpet. For example, a pinpoint Saxony carpet requires spinning into yarn piles that are very small, where cabled or shag carpeting requires very large yarn bundles. Plush and velvety carpeting is also manufactured using the staple process.

A carpet made with the BCF process will look distinctly different and have different characteristics from one made with the staple process. The BCF process is close to becoming the industry standard for carpet manufacturing among many well-known companies.

The Staple Process and Shedding

Staple carpet will shed soon after it’s been installed. This is normal, and usually lasts no longer than a few weeks. This process does not affect the performance, nor does it affect the appearance of carpet made using the staple process.

Shedding occurs due to the cutting process during manufacturing, when tufts are cut for cut pile. Shorter fibres are sometimes cut completely from the rest of the carpet due to one end of the fibre may be being anchored in adhesive while the other end may not be. This will cause a moderate amount of fibres to be removed during vacuuming in the beginning, which will reduce in amount over time. The amount of shed fibres can be greatly minimised with frequent vacuuming.

Believe it or not, there is a difference between low and high-quality staple fibres. Lower quality carpeting made with the staple process will see filaments working loose and then accumulating on the surface of the carpet. High-quality carpeting made from staple fibres is made of longer fibres, and so will shed less frequently.

Carpet Types and How to Distinguish Them

Nylon carpeting is manufactured using both the BCF and staple process. Olefin fibres are produced using BVF only, where polyester fibres use only the staple process. Inherently staple are both wool and cotton.

The difference between a carpet made with BCF process is easy to distinguish; simply consult the label on the sample for either a description containing ‘BCF’ or one with CFN, which stands for ‘continuous filament nylon’. Should a sample label include neither description, it is likely to be made of a staple fibre.

Those looking at roll carpet as opposed to samples can tell a staple fibre from BCF by rubbing their thumb across the fibre. If some short pieces of fibre come loose, the carpet is likely made of staple fibre.

Purchasing carpeting requires understanding their various types, as well as how each of them clean and respond to matting and crushing. It is also a good idea to understand how each carpet types responds to sunlight and stains.

Professional flooring specialists can provide some insight about the properties of different carpeting so that the ultimate decision you make about the best carpeting for your home is as informed as possible. The purchase of new carpeting is a long-term investment, and the more you understand, the more you can save.