Carpet is a type of floor covering that has been popular in the Eastern world for thousands of years. It has only been popular as a flooring in the Western world since around the early eighteenth century. Europeans have had carpets for hundreds and hundreds of years, but they did not use the materials as flooring. They were used more like tablecloths or curtains. These carpets were much lighter than modern carpets. However, after making contact with cultures of the Near East, carpeting became a popular floor covering option.
In its most rudimentary form, carpet is simply a pile material affixed to a backing. This pile can be natural or synthetic. It can be felted, woven, or cut. The backing can be rubber, polymer, cloth, or any number of materials. The definition of a carpet beyond this point becomes a point of contention.
The floor covering can be made from a variety of fibres and materials.
This material is the most common carpet construction material. Two different types of nylon are typically used. It is desirable as a construction material for several reasons. One reason nylon is so useful is because it can be dyed with a topical treatment or it can be dyed while the nylon is still in liquid form. It is easy to print on and does not wear out very easily. One of the drawbacks of nylon carpets is that it stains very easily. Another of the drawbacks of the material is that it is derived from oil. Therefore, the price of nylon fluctuates with the price of oil.
Polypropylene is a synthetic polymer. It is very popular because it is highly resilient to wear and tear. Also, it is very inexpensive to create. One of the drawbacks of the material is that it is very difficult to dye. This can also be seen as a benefit because its resistance to being dyed also means it is very resistant to being stained. Polypropylene is very commonly used in commercial, high traffic areas such as carpet for hotels. Due to its inexpensive nature and highly resilient construction, it is very good for commercial use.
In combination with nylon, polypropylene synthetic fibres comprise about ninety percent of the commercial carpeting market. Some of the other materials are more expensive or more ornate, which makes them more fragile or more expensive.
Wool is a very popular material for carpets. It is not as popular as synthetics because it is not as readily available, but it does create a higher quality flooring. It can easily be dyed, which is a bonus. Modern carpets are typically made by blending wool with synthetic fibres. Typically, the blend is eighty percent wool and twenty percent of one of the synthetic fibres such as nylon. Blending with the synthetic fibres makes the wool more resilient while also reducing the costs. Compared to nylon and polypropylene, wool is fairly expensive and hard to find. Blending the fibres makes it a more economical choice for flooring.