Closeup on the end of a roll of polyester carpet on a floor

Replacing or setting up new carpeting can be a stressful and overwhelming process for any homeowner.

Perhaps pets, children, or simply years of use have left the old tapestry looking worn and stained, or you’re looking to sell your home. In this case, it’s only natural to wonder whether the highly sought-after polyester carpet would be the right choice for your space.

This article will first take you through how polyester carpeting is made, and how this flooring’s production may affect the environment. Then, you’ll learn about the material’s pros, cons, and return on investment (ROI) potential.

Therefore, keep reading if you’re on the fence about whether polyester carpeting is the best choice for you.

How Sustainable is Polyester Carpet?

Overall, polyester carpet isn’t the most sustainable option on the market, but it can become more long-lasting with proper care. You can decide whether it’s suitable for your home by considering the materials used, durability, affordability, environmental impact, and potential allergens.

How Polyester Carpet Is Made

To better understand the sustainability of polyester carpet, we’ll take you through what the manufacturing process for this material entails. 

  • First, the yarns are woven into the primary backing – a tufting machine uses rollers and thousands of needles to pull the yarn through the backing, similar to how a sewing machine works.
  • Each stitch is grabbed by a hook to make a loop at predetermined heights – the higher the loop, the shaggier the pile. Some styles will have the loop cut for a fluffier carpet.
  • The yarn used may be dyed before or after the tufting step – dying methods may include boiling the material in a mixture of dye, chemical, and water, silkscreening where designs are printed on the carpet, or embossed rollers printing designs on the carpet.
  • For dying or printing, the carpet will be steamed to set in the colors, remove any excess dye, and then dried – the result is then bonded with backing material, using a latex adhesive to make a thick layered product for sale and installation.
  • The carpet is run through a special oven to heat the glue and ensure a strong bond.
  • The final product will be steamed, brushed, or vacuumed to remove any uneven tufts for a uniform surface, then sent to a warehouse or distributor for consumer purchase.

How Polyester Carpets Affect the Environment

The production of polyester carpeting can have a wide range of adverse effects on the environment. The product is produced through an intensive carbon chemical process that relies on fossil fuel extraction. 

The material is not biodegradable, meaning it will take up tremendous space as material that sits in landfills. 

Since most carpets cannot be recycled after being produced, they’ll end up in landfills for years. Polyester material cannot break down or decompose quickly, often taking 20-200 years to decompose.

Nylon carpets tend to be easier to recycle, reprocess, and reuse, thus keeping this style out of landfills.  

Polyester adds to microplastic pollution. This type of pollution is harmful to marine life, an essential part of the earth’s ecosystem. 

Research shows that microplastics spread easily due to their small particle size, resulting in them being quickly eaten by marine life and toxic effects on the creatures.

Closeup of a worker on a beach holding microplastics in their hands

These effects may include growth and development inhibitions, changes in feeding and behaviors, and negative impacts on reproduction and immunity due to internal toxicity.

New polyester carpeting can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your indoor air aggravating allergies or asthma (more on this in the following section). 

Allergens and Health

Synthetic materials used in polyester carpets can emit odors (VOCs) that bother babies, children, or those with allergies or asthma. Over time, these may dissipate, but new carpeting may have a more pungent odor, thus affecting the indoor air quality. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality is two to five times worse than outdoors for various factors, including VOCs.

Thankfully, you can reduce the amount of VOCs in your home by using exhaust fans, opening windows, and circulating air through purifiers and heating system filters. You can also use natural cleaners and add indoor plants to freshen your air. 

Houseplants such as spider plants, aloe vera, Chinese evergreens can help rid a home of formaldehyde and benzene by absorbing VOCs and other toxins. 

Greenhouse gases resulting from producing items such as carpets pollute the environment, affecting allergies and asthma. In addition, the manufacturing facility will produce large amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. 

Greenhouse gases can also contribute to climate change by trapping heat in the atmosphere that changes weather patterns. Trapped heat can result in extreme weather conditions such as wildfires and droughts, affecting food supplies.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Some may wonder if their polyester carpet will offer them a good ROI. However, a new rug can be the best and most cost-effective way to upgrade a space quickly.

Additionally, when homeowners look to sell their property, they often upgrade or improve upon the overall aesthetic and presentation. Usually, this means that flooring will get a makeover or overhaul to help boost the overall value to potential buyers.

Carpet ROI

In general, carpet installation is easier, faster, and less expensive than any other flooring.

Carpets can be chosen and bought right off the rack in a warehouse or carpet store, offering various styles, textures, and pile lengths, often at $2.50/sq foot. The padding that goes under the carpeting also comes in different thicknesses. 

Samples of polyester carpet in various colors

The installation process is typically done within a few hours, and you can use your carpet right away. Adding in new carpeting can offer a 50-80% return on your investment when it comes to adding value to your home, especially if you can get a good deal or discount. 

Carpet material is forgiving on the floors, meaning it doesn’t need perfectly smooth subflooring or precise measuring since it can be cut and trimmed.

Nice, plush carpeting looks and feels appealing to home buyers or guests to your home. A clean, modern design makes the home environment a more welcoming one. 

Families with children often prefer carpeting since it offers more cushion for falls, better stain resistance, and a soft landing spot for whatever children may drop.

Let’s briefly look at some other flooring materials and why they may NOT be the best ROI for your home.

Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors can come with a hefty cost of tens of thousands of dollars to install, even though they are incredibly durable. This price may not be feasible for your budget at an average of $6-$12/sq foot. 

A closeup of hardwood flooring in a room leading to a floor-to-ceiling window

They are also very time-consuming to install, over ten days to two weeks, and the wood itself may expand or crack depending on humidity levels. The wood needs time to acclimate to the home environment before installing it to prevent this. 

Not to mention that a chemical seal is added to protect the top layer resulting in an odor that will need to be aired out over several days.

Marble, Stone, or Tile Flooring

Marble, stone, and tile will not expand and crack like hardwood flooring and can last longer. The floors will be cool to touch and walk upon, and some homeowners like that, while others don’t. 

Most costs related to tile, marble, and stone are related to the labor and tools it takes to install it, especially if they’re irregularly shaped or placed in a unique pattern. These materials are also the most expensive upfront, costing anywhere from $20-$50/sq foot.

The Pros of Polyester Carpets

Polyester carpets are a popular choice for various reasons. Let’s explore some of their advantages that have quickly turned them into one of the most coveted carpeting alternatives among homeowners.

Materials

Polyester carpets are generally made of synthetic materials consisting of non-renewable petroleum. 

Another polyester variation is called PET and is composed of Polyethylene Terephthalate, made from recycled plastic containers. The plastic is “food grade,” meaning it is higher quality than traditional polyester material. 

The use of this polyester is ideal in textiles and home decor as well.

Polyester can be easily dyed, which offers a variety of colors, shades, and tones, making it more resistant to fading.

Synthetic fibers are not as friendly to the environment as natural fibers, such as wool, seagrass, or jute. However, they are a better option than nylon carpets. Nylon carpets require nearly double the energy to be produced compared to polyester.

Polyester feels soft on the feet, making it an excellent option for your home, especially if you have small children or pets constantly moving around. It also generates less static electricity than other carpet materials.

Stain and Water-Resistance

Polyester carpets are made out of a closed-cell material, making the fibers so they will not easily absorb stains and debris. This quality makes the fabric more stain-resistant and a better choice for use in high-traffic areas in this particular regard.  

You can still get stubborn stains with some spills—in which case, Resolve Multi-Fabric Cleaner from Amazon could be used for spot cleaning. This spray bottle cleaner can be used on most household fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and cotton.

If water spills on polyester carpet, it will dry faster than if it were to be absorbed by other materials. This feature makes polyester carpeting a good choice for areas with higher levels of humidity or where spills might happen, such as the kitchen or bathroom. 

If you use a professional or steam cleaner, polyester carpeting will dry fast, resulting in less interruption to your daily routine and movement patterns.

A professional cleaner uses a shop vac to clean a polyester carpet

Affordability and Availability

Overall, polyester is cheaper than nylon since it needs fewer raw materials for production. The installation of a polyester carpet is budget-friendly, offering good value for the money spent. 

This quality makes it an excellent option for budget-driven renovations. 

Polyester is widely-available in a variety of prices, qualities, and styles. In addition, it is generally cheaper and easier to install than its counterparts, which explains its exponential growth in popularity.

The Cons of Polyester Carpets

Polyester may have some undesirable characteristics for homeowners. Let’s take a look at what these might be in more detail.

Durability

Polyester is not as durable as carpet made out of nylon, resulting in a shorter lifespan. However, carpet manufacturers are working on making it more durable.

Moreover, as mentioned above, if you take proper care of the carpet, its longevity will leave you satisfied.

Polyester carpeting may wear and tear within a life span of five to fifteen years in highly used areas and show signs of matting. In addition, polyester carpeting doesn’t spring back as quickly from general matting or when pressed down underneath furniture. 

Even though it has good stain resistance, it does not react well with oil-based stains, resulting in the need for a professional carpet cleaner. 

Recycling and Production

The manufacturing process of polyester carpeting can create a significant carbon footprint. While the industry has made some progress by using recycled materials to make PET carpets, the final product is still costly and difficult to recycle when removed from a home. 

Customers will want excellent quality and price when buying their carpets, setting a challenging task for the carpet industry to use different materials to get the results that customers are used to and desire. 

Tips To Clean Your Polyester Carpet 

Polyester carpeting is often easy to match with various colors and style choices. However, the only way to ensure its shade and design will last for years is to take proper care of it.

Here are some ways to clean your polyester carpet to optimize its longevity:

  • Remove any dirt or spills immediately when they happen, so they don’t have time to settle into the fibers and layers beneath.
  • Spot clean, using a blotting technique, and a clean, preferably white, paper towel or rag to absorb excess moisture. 
  • Add a small amount of detergent to the water and use a new, clean paper towel or rag to apply the mixture and blot again. Repeat this process, using clean rags, until the spot is gone.
  • Use water only to pick up any remaining soap residue on the carpet.
  • Vacuum at least once a week to keep dirt from staining the material, and even more often in high traffic areas.

Final Thoughts

Polyester carpeting can be a sustainable material if you take proper care of it.

However, there are advantages and disadvantages to using it in your home. Ultimately, it is up to the homeowner to decide if this type of carpeting fits their needs and budget.

Sources

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