If you think all carpet is the same, think again. And we’re not just talking about color, pattern, or pile height.
Wool carpet is a luxury alternative to synthetic fibers that offers unmatched durability and colorfastness. If you care about the environment, it’s one of the most eco-friendly carpeting materials available on the market. It could even make your home safer thanks to its natural fire resistance.
So why don’t all homes feature lush wool carpets? Well, to start, quality comes at a price. Also, natural fibers like wool are more susceptible to mold, mildew, shedding, and insect damage.
Do the benefits of wool carpeting outweigh the costs? Here’s everything you need to know:
What Are the Pros of Wool Carpet?
Wool carpet is incredibly durable and resilient. The natural elasticity of wool allows it to return to its original shape and density after being walked across or sitting under heavy furniture.
It’s no coincidence that wool is so popular in the fashion world. Few fibers can absorb and hold onto dyes the way natural wool can.
Whether your idea of a stylish carpet is bold and vibrant or muted and neutral, colorfastness is important to the long-term appearance. A wool carpet will maintain its original color for much longer than other popular fiber types.
Easy to Clean
When it comes to day-to-day cleaning, wool carpet is a piece of cake. Wool contains natural oil that prevents dirt from penetrating the fibers themselves.
Even if your carpet does get a bit dirty, it will look cleaner for longer than synthetic fibers would.
More Sustainable Than Synthetic Fibers
Many homeowners are hesitant to install wool carpeting because it comes from a living animal. But the ethically sourced wool carpet is significantly more sustainable than standard synthetic fibers.
Despite their soft textures, the vast majority of carpets are made from plastic. Manufacturing plastic requires the use of nonrenewable resources and results in significant pollution.
If that wasn’t bad enough, old synthetic carpeting is far more likely to go to a landfill than be reused or recycled in any meaningful way. Meanwhile, wool carpet is biodegradable (meaning it will naturally break down into the environment).
Natural Fire Resistance
Wool carpeting is naturally resistant to fire, making it an excellent choice for extra safety and peace of mind.
Because of the makeup of wool fibers, they are more likely to self-extinguish when exposed to flame than further ignite. In a best-case scenario, wool carpet could actually stop a spreading fire in its tracks.
Carpets are most often installed in rooms where comfort is a top priority. Wool carpet is a much more effective insulator than synthetic carpets. It can help keep your home warm with less energy consumption.
Wool carpeting can reduce allergens in your home (unless, of course, someone in your home is allergic to wool itself).
Wool fibers tend to trap dust and other particles from the air. This means the carpet holds onto potential allergy triggers until you safely vacuum them up.
What Are the Cons of Wool Carpet?
Pricier Than Synthetic Carpet
The most common reason people opt for synthetic over natural fibers is the price difference. On average, wool carpeting is twice as expensive as comparable synthetic carpeting.
Prone to Mildew
Wool is highly valued for its ability to absorb moisture. While this can help regulate the humidity within your home, it also means that keeping your carpet dry is incredibly important.
Avoid installing wool carpet in areas where it is likely to get wet — e.g. near a mudroom, bathroom, or kitchen.
Wool carpeting will soak up excess moisture and hold onto it. Consistently damp wool carpet will encourage the growth of mold and mildew.
More Likely to Stain
The same qualities that make wool so easy to dye also make it extremely prone to staining. Spills — especially those with an oily base — are very likely to stain if not immediately cleaned and treated.
Can Attract Insects
Wool is a natural food source for many mature insects and their larvae. So if you’ve struggled with closet moths in the past, this material might not be the best option for your home.
Most wool carpeting is pre-treated with a household-safe pesticide called Permethrin. While this treatment has been tested for safety, it’s understandable that not everyone would want to install pesticide-containing carpets in their home.
Wool Fibers Shed
Like many natural fibers, wool tends to shed. This is because individual wool fibers are very short — there’s no way to avoid it.
The good news is that wool carpeting will shed less and less with age. But this shedding can be extremely annoying during the period immediately after installation.
Must Be Handled With Care
Although wool carpet is very easy to clean, you need to be careful about which products you expose it to. In particular, alkaline chemical cleaners can damage or even dissolve wool fibers with prolonged exposure.
Also, a vacuum with too much suction can damage wool fibers. Invest in a vacuum with adjustable suction levels and ultra-soft bristles to protect your new carpet.
Sensitive to Sunlight
Bright sunlight is another thing that can damage wool carpeting over time. Constant sun exposure will cause the dyed fibers to break down and lead to discoloration.
Strategically placing furniture or area rugs in sunny locations can prevent discoloration. Consider closing nearby window blinds or curtains during the brightest part of the day.
It’s easy to see why wool is considered by many to be the gold standard of wall-to-wall carpeting. But it’s also easy to understand why countless homeowners opt for synthetic carpet instead.
If you’re in the market for a carpet that will hold up to years of foot traffic and heavy furniture, wool is a great option. It’s relatively easy to clean, slow to ignite and can help insulate your home. Plus, it’s better for the environment than plastic-derived fibers!
Wool carpet is an investment you have to be prepared to care for. It shouldn't be installed in areas with high moisture levels or continuous sunlight. And, even with the best care possible, wool carpet is liable to shed throughout most of its lifespan.
Have you got experience with wool carpets? Do you think the luxury look and feel justifies the extra cost when compared to synthetic carpet? Share your thoughts in the comments below!