3 Kid-Friendly Carpets and How to Choose One

Boy on Carpeting
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A kid-friendly carpet is fiber-based floor covering that is suited to the needs of kids and the demands they place on a flooring material. Kids, as we all know, generally ignore the floor coverings when engaged in that most important of activities—playing. This means that it's up to the homeowner to adapt the carpeting to the kid—and not the other way around.

Strictly viewed from the standpoint of durability, the best type of flooring for a house with kids would be hard and non-fibrous, such as laminate, engineered wood, luxury vinyl, or tile. These choices work from the standpoint of practicality, but comfort is seriously lacking. Young kids, especially, spend a lot of time on the floor. So choosing a kid-friendly carpet is a delicate balancing act of weighing durability and comfort.

And don't forget that children will subject your floors to various abuses: spilled food, dyed liquids like fruit punch, soda, fruit stains—maybe even blood. So when choosing the best carpet for children, stain resistance and cleanability are also important.

Below, learn about how to choose among three good carpeting options for spaces used heavily by kids, all of them using synthetic fibers.

  • 01 of 03

    Nylon Carpet

    Closeup of a nylon carpet

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

    Best for: Rooms where durability is the primary concern.

    "Nylon" carpet fibers comprise a large class based on a family of plastic polymers called linear polyamides, developed by Dupont corporation just prior to WW II, and introduced into carpet manufacture in 1947.

    Nylon sets the standard for long-lasting durability. Today, it's the most popular type of fabric used for carpeting, comprising fully two-thirds of all synthetic carpets made. Nylon carpet resists abrasion better than almost any other carpet fiber, and it cleans easily—at least when factory-treated with a stain block. Nylon itself does not clean well, so in family settings, it's best to make sure nylon carpeting receives a stain treatment.

    Tip

    A factory-applied stain repellant such as Scotchgard is an excellent idea for nylon carpeting. Unlike the spray-on Scotchgard used for furniture, which may have environmental hazards, Scotchgard that is applied to the carpet during the manufacturing facility surrounds each individual fiber to protect the entire carpet, from fiber tips clear through to the carpet backing, for total stain and soil protection. This stain and soil resistance will never wash off, walk-off, or wear off. Treated in this fashion, nylon is a durable fiber that is an ideal choice for homes with children. 

    Nylon carpeting should be steam cleaned every 12 to 18 months. While every type of carpeting can benefit from steam cleaning, nylon carpeting, in particular, must be steam cleaned regularly due to the molecular structure of its composition.

    Pros
    • Excellent durability in high traffic areas

    • Many colors and styles available

    • Readily accepts stain-prevention treatments

    Cons
    • Easily stained by oil and grease (unless treated); must be cleaned regularly

    • Can fade in direct sunlight

    • May carry static charge

  • 02 of 03

    Polyester/PET (Polyethyline Teraphthalate)

    Closeup of polyester/PET (Polyethyline Teraphthalate) carpet

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

    Best for: Rooms where softness is essential.

    Polyethyline teraphthatlate, otherwise known as PET, is now the most common type of polyester fiber used in carpeting.  PET carpeting is made from PET chips, which can either be virgin or can be made from recycled plastic containers. PET carpeting is very soft, plus it's environmentally friendly when made from recycled materials.

    Budget-friendly, eco-friendly PET carpet is remarkable for its sustainability and inherent stain resistance. These carpets average about $2.50 per square foot, making them the most affordable of these three carpet types.

    Pros
    • Less prone to static and fading

    • Some types use recycled plastics

    • Excellent natural stain resistance

    Cons
    • Not as durable as nylon

    • Susceptible to oil-based stains

    • Crushes in high traffic areas

  • 03 of 03

    Triexta/Smartstrand

    Closeup of triexta carpet

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

    Best for: Rooms where comfort, durability, and stain resistance are equally important.

    Triexta, sometimes marketed as Smartstrand, is a unique type of polyester, a carpet fiber that consists of 37 percent corn, making it the most natural, environmentally friendly option. It is unique in that it combines both exceptional durability with permanent built-in stain and soil protection. Few other carpet fibers can make this claim. Triexta carpeting rivals nylon carpeting in terms of strength and resistance to abrasion, but with better natural stain resistance and a plusher feel.

    But as a relatively new offering, Triexta is offered only by Mohawk brands, and it does not offer the staggering choices available in nylon and PET carpets. Tiexta/Smartstrand carpet averages about $4 per square foot.

    Pros
    • Environmentally friendly, less outgassing of chemicals

    • Competitively priced with nylon

    • Naturally plush and stain-resistant

    Cons
    • Offered only by Mohawk brands, under Smartstrand label

    • Can be susceptible to oily stains

    • Color and style choices are limited

Choosing a Kid-Friendly Carpet

Carpeting for spaces used heavily by children must balance comfort with durability, stain resistance, and ease of cleaning. This excludes many natural carpet fibers, such as wool and cotton, and it also excludes a few synthetic materials, such as olefin, and blends such as Viscose. But there are three good choices for kid-friendly carpeting: nylon, polyester/PET, and Triexta, a unique form of synthetic polyester that contains a large amount of natural corn gluten. Each type of fiber has its strong points and choosing the right one will depend on whether durability, comfort, or environmental issues are most important to you.

While average prices do differ from material to material, all these kid-friendly options are relatively low in cost compared to many other popular carpet materials, such as wool (averaging $10 per square foot). And within each fiber type, there is a wide range of prices available, depending on factors such as fiber density and backing material. Thus, a carpet made from the least expensive fiber (polyester) may cost more than the least expensive type (nylon), if it uses a higher fiber count and premium backing materials.

No matter what type of carpet you choose, professional installation will add $3.50 to $11.00 per square foot, depending on what kind of old flooring removal and preparation is required.

Synthetic Carpeting and Out-Gassing of Chemicals

Responsible parents may be justifiably concerned over reports that synthetic carpeting (along with many common building materials) emit varying amounts of chemical gases, such as formaldehyde and styrene, through a process known as out-gassing. Some environmental health advocates even insist that only fully organic flooring materials, such as cotton, wool, or hardwood are truly safe flooring materials.

But synthetic carpets are generally not regarded as prime sources of dangerous out-gassing, and when chemical outgassing does occur, it is usually because of the synthetic latex backing material, the glues used for full-bond applications (mostly in commercial settings), or the spray treatments (stain repellants, mildewcides, etc.) that are often applied onto carpeting at the factory or during installation. The synthetic carpet fibers themselves, whether nylon, polyester, or Triexta, are relatively stable and safe materials.

If you are concerned about air quality—especially if you have family members who suffer from asthma or are otherwise sensitive to chemicals—then make sure to factor this in when selecting your carpeting. Choose your carpeting based on the manufacturer's published air quality specifications, and avoid the use of chemical spray treatments. And have the carpeting installed with traditional stretch-and-tack methods, not glue-down installation.

After installation, keeping the room well-ventilated for at least three days and avoiding inhabiting the room for this period is recommended for individuals sensitive to the "new carpet smell." Cleaning the carpet immediately after installation can also help.

Article Sources
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  3. Parker, Henry. New Carpet Smell: Is It Safe?. Home Reference