Triexta is the newest fiber in the carpeting industry. If you are out shopping for carpet, chances are you will hear about triexta. What is it, exactly, and how well does it perform?
Triexta was invented by DuPont, the same company responsible for the invention of nylon fiber. Triexta is currently produced exclusively by DuPont under the brand name Sorona, so you may hear the names triexta and Sorona used interchangeably.
Mohawk Industries is currently the biggest manufacturer to use Sorona triexta in carpet, and it markets the fiber under its brand name SmartStrand. Godfrey Hirst, a much smaller manufacturer based out of Australia, also uses Sorona in its eco+ collection.
The full technical name for triexta is polytrimethylene terephthalate or PTT for short.
PTT vs. PET
The root chemical for triexta (PTT) is the same as that for polyester (PET), so originally, triexta was defined as a polyester. However, it differs so significantly from polyester in terms of the final product that DuPont, along with Mohawk Industries, lobbied to have the differences recognized by approving a new generic name for PTT.
In 2009, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officially recognized triexta as a new generic name for PTT, a subclass of polyester.
Basically, that means that the chemical structure of the two fibers is similar enough that triexta could not become an entirely new classification of fiber (in the way that polyester or nylon is), but that PTT and PET are different enough that PTT could not simply be lumped in with PET.
Characteristics of Triexta
There are several reasons why triexta stands out from polyester. The first is that triexta is recognized as being more durable and resilient than conventional polyester. In fact, many in the industry consider triexta to be as durable as nylon carpet fiber, which has long been considered the king of synthetic carpet fibers.
The appearance of triexta is more similar to nylon than to polyester. Polyester has a higher luster, giving it a shinier look than other fiber types. Triexta, like nylon, has a more matte finish.
Triexta is naturally very stain resistant. Many spills can be cleaned with only water, rather than using a spot cleaner.
The primary reason for triexta’s high level of stain resistance is that the fiber is hydrophobic, meaning that it does not absorb moisture. Triexta has actually been used in the clothing industry longer than it has been used in the carpet industry – in the clothing industry triexta uses the tag-line “dry-fit” to reflect the non-absorbent properties of the fiber.
In addition to resisting stains, triexta fiber also resists fading. It is very colorfast, so direct exposure to sunlight and UV rays will not cause discoloration of the fiber.
Another advantage to triexta is that it is significantly softer than both polyester and nylon. Its softness is due in part to the fact that it does not have chemicals applied to the fiber for stain protection. Even the looped Berber styles, which can have a tendency to feel rough when made of nylon or olefin fiber, feel soft to the touch and very comfortable underfoot.
One of the most appealing aspects of triexta is that it is available in an environmentally-friendly version. In attempting to lower the cost of producing it, DuPont began using biotechnology based on fermentation of corn glucose. This replaces the use of petroleum in the production of the fiber, up to 37% in DuPont Sorona. As a renewable resource, corn glucose is much more sustainable than petroleum.
Additionally, replacing petroleum with corn glucose means that fewer chemicals are put into the fiber, which in turn means that fewer chemicals will come out of the fiber in the form of VOCs (off-gassing).
The cost to produce triexta is lower than that of nylon, so triexta, generally speaking, is very competitively priced. It is typically priced somewhere between polyester and nylon, although the high-end SmartStrand Silk styles may be more expensive.
Triexta, like almost all fibers, is available in various qualities and price points. However, even the entry-level qualities of triexta feature impressive warranties from the manufacturer, so overall triexta offers good value for the money.
Disadvantages of Triexta
Currently, the biggest drawback to triexta is its lack of history to substantiate manufacturers’ claims of its features. As a new fiber, it doesn’t have the long-standing track record of nylon and hasn’t really been around long enough to have lived through a full “life-cycle” (10-15 years for an average carpet) so it’s difficult to accurately compare its performance to that of other fibers.
Triexta for the Future
Despite being relatively new in the carpet fiber world, triexta has become enormously popular. Provided that the next 10 years or so verify that the fiber can do all that DuPont and Mohawk claim it can, it is definitely foreseeable that triexta, as a soft and durable fiber that is more sustainable than other fiber types, could be the fiber of the future.