While furnishing New Zealand buildings with wool carpets and insulation is an admirable idea, carpet industry veteran Barney Sharland says the reality is a bit different.

Yesterday, South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie delivered her wool petition signed by 15,069 people to the steps of Parliament.

The petition asked that publicly funded buildings and KiwiBuild homes were built or refurbished with New Zealand wool carpet and insulation.

Sharland knows his stuff, as he has been laying carpets for 30 years and also has the contract to lay carpet for Parliament.


While an Axminister carpet was made of wool, it also needed help from synthetics for durability, Sharland told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

"They're 80 per cent wool, 20 per cent nylon and the nylon gives the twist and it holds the pattern so therefore you get better wearability than just 100 per cent wool."

A woollen carpet was also more expensive than a nylon carpet, especially when covering commercial areas, said Sharland.

As well as this, wool carpets deteriorated in sunlight and were harder to clean, staining more prominently than a nylon carpet. This didn't bode well for state housing said Sharland.

"They will get destroyed in a very short space of time. You can't clean them and the appearance retention would be just terrible and would show all the staining - you won't get the stains out."

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Despite this heavy dose of reality, the future for wool carpets wasn't all doom and gloom if people embraced patterns rather than "boring builder's beige" said Sharland.

"You go into a carpet shop and all we can see is plain, plain, plain."

"Years ago we used to sell a lot of woven Axminister in domestic housing, particularly in the South Island ... or in the farming areas. But those days are long gone ... I'm still selling it in certain places but it's just the fact that people want plain carpets."


This didn't mean people had to endure to the loud and groovy carpets of the '70s, said Sharland.

"If you put a decent design in there, you can achieve the same effect. It doesn't have to be as bright as bright. There are subtle tones you can put in them - but again it all boils down to price."