Olefin Carpet Pros and Cons
Sometimes olefin carpet gets a bad rap, but it can be a perfect fit for the intelligent value shopper. Olefin developed its poor reputation because it can wear down quickly in high traffic areas. In some respects, this is true. Interestingly olefin is very common in commercial settings, especially those with Berber carpet. Commercial settings generally have excessively high foot traffic. So what going on here—is olefin good for high traffic or not? The answer is it depends, and if you’re interested in getting a great value carpet, you’ll want to read on.
King of stain resistance
Carpets made of olefin are excellent at repelling stains. Olefin carpets don’t absorb stains, so spills roll off of the carpet strands and to the bottom of the carpet where the liquid is easily blotted up. Keep in mind, stain resistance refers to the carpets ability to prevent staining from spills, food, and dirt but does NOT include oils. Walking on the carpet after walking on asphalt, garages, or kitchens can create oil stains that stubbornly adhere to olefin and other synthetic fibers.
Easy on the bank account
Many elements go into pricing carpeting, but the fiber is one of the biggest factors. This makes sense since the fiber is a large factor in how the carpet will perform. With this in mind, many times olefin will work for certain scenarios, especially when done right. So what does “done right” mean? It means picking an olefin carpet that’s complimentary features limit its negatives—more on this below. Check out our carpet cost page to for a quick estimate on what an olefin carpet will cost compared to other fibers.
Can’t take a daily beating
Olefin does not handle the daily grind well. Exposed to normal living conditions olefin tends to “crush,” meaning it gets irreversibly flattened. Crushing makes carpet look beat-down and dirty, and is one of the quickest ways to lead to needing a carpet replacement. There are two ways to reduce crushing and thus limit one of olefin’s biggest pitfalls. The most reliable way is to invest in olefin only in rooms that aren’t frequently trafficked. The other way is to increase olefin’s effective strength by decreasing the height of the pile, especially with loops as in Berber carpet.
Careful moving furniture
You want to be very careful moving furniture with olefin carpet for two reasons: crushing and flash burns. Crushing, discussed above, is not only due to foot traffic. Heavy furniture left in one place on olefin will crush it. This isn’t a problem until the furniture is moved and there are dents in your carpet. Take home point here is to either plan on moving your furniture frequently or not at all.
Flash burns are another nuisance. Olefin has a low melting point. It will burn with little heat, so little that the friction of moving furniture can burn streaks into the carpet. Be careful never to drag furniture across an olefin carpet, or there’s a good chance you’ll end up with permanent damage. How do you avoid flash burns? Lift furniture when moving it.
Captain’s parting words!
Olefin carpet is rarely recommended for homeowners. This less than stellar reputation is primarily due to its short lifespan due to crushing. However, used in the right rooms and combined with complimentary carpet features such as low pile height, olefin can be a great value for some carpet shoppers. Areas that may be a great fit for olefin are guest bedrooms, screened in porches, or other lightly trafficked areas. Rental properties may also be a good candidate if carpet will be replaced frequently regardless of how well it holds up. Does olefin sound like it’s not for you? Check out our summary of all other carpet types that might work.