What is Olefin Carpet? Here's Your Guide to This Durable Rug Style

Outdoor patio with matching furniture set and rug.

Michelle Berwick Design

Looking for a new carpet on a budget? Check out olefin carpeting, whose durability, affordability, and versatility make it only second only to nylon in the carpeting popularity wars. And because olefin carpeting is so universally popular, there are a tremendous variety of styles, colors, and patterns available using these strong synthetic fibers.

What Is Olefin Carpet?

Olefin, or polypropylene, carpet is a synthetic carpet fiber that is used frequently for outdoor rugs or areas where moisture or mold are a possible issue. It works best in a place where moisture will be high but traffic is low, like outdoors or a basement.

What Is Olefin Carpet?

Olefin carpet fibers are made from polypropylene, a type of plastic that’s so versatile, you can find it in almost every aspect of your daily life. Polypropylene doesn’t react with water, acids, or bases, which makes it extremely durable and resistant to water damage. It has a high melting point and is resistant to breaking under stress, meaning products made from it can stand up to daily wear and tear. Polypropylene is also colorfast, water-resistant, and, for the most part, stain-resistant.

How Is Olefin Carpet Made?

To make Olefin carpet fibers, polypropylene plastic pellets are melted down and forced through a device called a spinneret, turning it into strands that are quickly cooled to solidify. Olefin fibers are on the thicker side which, when woven, result in a carpet that’s bulkier and sturdier, with a more even look than carpets made of fine strands. 

Pros of Olefin Carpet

  • Affordable: In comparison to the most popular carpet material—nylon—olefin carpet costs, on average, about 50% less.
  • Strong: Like most plastics, olefin fibers can take a beating and still retain their character. Olefin carpet doesn’t quickly fade from sunlight, and its color will hold up well against wear, tear, and cleaning. However, it’s important to note that olefin isn’t as durable as more expensive nylon carpet, and will gradually become matted with repeated traffic. 
  • Stain-Resistant: Though olefin fibers are not 100% stain-proof, they’re about as close to it as they can get. Most dirt, spills, or other stain-causing substances will roll straight off the fibers and pool at the bottom, where they can be easily blotted up with absorbent towels or sucked up using a wet vac before being treated with a spot cleaner. 
  • Mold and Mildew Resistant: Because of its water resistance, olefin carpet isn’t vulnerable to mold or mildew, which makes it an ideal choice for damp areas, like basements, and places where people may track water indoors, like entryways. Olefin fiber is also used for outdoor rugs.
  • Pet-Friendly: Thanks to its resistance to water and staining, olefin carpet is excellent for pet owners who may need to deal with the occasional “accident.” Synthetic olefin carpet fibers also do not retain odors as natural fiber carpets do. 
  • Static-Free: Though static electricity may not be something that immediately comes to mind when thinking about new carpeting, it’s something that may be of concern for people who live in dry, arid climates. Even if you don’t live in the desert, you may want to consider olefin for its static-free properties in rooms with computers and electronics or playrooms. 

Cons of Olefin Carpet

  • Can Mat Easily: The wear and tear of daily life crush olefin fibers, gradually changing the texture of carpet from plush to flat, and making olefin carpet unsuitable for high-traffic areas like hallways or family rooms. Because its look won’t last, try to avoid high-pile carpets; instead, look at low-pile or looped olefin fiber carpet styles, like Berber.
  • Absorbs Oil: Olefin carpet is water-resistant, but not oil or grease-resistant. For this reason, olefin is not recommended for kitchens, dining areas, or any room where food is enjoyed—and occasionally accidentally dropped. A less obvious source of oil is the human body; try to avoid walking barefoot on olefin carpet, and wear socks or slippers instead. 
  • Heat-Sensitive: Even though polypropylene has a melting point of 300-degrees, it can still be damaged at lower temperatures—it just won’t melt. One of the most common sources of heat damage comes from dragging furniture around, which causes friction. 
Article Sources
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  1. “Polypropylene Chemical Compatibility Chart.” Accessed August 31, 2021. https://www.calpaclab.com/polypropylene-chemical-compatibility-chart/.

  2. Phoenix, Michael. “Carpet Fibers 101: Nylon, Polypropylene, Wool, Polyester, Triexta.” Accessed August 31, 2021. https://info.floordecorct.com/blog/carpet-fibers-101-nylon-polypropylene-wool-polyester-triexta.

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