Characteristics of Olefin Carpet
Olefin has several distinct characteristics that make it suitable for many different applications.
Olefin is valued in the carpeting industry for its wool-like appearance. For this reason, it is most often used in looped berber styles and in area rugs, both of which are commonly made from wool. Olefin’s finish can range from low to high lustre.
Olefin fiber is not as resilient as other fibers. Because of this, it is typically used in looped styles of broadloom, which do not require the same ability to "bounce back" as cut piles. Specifically, low-pile, tight-looped styles of olefin offer the best durability.
In residential applications, olefin is best suited for lower-traffic areas. When used in a commercial carpet, it is usually recommended for light to medium commercial applications.
Staining vs. Soiling
The issue of stain resistance can be a bit confusing when it comes to olefin, because to truly understand how an olefin carpet will perform under certain conditions, you have to first understand the difference between staining and soiling.
Staining occurs when a substance comes into contact with the fiber, and has imbedded itself into open dye sites of the fiber, thereby altering the fiber’s appearance. For example, a glass of red wine spilled on a carpet could leave a stain.
Soiling is caused by a residue left on the fiber, either from a cleaning solution that was not fully removed or from oils on the bottom of your feet. The residue coats the fiber, and attracts and traps dirt. The build-up of dirt leaves the appearance of a stain.
Olefin is highly stain-resistant, but unfortunately is not very soil-resistant. Olefin is hydrophobic, meaning that it does not absorb liquid. Due to this, olefin must be solution dyed (the color is added into the fiber during production, instead of dyeing the fiber post-production). Because solution-dyed fibers have no open dye sites (since they are technically not dyed) there is nowhere for stains to attach themselves to, and thus these fibers are highly resistant to staining.
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