When choosing a carpet for your home, fiber makes a difference. The carpet fiber determines durability, comfort, stain-resistant, style, design, and color. There are different types of carpet fibers, and polypropylene is one of them. Other carpet fibers include nylon, polyester, and wool.
What is Polypropylene Fiber?
Polypropylene, also known as Olefin, is a synthetic carpet fiber made from propylene, a petroleum byproduct. Polypropylene carpets were first made for outdoor use and have become a popular option for commercial and home applications.
After nylon, polypropylene is the most popular fiber used in making carpets. It is very cheap compared to other synthetic carpet fibers like nylon and polyester. Though it’s not as durable as nylon, it has better stain resistance, is soft and comfortable, and the color does not fade even when exposed to intense sunlight.
Below are the pros and cons of Olefin or polypropylene.
Pros of Polypropylene Carpet Fiber
Cheaper Carpet Fiber
Polypropylene carpets typically cost around $1 to $5 per square foot. This is cheaper than nylon, costing $3 to $9 per square foot. Though they are similarly priced to polyester carpets, polypropylene carpets offer more value.
Olefin or polypropylene is a solution-dyed carpet fiber. This means the color pigments are added to the liquid state of its production. This makes polypropylene one of the most colorfast carpet fibers of all. Polypropylene can be exposed to intense sunlight, bleach, and other harsh chemicals without worrying about fading.
Polypropylene is highly stain-resistant. This is because the fibers are solution-dyed; thus, stains cannot attach to polypropylene fibers. Olefin is also hydrophobic and will not absorb any liquid you throw its way. Naturally, polypropylene fibers will wick moisture up towards the tip. This makes the carpet dry faster and also discourages the growth of mold and mildew.
Olefin in homes is great for damp areas, from basements to patios. It’s suitable for damp basements because of its quick-drying properties. It is also great to use in a basement with a higher chance of mold.
Good for Outdoor use
Because of its hydrophobic nature, polypropylene is great for outdoor use. The fibers of Olefin dry faster when wet, and being solution-dyed makes the carpet fade-resistant. These two qualities make olefin carpets good for outdoor applications such as swimming pool carpeting and marine use.
Cons of Polypropylene Carpet Fiber
Polypropylene carpet fibers are not as resilient compared to other synthetic fibers such as nylon. This means they lack texture retention and will take longer or not to spring back once walked on. The pressure of furniture will also crush the fibers to an irreparable state. Olefin also has a low melting point, and dragging furniture over it will create enough friction to leave behind scorch marks.
To improve the resiliency of polypropylene, I would advise going for loop piles, such as Berbers, or high but very dense cut piles to enhance its durability.
Difficult Removing Oil-Based Stains
While it is more resistant to water-based stains, polypropylene is vulnerable to oil-based stains and grease. It will soak in oils, and it tends to become permanent quickly. Polypropylene is often used to help clean up oil spills by skimming them across the surface. Unfortunately, this will be harder to clean up after oils and residue.
Even after vacuuming or using strong bleach, it will be challenging to remove oils from a polypropylene carpet. It is not recommended to use olefin carpets in the kitchen or dining rooms where they may be susceptible to oily substances.
Polypropylene vs. Nylon Carpet
Nylon is more expensive than polypropylene, but how its also more durable, resilient, and versatile. Nylon is great for high-traffic areas and active homes. Nylon is more resistant to most stains when treated for stain resistance through solution dyeing. Olefin is a cheaper, fade and stain-resistant carpet fiber. Nylon will work well in high-traffic areas, while Olefin is great in rooms with strong sunlight and damp conditions, such as basements. Check out the pros and cons of nylon carpet fiber.
Polypropylene vs. Polyester Carpet
Both polypropylene and polyester are cheap alternatives to nylon. The two fibers also hold radiant colors and are highly stain-resistant. However, polyester carpet fibers have better resiliency and will not dull quickly compared to olefin fiber carpets. Polypropylene is less absorbent for moisture resistance and best suited for damp or high-moisture areas than polyester.