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Olefin Carpet compared to Nylon or Wool Carpet


Copyright © 1988-2015 CYC All rights reserved.

I am often asked about Berber carpet. Berber is NOT my issue. Berber is a type of weave, not a fiber type. Berber carpet simply means that the fibers are a "loop" weave style, generally the same height loops. But Berber carpet can be made with various height of loops or it can be mixed with "cut loops" of the same or different height. The following information reveals the differences between fiber types, whether loop or cut carpet styles.

The real problem is polypropylene (Olefin), polyester and P.E.T. fibers in any weave or style!  As always, I welcome any positive or negative letters about Berber, regardless of fiber content. But so far all the email and letters and calls I've ever received were totally negative when it comes to experience with Olefin or Polyester carpet.  (Exception - I did have one positive, defensive email from a retailer who sells mostly Olefin - his Olefin Berber was only 3 months old however!). For more details about Berber visit:

Don't Buy Berber:   Unless it's made of Nylon or Wool!

The simple answer is that 100% nylon or 100% wool carpet, whether Berber or cut plush, are the only choices to make when buying carpet. I am confident in this advice after 25+ years following all carpet research, products and "advances" and hiring research firms to substantiate the value/cost/benefit of various carpets, and weekly feedback from my franchisee network (200+ locations served and literally millions of yards of carpets serviced). So Nylon Berber is certainly the best choice, probably the only viable choice if you want performance and cannot afford wool. But a word of caution, do not fall for the "solution dyed nylon" sales pitch.
 
The long answer and some further carpet education
:

Understanding quality of carpet and performance measures are the key to buying wisely. Unfortunately you really have to "dig" to get this critical information. Retailers either don't know or won't tell you the facts. Most people buy carpet from their desire to have a certain color and texture, "a look". What looks good, may not perform. So you must learn to identify the differences between carpet that looks good and one that is really "good".

The primary things to look for are fiber content (100% post dyed Nylon), tight twist, heat set and density. I've explained the value of 100% nylon. Twist is the number of "turns" in a fiber in a given length of fiber. A carpet with 6 turns in a half inch is far better than a carpet with 4 turns in a half inch. Heat set is the tightness of the strands of fiber. This often shows as a "thin" strand compared to the "air puffed" fatter - and usually cheaper strand. This "puffing and lack of tightness may cause the appearance to seem more plush or "thick" or valuable. But it is not the case. Density is how close the rows of fibers/strands are woven into the backing. When sewn closely, the resistance to matting or flattening is greatly reduced. A very dense carpet will spring back to shape for years and years if vacuumed regularly and cleaned properly.

There's more carpet education links at:

Carpet Education
 
Warranties mean almost nothing in the real world. Go online and read the actual warranties. The exclusions almost eliminate any claim you can think of, especially stains or discoloration. And since carpet doesn't "wear out", just what are they really warrantying? That said, the functional life cycle of Nylon is at least 10 years usually 20+. But because people cannot get the carpet cleaned properly or get tired of the color, or are wanting a new color for decorating purposes, most Nylon carpets are replaced in the 5th to the 7th year. We have restored color to Nylon carpets routinely that were 5, 10 and even 20 years old that resulted in nearly new looking carpet.
 
People for whom we perform our carpet dyeing services are amazed at how their "old looking" or "worn looking" carpet is made to look almost new at a fraction of the cost of replacement. This then substantiates their future carpet purchases to be high grade Nylon since they have the confidence that with our dyeing services it can be kept looking new and therefore well worth the higher investment in higher quality nylon carpet. They can even plan color changes without buying a new carpet when redecorating.
 
In contrast, Olefin carpet (loop [Berber], cut loop or cut plush) life cycle is less than three years, usually less than two, no matter what the warranty or sales pitch claim.
 
I will put my reputation on the line to say Olefin Berber should NOT be sold to anyone for more than $5/sq yd (or $1/sq ft) installed, which is more than a retailer pays for it. In fact I have had this discussion with seasoned executives from the top three carpet manufacturers and they all agree that Olefin is a cheap carpet that gained popularity from marketing position just as polyester suits did many years ago. They all know it's a terrible floor covering. But the sad truth is in the business objectives of the advertising and marketing strategies of the vendors, be it the manufacturers or the retailers. Scientifically, Olefin is a far more inferior fiber than nylon and certainly wool. But it is far cheaper to produce, so it can be sold for less. Shockingly, with the hyped advertising and sales push, it is being sold at the same or higher price than nylon carpet.
 
It is an atrocity to sell any soft floor covering that doesn't get even a five year useful life cycle in residential applications. In all my years and experience with Olefin Berber, the vast majority of owners of this type report less than 2 years of useful life. Is it "worn out"? - No. But the appearance is usually reported unbearable within the first year! Impossible to get clean and keep clean, matted down, stains that cannot be removed, pulls, seams parting, harsh on feet and looks many years older than it actually is. I don't speak of a few letters. I am telling you that I receive dozens daily for the last five years minimum all telling horror stories of Olefin Berber. The worst part is that the retailers and manufacturers are unresponsive or resort to blame shifting to anyone but themselves when they do respond.
 
In fairness,  very low end nylon sold by many "budget" type retailers isn't much better than Olefin. But there is NO Olefin Berber that can compete at all against a medium to high grade quality 100% nylon for wear, diversity of color choices, pattern selection, texture selection, ease of care, stain resistance, stain correction, creature comfort and durability  -whether Berber weave style or cut plush style . To that end, I also know that the majority of nylon installations are replaced overall in the 7th to 9th year residentially. I reiterate and echo the Carpet and Rug Institute statement that "annually more than 70% of carpet replacement is for reasons other than wear". 
 
So if it's not wear, it can only be the color - either the carpet suffers from discoloration (missing color, faded or bleached, and excess unwanted color like stains or traffic lanes) or it's the wrong color (outdated, ugly or just plain unacceptable for personal taste) for decorating reasons. In 90% of these cases, our dyeing technology correct the color problems. We can take a Grade E or F discoloration (on solid or patterned) to a grade B+ or even an A, restoring the original color leaving the carpet in an almost new appearance state, we do it every day -residentially and commercially. Likewise, in the case of a "wrong" color, we can produce a brand new custom color with virtually millions of color choices. We can, with our unique onsite dyeing technology, virtually at least double the current useful life cycle of every nylon carpet. And we have for every one of our clients - residential and commercial!
 
Progressive and caring carpet professionals are quite pleased with our services and our position on carpet. They know what we say is true. They also know that our endorsement is strictly limited to 100% nylon or 100% wool carpet or a blend of JUST those two. In the USA, the most predominant carpet sales is still nylon and a scant amount is wool. The numbers released annually that claim that polypropylene, polyester and P.E.T has a 20% to 35% total market share (depending on whose survey you read) fails to disclose that a great amount of that polypropylene is actually the backing material used in almost all carpets today. Further, since we stand firmly in the endorsement of high quality nylon, we are helping carpet sales against it's competitor - resilient flooring. We receive referrals from these carpet retailers for many reasons such as:
 

In all cases carpet retailers benefit from our services and our position on buying better quality carpet - namely nylon!
 
The next argument I hear from the low end carpet retailers while interviewing them, is that the only reason we (CYC) like nylon is because they suffer from the misinformation that Olefin cannot be re-dyed. They think our agenda is to only promote our dyeing services.
Simply put, neither statement simply is true. Especially now that most Olefins contain at least 5% nylon (an effort on the part of the manufacturers to "make this fiber more durable" - I think to create a "newer" sales pitch and make it sound like a "newer and improved" Olefin), we can dye it. With or without nylon in it. It is more difficult to dye and normally will only "tint" but we do it successfully. We have side-matched polyester and Olefin for Beaulieu and other mills many times. So the argument that we are being "self-serving" doesn't hold water. We get far more calls for help from Olefin owners than any other carpet owners.  We just cannot do as much for Olefin carpet.
 
We are NOT carpet cleaners!
Although we are the best carpet cleaners in the world, we refer straight cleaning jobs to ethical carpet cleaners. All of the carpet cleaners who have seen our work, refer customers to us. Even the few carpet cleaning franchise systems who claim to perform dyeing have called on us numerous times from every system to correct their work and bail them out of an otherwise failed attempt at onsite dyeing. If what we do to such a degree of success were easy, every carpet cleaner in the world would be doing it. There's a tremendous need for onsite dyeing and color restoration. Fully half our business is word-of-mouth and referrals from existing customers and carpet cleaners.
 
Our ONLY BUSINESS IS DYEING! Our training and standards far exceed The IICRC or ASCR. Our least educated new technician on a job undergoes 400+ hours intense training. Our dye masters have more than 1,100 hours of academic, field training and testing. This includes all aspects of carpet from fiber content to manufacturing to chemistry to care and extensive color training. They are not janitor or maintenance types and do not engage in cut throat pricing or high pressure sales pitches or "up pricing". Our dye masters have very soft sales tactics. Mostly by demonstration. That way there's no doubt on our side or from a potential customer that we can deliver what we promise and that we really know our industry.
 
I will add that I have had 2 associates who have a collective carpet retail career background of 60+ years between them. As well, we have franchisees who were property managers, home builders, facility directors, property managers, science and math professors (PhD, MBA and masters degree), textile engineers, chemical engineers, mortgage bankers, and many more well educated and informed professionals who all concur and can also substantiate my findings.

Initially most customers are skeptical about carpet re-dyeing. And carpet cleaners or retailers are not only skeptical but defensive as well. But after our presentation of facts, explanation of our training programs, live demonstration, testing, comparisons to nylon or wool and actual experience in the field with various inferior fiber content like Olefin, especially Olefin Berber, there's no doubt in their mind anymore. My experience so far proves that no one buys Olefin a second time. It's pretty shocking that carpet related professionals don't have this degree of knowledge about fibers and real carpet performance.  If they do have the knowledge, they're not providing it to customers.
 
Finally, if Olefin Berber didn't have the problems I freely post on my website, I'm sure some executive in the industry would tactfully and diplomatically contact me with scientific evidence of equality or superiority of Olefin compared to nylon. I know from my programmers that many IP addresses stem from the whole of the industry including the carpet mills. So why aren't they contesting my content? Because if the truth comes out, every claim I've made will be substantiated by their own internal records. So why do they continue to sell it? Because it looks great on the showroom floor and the buyers equate it to the great nylon Berber or even to the very high quality wool Berber.
 
Maybe the carpet salespeople really don't know the whole story. But I'll give you my version. Wool is very expensive, more than the average person can afford, but well worth the investment.  Wool carpet last for decades. But wool is more expensive to produce and is usually imported which also drives the price up. If your lifestyle and resources permit, by all means invest in a good wool carpet someday.  Be aware, there are major differences in wool quality as well. We recommend New Zealand wool or wools of the Western European variety.

In the USA, Nylon carpet is the best choice of floor covering for all properties, but as far as the manufacturers are concerned, it's also turned out to be too good.  It doesn't ever really "wear out". It lasts too long and thus impedes re-sales for retailers. Since people aren't getting proper cleaning and the "Billy-Bob" type (shoddy) carpet cleaners refuse to learn and provide proper cleaning, even nylon carpet seems to "wear out" or get too ugly to live with. Hence, all this restorable (by our dyeing methods) nylon carpet winding up needlessly in our precious landfill space.  Now there's a statistic I'd like to see, nylon and wool carpet versus polypropylene (Olefin), polyester & P.E.T. carpet that goes to dump every year. Read about the statistics of carpet needlessly dumped in our precious landfills and the whole truth about carpet recycling at:

Environment
 
Many of the people who write to me want to form a class action suit against the manufacturers for the hyped sales talks of the retailers who sold it to them. I'm not interested in playing carpet police. But I do hope someone takes up this cause to get Olefin off of the floors. In the least, accurate disclosure from manufacturers about every carpet should be provided to salespeople and they in turn should be required to provide it to consumers BEFORE they buy.
 
For the record, fiber content isn't the only issue I have with the carpet industry. I'm just as offended by the sales pitches and advertising claims about the value and performance of StainMaster and Scotchguard type treatments. The warranties are not disclosed properly and when read (which should be done BEFORE a customer buys) exclude everything imaginable that a reasonable person would assume should be covered. Have you ever read one through? Have you ever known anyone who tried to get StainMaster or Scotchguard warranty coverage? Stain resist treatment, applied outside the fiber or as part of the dyeing or manufacturing process simply do not meet the advertised or sales claims. In any traffic area, the treatment is gone within three months to six months.
Factory applied stain resisters are acceptable as it is nearly impossible to buy a carpet without it. But don't buy a carpet based on the claims of the stain resist "warranty". Read the warranty online at their websites and you'll understand why.

It's even worse for installed carpets, the carpet cleaner sales pitches for after market applied stain resist treatments aren't worth anything! In fact they can ruin your carpet. Yet many carpet cleaners "up sell" this gimmick while cleaning your carpet. They charge as much or more for this treatment as they do the actual cleaning job. Don't fall for "renewed stain protector" treatments as sold by carpet cleaners. DON"T BUY IT - IT DOESN'T WORK!!! There's much more to this story, but I'll save for another day.
 
I have personally conducted comparison testing on all carpets and treatments stated above. I continue to document research. I'd be glad to speak with you personally. I do require your complete contact details if you want a question answered. My door is open to any challenge on this subject at any academic level. Thank you for taking the time to ask for advice and reading my website.

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