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The Difference Between Olefin and Nylon Area Rugs?

At first glance, olefin and nylon area rugs may appear similar, but the different characteristics of each type can affect both your pocketbook and the enjoyment of your purchase. While a nylon rug may be a better choice for one room of your home, an olefin rug may provide the welcome solution for another. Compare the options to help you decide which fiber content in a rug is right for you and your particular space.


Both nylon and olefin, also known as polypropylene, are synthetic fibers. Rugs manufactured from these fibers are available in a wide range of colors and patterns for any decorating style. Nylon produces a greater variety of rug textures, from low to high loops and plushes. Olefin rugs are flat-woven or low loop piles suitable for indoor or outdoor use. Nylon rugs typically exhibit more sheen than olefin rugs.

A nylon rug

Comfort and Price

Among synthetic rugs, nylon is the most popular -- for looks, feel and affordability. For softness underfoot, choose a nylon rug rather than olefin. Nylon rugs provide a more luxurious look and feel, but at a higher price than olefin. While olefin is not as durable as nylon and doesn't invite that sink-your-toes-into-it reaction, its ability to fashionably dress a space at a low price makes it an attractive option.

A olefin rug

Life and Style Applications

Both nylon or olefin are good choices for a rug at a doorway or in front of sink or food prep area. In areas where people enjoy sitting or lying on a rug, nylon may be the better choice. For formal rooms with traditional decor, nylon rugs tend to have a better selection of appropriate patterns than olefin rugs. Decorators of trend-setting spaces appreciate the numerous contemporary looks and the casual feel of olefin rugs.


Olefin is solution-dyed and then extruded into a fiber, so its color is permanent. An olefin rug is abrasion and fade-resistant. Because it is not resilient, it will crush, but it repels liquids and is mildew-resistant. A nylon rug is highly resilient, and even a thicker nylon pile will fluff when vacuumed. Nylon is dyed after fibers are produced. They are not stain resistant, but manufacturers or retailers can treat nylon rugs with stain repellants.

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