Does Olefin Smell?
Article Number: 2455
A retailer called with this concern and thought the problem he had was from an odor in the carpet itself. His question was how long should an olefin carpet smell before the odor dissipates and what can we do to help it?

Before we answer this question, let's look at exactly what was going on here to determine if, in fact, the carpet was the cause of the problem. In this installation we had an olefin carpet installed in a basement that had very little light or ventilation. The carpet was laid over a black rubber pad and the floor had radiant heat. Because there was no odor prior to the carpet's installation, the first thought was the carpet was the problem. Not so fast, Sherlock. Let's take into account just what's going on here before we jump to any hasty conclusions.

We have a substrate or floor which has radiant heat emanating from it, heat which is conducted in and through the concrete providing an evenly warm floor beneath the broadloom and pad. The rubber pad is constructed of a black rubber, not waffle type rubber. Over this lies the olefin carpet which is said to be the cause of the problem odor.

The space the carpet is installed in has little or no ventilation and it's in an area of the country that gets cold and snowy winters. The heat is always on so the components of the flooring are constantly under siege by the warmth of the floor.

Is the carpet the cause of the odor? You might think so with all the talk about carpet odor over the last several years. New carpet odor, even with no ventilation, will dissipate rather quickly and should not present a constant offensive odor. So the carpet is not the source of the odor in this location.


The odor is emanating from the pad. Since it is close to the source of heat, it is being kept warm and, as a result, it will give off a rubber odor. As long as the heat is constant and warm, the pad is kept warm and the natural odor of the rubber and processing oils and chemistry will waft out of the pad and permeate the room. With no ventilation and the heat constantly on, this odor will hang in the air. Entry into this area will immediately provoke one into thinking the carpet is the source of the problem because it's the biggest new addition to the space seen.

As in many complaints, you have to look beyond the obvious to understand what is really going on. If the carpet were laying on the floor by itself with no under padding and no adhesive, it would probably not have any odor other than that of new carpet. The heat from the floor would not instigate an off gassing of any component. Certainly, you would have the natural new carpet odors, but aside from that, virtually nothing else. We're talking about a plastic surface and backing with some latex and filler in between. With olefin, there isn't even any dyestuff materials since it is solution dyed and the pigment colorant is also a solid. So in and of itself, the olefin is not odorous.

Now, add the pad and adhesive and you change the equation because there are two other components which will affect the situation. If you take a piece of black rubber pad and place it to your nose to smell, you will naturally, get the smell of rubber coming off the pad. Warm the pad for a long period of time and you will release the aromas into the air at an unnatural level. Here is where the odor in this case is coming from, not the carpet, but the pad. How do you solve this problem? Remove and replace the pad. How do you prevent this from happening again? Use a pad that will not promote odor when used over a radiant heat floor, a high density urethane product such as Daltonian, Healthier Choice or Duratech or a synthetic type pad such as a No- Muv product which would have the same type of performance characteristics as the pad used. In my opinion, the synthetic needle punched type pad would be the best choice.

Does our saying this mean that black rubber pads are no good? Not at all. All floor covering products have limitations, nothing works perfectly everywhere. This is just one the rubber pad has. You'd have to use an alternative type product as a pad with a radiant heat floor. If you think about the environment the products are going into, you'll automatically pick the right ones and eliminate having to be faced with a complaint like this.

Article Detail
9/17/2007 1:15:13 PM
Article Rating
 Print This Article
Home  |  List  |  Details  |  Mailing List

Transmitted: 4/24/2018 2:06:12 PM
FloorBiz News