Choosing The Right Rug Material
Rugs can have maximum impact in minimum space, anchoring the décor and design of your living space or room, offering warmth, color and texture to space while muffling the sound. Different fibers have been used in creating rugs. Wool is most popular and common material as wool’s properties makes the wool rugs best in providing warmth, longevity and quality. There are other materials such as nylon, acrylic, cotton or polyester. Less common materials are silk and leather but they give a room a rich look.
Though rugs are small they have the power to completely change the look and feel of the room and different fibers of rugs play an important role. So choosing the right rug type for your room can be overwhelming.
What’s the best material for you?
The rug you choose will be dictated as much by personal taste as by practical considerations. The material a rug made determines both its durability and softness. What’s more, what your rug is made of will determine where it’s best used. With so many options available it can be confusing so ask yourself some questions:
What is the room used for? What kind of a look are you striving for? What kind of a texture do you need? Is it a room for relaxing, or one that serves a specific purpose, such as a kitchen or bathroom? Think about your room in the context of everyday living. This should determine how and where you want to use rug. Take, for example, a child’s room, where spills are likely to occur. The solution: a rug made in a stain-resistant material, such as polypropylene. On the other hand, if you want to inject a serious dose of grown-up glamour into your bedroom, a luxurious silk rug might be the way to go.
Where rug will be placed? Will it be placed in the entryway or bedroom? Where you place your rug will determine how much foot traffic it will endure. Placing a silk rug in the entry might not be a good idea however it will provide a luxurious look for your bedroom.
Who uses it and how often? What kind of use will your rug be subjected to? Is it a heavy traffic area? Will your kids and pets also be using it? If it is going to be subjected to rough use, consider synthetic rugs. If your rug will be subjected to moisture, you might want to look into a mildew resistant synthetic material such as acrylic.
Consider your budget. A natural fiber rug such as wool or silk, could be costly than plant fiber or synthetic ones. If you want a heirloom kind of quality, your budget would soar with natural fiber ones but if you want an attractive floor covering but not high quality, a synthetic fiber would be a better choice.
Which material should you choose for a rug? There is no single answer as it depends on many factors. To start your search off right, here are most common rug materials and how they stack up for different spaces:
Natural fiber, such as wool, cotton or silk are handmade, hand-tufted or flat-woven rugs and so they are long lasting and of heirloom quality compared to synthetic rugs. Rugs from natural fibers do not release any harmful gasses.
Wool, with its dense and versatile properties makes it most popular choice for rug owners. It dyes easily, allowing ranges of colors while holding its appearance for long period. Not only does it look and feel luxurious underfoot, it’s also repels liquids, have excellent insulating properties, dirt-resistant and fire-retardant. However, wool doesn’t fare well against acid spills and is prone to shedding, which can aggravate allergies, and subject to fading.
It’s perfect for living room, dining room, high-traffic areas. Wool mix rugs fare well in hard wearing area such as child’s bedroom.
Wool isn’t the only natural material used to make rugs; other options include plant-fiber such as jute and sisal. Jute and sisal create tough, very durable rugs and they can achieve textures and weaves that other types of fiber normally cannot achieve. They breathe and absorb humidity in the air, alongside airborne toxins so they improve air quality. Jute and sisal are a good alternative if someone has a wool allergy. They also absorb moisture making it difficult to remove spills and stains.
Natural-fiber rugs are ideal for high-traffic areas, such as hallways and kitchens, except for jute, which is less durable than sisal and is best used in low-traffic areas.
Cotton is another fiber that dyes easily and allows for many colors and are typically braided or flat-woven. They are softer alternative to jute or sisal rugs and fairly durable, affordable and machine washable as well.
Spaces: Kitchens, family rooms, kids' rooms
Silk rugs are pinnacle of luxury. This delicate rug is unrivaled in softness and is best suited for low traffic areas as they are sensitive to moisture and heavy wear. It’s common to see silk woven with another material to create a blended rug that's more durable or has a varied texture.
Synthetic rugs are machine made, woven on a power loom and customize to different colors, patterns and sizes according the designs entered into a computer. They are smooth but have that artificial feel. Flat weaves hold up to high traffic, is treated to repel stains and water. They can also handle moisture and sun exposure.
Nylon, also known as polyamide, is considered the most durable of the synthetic fibers. It also has a silky appearance that will create a nice sheen in area rugs. However, nylon is often acid dyed. This can lead to fading and other long-term issues.
Olefin (polypropylene) is the most popular manufactured fiber used in rugs. It is soft like wool, stain-resistant, holds color well and is affordable. Due to its durability and ability to repel stains and moisture, olefin is often used in outdoor settings. However furniture marks are difficult to fix and high-traffic areas tend to show soiling and abrasion over time and also is flammable.
Polyester is a very durable manufactured fiber, with its feel and appearance closer to wool. It is solution dyed and therefore very resistant to bleaching, fading and other wear and tear but is difficult to dye so there is limit in colors and patterns. Oil based stains are very difficult to remove from polyester.
Spaces: Entry, hallways, mudrooms, patios
Hides and animal skin
A stylistic statement, leather and sheepskin can be stitched or woven into standard rug shapes or left in its natural hide form. Hides are a popular choice for layering rugs or throwing over accent or dining chairs. They are soft and durable and are unique pieces and generally easy to clean. But they are not great for damp or humid areas.
Best for: Bedrooms, offices, dens, low-traffic areas
These are some of the common fibers in manufacturing rugs. Choose your rugs based not only on your preferences but also while considering how and where it will be used, its maintenance, longevity and durability as well.