What type of area rugs are more durable?

Natural Fiber Area Rugs

First, let’s define natural fibers. A natural fiber comes from plants or animals.

These types of area rugs are made with natural fiber:

  • Wool
  • Hemp
  • Sea Grass
  • Bamboo
  • Sisal

They are of the highest quality, and are eco-friendly. Wool rugs are more expensive than their synthetic counter-parts but will last much longer and perform better. Sea grass is quite durable and is recommended for high traffic areas like hallways, entries and family rooms. However, be careful with spills, as these rugs are not very easy to spot-clean.

Silk of course is less durable and best used in low traffic areas such as formal living rooms. They can also make excellent wall hangings. Another common use of silks is to only weave the highlights of a design with it and the rest of the pile is in wool. If for example when you see a rug made of 80% wool and 20% Silk, that’s usually the case.

Many natural fiber rugs are hand-made with the greatest of care. Bamboo is becoming a very popular fiber because of its natural wood-like and sustainability. It also makes for a great outdoor rug. Wool is considered the oldest natural fiber and has been used for centuries to make quality, long lasting wool rugs. Most Persian and Oriental rugs are made exclusively of wool.

If you or a family member has allergies or chemical sensitivities, you’ll want to choose a natural fiber rug, as opposed to synthetic fibers, as they are commonly made with synthetic dyes or chemicals. Natural area rugs are a good choice for those wanting a more eco-friendly and green lifestyle.

Synthetic Fiber Area Rugs

Again, we’ll define synthetic fibers, remember synthetic fibers do not come from plants or animals, they are man-made. They have been manufactured in a factory of some sort. Don’t confuse this with being handmade. They could be called that but yet made from un-natural fibers.

Synthetic rugs have been normally made from artificial fibers in a factory using an automated procedure with machinery and yet recently they have been hand-tufted or hand-hooked.

Some of the materials used for synthetic rugs are:

  • Nylon
  • Polypropylene
  • Acrylic
  • Polyester

These fibers are strong and are weather and water resistant, so they are made to last longer than some of their natural fiber counterparts. They can also be stain and fade resistant, depending how they were made. They are dyed using ingredients and chemicals that are also man-made. Some of the ingredients used for dye include acid, chrome and aniline. Some would argue that polyester is a potentially eco-friendly choice, because it is made from recycled soda bottles (but is the soda pop made in an eco-friendly way in the first place? hmm). These types are generally less expensive and will hold up longer in high traffic areas. They can generally take a bit more beating if well constructed.

Each type has its pros and cons, you'll have to decide for yourself which one you will choose.

Don’t choose on cost alone, remember that in most cases you get what you pay for. A rug that is low quality is not going to last you as long. You may pay less now, but you’ll pay more when you have to buy a new one only a relatively short time. Keep in mind what the rug will be used for and how much traffic it will be getting. In other words, don’t choose a silk rug for your entry way or your family room. Your traffic area has to fit with the type of fiber you choose.

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