There are so many different decisions that go into choosing a rug, and one of the biggest is the actual rug fiber. Although many people have strong opinions about different fiber types, not everyone really understands the differences. We think it is time to do a little Rug Fiber 101.
Buying a rug made with natural fibers is good for your soul and good for the Earth! What most people don’t realize is that many rugs are made of natural fibers. When people think of natural fibers in rugs they assume the only option is Jute (or Sisal), but there are actually many great renewable fibers that make great rugs. Natural fibers are sustainably produced, look great, and most are pretty affordable.
One of our favorites, and what most people likely think of when they think of rug fiber– as it should be! Wool is actually pretty incredible:
It’s pretty much the gold standard for fibers, and it’s even what many synthetic fibers were created to mimic. If you can afford it and are not allergic, a well-constructed wool rug will look good for years.
These fibers, which are made from plants, are very different from wool. They have a beautiful, natural look, which is great for adding some texture or for layering. They’re also often inexpensive and durable to foot traffic.
They do have a few negatives though. Although one might think they would look great outside, they should not live outside. They can be difficult to clean and can become marked from liquids like water. And for some, the fact that they are on the rougher side makes them a less appealing option. There are many synthetic rugs, like olefin, that are meant to look like jute and sisal with way fewer issues.
Touch wise, nothing beats the texture of silk. It’s spun from silkworms, and its soft, shiny, yarn allows for very tightly woven rugs. The downsides is that silk rugs can be extremely expensive and very delicate, making them difficult to clean. If you have a silk rug, it might be worth finding a local rug cleaner and keeping them on file for rug emergencies. Just like the other natural fibers we have discussed so far, there are silk alternatives. Viscose can be a great, affordable option to check out if you are in the market for that silk look without the price tag.
Another great natural fiber option. Cotton is known for being very soft and easy to dye, as well as affordable, making them prevalent in rugs geared towards kids rooms. Most often seen as a flatweave, but sometimes as a rag-rug. The only downsides to cotton are that it isn’t super easy to clean. So keep that in mind if you’re looking for a bedroom rug for your kids!
For many, synthetic is seen as a bad word, something they would never want their rug to be. But honestly, synthetic fibers have come a LONG way, and in some cases might even be the preferred option. Below we break down some of the top synthetic fibers you might find while rug shopping. Many of these are great if you or someone in your family is allergic to wool, if price is an issue, or if your rug is for your patio. So many great uses for synthetic rugs, we hope we can break the stigma!
This fiber can be a great alternative to wool. It is stain resistant, usually very affordable, and holds colors really well (you might not realize just how important this is!). Although it is often used like wool, it can also be seen in fade-resistant indoor/outdoor rugs. These rugs are great for every space, from your kitchen to your back patio.
This is a newer fiber for rugs, although it has been popular in clothing and carpet for years. It is often made from recycled soda bottles, so it does some good for the Earth! It is known for being soft and durable, stain resistant and very affordable. It can be used for making everything from soft and silky shag rugs to beautiful fade-resistant indoor/outdoor rugs.
This is a shiny fiber that is derived from wood (or bamboo) pulp. Although that might sound like it should be in the natural section, it is actually synthetic. The pulp is mixed with chemicals to produce the final product, making it man-made. Viscose and Rayon are often used as silk alternatives, usually used as an accent fiber, to give depth and add a touch of silkiness to the rug. However, in a high traffic area these fibers can crush down, showing their age, and as if that weren’t enough, water or liquid spills can cause permanent marks. We suggest using viscose in light traffic areas and if possible in medium to darker colors. Overall though, viscose and rayon are great at adding a bit of glamour without breaking the bank.
Is another fiber that is often used as a wool alternative. Like polyester, it can be made using recycled materials, and then recycled again once its life as a rug is over. It’s known for its durability and stain resistance, but compared to other synthetic fibers it is often pretty pricey. For that reason, there are not many nylon area rugs in the market.
This is another fiber that can sub for wool, especially when blended with other fibers like olefin. They usually come in affordable prices and are good looking, but they’re not great for heavy foot traffic.
Now that you know all of your rug fiber options, it’s time to select your rug. Browse through our selection of area, bedroom, hallway, bathroom, kitchen rugs and more!