The Difference Between Synthetic & Natural Fiber Area Rugs

NF731A from Natural Fibers 700 by Safavieh

Which rug should I buy? Should I get a synthetic or natural fiber area rug? These are questions that pop up in the mind of most rug buyers. Certainly, there are pros and cons to both types of rug material. Let’s take a look at the true difference between the two.

Synthetic rugs are those made from non-natural materials such as nylon, polypropylene, and polyester. Rugs made from these materials are often manufactured by power looms in a rug factory. Some consumers may choose rugs like these for their bright and vibrant color schemes and affordable price.

Natural fiber rugs include wool, cotton, and silk. You can also classify animal hides as a natural fiber rug. These rugs are often used for elaborate, hand-crafted rug designs. When thinking of a wool or cotton rug you may think of an older vintage design. Rugs like these speak to a rustic period in time. While synthetic rugs may appeal to the modern eye and design. Both rug materials have their place in a home depending on the personality and theme of the room they’ll be in.

1. Understanding Types of Fibers

ADA-4 from Andaman by Amer

Synthetic rugs are sometimes referred to as “fake” rugs. These rugs tend to be cheaper than their natural fiber counterparts. Even though these rugs won’t be displayed in a museum, there are many benefits to purchasing a synthetic rug. Synthetic rug fibers can be confusing because they’re constantly improving.

For example, a recent rug fiber has come out called Triexta. Triexta comes from the same fibers as polyester, but there are some key differences between the two synthetic fibers. If you’re an eco-friendly consumer, this is one of the best synthetic rug choices for you. These rugs are made from a certain biotechnology, which allows corn glucose to be used during manufacturing. You should also know that the term “Olefin” is the generic name for and often substituted with polypropylene. These terms are interchangeable and refer to the same kind of rug fiber.

Natural fiber rugs aren’t as complex. These rugs are made from fibers that occur in nature, often plant fibers. They tend to be softer and are generally eco-friendly. A few other natural rug fibers include hemp, seagrass, and jute.

2. Do synthetic or natural fiber rugs have better durability?

HER-2318 from Herati by Surya

Of all the synthetic rug materials nylon is one of the most durable. Polyester is also incredibly durable as is polypropylene. Nylon holds up better underweight, however, because polypropylene has trouble rebounding from being crushed.

When looking at natural fiber rugs, you’ll see bigger differences in durability. Wool rugs are arguably the most durable rug material as are cotton rugs, but rugs made out of jute or silk tend to be more high maintenance.

Sisal rugs are also pretty durable. Seagrass is just as durable as sisal but make sure to ask yourself if these natural fibers will last as long as wool or cotton. Wool rugs have the longest durability out of all the natural fibers and will often last over a decade.

3. Are Natural Fibers or Synthetic Area Rugs More Stain Resistant?

SOH519B from Soho by Safavieh

This is an area that varies from fiber to fiber. While some synthetic rugs are stain resistant, others aren’t and the same goes for natural materials as well.

Synthetic materials like Polypropylene are often treated with certain chemicals to make them more stain resistant. This is a concern for consumers who want to have an organic home. Without these chemicals, polypropylene is one of the least stain resistant materials on the market. Nylon also features these same chemicals, but they aren’t used as often as in polypropylene.

Jute, wool, and silk are not stain-resistant rugs. It will take some more work to get the stain out of these materials. Sisal and seagrass rugs, on the other hand, are stain resistant. Using a simple water and soap solution should get out any stain with this natural fiber. Keep in mind Sisal rugs are known to be pretty slippery as well.

4. Will A Natural Fiber Rug Last Longer Than A Synthetic Fiber Rug?

NF731A from Natural Fibers 700 by Safavieh

Rug longevity alone is one of the most important factors for most consumers. The longevity of the rug partially depends on the material it’s made from. Generally, synthetic rug won’t last as long as wool, cotton or silk rugs.

When looking for a rug which will last for years and years to come you’ll want to go with wool, silk or cotton. In addition to being incredibly durable materials, they’re typically also made with higher quality manufacturing techniques. While the rug material is important, it’s only one factor in the overall durability and longevity of the rug.

The fibers in wool, cotton, and silk allow them to be some of the most durable fibers on the market. Wool can withstand more weight than other rug materials and is easy to maintain. Cotton tends to be just as long-lasting. These rugs will prove to be the softest and will outlast most materials.

5. Are Synthetic Fibers Cheaper Than Natural Fiber Area Rugs?

IF1 from Infinity by Dalyn

The price of a rug often depends on size, design and of course, material. Rug materials such as wool, cotton, and silk will cost the most overall. Generally, synthetic rug materials are thought to be less expensive. This is because synthetic rugs are often factory made and the materials can be mass produced at a relatively low price.

Wool, cotton, and silk require more work and money. These materials are often hand woven as well which takes considerably more time than other techniques.

Materials such as jute and seagrass are more expensive than synthetic materials but less expensive than wool or cotton. These materials can be harvested and are easy to work with. The fact that they’re environmentally friendly allows manufacturers to charge more for them.

6. Finding Your Perfect Look

501G from Revival by Oriental Weavers

Synthetic and natural fiber rugs both have different looks and designs. Synthetic rugs often use bright colors, abstract designs, and keep a modern feel. Natural fiber rugs are more likely to have a rustic design with deep colors.

Certain natural fiber rugs such as seagrass and jute are difficult to dye and maintain their light brown colors and a straw-like texture. These rugs often look great in living rooms, patios and as welcome mats.

Synthetic rugs can go pretty much anywhere in a home. Bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and hallways. Wool, cotton or silk rugs generally look best in living rooms or other rooms with larger spaces. This is because they’re a high-quality product with meticulous designs.

A simple solution to figuring out which type of rug will look best in your home is to buy sample sizes of a synthetic and natural fiber rug. Feel these samples and place one in the living room and one in a bedroom to get a feel for which you like better.

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