When you buy a rug you may not always think about what goes into making it. Your eyes are drawn to the beautiful colors and patterns of a rug or perhaps you love how the rug feels when you touch it, but you don’t think twice about whether it’s synthetic or natural or whether it’s made of a mixture of various rug materials.
Does it really matter what rug materials the rug is made out of? Well yes, of course! The type of rug material really matters because it determines a rug’s durability, texture, cleaning requirements, visual appeal, and so much more. Brush up on rug materials 101 by learning what the 10 best rug materials are and what makes them so special. Here are the 10 best rug materials you should look for when purchasing your next high-quality rug.
Wool is an all-natural material that will far outlast most rugs made from synthetic fibers. This makes them great for heavy foot traffic areas. They can be used in almost any style and will spring back to shape more easily than most synthetic materials. You truly can’t go wrong with a wool rug. They are gorgeous pieces worth investing in for your home.
Wool rugs are stain-resistant due to the organic coating of each individual fiber that repels water and stains. This prevents contaminants from penetrating deep within the pile. To clean, simply disable the beater bar in your vacuum and vacuum the rug. For stains, use a wet towel and clear dish soap to scrub away any spots. Wool is naturally hypoallergenic and has been shown to act as a natural air purifier by absorbing common household contaminants from the air. Wool doesn’t support the growth of mildew. Wool rugs also are natural insulators and provide year-round humidity control.
While wool may be a preferred choice to synthetic materials, we certainly don’t rule them out. When it comes to synthetic materials, there are so many great options and benefits. Polypropylene is highly durable, great for heavy foot traffic, and even tough enough to use outdoors. Polypropylene is abrasion resistant, mildew resistant, UV-resistant, and quick-drying. This rug material is solution-dyed, which makes it the most colorfast of all fibers.
If you are looking for the perfect outdoor rug, polypropylene rugs are ideal for areas where sun and weather conditions are a factor. As far as cleaning, you can use strong cleaners without the risk of damaging the fibers. Perhaps the best perk of Polypropylene rugs is the price. Polypropylene is relatively inexpensive and is regularly used in low-cost machine-based manufacturing processes.
Silk is a material that was first used as early as 2600 B.C. Silk rugs have a long and storied history as a luxurious textile. These beautiful pieces are highly decorative, and they are often soft and lightweight. Many people even buy silk rugs for the purpose of hanging them on the walls as artwork. Silk has a unique texture that allows this rug material to stand apart from other fibers—it is soft and smooth without being slippery.
Silk is a very high-quality material, but it is not as stain-resistant. If you catch the stain right away, you can clean it up by blotting with a clean, absorbent cloth, but this generally isn’t the best rug material to have around kids or pets. For the ultimate rug choice, find a silk rug that is combined with wool for an easier-to-clean choice that is extremely beautiful and one-of-a-kind.
Viscose is commonly known as a faux silk. This synthetic fiber is also known as rayon and spun from a mixture of natural wood fibers, cotton by-products, and man-made materials. It is one of the cheapest synthetic rug materials making it very budget-friendly. Viscose is also a great rug material choice because it works well in machine-made rugs, which means it can be created in a fraction of the time needed to make a rug by hand.
When is viscose a good choice? If you want an affordable rug that is going to be more durable than a 100% viscose rug, look for rugs that combine viscose with stronger fibers like wool or polypropylene. This combination yields a durable rug with a luxurious sheen and soft feel.
Hemp is a wonderful rug material and very eco-friendly. Hemp rugs are made from hemp grass grown in the highlands of China. Hemp plants have thick, rigid reeds that are non-porous and smooth with a soft underfoot that is very pliable. Hemp rugs have a natural sheen of warm tan hues—great for people who are looking for a more natural or earthy feel to their homes. Hemp is eco-friendly because it goes through very little processing before being spun into yarn cords.
Hemp is a durable rug choice with low maintenance. Dirt won’t cling to the fibers, and the tan hue hides any dirt that does reside. Vacuum weekly without the beater bar for optimal cleanliness. Be careful of moisture because hemp does absorb liquids which can lead to mold and mildew. This shouldn’t be an issue if you avoid placing them in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, or any other rooms that tend to be damp or humid.
Another eco-friendly, all-natural fiber, jute makes our list of top rug materials without a doubt. Jute comes from the family of tropical jute plants which are grown throughout the world. These fibers become strong threads that make both rugs and mats. Don’t let the affordability of jute rugs throw you off—they are one of the most high-quality natural fibers.
Jute is often dubbed the “golden fiber” because it is naturally a shade between off-white and brown. Similar to hemp, you’ll want to keep jute away from moisture. It can release oils and stain the backing and surrounding materials if exposed to moisture. It is also susceptible to mildew and mold. Vacuum without the beater bar for maintenance.
Similar to viscose, nylon is a commonly used fiber that mimics silk. It is soft and features bright colors similarly to silk rugs. However, nylon rugs are more durable than silk and more affordable and easier to clean. This makes them a huge winner in our book! In fact, nylon is the strongest synthetic fiber in rug construction.
Nylon fibers spring back after being crushed or matted, and they work well in high-traffic areas and underneath furniture. Nylon is easy to clean because the fibers repel most dirt and grime. Nylon rugs are often solution-dyed to create bright, long-lasting color.
Seagrass is another environmentally-friendly, natural rug material that we love. They are popular rugs for their look, durability, and easy maintenance. Seagrass rugs show off natural color and, because of their non-absorbant nature, are often not dyed. Hues from khaki tan to sage green are their natural colors.
Seagrass is one of the moist stain-resistant natural fibers available. It has a natural wax coating that protects its fibers, which helps it repel dirt and grime. Similar to hemp and jute, keep seagrass rugs away from moisture.
Sisal is an excellent rug choice because it is an affordable natural fiber that is highly durable and hypoallergenic. This naturally-insulating rug reduces humidity and heating and cooling costs. It also reduces static electricity.
Sisal can be easily dyed or bleached, which makes it more versatile when it comes to decorating compared to other natural fibers. As is common with natural fibers, sisal cannot be near moisture. However, it can be used in high-traffic areas. To clean, sweep off dirt or vacuum with the beater bar removed. Sisal rugs can also be beaten or shook by hand.
Acrylic is a man-made fiber that mimics wool, however, acrylic is less expensive than wool. It is also mold and mildew resistant, holds onto bright colors, dries quickly, and is fairly stain resistant. Because they’re slightly less durable, acrylic rugs are better for low traffic areas.
Acrylic rugs can withstand machine washing which makes them easy to clean. It is common to combine acrylic with other materials, especially wool. The perfect combo of acrylic and wool is more durable but less expensive.