Although area rugs are often purchased primarily for their “look,” they also must perform well. Performance, in large part, is dictated by what the actual rug is made of. We invite you to explore below and learn about the benefits of various fibers such as wool, silks and synthetics.


Rug FIbers
Learn About Rugs - Rug Fibers 

The principal characteristics of rug fibers are: 1) Density - Refers to the closeness or tightness of the tufts or knots. The more dense the pile, the better the life and wear resistance. 2) Twist - This term describes the winding or spinning of yarn fibers around themselves. A tight yarn twist is desired for optimum resilience.

There are two basic categories of rug fibers (natural and synthetic) and each material within the category has distinct characteristics. The type of fiber chosen for use in your rug will also help to determine its appearance and performance. Most fibers provide brilliant colors, easy maintenance, softness and outstanding value. 

Learn About Rugs - Natural Rug Fibers
  Wool- Wool is the traditional standard of the industry. It wears very well and is available in many colors. Advantages include fiber fineness, fiber length and natural color. Wool has high bulk and is noted for its softness and handsome finishes. Short fiber wool is “carded” (rough combed) and is called Woolen. Longer-fiber yarn is fine combed and called Worsted.

Cotton - The use of cotton in the foundation of pile rugs is a very old practice. Often chosen for its softness and good wearing performance, cotton is also used for backing because of its resistance to stretching. Cotton is available in many colors and is used in both hand-made and machine-made rugs.

Silk - Silk is the royalty material for rugs. It is used in the pile and foundation of some of the most costly area rugs in the world. Its strength, sheen, brilliant colors and softness have been treasured for centuries in luxury rugs. Silk is sometimes used in combination with wool to impart highlights and luster with great effect.

Grasses - Many types of sea, field and mountain grasses are woven into “natural” rugs. Wear properties vary, but are generally somewhat less than with other fiber types. The range of available colors also tends to be limited. Costs for these materials range from modest to medium-high.

Wood fibers - Most common wood fibers include flax, hemp and jute. Bamboo and other wood types are also woven into many types of rug applications.

Animal hair - In some regions, goat hair, camel hair, horse hair and yak hair are also used in rug making.

Learn About Rugs - Sythetic Rug Fibers Acrylic- Acrylics have the appearance of wool and are often used for bathroom and “fun” rugs. Wear properties are fair and costs are favorable. However, acrylics are often blended with other man-made fibers.

Nylon - Resists soiling, wears well and is easily cleaned. Available in a wide variety of brilliant colors. Nylon is known for its resilience and performs well under heavy traffic and will also withstand movement of heavy furniture. Moderate cost level.

Olefins - Polypropylene is strong and has a wool-like feel. It resists wear and stains. It is colorfast and is used primarily in machine-made rugs. Both polypropylene and polyethylene are used in outdoor carpet applications. Moderate cost level.

Polyester - Has many of the features of the olefins. Presents a very soft “hand” when used in thick, cut-pile applications. Slightly more expensive than olefins.

Blends - Any of the above fiber types may be combined for special performance and/or appearance properties. Other materials (gold, silver, etc.) are also sometimes incorporated.