For Home Decor, Is there Really a Difference in Area Rug Fibers?

    The simple answer is YES. There can be a huge difference in the durability, clean-ability and overall performance of an area rug due the the manner and fiber from which it is made. Whether Hand-Made or Machine-Made, the single element that makes one area rug better than another is the fiber that it is made of. If you could invest some money and be certain of a double or triple return, not many of us would hesitate. That’s how important Fiber is to an Area Rug and yet, far too many people have no idea what they are investing in when it comes to rugs.

    Hand-made rugs of natural fibers are at the top of performance, but these types of rugs are usually higher end rugs that are priced above that which an average household is able to pay. The next classification of rug would be machine-made. Machine-made rugs are very affordable and there have been great strides in machine-made rugs over the past years. Many of these rugs will rival a hand-made rug in beauty and durability, especially when coupled with the right fiber. Yes, technology has come a long way but when it comes to home decor, seldom is a synthetic (or man-made) material better than that which nature has already provided. Natural rug fibers are almost always your best choice for home decor value. For example. Would you rather have a leather sofa or one that is crafted from "pleather" (a synthetic plastic-leather)? Would you rather have cotton sheets on your bed, or be sandwiched between layers of sweaty and unnatural rayon (I am reminded of my daughter who thought that rayon might be as good as satin but, one night of sweat and slither was all she could stand)? Would you rather your furniture be made from quality hardwood (that can be passed down to the next generation), or press-board with a simulated (synthetic) "wood-look finish" (that can barely be moved from one side of the room to the other without suffering damage)? This also applies when it comes time for an area rug for your home decor needs.

     It really does come down to the fiber from which a machine-made rug is manufactured as to the value you will get from that rug. Most common fibers used in today’s area rugs include Natural fibers such as Wool, Jute or Cotton. There has also been a great surge in the use of Synthetic (petroleum based) fibers, such as Man-Made-Silk, Nylon, Olefin (polypropylene) and blends of these synthetic products. As the economy has taken a down-turn, I have noticed that many rug manufacturers are using more and more olefin or polypropylene fibers, as these fibers are the least expensive to use in the manufacture of area rugs. In reading recent news and trends in area rugs I have noticed that even the "name brand" rug makers are resorting to the use of less expensive olefin fiber in their area rugs. As the price of oil continues to skyrocket out of control, these inferior fibers are becoming the norm for most rugs you will find on the market today. Even though it is sad for me to see inferior synthetic fiber rugs selling for about the same price as better fibers were sold for just a short while ago, it does provide some solace that natural fibers (which are far better) are becoming much more affordable. By far, the best fibers for area rugs are natural fibers. And natural fiber rugs have much less impact on our environment.  In other words; they are very "Green". And natural fiber rugs will outlast most synthetic fiber rugs twice over, and then some. If you absolutely must have a synthetic fiber rug, make certain it is man-made-silk or nylon. These will give you the best value in synthetics. When and if you have the option, stay away from synthetic fibers and choose natural fibers instead. These provide the best overall value.

    Here is my quick-list of preferred fibers and uses:

Indoors (interior decor) – Wool is your best value for beauty, clean-ability and durability.

Indoors (bath and entrance) – Jute or cotton (without latex or rubber backings) If cotton would be too slippery on your bath floor, choose a thicker jute mat.

Outdoors (patio or entrance exit mats) – Jute is the best natural fiber.

    The benefits of using wool, (*specifically New Zealand wool) area rugs for home decor are too numerous for this article. For more information about wool area rugs and home decor visit our web site where we have a lot of tips, ideas and facts.

* Certain breeds of sheep have been selectively bred, for hundreds or thousands of years, specifically for carpet or rug grade wool. Some of the best "Carpet Grade Wool" comes from New Zealand sheep.


(This article also featured on


About Charles Beason

Flooring Consultant/ Estimator, Bi-vocational Pastor of Oasis Missionary Baptist Church, Internet Business Owner, Webmaster.

Posted on June 6, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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