Things to know about rug fiber

Wool is a favorite material for rugs because it is sheep's hair and like human hair it has scales on the outside of the madula. (Think TV commercial for shampoo when they enlarge a hair folical) the scales become pockets where dye can hold, and reflect saturated colors. So they make a great canvas for dye. Wool is also very durable if long staple and fireproof. $$$

Silk is very similar to wool, has the same properties but stronger and has a very nice sheen also a strand of silk is usually much finer than the wool yarn so a weaver can create a rug with far greater detail if his expertise allows. $$$$$

Art Silk, Rayon, viscose, Tencil, lumicel are all a mixture of a cellulosic fiber like cotton, banana leaves, bamboo ground up and mixed with a synthetic or plastic. The cellulosic portion of the fiber will hold dye and the synthetic will create a sheen to appear like silk so they can be very beautiful, their Achilles heal lies in the strength of the fibers so you get the look of silk but no durability as the cellulosic material decreases strength. Art silk fiber are weakest when wet and brown easily, spills also make them a challenge for maintenance.$$

Synthetic, are more stain resistant since the fiber is usually smooth making it easier to clean and vacuum vs wool or silks, however they lack color Intensity and natural crimping of fiber. So they don't bounce back as easily. Most Synthetics are not costly, they are not easily degradable so they are not going to decompose as quickly as natural fiber rugs when discarded. They also are not fire resistant and may give off VOCs. Well suited for installs from wall to wall, cost effective, and neutrality of design and color make them a simple choice. $

Cotton is a cellulosic fiber, durable is fair, not fireproof infact adds fuel to a fire, doesn't hold dyes as well as wool and silk but much better than synthetics, it can brown if wet and not dried properly like other cellulosic, fibers (Think of a wet white terricloth towel that sits in a corner, edges get brown like a potato after slicing.$

Seagrass, Sisal and linen are cellulosic and don't have dye sites so hard to dye and no striking colors also more susceptible to browning than cotton.$

All these fibers are used in ares rugs and broadloom, so it really depends on your budget and what you have in mind for decor. Most people do not consider rugs or carpets for softness since they are walked on. When considering wool or silk rugs, colors, quality of wool, where it was woven, along with age and scarcity will impact prices,

Certified Master Rug Cleaner

Jim Olivella

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