How to Choose the Best Rug Material for Your Space

Choice paralysis; the inability to choose between options due to the overwhelming amount of choices available to us. Finding that perfect rug for your space can create this frustrating response. Not only will you find seemingly endless patterns and colors, but the materials of construction can also vary. Wool, silk, cotton, polypropylene, and hide, each with their pros and cons, are used by designers to create rugs. Here is your quick guide to the differences, so you can narrow your focus and choose the perfect rug for you.

Wool

Wool is simply the top choice for most rug lovers. It is one of the most eco-friendly materials on the market and its natural properties make it a strong case for its use in rugs. Wool feels very soft underfoot and provides better insulating properties than other rug materials. Due to the natural oils on the fibers, wool rugs are inherently resistant to dirt and stains. You can easily clean a wool rug with a regular vacuum cleaner and stains can be treated with gentle detergent solutions. Wool is a very robust natural fiber, which allows wool rugs to easily bounce back and recover from being walked on, making it ideal for high traffic areas. Taking all these properties into account, and you’ve got a natural, eco-friendly rug that far outlasts synthetic rugs, lasting up to 50 years or more with the right care. All of these perks come at a cost, however, as wool rugs tend to come at a higher price than other materials.

 

Polypropylene

The most common type of rug you will see at your local department store is constructed with polypropylene. This synthetic material is made to mimic wool fibers, giving a soft feel at a budget-friendly cost. Polypropylene rugs are also durable, fade resistant, and clean easily, making it a good choice for high traffic areas in your home. However, with the benefits comes an environmental downside. Like other rugs with synthetic materials, these rugs typically only last around five years. Polypropylene is made from petroleum and, like plastics, can take decades to decompose in a landfill even in the best of conditions. You can, however, find polypropylene rugs made from recycled materials which helps reduce its environmental impact. All in all, these rugs are best used when you need a temporary, inexpensive, and durable solution for your home.

 

 

Polyester

Polyester rugs share many of the same properties as polypropylene. These rugs are durable, fade resistant, and clean easily. They’re also more budget friendly for many homeowners. Polyester rugs will feel slightly softer due to the finer fibers, however, these finer fibers are also more prone to damage and breakage and require more frequent cleaning. Like its relative, polypropylene, polyester is a synthetic material derived from oil and is not considered to be very environmentally friendly. Since polyester rugs are usually not recycled they typically end their lives in the landfill where it will take decades to decompose. Also like polypropylene, these rugs usually last around five years with the right care. If polyester is your choice, it’s best to find one that is made from recycled materials if possible. Again, like polypropylene, these rugs are best used as a temporary, inexpensive, and durable solution.


Cotton

Cotton is another inexpensive rug option available and is more environmentally friendly than synthetic rugs. Many cotton rugs are made to be reversible and can be flipped over, extending its lifespan. While cotton is not as stain resistant, the upkeep is easier than other types since smaller cotton rugs can be washed in a standard washing machine. The colors on cotton rugs tend to fade quicker than other materials, however, and wear out quickly in high traffic areas. These rugs are best used in a medium to low traffic area, and you can reduce the color fading by placing the rug out of direct sunlight. If you are looking for an inexpensive, environmentally friendly option for your home, cotton is a good choice.


Silk

Silk rugs give off a luxurious shine that can’t be matched. Silk is a strong fiber and allows for highly intricate designs, reaching knot counts 4 times higher than other rugs. The strength also lends silk rugs to be thinner, more flexible, and with proper care, can hold up for generations. These features drive silk rugs to be one of the priciest options available. Also, to maintain its high quality, cleaning is best done by a trained professional. Because of this, silk rugs are most suitable for areas of your home with very light traffic. 


Hide/Leather Rugs

Hide rugs are made from treated animal hides, the most common being cowhide. Since each animal has a unique hide, every rug is unique in its patterns and colors. The irregular shape of these rugs make them a great focal point in small rooms and for layering on top of other materials. When properly cared for, hide rugs are very durable. The natural oils in a hide rug naturally repel most liquids making it one of the most stain resistant options. While these rugs tend to accumulate dirt and dust easier than other types, cleaning is easily accomplished by shaking or beating it outside. However, when purchasing a hide rug, it’s good practice to research how the hide was treated in the production process. To reduce cost, some companies use harsh chemicals and methods to treat the hide. This results in a lower quality, less durable rug and introduces unnecessary chemicals into your home.


A rug's material is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for rugs. These are just a handful of common materials, and you'll often find a mix of these materials when shopping. Now that you have an idea of which will work best for you, stay tuned for our first wool rug designs that will be available soon at Citra Studio!

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