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Rug Fiber Guide

Today rugs can be made from many various types of fibers,  some natural, others synthetic.  Each has  its benefits.

Cotton fibers form within the cotton boll or the seed pod.  Once processed and spun, cotton fibers are soft and lightweight, quick to  absorb and quick to dry. Cotton can be used as a binding thread to help form  the backing and fringes found in area rugs, or it can also be used as the body  or main fabric in some area rugs.
Rayon starts as a natural product – cellulose - found in the  walls of all plant cells.  Spun rayon is  very much like silk and was known for many years as artificial silk. Production involves collecting wood chips and putting them through several chemical  processes that eventually yields viscose. The viscose is pushed through a  spinneret, a metal plate with many small holes. The viscose strands shoot out  of the spinneret into an acid bath where they harden into fibers. The size of  the holes in a spinneret determines the thickness of the fiber.
Nylon is a man-made material, the raw materials of which are  petroleum, natural gas, air, and water.   Combined by chemical processes into long-chain polymers, the result is the  fiber-forming substance known as polyamide, which is melted, spun and drawn after  cooling to create a fiber suitable for floor covering.  Nylon rugs are extremely durable and stain  resistant.


Polyester is a synthetic fiber, widely used to make products  ranging from carpets and clothing to park benches and milk bottles.  Polyester has a luxurious feel when used in  rugs and excellent color qualities;  it’s  resistant to water-soluble stains and easily cleaned. When used in thick, dense  cut pile Saxony or textured styles, it's an excellent value with outstanding  performance characteristics.
Polypropylene or Olefin
Polypropylene fiber is a petroleum products, characterized  by its resistance to moisture. It is strong, abrasion-resistant, quick drying,  colorfast, mildew-resistant, and soil- and stain-resistant and  lightweight.  Polypropylene is  inexpensive and due to its lightweight nature, not very durable.
Wool is a natural product with remarkable  characteristics  -- fiber elasticity that  can stretch up to 40% and rebound, a waxy outer membrane that covers the  fiber's core, keeping water from penetrating easily, and a scaly texture that  keeps soil particles on the surface of the fiber, making them easy to vacuum . Wool  naturally resists mildew, mold, and fungus attack in almost every climate. Yet  with all that, rugs made of wool offer a soft feel with outstanding durability  and can be created in a variety of strong or subtle hues.
Silk is a natural product, spun from  the cocoons of the silkworm.  It  is versatile, absorbs moisture, and has a smooth, polished texture.  While it can be dyed easily, it also stains  easily and has relatively poor resistance to sunlight exposure, and may be  subject to fading.  Silk, while seeming  thin, is the strongest natural fiber and is lustrous.  Rugs made of silk can be very expensive because  the material itself is expensive, and the very nature of that natural material  requires an extraordinarily high number of knots per square inch (1,000/Square  Inch or more)  - far more than wool or  cotton rugs.
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