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What is the Best Material for your Rug?

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Ed Hawes
How to choose the best rug material

Choosing a rug is a far more technical endeavour than most people realise. Most focus on two areas: size and colour. Whilst these are important in creating the ambiance and general feel of a space, most forget to consider where the rug will go in the property.

Seems obvious, right? However, most people, especially if they are buying for their own property, prioritise look and feel over longevity. With that in mind, we have put together a quick yet helpful guide on rug composition, this will allow you to balance style and practicality and make the most of your interior.

Cream circular rug

Wool rugs 

In rug making, wool is regarded as the best type of yarn in creating floor coverings. Its texture is both warm and soft underfoot. Its ability to absorb dyes very easily is a result of it being a natural fibre.

Wool rugs can be used in high traffic areas such as hallways and living rooms, especially given its practicality from its stain-resistance.Regular vacuuming results in a rug which has great longevity and will retain its colour for many years.

The higher the quality of the wool, the softer the rug will feel underfoot. More affordable wool can often be quite less soft and even brittle to the touch.

Silk rugs 

Widely known as a very luxurious material, silk rugs are the most expensive on the market, given the nature of harvesting silk. They are often woven to create ornate and patterned rugs such as Persian and Hereke rugs, which are famous across the world.

Silk rugs should be used to create a statement in a formal area which does not experience high volumes of traffic given that it marks heavily due to its softness and can also be stained quite easily due its shiny nature.

We’d recommend using these rugs in a formal living area underneath a reception table, or in a luxurious study underneath a stylish pair of guest chairs.

Pink rug with pink sofa

Tencel rugs 

Tencel is a material generated from wood cellulose. It is gaining popularity in terms of rug-making due to the move towards using sustainable materials in interiors.

To touch, Tencel has a similar handle to rayon or bamboo rugs and when combined with cotton, feels akin to silk textured rugs. Similar to wool, Tencel has a fantastic affinity for dyeing and similarly to viscose has a slight sheen. Therefore, these rugs can be created in vibrant colours with beautiful textures.

Tencel is harder wearing than the likes of viscose and is much easier to clean, so they are ideal for creating an ambiance of glamour in popular areas of your interior, such as living rooms or bedrooms.

Cotton rugs 

Cotton, as a natural fibre, is popularly used across soft furnishings and within rugs, cotton is often combined with a variety of materials to create a stylish, yet more affordable look.

In terms of textures, cotton creates a soft feel, but does not lend itself to having extensive pile strength, meaning that cotton composed rugs are often slighter flatter.

As with wool and Tencelã­, one of cotton’s advantages is its ability to absorb dye and retain the colour, resulting in beautifully coloured pieces for your floor. Cotton is also known for its durability. This combined with its ability to be coloured means that cotton rugs are often recommended for interiors where there are animals and children present, as they can be easily cleaned and maintained. 

Leather and PU & Hide rugs

Rather more applicable to contemporary or minimalist settings, leather or faux leather can be used to create wonderful rugs.

These rugs are largely created by piecing together areas of the hide from different areas, which results in a more eclectic look. Leather and cowhide rugs should be used in a lower traffic area, whereas PU hide rugs can be used in a variety of contexts given their general durability.

Viscose rugs

Similar to Tencel, viscose is a fibre which is made from regenerated wood cellulose.

In terms of its handle, viscose rayon is structurally similar to cotton and consequently, they are often combined to create beautifully soft rugs.

Whilst it feels similar to cotton, aesthetically, viscose is compared to silk due to its sheen. Like silk, it can be dyed easily and can therefore produce rugs in beautiful and vibrant colours.

One cannot use 100% viscose rugs in high traffic areas and expect longevity, it can mark very easily, especially when it comes into contact with moisture.

Heat-Set Polypropylene rugs 

Heat-Set Polypropylene is regarded as a desirable material for producing rugs by machine. In many ways it is similar to wool and as such has a soft handle.

The use of HSPP results in a more affordable option for rugs which would usually cost 5-10 times more if they were crafted in wool or viscose. Furthermore, is regarded as being fairly durable, it is stain-resistant and retains colour very well. However, it does have reduced “bounce back” and if furniture is placed on a HSPP rug, it may display furniture marks and slight indications of abrasion. Avoid placing these rugs in hallways, but they can be used in pretty much every other context with fantastic longevity.

We came up with a few tips on how to choose the perfect rug - aside from materials. So, for a more detailed deep-dive into rug size, shape and styling, head here.

Shop Rugs How to Choose the Perfect Rug

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