Rugs - a definition*
Noun: a floor covering of thick woven material or animal skin, typically not extending over the entire floor

An overview of the materials that make up our rugs

Acrylic is a man made fibre with the look and feel of wool but with none of the drawbacks. It is a great alternative to wool, but at a lower price. It absorbs colour well in the dyeing process which enhances its colour fastness through the life of the rug. Unlike a natural fibre Acrylic is stain resistant and its colour fastness makes it less likely to fade in sunlight. There are many grades of Acrylic, the lower grades are sometimes prone to matting and piling but with regular maintenance this is reduced. Acrylic rugs are a cost effective option which are durable and very easy to maintain whilst being cosmetically pleasing. The Harlequin range offers fine examples of acrylic rugs.

Bamboo Silk
Probably one of the strongest fibres, also maybe the most appealing. Bamboo silk is derived from bamboo grass and spun into silk like fibres to produce a soft, luxurious fabric. Unlike the silky viscose rayon fabrics it can be washed and it will still maintain its shape and integrity. It holds its colour well and our Ikat rugs show the depth of colours that can be used. What makes bamboo silk even more appealing is its sustainability. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on our planet, the stems are used in the manufacturing process and not the roots and so replanting is not an issue, in short, bamboo silk not only looks good, but is good for the planet.

A bi-product of the petro chemical industry, Polyester is a hard wearing and colour fast material. Its physical qualities include resistance to staining and moisture absorption. It doesn’t shrink or wrinkle and is not photosensitive so it will not fade in sunlight. Polyester is a strong fabric and when blended with other fabrics its durability is increased. Many shaggy rugs are made from polyester giving them a luxuriously soft feel. It is easily maintained with regular cleaning and is ultimately washable. Polyester rugs offer great value for money.

Polypropylene is widely used in machine made rugs; it is a manmade fibre which is inexpensive to produce. Although it is prone to flattening, most polypropylene rugs are constructed with a dense pile which reduces this problem. Harder to dye than other manmade or natural fabrics, it still holds its colour well and is easily maintained. It is stain resistant to most spillages other than oil based products. Polypropylene rugs are not as hard wearing as other fabrics but with regular maintenance and care they will retain their appearance throughout their life.

Sisal is a natural product produced from the Sisal plant. The leaves contain the fibres and these are stripped out and dried. The fibres are then dried and processed. Traditionally sisal was used for twines and ropes because of its strength but increasingly it is now used in floorings. It is hard wearing and very low maintenance normally requiring only regular vacuuming. It is quite absorbent and is therefore not recommended for ‘wet’ areas. Despite its hardwearing nature it can flatten in high traffic areas. Only a small percentage of the plant is used to make the fibres and therefore can be pricey. Lookalike alternatives can be found in our flatweave ranges.

Viscose Rayon
A ‘manmade, natural fibre’, viscose is generally made from wood pulp producing a cellulose solution which is then spun into viscose rayon fibres. Viscose rayon is strong and durable but also very soft, it’s silk like texture adds luxury to rugs. It can be dyed easily and holds its colour well. It is not as hard wearing as many of the other fibres but rugs such as the Opulence range offer silk like qualities at a fraction of the price. It is not recommended that you wash a viscose rayon rug, but with regular maintenance it still should last a life time.

One of the most resilient materials, wool for rugs comes from various animals including sheep, goats, alpacas and even rabbits. New Zealand wool is considered the best for its durability whilst offering softness that only wool can. A pure wool rug does come at a price, probably the most expensive material and it is not as stain resistant as its manmade counterparts, but the pros outweigh the cons significantly. Wool mixes offer more durability and also different textures and finishes.

*courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary

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