Unlike wall-to-wall carpeting, area rugs are light and moveable. Making it easy to redesign the look of your room or the color scheme without having to replace the entire floor. A properly placed area rug can really tie the room together. Choosing the right area rug can be stressful.
If you are like 80 percent of people, you don’t think twice about the fiber content of the area rug you are buying. All that matters is the texture and the color.
After cleaning rugs for as long as we have, we have some pretty helpful input in that department. Before we get into that let’s take a closer look at why area rugs are so helpful. Then we can get into choosing the right area rug for you.
Protect the Flooring
If your home sees a lot of foot traffic, a well-placed area rug can save you lots of money and time in regular maintenance.
Ever looked at the tile under the area rug as opposed to the floor exposed to everyone’s feet? It’s spotless.
The same goes for carpeted floors. Carpet wears down over years. Think of it like a pair of sunglasses. (some carpet is actually made out of the exact same plastic.) If you were to consistently rub dirt and oils over the lens of your sunglasses eventually they would become scratched. Light wouldn’t transfer through the plastic as well and in the damaged areas, it would look shadowy.
The same thing happens to carpet fibers! Over years and years of heavy traffic the friction, dirt, and body oils scratch the fibers. That’s why sometimes in those highly walked areas the carpet looks darker.
A runner will drastically cut down that damage and expand the life of your carpet. Saving you tons of money on new carpets. Really though, why wouldn’t you buy one?
Area rugs are also a good air filter in the home. They trap dust and allergens in, instead of sitting on top of a hard surface just to get kicked in the air at any movement. Wall-to-wall carpeting does the same thing only on a bigger scale.
It used to be thought that carpets and rugs CAUSED allergies but recent studies have proven the opposite to be true. It makes sense right?
Hard Flooring is Noisy
Have you noticed that your room feels pretty empty and echoey without any sort of carpeting? Like it’s unfinished. You drop something on the floor and the noise is way louder than you would expect.
Plus if that something you dropped is breakable good luck…Tile flooring is unforgiving.
Area rugs dampen noise and make the room feel less empty. Home should feel comfortable and adding an area rug to a big space will help absorb the vibrations from any noise.
Unlike carpeted rooms, tile and hardwood don’t hold on to furniture. So when you sit down the inertia from movement will shift the seat backward.
This could possibly scratch the flooring underneath which is bad news for wood flooring. Area rugs cling on to furniture and anchor the piece better so when you sit down it won’t move.
Okay, We Get it
So, we have convinced you that area rugs are useful, eh? Now the next practical question is of course “How do you Choose the Right Area Rug?”
Ready for this?
We don’t know! There is no straight answer to that question. It’s completely up to you and your lifestyle! The best thing we can do is to tell you the pros and cons of some of the more popular fibers and let you figure it out on your own.
Choosing the Right Area Rug Fiber Content
Naturally, let’s start with the natural fibers.
Cotton is of course a natural fiber and just like all other natural fibers, it is absorbent. Which can be a pro or a con depending on how you want to look at it. It is a cellulosic fiber meaning it is derived from a plant. You guessed it, the cotton plant.
Pros: Cotton is durable which is a very good quality for an area rug. The pro to it being absorbent is that when cotton is dyed, the colors don’t wear out as quickly. So cotton area rugs can come in a multitude of different colors. They also have a soft texture and trap in warmth.
Cons: The biggest disadvantage for cotton is the browning due to it being a cellulosic fiber. When cotton gets wet it releases a type of sugar that wicks to the surface as it’s drying and causes a brown or yellow stain. The downside to its absorbancy is that since it dyes really well it is also susceptible to staining. And since it can not get wet or it will brown out… not really a good idea for people who have kids or pets.
Jute area rugs are easy to spot, they have a look all of their own. Being a natural cellulosic fiber just like cotton they bring a more natural feel to any room. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Pros: Jute grows quickly so it is one of the most environmentally friendly alternatives to synthetic fibers. That is a plus as well because then it won’t omit any VOCs into the air. Another positive thing to note is that jute rugs are fairly inexpensive and are biodegradable.
Cons: Jute doesn’t hold dye very well so most of the time it comes in the same beige type of color. Also since it comes from a plant it is cellulosic and is prone to browning if it gets wet. So the only way to clean it is dry cleaning or shaking it out. One more thing, it’s not very durable to placing it in traffic areas will cause it to break down.
Also of course a natural fiber but since it does not derive from plants it is what we call a protein fiber. Meaning that it comes from animals. Human beings have been making rugs out of wool for thousands of years and for good reason! It is a great choice in fibers. It’s not completely perfect though as you are about to find out.
We are going to quickly add that silk shares a lot of these same qualities that wool has. Unlike wool, however, we are unable to hot water extract on a silk rug.
Pros: Wool is surprisingly flame retardant.
When we are doing a fiber ID on area rugs (Which is something we do on every rug to be sure we clean it correctly) We take fiber from the bottom of the rug or the fringe and light it on fire. Wool is the easiest to classify because it immediately puts itself out.
Wool is also one of the most durable fibers. It holds up to wear and tear way better than any synthetic fiber could. Remember back to that sunglasses thing from earlier? If properly maintained a wool area rug is something you could possibly hand down to your children.
You may be asking us… you said it’s not completely perfect, but it sounds perfect. What are the cons?
And to that we say…Well, nothing is perfect.
Cons: Expensive. With quality fibers comes a quality price. Wool rugs can be pricey. Which is not always a bad thing. You get what you pay for. You are not going to be replacing this thing very often
Just like all natural fibers, wool is absorbent. With that absorbency comes a potential for staining. Unlike the cellulosic fibers though it can be wet cleaned but it holds stains very easily. If you have a white wool rug and you spill a Gatorade on that thing… good luck man, you’re keeping that stain for life.
Being a natural fiber it is extremely sensitive to chemicals. Do not ever put bleach on a wool area rug (Or really any area rug while we are on the subject) but especially wool. It will completely dissolve the fibers in a matter of minutes.
Choosing the Right Synthetic Area Rug
Most synthetic area rugs come in polyester or olefin. Since they share a lot of the same qualities we are just going to group them together in one.
Pros: Inexpensive which can be a plus or a minus, once again depending on how you look at it. They can be dyed whatever color you can imagine. Stain resistant. We are going to repeat this louder for the people in the back because it’s kind of a big deal. SYNTHETIC AREA RUGS ARE STAIN-RESISTANT. Most synthetics are made from plastics. Plastic is not very absorbent and repels oils. So they typically clean up pretty nice if there is no damage to them.
But that brings us to the cons…
Cons: They do not hold up well to wear and tear. Traffic lanes tend to appear quickly on these rugs. But hey, you get what you pay for right? They generally only last for about 5 years depending on the traffic in the home. If you compare that to a wool rug… that’s not long at all.
A final word on Choosing the Right Area Rug
If you have settled down, don’t have any small children in the home, and your pets behave themselves then a natural fiber rug would be a good choice for you. However, if you have small children and rambunctious dogs, we would recommend a synthetic rug for now.
Which one you choose after that completely depends on the style and color you have in your home.
No matter what type of rug you choose, you can trust that Zerorez® can take care of your area rug cleaning needs. Our technicians are trained in properly identifying fibers. Gives you the peace of mind that the cleanliness of your area rug is in good hands.