While the size, shape and colour of a rug are all important considerations, choosing the right material is equally crucial. Rug materials generally fall into two categories — natural (wool, jute, cotton) and synthetic (polyester, nylon and viscose) and the type of material you choose will depend on many factors. First, there are practical considerations — do you have children or pets? Second, some materials are more formal and others more casual — what style is your home? Lastly, what level of cosiness do you desire? From wool to cotton, jute or easy-care synthetics, we’ve created a guide to the most popular rug materials.
The most commonly used material for rugs, wool is durable yet soft making it a great choice for living areas and high-traffic zones. A natural fibre, wool has good stain and water repellence, although it’s advisable to spot-clean as soon as a spill takes place. Wool rugs aren’t suited to areas with humidity or moisture (the bathroom or kitchen) because they tend to absorb water, and mould issues can ensue. Keep in mind also that shedding can occur with a wool rug, but it usually settles down with time.
Soft and affordable, cotton rugs are a popular option, although they aren’t as robust as wool or synthetic alternatives. A more casual look, cotton rugs suit informal living spaces, kids’ rooms and kitchens and can usually be spot-cleaned. Some 100% cotton rugs can even be thrown in the washing machine when in need of a clean, but be sure to check the care instructions first as this can differ from rug to rug.
Along with sisal and seagrass, jute rugs have that bohemian, earthy feel that is trending at present. The perfect complement to coastal interiors, jute rugs are made from durable, natural grasses making them robust but rather coarse to touch. White 100% jute rugs are not the softest option around, when blended with cotton or wool, they can be surprisingly sumptuous. Additionally, the eco-credentials of jute are worth noting as they are typically free from chemical processing and are fully biodegradable.
Super easy to clean, affordable and great for families, synthetic rugs are usually made from artificial fibres including viscose, nylon and polyester. And while they used to look a bit cheap, changes in technology have meant that synthetic rugs often look as luxurious as their naturally derived counterparts, especially when blended with cotton or wool. The most low-maintenance option, they are wonderful for high-traffic areas, the outdoors and sunny spots as they are usually resistant to fading.