Wool rugs offer the height of durability, comfort and ease of maintenance. They command a premium price when compared with other rug types. Wool accepts dye better than other natural or synthetic fiber giving wool rugs an exceptional depth of color that actually improves with age. Choose flat-weave wool rugs, such as kilim or dhurrie, for high-traffic areas. The longer pile of certain oriental rugs and flokati shags are better suited for bedrooms or formal living rooms.
Cotton rugs can be hand- or machine-hooked, braided or woven. This rug type is softer than wool and more casual in nature. Cotton fiber rugs are easy to clean but are not as durable as acrylic or wool rugs. The fibers in cotton rugs tend to break down over time especially when exposed to high levels of moisture. For the environmentally conscious consumer, organic cotton rugs are a biodegradable and renewable alternative to synthetic rugs.
Plant fibers like sisal, jute, bamboo and sea grass are tightly woven into flat-weave rugs as a natural and versatile option to more formal rug types. A key benefit to plant fiber rugs is the ability to flip them to minimize wear patterns. Plant fiber rugs are surprisingly tough but do not hold up well in wet environments. This rug type performs well in high-traffic living and family rooms, imparting a chic, casual feel to the home.
Acrylic rugs give the appearance and feel of a wool rug at a fraction of the price. Acrylic rugs were traditionally used as bath mats due to their resistance to moisture and mildew. These types of rugs are also resistant to stains and fading, which makes them a good choice for most rooms in the house. Acrylic rugs are not as durable as wool or other synthetics, so avoid using them in hallways or other high-traffic areas. Unlike other synthetics, acrylic rugs produce less static electricity.
Olefin rugs are the least expensive of the synthetics. Olefin is extremely colorfast and holds up well to repeated chemical cleanings without losing color intensity. Even the largest olefin rug is extremely lightweight and easy to reposition. This is not a rug type to pass down to future generations but is a decent solution for the short term. If you need an inexpensive area rug for a home with children and pets, olefin is a great choice. Olefin rugs are quick-drying and hold up to the ravages of the sun. They possess most of the same characteristics as acrylic rugs.