Carpets have become an essence of home décor for many years
now and oriental rugs add that extra exquisite and unique touch to your home décor.
Once upon a time, if you went to buy an oriental rug, it would definitely have
been made from wool or silk. Authentic oriental rugs are still made from wool. However,
there are many fake rugs out there and they’re made from synthetic fibers. Nonetheless
one of the most important or initial considerations when choosing the right
carpet is whether to go for a synthetic or natural one at that.
Many people wonder about the differences between synthetic
and wool rugs. The difference can be as clear as night and day. Though, at the end
of the day, it’s clearly a matter of personal taste and what material suits you
and your lifestyle best!
How to tell if a rug
is wool or synthetic?
Check the labeling or
If you have access to product information about the rug,
check the label of the rug for material list. Generally the label is the back
and at the bottom of the rug. If there is a label, it’s most definitely synthetic since synthetic materials
must be labeled as such. Handmade rugs are not labeled in this way.
carpets are made from synthetic fibers and about 60% of this synthetic wall-to-wall
carpeting is made out of nylon.
Consider the price
One of the obvious ways that differentiate wool or synthetic
rug is the price difference. If you’re paying a low price, it means you’re
purchasing a synthetic fiber rug manufactured on power looms, an automated
machine. While wool rugs are expensive since they are hand-woven by artisans
and are high quality. They can last for generations while synthetic rugs can
last up to 5 years with professional cleaning and aren’t resilient to foot
traffic to the point wool rugs are.
Back of the rug
Flip the rug over and look at the bottom side. Wool rug has
its back a mirror design of top design meaning the front and the back has the
same design. In synthetic rugs, the back of the rug is plastic and is glued. Know
that the back of a wool rug is soft and won’t cause any damage to carpet or
hardwood flooring. This is not the case with synthetic rugs, whose hard plastic
backing can scratch your hardwood floors.
Judge by feel
Another area where wool stands above competing materials is
in the feel of the rug. Wool rugs are soft on both sides. Does it feel soft, almost
buttery? If so, then it is most likely a wool rug. However, if it feels hard,
scratchy and stiff, it’s most likely made from a synthetic material.
The hundreds of knots tied to create the patterns and design
make wool rugs that are hand-woven soft, silky and luxurious to the touch. Their
pile is sturdy, and the rug can maintain its shape for many decades thanks to
its natural spiral construction.
Synthetic rugs will also feel soft to the touch but only
last for few weeks or may be months. Soon they will feel tough and plastic. The
back is hard to the touch and the fringe is sewn on. These materials are
budget-friendly, but they do not last as long as wool rugs. A synthetic rug is
meant to be aesthetically pleasing for a short amount of time. With
professional cleaning, a synthetic rug will last only 3-5 years.
Snip and burn
If you own a rug and you’re curious whether it’s wool or
synthetic, snip a few small strands from inconspicuous area. You only need a
small fiber, don’t cut too much.
Take them outdoors and pinch them with a pair of tweezers or
paper clip. Light the fibers on fire. If they melt and smell like burning
plastic, you have a synthetic rug. If they crumble and smell like burning hair,
you have a wool rug.
If your carpet is made from a synthetic fiber, it will melt
and stick to the side of the lighter. If your carpet is made from natural
fibers, it will burn and crumble.
You should also pay attention to the smell of the burning
carpet fiber. If the burning fiber smells like celery, it is nylon. If it
smells like asphalt, it is olefin. If it smells sweet, it is polyester. If it
smells like burning paper, it is rayon. If it smells like charred meat, it is
acrylic. If it smells like burning hair, it is wool
If you don’t want to do the Burn Test on your own, leave it
up to your professional carpet cleaner.
If you have carpeting in your home that you didn’t purchase,
there’s a test that you can perform that will tell you for sure whether it’s
wool or synthetic.
Making the choice
The choice of which carpet to use ultimately depends on the
preferences of the individual. Each type offers certain set of advantages and
incurs a range of disadvantages. It is up to the person whom set of advantages
and disadvantages they are more amendable to.