To understand a rug’s appearance, its care, and how it would erode you must know the characteristics of the fibers from which the fabric is made.
There are two groups of fibers:
• Natural fibers, which consist of animal and plant fibers
• Man-made, manufactured/synthetic fibers
Most of the carpets produced in the United States contain six fibers: nylon, polypropylene, acrylic, polyester, wool, or cotton.
Wool is a natural fiber that is made from the fleece of sheep. Sheep live in a wide variety of climates and conditions, so wool is not uniform among all sheep. The uses of wool differ. There is coarse wool for carpets, soft fine wools for undergarments, highly crimped wools for bulky woolen, and more – a large range for manufacturers to choose from for specific products. Wool is most popular for clothing and home furnishings as it is warm, resists wrinkle, is lightweight, absorbs moisture, flame resistant, and has a natural elasticity.
Nylon is the most common used fiber in carpet today. Nylon is an engineered petrochemical synthetic fiber. It’s durable, retains dyed color excellently, and is readily available.
Acrylic fibers have characteristics uniform to those of wool. It is often used to blend in with other fibers.
Polyester is a strong fiber that has the ability to hold its shape well. Being naturally stain and fade resistant, it is also water repellent and easy to care for. It is primarily offered as a staple yarn and made from terephthalic and ethylene glycol. It tends to shed fiber. Polyester can be made from recycled material such as plastic bottles.
Cotton is the world’s most used fiber. Cotton is a soft fiber that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant. Grades of cotton rage, with even high quality grades like Egyptian cotton. Cotton absorbs a lot of moisture, which makes it extremely difficult to clean.
Jute is a fine natural fiber; it has a soft and silky luster. Jute is quite adaptable yarn, which weaves well. It can also be mixed with wool and linen, thus improving durability.