To go for a natural or synthetic rug; that’s the eternal question…
Ever since the dawn of the industrial age, rugs have been neatly categorized into two main categories: natural and synthetic. Both have their own charms, qualities, and setbacks, which makes homeowners curious about which one they should actually choose.
The answer is always: it depends on your needs.
What is a wool rug?
Wool rugs are known for their natural hardiness. They are 100% natural – from material to weaving, they’re as organic as they come.
Most wool rugs are either hand-woven or hand-tufted, but their durability remains the same. They are also extremely cost effective and able to last up to at least five decades or more.
What is a polypropylene rug?
Synthetic rugs – especially ones made from polypropylene – are known for their incredible sturdiness. However, their lifespan is only around five years and no more.
They’re also very hard to dispose off, as the fibers are chemically treated and aren’t highly biodegradable. However, they are a good inexpensive investment.
Further, let’s take a closer look at wool vs. polypropylene rugs, so that you can have a better understanding:
Comparison table for wool vs polypropylene rugs
Here’s a detailed table of how wool and synthetic rugs differ from one another in the most basic aspects:
|Designs||There is a wide variety of designs available in wool rugs. They’re very detailed and lush in aesthetic.||Polypropylene rugs are machine made so they’re generally available in many amazing designs. However, they’re definitely less detailed and more bulky in aesthetic. They also have a distinct symmetry that is only present in machine-made rugs.|
|Longevity||Most wool rugs are heirloom quality and can last up to 50 years or more, if properly maintained.||Last for around 3 to 5 years max. The polypropylene fiber gets crushed and matted easily, so it’s best not to put it in high-traffic areas.|
|Texture||Wool rugs have an inherent softness that comes with the natural texture of this material.||Polypropylene rugs are harder in texture, but not in an unpleasant way. Think of the hardiness of a carpet; that’s how these rugs feel to the touch.
|Cleanability||Are easily cleanable. You can maintain them by regular vacuuming and the occasional spot-checking. A professional cleaning once in a while can also help them look spic-and-span for longer.||Can be easily maintained, but start to get matted and ugly with each clean. Can never truly retain their initial charisma.|
|Indoor vs. Outdoor||Wool rugs are specifically designed for indoor use. Although very sturdy, they cannot hold their own against the elements.||Polypropylene rugs can be featured in the outdoors as many of them are treated to be water-resistant.|
|Price||Hand-woven wool rugs are an expensive investment, but they’re heirloom quality and built to last.|
Hand-tufted wool rugs are moderately priced and feature the same qualities.
|Polypropylene rugs are cheaper than pure woolen ones because of their less time-consuming manufacturing process and synthetic fibers.|
|Piles||The piles of a wool rug depends on the type of weaving process. Tufted ones have longer piles while woven ones are more like flatweave rugs.|
Woolen shag rugs have the longest piles.
|The piles of polypropylene rugs very low – mostly ranging between 0.35” to 0.5”.|
|Backing||Handwoven wool rugs do not have a backing. Hand-tufted wool rugs, however, have a canvas backing.||Polypropylene rugs have a primary backing that looks like trampoline material.|
|Chemical Treatment||Wool rugs have zero chemical additives. That’s their biggest selling point.||Polypropylene fibers are synthetic, so these rugs are chemically treated. The biggest con is that this makes them highly flammable.|
|Eco-friendliness||Since wool rugs are not chemically treated, they are fully biodegradable and eco-friendly.||Polypropylene fibers are made from petroleum in a lab, so they’re not the most eco-friendly bunch.|
An in-depth look at woolen rugs
Wool is derived from sheep and is then turned into thick fibers that are used to manufacture different textiles, such as cashmere sweaters, rugs, and more.
The woolen thread is thick, sturdy, and highly durable. Therefore, the rugs woven from it are known to be incredibly strong and promise heirloom quality.
A notable characteristic of handwoven wool rugs is that the thickness of the fiber makes the designs slightly pixilated. They’re not as intricate as the designs in rugs woven from silk or even cotton threads.
That said, many woolen rugs are instead braided or hand-tufted. The fibers are still thick, but the overall effect is entirely different.
Wool rug benefits
- Wool rugs have natural insulating properties, so they can help keep your floors feeling consistent during the changing seasons.
- Wool rugs can also insulate against noise pollution and keep the interiors from echoing.
- Wool fibers are highly resilient and do not easily indent under heavy foot-traffic and furniture.
- These rugs do not stain or soil, so you won’t have to spot check them very often. In fact, the wool fiber doesn’t allow a liquid to settle in easily, which is why these rugs are easy to clean and maintain.
- Wool rugs are highly flame resistant.
- They’re also incredibly soft and feel heavenly to stand on.
- The lack of any chemical interventions in their weaving makes wool rugs an excellent choice for homes with children and pets.
An in-depth look at polypropylene rugs
Polypropylene fibers are manmade and are manufactured from petroleum in a lab, and then sent to the factory to be machine-woven into rugs.
They have various chemical properties and can be used to furnish both indoor and outdoor areas.
In fact, the polypropylene rugs that are specified for outdoor activity are woven from UV Stabilized fibers, so they have a very, very minor difference in texture and color. However, you won’t be able to tell the difference with the naked eye.
Polypropylene rug benefits
- These rugs are incredibly durable and are treated to be water-and-UV resistant in most cases.
- Polypropylene rugs are mildew and moth resistant.
- They are highly color retentive and do not easily fade.
- These rugs are also highly affordable and provide good value-for-money deals.
- Polypropylene rugs can withstand medium foot traffic and are highly resistant to general wear and tear. They do tend to get matted with expensive use, though.
- These rugs are also very easy to clean.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Now that we know the basics of wool and polypropylene rugs, here are some questions that people generally ask about them:
Average cost of wool rugs?
Prices can start as low as $50 for a 4’x6’ rug and may go as high as $1200 for larger sized rugs.
The price of a wool rug varies and depends on the type of construction (i.e. hand woven vs. handtufted, etc.). The cost also depends on the size of the wool rug as well.
Average cost of polypropylene rugs?
The average cost ranges between $30 and $600.
The low manufacturing cost of polypropylene rugs makes them an inexpensive choice. Their price also depends on the size, shape, and treatment of the fibers. For example, heat set polypropylene rugs may be more expensive.
How can you tell if it’s an authentic wool rug?
In case of handwoven wool rugs, you can tell if they’re authentic if the design is mirrored on the back.
Another way to identify authentic wool rugs is that their designs are overblown and not intricate at all thanks to the thickness of the fiber. The fringe of authentic wool rugs is also part of the knotted design instead of being glued or sewn on.
In case of hand-tufted and other forms of wool rug, you’ll have to carefully examine the pile. Wool fibers have a natural rotating twist, which makes them easy to identify, so that’s what you need to be looking for.
How can you tell if it’s a polypropylene rug?
Polypropylene rugs are designed to imitate natural sisal fibers and have the softness of wool.
You can, however, identify them with their pile denseness as polypropylene rugs don’t have a large pile density and are usually very low to the ground. The pile height ranges between 0.35 to 0.5 inches at max.
How can you tell if a wool rug is high quality?
You can tell that a wool rug is high quality if you have trouble running your fingers through it.
The quality of a good rug depends on the denseness of its pile, so if you can easily sift your fingers through it, that means that the rug is not of the best quality and has been made using a thin yarn.
If your fingers get stuck on the pile, that means you’ve got a keeper.
Are polypropylene rugs soft?
Polypropylene rugs are just the right balance of soft and sturdy. You can categorize them as medium on a scale of too soft and too hard.
They are not coarse or uncomfortable to stand on. In fact, they feel really snug and cozy to put your feet or even sit on.
Are wool rugs soft?
Wool rugs have a lush, soft, and luxurious feel that comes from their natural texture. The wool fiber is incredibly sturdy and hard-wearing, but that does not compromise its coziness.
Note that wool rugs tend to shed a little, but that’s only par for course and a completely natural tendency for this material to fall under.
How do I clean wool rugs?
All you need to do to maintain a wool rug is to vacuum it three or four times a week. That will suck the dust from the fiber pockets and keep your rug looking lush and superior for a long time.
If you accidentally spilled something on it, then no worries. Wool rugs are naturally water repellent, so it takes a lot of time for the liquid to seep into the fibers.
If you spot check successfully within the first fifteen minutes of the spill, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
How do I clean polypropylene rugs?
Polypropylene rugs need daily vacuuming to maintain their shiny luster. If your polypropylene rug is treated for water resistance, then it won’t let any spill sink into its fibers at all. This means that you can easily dab the spill off the surface with a damp cloth.
However, if you’ve stained your rug with an oil-based spill, then there’s nothing to do but call professional cleaners, because the oil is definitely going to sink in.
These are some must-know facts about wool vs. polypropylene rugs that everyone needs to know about. We hope this guide helps you make a well-informed decision about which one you want for your homes.