Rug Wars: Find Your Natural Fiber Fit

Article by Trim Design Co.

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Rug Wars: Find Your Fiber Fit was originally published in Trim Design Co.

Breaking News: Not all natural fiber rugs are created equal!

We’ve talked before about the versatility and practicality of natural fiber rugs- they add texture, they’re durable, they’re perfect for layering under a smaller vintage rug when you can’t afford a room-size vintage piece. But before you run off the the rug store, make sure you know you’re choosing the right material for your home and lifestyle.

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Know your options: 


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Pros: This is the easiest to care for and most kid/pet-friendly of the three! Because seagrass is from the water, it resists stains & water marks and unlike sisal and jute, it won't turn brown when you spot clean it with water. You also really can't see dirt at all, and it looks superb after a quick vacuuming. The texture is smooth and hard, so while some may see this as a con, I see it as a pro because it's perfect for laying under a smaller rug and it's hard flatness means it's easier to clean. This is my favorite of the natural rug options, hands down. 

Cons: It can have a strong smell when you first get it home, but this fades to a subtle hay smell. It's color also changes over time, from a greenish tint to more of a tan, so it may not be the ideal color when you first get it.


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Pros: Great visual texture and no smell or color-change issues. 

Cons: Sisal CAN stain when it comes in contact with water, but that's not always the case (depends on the rug). It's also scratchy- not smooth like seagrass or soft like jute, so it can be unpopular with kiddos who like to play on the floor.


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Pros: The chunky look of jute can't be beat! I love the chunkiness of jute just as much as I love the low profile of seagrass. The texture of jute is perfect for a room that needs some depth and soul on the quick. If I was basing this solely off looks, jute would win my heart every time.

Cons: Like sisal, jute CAN stain when it comes in contact with water, but not always and there's really no sure way to know ahead of time. There are a lot of jute blends out there like jute/chenille that are pretty soft, but 100% jute is very rough. Then there's the shedding- The fibers in a jute rug break down and shed creating a layer of fiber "dirt" underneath the rug that can damage the finish on your floor if you don't have a rug pad. It can also stick to clothing if you lay on it. For people with allergies, jute can cause sinus irritation and even hives when it comes in contact with skin.

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The Great Rug-Debacle

A few years ago, we purchased a beautiful jute rug for our bedroom and around the same time I started getting migraines more often. I didn't make the connection to the rug right away, but one day I was playing on the bedroom floor with the dog and I broke out in full-body hives. I was allergic to the rug! Obviously we had to get rid of the rug and when we rolled it up to remove it, the jute "dirt" was so bad that I was still cleaning it out of nooks and crannies weeks later!

Long story short: I usually recommend seagrass as the best option for natural fiber rugs unless you’re willing to do a little more maintenance and don't have allergies. It’s the most family-friendly and practical. But I still think jute is the prettiest. And like I said in my previous posts, not all jute and sisal rugs stain with water, and there are plenty of jute blends (like jute/chenille), so if your heart is set on a jute rug, just make sure to research, read the reviews, even order a sample of you can to ensure that you won’t end up covered on hives and decomposing jute dust like I did.

If you do plan to order a seagrass rug, I highly recommend you order a sample first because the size and style of the weave varies significantly from brand to brand and seeing a sample ahead of time will save you from being unpleasantly surprised when your new rug arrives. You should also be prepared to spend top dollar if you want a seagrass rug without the thick binding on the edges. Personally, I think as long as you opt for a binding color that blends in with the rug, it’s not super noticeable, but some people really don’t like the look of the thick piping on the edges. There are much thinner alternatives for finishing the edges, but they aren’t cheap. Thew photo below is a seagrass rug with the thick binding I’m talking about:

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