Polyester Synthetic Fiber
Even the lesser quality wool rugs from a decade ago, perhaps the ones more heavily chemically processed from China, still would last you decades. So your choice back then was great investment wool rugs (sold at Rug Galleries) and not-so-great commodity wool rugs (perhaps the ones being sold at Home Depot Expo).
But still, if it was wool, it was worth owning back then.
Today it’s a whole different ballgame. And the market is flooded with SYNTHETIC area rugs.
The synthetic fibers, olefin (aka polypropylene), polyester, and acrylic, are being used to create “FAKE” wool rugs… but as you can see side by side, it’s like putting particle board next to real wood:
Now, some might think it is great that we now have a lot of inexpensive synthetic area rugs on the market. These people would be wrong, because the low cost rugs end up having a high cost that the buyers need to be aware of…
…because the sales people are not going to tell you this.
Pros and Cons of Today’s SYNTHETIC Fiber Area Rugs
1. They are cheap.
If you pay more than $5 per sq ft for a synthetic olefin (polypropylene) or polyester or acrylic rug, you are being RIPPED OFF. You should truly pay next to nothing for these rugs because there is no labor cost in their production (all are machine made) and the fibers are essentially poor quality plastic.
This is basically the big “pro” of these rugs, that they are cheap.
1. They require MORE cleaning.
The great thing about wool is that those fibers have lots of “pockets” in its construction to hide dust and grit, so they look good even when they are dirty.
That is NOT the case with olefin, polyester, and acrylic, which are plastic fibers and solid and smooth strands. This means there is no place to “hide” soil so it simply sticks to the outside of the fibers, and these rugs get duller, and uglier faster as a result. This means you will want to clean your synthetic rugs after months on the floor rather than after a year or two with your wool rugs. Synthetic rugs get ugly faster.
Because they are synthetic, if there are no issues like pet urine or flood exposure contamination, they can be surface cleaned with Hot Water Extraction (aka “steam cleaning”) and can be cleaned using more aggressive cleaning solutions than can be used on wool.
2. They wear and yellow faster.
Because they are plastic, they do not have longevity, and do not wear well with abrasion. In fact, most wall-to-wall carpet in commercial buildings is installed olefin carpet (because it’s CHEAP!). So the next time you are in a commercial building take a look at the entryways and high traffic areas of their carpet, and you will see how worn down that carpet gets after only a few years.
By the way, home improvement stores often carry olefin (polypropylene) carpet for homes (because it’s CHEAP!), but this is the absolute worst fiber to have for residential homes because it simply does not hold up to foot traffic. Look for nylon instead if you want synthetic fibers for your wall-to-wall carpeting.
Olefin, polyester, and acrylic can get worn after just a few years on the floor.
3. They are STICKY and SCRATCHY. (Regular vacuums will not help you.)
The most maddening thing about these cheaper synthetic rugs for their owners, and for the professional cleaners who are asked to clean them, is that they grab everything and are tough to get to release lint, hair, and grime.