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What You Need to Know About Natural Versus Synthetic Rugs

There are a lot of rug materials out there—and when you’re rug shopping, it can be difficult to know the difference between all these different materials, and what materials are best for your particular home. We know how overwhelming it can be!

Post Summary:

  • What are natural/synthetic rugs?
  • The pros and cons of natural and synthetic rugs
  • Common natural and synthetic rug materials

When it comes to choosing a rug, there are two main categories that rug materials fit into: natural and synthetic fibers. What’s the difference between synthetic and natural fiber rugs? We’re giving you a breakdown of natural vs synthetic rugs, what specific materials are included in each category and the pros and cons of each kind!

Natural vs synthetic rugs

What are natural fiber rugs?

Area rugs made of natural fibers range from wool, silk, and cotton to jute, sisal, and seagrass. All of these materials come from the natural world—whether through plants or animals—and are harvested, processed into fibers, and woven into rugs.

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Pros of Natural Fiber Rugs

As a whole, natural fiber rugs tend to be more durable than their synthetic counterparts. This is a major reason why so many people love them; they have a much longer lifespan than the average synthetic rug.

And, since they’re made of natural materials, they tend to be more eco-friendly (due to their smaller carbon footprint) and most are naturally non-toxic. If you have pets or babies crawling around, this is an important consideration, as some synthetic area rugs contain chemical dyes and can off-gas potentially toxic VOCs.

Cons of Natural Fiber Rugs

Ever wondered why are rugs so expensive? More effort goes into getting these fibers ready to be woven into rugs, and that laborious process means they tend to be more expensive. Wool and silk, especially, will be on the high end of the price spectrum.

If you’re on a tight budget, this may steer you away from natural fiber rugs. However, jute, seagrass, and sisal rugs tend to sell at lower price points, more on par with synthetic rugs.

The Most-Common Types of Natural-Fiber Rug Materials

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Wool: Wool is one of our favorite rug materials! There are so many things to love about wool rugs—they’re durable, stain-resistant, naturally antimicrobial, soft, and oh-so-versatile. And as we mentioned, they’re also naturally non-toxic (as long as the wool is certified organic). On the flip side, wool is one of the most expensive rug materials on the market. But if you can stretch your budget for one of these babies, it will more than pay for itself over the years you have it, since wool area rugs are so durable and long-lasting. You’re welcome, great-grandkids.Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Cotton: Your favorite t-shirt material is also used for rugs! Cotton is soft and fluffy—making it an ultra-cozy option for your floors. Like with clothing, cotton rugs are easy to clean, which makes them great for homes with kids and pets. However, cotton isn’t as durable as other natural fibers, so these rugs aren’t great for high-traffic areas and you likely won’t be able to pass them down to your grandkids as an heirloom. Similar to wool, if you want a truly non-toxic rug, you’ll want to double-check that the cotton is certified organic.

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Jute: Jute rug designs are big on texture—and jute is one of the softer options for natural fiber rugs. The way jute rugs are woven gives them a chunkier texture, which adds a lot of visual appeal to any room. Their natural color is a light brown (think: burlap), but jute can also be dyed in an array of colors. But beware: jute does shed, so skip the roller brush when vacuuming these puppies!

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Sisal: Sisal rugs are seriously durable. We’re talking about a material that is used to make ropes! Translation: it can handle some major wear and tear. However, sisal rugs aren’t the softest underfoot, and they’re more absorbent than other natural fibers (hello hard-to-remove stains)—so keep those factors in mind when shopping for sisal rugs!

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Seagrass: Seagrass rugs are also very durable, and are softer underfoot than sisal—and, as an added bonus, they’re water-resistant because the fibers of seagrass are non-porous. So, these are great for dining rooms or family rooms where spills are more likely to occur! However, since they’re non-absorbent, they don’t take dyes well-meaning, they tend to be in a more limited color range of natural hues. Natural vs synthetic rugs

Synthetic Fiber Rugs

Synthetic fiber rugs are—you guessed it—made of synthetic fibers. These fibers are machine-made from various petroleum-based chemical compounds. In other words: these are not fibers that occur naturally. But that doesn’t mean they’re inherently bad! Below are some of the pros and cons of synthetic fiber rugs.

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Pros of Synthetic Fiber Rugs

One of the best features of synthetic fiber area rugs is their affordability. You can get a lot of rug for not a lot of price tag. Many synthetic fiber rugs are also manufactured in a way that makes them resistant to mold and mildew, as well as stains. This makes them a bit more low-maintenance, and who couldn’t use more of that in their life?

Cons of Synthetic Fiber Rugs

Synthetic fiber rugs simply aren’t as durable as their natural fiber counterparts. So, while they’re more affordable, you might end up shelling out more money replacing your rug in the long run.

Some synthetic fiber rugs also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which release potentially harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. If you opt for a polyester rug, which is the material that’s most likely to contain VOCs, consider letting it sit out, unrolled for a day or two before bringing it into your home. This will give it the opportunity to “off-gas” some of the chemicals (and the potent smell) before you welcome it into your home.

The Most-Common Types of Synthetic-Fiber Rug Materials

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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PET/Polyester: Polyethylene Terephthalate (say that 5 times fast!), or PET, is the same thing as polyester—but you may see either of these names listed when you look at the rug material.

PET is made from plastic bottles, making it a bit more eco-friendly than other synthetic fiber rugs since it helps take plastic bottles out of landfills. We like PET because it’s the easiest synthetic fiber to clean (a little diluted bleach and elbow grease usually do the trick), and it’s the material that a lot of indoor-outdoor rugs are made of. The way that PET is woven also gives it a similar appearance to wool, and it’s very soft underfoot.

In general, polyester rugs are the most likely to contain VOCs, and they also fade easily and are more difficult to clean than other synthetic fibers. That’s because they’re made of petroleum-based materials, which causes the fibers to reject water and hold onto dirt.

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Polypropylene: Polypropylene rugs are one of the best synthetic dupes for wool, due to the way the fibers are woven. These rugs are soft and sturdy, as well as affordable. However, some polypropylene rugs are treated with chemicals that make them stain-resistant, which can be a concern for those wanting to cut down on chemicals in their home.

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Nylon: Nylon is durable, stain-resistant, and affordable—all great qualities for a rug! With this material’s durability, it’s a great choice for high-traffic areas. However, some nylon rugs have a chemical smell when they first arrive, because of how they’re made, so make sure your room is well-ventilated.

Natural vs Synthetic Rugs: How Do You Choose?

The rug material you choose is all about your lifestyle and budget. So, the choice you make is based on your personal needs! Thinking through where you want to place the rug; what style, color, and pattern you’d like; how much you’d like to spend; and if you’re concerned about sustainable, eco-friendly materials. All of these factors will help guide what material to choose.

  • Want a rug that’s great for high-traffic areas? Opt for a low-pile wool rug or a durable sisal or seagrass rug.
  • Looking for bright colors and intricate patterns? Try out PET, polypropylene, or silk.
  • On a tight budget? Go for any synthetic-fiber rug. You can also find some great affordable seagrass, sisal, and jute options.
  • Want a rug that will last a lifetime? Wool is the way to go.
  • Looking for a kid or pet-friendly rug? Try wool, seagrass, or PET.

And remember—if you’re totally lost, our Modsy designers are here to help! When you start a Modsy design project, we’ll design your space in 3D, decorating it with real products you can shop on the spot. Plus, you can see how different rugs look in your space, with your other furniture and decor.

Ready to find your perfect rug?

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Meet the Brand: Bhawan Textiles

We’re always adding new Modsy brands to our digital catalog to bring you pieces in your style and budget. From your favorite retailers to emerging designers and even hard-to-find brands, keep an eye out for our Modsy Brand Spotlights, where we’ll help you get to know some of the stylish brands you’ll find in your 3D designs.

Today, we’d like to introduce you to a favorite brand for beautiful, affordable rugs: Bhawan Textiles.

Bhawan Textiles

Meet the Brand: Bhawan Textiles

Bhawan Textiles has a beautiful array of high-quality rugs in both synthetic and natural fibers. If you’re wondering how to choose a rug, this brand is a great place to start. And their beautiful rugs come in many different sizes, so once you find a rug design you like, you can easily choose the right rug size for your space. Bhawan Textiles also often collaborates with well-known designers and artists for special, limited-edition collections—so, check back often for new releases! This is one of our favorite brands to turn to for vintage-inspired rug designs. They’re also a great option if you’re also a fan of brands like West Elm, CB2, or ZGallerie.

Bhawan Textiles

What They’re Known For

Bhawan rugs are known for their beautiful patterns and hand-woven quality. This brand creates rug designs that are timeless and approachable across styles. A large array of their rugs are designed in vintage-inspired, oriental patterns—but they have a ton of more modern and geometric designs as well.

Bhawan Textiles

Why We Love Them

Bhawan Textiles offers innovative and well-designed rugs at affordable prices. So, no need to keep asking yourself, “Why are Rugs so Expensive?” Because Bhawan rugs are finally an affordable but high-quality option for your home! From shags to printed, power-loomed rugs, the quality cannot be beat at these price points. We love their colorful and timeless patterns, too. With a majority of Bhawan rugs being woven of synthetic fibers in low-pile or flat weave designs, their rugs are also easy to care for and vacuum.

Our Stylist Picks from Bhawan Textiles

Bhawan Textiles

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Indiana Rug, Red/Navy

This rug is designed in a traditional palette of navy and red—but in a fresh and lively pattern. The classic medallion pattern in center, with the border design, adds an old-world, sophisticated, flair to this rug, helping ground a more modern living room.

Bhawan Textiles

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Anton Rug, Orange

The Anton rug, part of the Bhawan Textiles Layla rug collection, features beautiful, unique patterning. With bright, high-contrast colors in the weave, we love the subtle southwest vibes. It goes well in a traditional style space, but it would also feel at home in an eclectic space.

Bhawan Textiles

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Evelyn Rug, Red

This modern and abstract rug is brimming with movement. While this rug’s design features a bright wash of color, it’s done in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming due to the simple brush stroke pattern. The result is a rug that feels trendy, energized, and truly eye-catching.

Bhawan Textiles

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Indiana Rug, Cobalt Blue/Spice

This rug is an absolute classic, from its timeless pattern to the deep color palette of rusty browns/reds and navy blue. It’s a rug that really grounds the room and feels a touch formal and sophisticated, making it perfect for traditional homes. But it can also balance out more modern elements in a space—allowing it to translate into homes of almost any style.

Bhawan Textiles

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Mariah Rug, Red

We love the bold, saturated colors and southwestern flair of the Mariah rug. The beautiful geometric pattern (inspired by antique Turkish and Persian kilims) draws in your eye and energizes the room. And the color palette can complement either a neutral or color-filled room!

Bhawan Textiles

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Lennox Rug, Ivory/Multi

This is a fun and eclectic rug with a ‘loose’ pattern and intentional fading to give it an antiqued vibe. But the use of bold colors in the patterning contrasts with the patina, giving this rug a unique and energized look. Bonus: The low pile is stain-resistant, fade-resistant, colorfast, and doesn’t shed.

Bhawan Textiles

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Ceyla Rug, Rose

We love how the soft rose color in the Ceyla rug contrasts with the bold, dark outline in this rug’s design. The results are simply stunning! This antique-inspired, geometric motif is modernized by the rich color palette—and the striation of colors gives the rug depth.

Bhawan Textiles

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Malin Rug, Grey

Here’s something a little different: a faux cowhide rug. Unlike real hide, this rug is more durable and easy to clean. It’s perfect on its own or layered over another rug. We love the embellishment of artistically placed gold and silver flecks on the hide, adding a glamorous effect.

Bhawan Textiles

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Nenna Rug, Denim/Natural

This light blue rug is airy and classic—perfect for modern and traditional spaces alike. The traditional but energetic pattern gets a vintage look with the faded yarn weave, giving the rug a beautiful patina.

Bhawan Textiles

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Lennox Rug, Pink/Midnight

The bold and saturated pink in this rug adds a punch of color to any room. We love that this rug is designed in a traditional style but the modern color choice makes it feel fresh and bright. This is the type of rug that’s like a work of art—but one that’s laid on your floor rather than hung up on your walls! This rug is also stain-resistant, fade-resistant, colorfast, and doesn’t shed.

Bhawan Textiles

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Gregar Rug, Sky/Multi

While many of Bhawan Textile rugs are made of synthetic materials, this one is made of 100% wool by skilled artisans in India. Soft to the touch and boasting a whimsical floral motif, it’s a fun addition to any space. The tassels add a boho flair, and we love how the pastel shades are mixed with deeper hues for added visual contrast.

Want to see Bhawan Textiles rugs in your space?

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The Modsy Rug Shop – Our Designers Pick Their 5 Favorite Rugs

Modsy Rug Shop

‘Tis the season for hibernating! If you’re getting ready to hunker down and weather the weather, a ew cozy touches can go along way in readying your home for the season.

One of the best ways to instantly cozy-ify any room is with a rug. But with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult finding the perfect option for your space.

To help, we rounded up 5 of our Modsy Designers’ favorite rugs. Browse our Modsy Rug Shop to see the picks and log in and shop the Rug Studio to make them yours!

Modsy Rug ShopThe Vienna Rug

This Persian style rug is both timeless and beautiful, and is a perfect way to add a burst of elegance to any space.

Try it in your rustic, classic, or even traditional living room. It also works well in bedrooms, home offices, and even dining rooms!

Shop the Vienna in the Modsy Rug Shop

Modsy Rug ShopThe Kota Woven Rug

Featured in our Best Seller Design Studio as well as our Modsy x Chris Loves Julia collection, the Kota rug sports a trendy pattern that works in all kinds of rooms and design styles. A soft yet statement-making piece, the Kota offers a modern eclectic feel, with plush comfort for any room in the house.

Try it on in your living room, bedroom, hallway, or even playroom for an instant design pick-me-up!

Shop the Kota in the Modsy Rug Shop

Modsy rug shopThe Seville Rug

One of our most-popular rugs, and the star of our homepage, this multi-colored beauty puts a unique twist on a traditional look. Try layering it over a natural fiber rug for some extra texture, or style it on its own.

Pair the Seville with eclectic or Mid-Century style interiors for a looks that’s sure to have all your friends asking where you got it.

Shop the Seville in the Modsy Rug Shop

modsy rug shopThe Hampton Rug

What looks like a best-selling rug, but doesn’t dent your wallet like a best-selling rug? The Hampton! Featuring a timeless pattern and just enough texture, the Hampton makes itself right at home among all kinds of styles.

If your design style is rustic, classic, or even transitional, give the Hampton a go and watch your room tie itself together.

Shop the Hampton in the Modsy Rug Shop

Modsy rug shop

The Nuuk Rug

Perfect for layering, especially for the fall and winter months, the Nuuk sheepskin rug comes in all shapes, sizes, and even a few colors.

This rug works with any style and in almost any space. Add it to your living room for extra cozy vibes! It’s also a great addition to nurseries, bedrooms and even home offices.

Shop the Nuuk in the Modsy Rug Shop

 

Want to try on rugs in your living room?