Natural Carpet Fiber Choices

Wool, Seagrass, Jute, Sisal and Coir

Samples of color of a carpet
pbombaert / Getty Images

One of the major forces in flooring design is the use of natural materials. That is because people are rejecting the man-made manufactured mold of modern design in interiors, in favor of styles that connect the space to the living beauty of the natural world.

While most carpeting is made up at least partially of synthetic fibers, there are a few choices that are entirely natural. These are prized for their rich textures, their authentic natural weave, and the fact that they are made from...MORE eco-friendly renewable resources.

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  • 01 of 05

    Wool Carpet

    Wool is the most common natural fiber flooring and is used in both carpets and rugs. This material is strong, resistant to stains, resistant to piling, resistant to fire, and has a coating that causes small amounts of water to bead up on its surface. Wool is also a wonderful choice as an insulating floor because its individual fibers tend to catch and retain air. This means that it has both sound and heat insulation properties.

    Despite the fact that small spills will be deflected by the...MORE individual fibers, wool still needs to be installed in a relatively dry area, and should not be immersed in water, or mildew may form. In some cases, wool can be blended with hemp fibers to create a carpet that is resistant to the growth of mold and mildew.

    Wool carpeting combines all of these characteristics with a soft, cushiony feel that makes this a premium flooring material. Unfortunately, you will often have to pay for that premium, and wool carpets are generally much more expensive than their synthetic counterparts.

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  • 02 of 05

    Seagrass Carpeting

    picture seagrass carpets
    © Bigstockphoto

    Seagrass is a smooth anti-static carpet floor covering that is made from all natural plant fibers. The crop it is manufactured from is grown like rice, planted in paddy fields which are flooded with seawater each year at the growing season. That is why it is called Seagrass.

    The tough fibers of this material are nearly impermeable, which means that it is resistant to stains, dirt, and discoloration. Unfortunately, that also means that it is not able to be dyed or colored by the manufacturer, and...MORE it is only available in its natural hue. In some cases, colored weft strings will be woven through the fibers of the carpet to create contrasting effects.

    One major drawback to Seagrass carpeting is that it is susceptible to damage from moisture. In wet environments, it may also be subject to the growth of mold and mildew. To prevent this, spills should be wiped up immediately. You may also want to avoid installing this in kitchens or bathrooms where it will be exposed to liquids on a regular basis unless precautions are taken to handle excess humidity and moisture.

    Because the fibers are so smooth, seagrass carpeting installed on stairs needs to be laid with the grain facing parallel to the tread of the structure.

  • 03 of 05

    Coir Carpets

    natural coir carpeting
    © Bigstockphoto

    An inexpensive natural carpet material, coir is manufactured from the husks of coconuts. It is a coarse material that has a naturally rustic look that is prized in cottage and log cabin style settings. However, it can also be woven into more sophisticated patterns such as diamond, basketweave, and herringbone.

    Generally used in the manufacture of sacks and doormats, the abrasive texture of Coir makes it unsuitable for areas such as bedrooms, or children’s rooms where you want a soft comfortable...MORE floor underfoot. It can, however, be used in high-traffic areas such as hallways and living rooms.

    While it is naturally durable, Coir is susceptible to stains and can discolor from spills. It needs to be kept dry, and should not be installed in wet environments. The loose weave of its fibers also makes it dangerous when installing on stairs.

    Cleaning Carpet Stains

  • 04 of 05

    Jute Carpeting

    Jute is manufactured from a plant which grows in the subtropical portion of the Asian subcontinent. The plant is soaked in water, and then its stalks are stripped to make the individual fibers. It is most commonly used in the making of rope and as a carpet backing material.

    Jute is one of the softest and most inexpensive natural fiber carpet flooring choices available. Unfortunately, its soft surface means that it is not very durable, and it can suffer from wear and tear quite easily. It is most...MORE appropriate when used in low traffic environments such as bedrooms.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Sisal Carpets

    Sisal is a soft yet durable natural fiber carpet that is relatively easy to dye, making it a very versatile flooring design material. This means that it can stand up to high traffic areas without being coarse or uncomfortable underfoot.

    Available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, Sisal can be used in almost any room of the house. However, precautions do have to be taken in moist liquid environments. The fact that Sisal can be so easily dyed also means that it can be stained, and will...MORE require treatments to make it resistant to dirt and spills. Sisal is also relatively expensive, and will generally cost more than coir, although less than wool.

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