Today, synthetic fibres dominate carpet manufacturing. An economical solution, synthetic carpets are available in just about every length, structure and colour. Nonetheless, trends and preferences may now be reverting to natural fibres so here, we offer a mini-guide to natural carpet materials.
Natural animal fibres: wool and silk carpets
Wool and silk are the primary animal fibres used as starting material for carpet production.
The wool used in carpet manufacturing is not the same as general wool. The origin of the fibre determines its characteristics, so we distinguish between:
• Highland wool, for its particular strength and resistance.
• Soft lowland wool.
• High-quality new wool.
• Cheap tanner wool.
Although most wool comes from sheep, the hair of goats, camels and other animals can be processed into carpets too.
Woollen rugs are durable, thanks to the fat content of natural hair that makes the carpeting resistant to dirt and moisture. In addition, wool fibres can expand and contract by about a third. As a result, pressure marks do not develop as quickly.
Here at Matta, we adore woollen carpets because they offer outstanding strengths and properties:
– Antistatic fibres.
– Colour resistance.
– Low flammability.
– Good physical and sound insulation.
As a natural product, woollen carpets need more care than synthetic ones; they cannot be laid in any room. In particular, although the hair can absorb and release a certain amount of moisture and thus regulate the indoor climate very well, wool carpets are not suitable for damp rooms. In bathrooms, they deteriorate quickly.
Most of our Matta carpet and rug range features wool as a material, but we would also like to introduce you to the luxury of silk rugs. Careful extraction from tiny silk moth cocoons is what makes the raw material costly, but it is one of the most robust natural fabrics in existence – yet with an unusually soft texture and a distinctive shine. Due to the high knot density of these carpets, even filigree designs and detailed decorative patterns have high definition. The finished carpet shimmers, depending on the lighting angle and shade.
Like their woollen counterparts, silk carpets do not tolerate permanent moisture and are more sensitive to water. It is also necessary to protect silk rugs from moths.
Carpets made of natural vegetable fibres
Cheapness, diversity and an outstanding balance are just some of the advantages of natural vegetable fibre carpets. Also, the range of eco-friendly materials is surprisingly extensive.
Carpets made of bamboo
Bamboo fibres are still relatively new in carpet production. As a lightweight, robust and fast-growing fibre, bamboo offers several benefits as a flooring material. Bamboo rugs are moisture and heat regulating and thus have a favourable effect on the indoor environment.
Carpets made of cotton
The use of cotton in carpeting is mainly as a base material and less for the pile, as the fabric may become prone to matting and discolouration. Nonetheless, fully woven cotton rugs are popular due to their excellent robustness. They are also kind to the skin and do not scratch, making them perfect for allergy sufferers. However, if exposed to moisture, cotton carpeting may develop mould quickly.
Carpets made of flax
Well known for millennia, flax is a smooth, finely spun plant fibre. Nowadays, flax has mostly been replaced by cotton. Nonetheless, this biological material continues to offer excellent dirt repellent, anti-static and temperature regulating properties. Other advantages of flax rugs include strength as well as exceptional resistance to tearing and bacterial colonisation.
Carpets made of hemp
Hemp is one of the oldest crops known to man. The male and female forms of this ancient plant provide differing qualities. The fibres of female hemp plants are coarser and more likely to be used to manufacture rope, while male threads are finer and, therefore, very good for making carpets. With a combination of both types, finished product texture can vary wonderfully. Hemp rugs are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, especially as they create a perfect indoor climate and consist of renewable raw materials.
Jute has also stood the test of time; its fibres give off a natural, charming and golden sheen. Quite an old crop, jute carpeting has an excellent colour and is highly resistant to tearing. Although jute has a unique ecological balance, it is still relatively uncommon in carpet manufacturing.
Coconut fibre carpets
Elastic but firm, coconut fibre provides natural protection against bacterial infestation and mould. This material is often used for outdoor mats and carpets, as it resists moisture more than other natural materials. It is not, however, a very soft flooring.
Rugs made of corn
Do corn carpets exist? Yes, indeed! Specifically, cornstarch – an excellent material for manufacturing carpets, as it offers dirt resistance and gives a subtle, silky shine. Corn rugs feel particularly soft and have an excellent eco-balance.
Carpets from Manila hemp
Derived from the banana plant from eastern Asia, Manila hemp features tear-resistant fibres. This natural material is no longer used for making paper, teabags or banknotes, but for producing elegant, shimmering carpets with a touch of silk.
Carpets made of sisal
Sisal fibres come from the Agave sisalana plant, originally a species native to southern Mexico. The stiff, moisture-repellent fibre from its long, pointed leaves has super tensile strength. Sisal carpeting is a pragmatic and informed choice of textile for use in hallways, entrance areas and other areas with intensive foot traffic.