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Characteristics of Natural Fiber Rugs You Should Look For

Last updated on March 15, 2020

natural fiber rugs infographic

In nature, no two plants or animals are exactly alike. The same is true for natural fiber rugs. Because the materials used for each rug are unique, a range of variation is normal and considered one of the aesthetic advantages of this type of carpet. No natural carpet is ever going to be completely perfect and uniform.

Understanding the special characteristics of natural carpeting materials will help you get the most out of yours. It will also make it easier to identify variations that do not fall within this normal range and should be brought to the seller’s attention immediately.


Many rugs are made of short fibers. These include seagrass and jute rugs. In the process of shipping and handling, short fibers can sprout. You may notice small tufts sticking up from the rug material. Clip them before beginning installation.

You might also see fibers that do not belong to your carpet’s material. During the production of wool rugs, foreign yarns from previous processes get attached to the material. The nature of fiber collection and weaving for these rugs makes the presence of foreign yarns very common.

Your rug might also arrive with what looks like fluff scattered over its pile. This is caused by the combing each rug undergoes to get rid of broken or too-short fibers; some of the removed fibers stick to the surface.

Plugs are another common occurrence in natural floor coverings. They present a minor irregularity in texture and are due to the necessity of tying of fibers during production.

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Woven rugs use yarn that can vary in thickness. This textural variation can make the carpet’s loops appear large or smaller. Generally, to meet industry standards, variations in yarn thickness should not exceed 50% of normal.

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If you closely examine a single strand of seagrass or wool yarn, you will see that its color varies. As a result, natural fiber rugs have a normal amount of color variance or striation as opposed to a completely uniform color.

Over time, dyed or bleached natural fibers go back to their initial colors. Sunlight accelerates this process. To preserve your rug’s color for as long as possible, place it away from direct sunlight.

Each roll of the same type of rug may have noticeable color differences. The carpet you receive may be a different shade from the sample you saw earlier. This is normal and due to the color and texture differences inherent to natural materials.


Floor coverings such as seagrass rugs or wool sisal rugs may be slightly out of square. This is because using natural materials with slight textural differences can end up affecting the roll as a whole.

You may also observe “jumping ribs.” In natural carpet materials, these can be necessary to cut the material to a maximally square shape.

Generally, industry standards allow a maximum of 2% bowing on most natural fiber rugs. Some types of rugs and fibers are allowed a greater degree of bowing. In such cases, it is important to inspect and approve the material before finalizing the purchase.

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Natural fibers can change size and shape in response to the temperature and humidity of their environment. When you purchase sisal rugs or other natural floor coverings, it is important to understand this property in order to avoid ill-fitting carpets after installation.

In particular, when installing wall-to-wall, one should first loose-lay the material for 24 hours in the room where it is going to be permanently. Make sure the temperature and environment is typical for that room. This way, the materials will adapt to the room’s conditions and will not warp after installation.

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