Though the current flooring trends are leaning toward hard wood floors, carpets are starting to make a come-back and there are more green options than ever.
Conventional carpet is a mix of synthetic fibers, adhesives and foam which give off chemical fumes for a very long time after installation. Not to mention that they are usually treated with a mix of pesticides and fungicides during manufacturing. Such rugs and carpet can contribute to many indoor air quality problems for up to 7 years.
So if you are in the market for some carpeting in your home, why not go green and choose natural fiber rugs instead.
Picking a product that isn’t laden with potential toxins will do wonders for the healthy nature of your home, and its better for the environment overall. But once you start your search, you’re going to need to know a bit more about your options.
These are the main natural fiber rugs that you will find on the market. Just remember that the fiber alone doesn’t make a healthy or environmentally-friendly carpet. Check the manufacturer to make sure their products are not treated with any chemicals during production, or you may be defeating the whole point of getting natural fiber rugs in the first place.
Sisal fibers come from the leaves of the agave plant, and they are known to be one of the toughest and most durable natural fibers around. It has natural anti-static properties which keeps it from attracting dust like conventional carpets tend to do. As a plant fiber, it’s completely bio-degradable which means less waste when it comes time to dispose of your carpet. You do need to keep it fairly dry, so don’t plan on using sisal in a room with water (like a kitchen or bathroom).
Jute is another plant fiber, that comes from the jute plant. It’s durable and long-lasting, but isn’t quite as sturdy as sisal. High traffic areas are not the best places for jute rugs. This material is a smoother to the touch than most others, and has a very luxurious look to it when used in rugs. Again, keep it away from water or high moisture.
Contrary to what the name implies, this isn’t an underwater fiber source. Sea grass grows mainly in Asian countries, often around flooded rice paddies. The tough fibers are used to make many products, including rugs. Unlike sisal and jute, sea grass works wonderfully in areas with higher humidity or water. It’s strong enough for high-traffic spots and is naturally stain resistant because it won’t absorb moisture.
Coir is another name for coconut fiber, harvested from the hairy outer covering of the coconut. It’s one of the less-expensive fiber options, and it’s very durable. You can use coir in any part of your home, regardless of expected traffic. Coir won’t fade in the sunlight and its naturally pest-resistant.
This is one natural fiber that really doesn’t need too much explanation, though it may be a surprise that you can get carpets made of wool. Compared to the plant fibers, a wool carpet will be much softer but just as durable. It holds dye very well for anyone who likes a bit more color, but it will repel stains. An unusual trait of wool carpets is that they are fire retardant.
Overall Natural Fiber Benefits
Another great feature about these natural fibers is that they all come from renewable sources, which you can’t say about the petrochemical based materials in conventional carpeting.
Though these fibers may sound “tough”, they are all processed and woven to be comfortable on the feet. They may not be as soft as a plush polyester carpet, but they are certainly not uncomfortable rough either.
Many people who enjoy natural fiber carpets like the mix of brown and beige coloring that the fibers have. But if you want something brighter, most can be dyed (with natural dyes of course) to any color of the rainbow.
Oh, and don’t forget the backing. If you need a slip-resistant backing to your carpet or just a little extra padding, make sure your product is using natural rubber. That’s an added aspect to any eco-friendly flooring you shouldn’t ignore.