Natural fibers used with carpet are produced either
by insects, animals, or even plants. The fibers
that are produced by insects or animals are known as
protein fibers. Those that are made by plants are
known as vegetable fibers. Vegetable and protein
fibers share the common disadvantage that they are
both very absorbent and will have extended drying
times when wet cleaned - which can lead to mildew,
shrinkage, and even dry rot.
Wool fiber is produced from the fleece of lambs or
sheep. Wool of carpet is imported from countries
such as England, Australia, and New Zealand. Wool
is the oldest and considered to be the finest of
all carpet material.
The ability of wool to stretch up to 40% of its
original length and the fact that it can be bent
back and forth more than 180,000 times without
breaking makes it very resilient. Wool is the most
expensive material for carpet, although it is also
the best you can buy.
The fiber of silk is produced by the larva of
various insects known as silk worms. The silk, in
continuous lengths from 300 to 1600 yards is spun
to produce the cocoons. As a fiber, silk is naturally
non flammable, strong, and not affected by static
charge problems - even at low humidity.
This type of fiber is produced by plants and normally
not used as face yarns. These types will however,
show up as backing materials of tufted as as well
as carpets that have been woven.
Cotton is a vegetable seed fiber that is produced
from the cotton plant. The primary use for this
fiber is yarns woven in carpet or rugs. Cotton is
resistant to alkaline solutions and becomes stronger
when it is wet.
The biggest disadvantages to cotton is the fact
that is the most absorbent of all fibers and requires
extended drying times after being wet cleaned. It
is also easily damaged by acids, stains easily,
mats down, soils quickly, and is subject to mildew,
dry rot, and shrinkage.
The fiber of jute is produced by the jute plant
which grows in South America, Pakistan, and even in
India. The stalk of the jute plant is where the
longer coarse fibers are obtained, located between
the outer bark and within the inner pulp.
Jute is normally used as weft yarns, across the
width, in woven carpets and as a backing material
in the construction of tufted carpets. Jute is an
inexpensive material that also serves other uses
than just carpet. Like all other fibers, this one
has disadvantages as well. The fiber is weak when
it becomes wet and is also subject to dry rot,
shrinkage, and mildew.
The fiber of sisal is produced by the leaves of the
agave plant. Sisal is very strong and primarily
used for making rugs, sacking, rope, and even
carpet. The fiber stains easily and is also very
difficult to clean. Wet cleaning can also cause
shrinkage so its best to use low moisture methods.
There is quite a bit of confusion about rayon and
it is easy to understand why. Rayon is a
synthetic fiber that is produced from natural
cellulosic fibers of wood pulp or cotton. The
material is put through several chemical treatments
which help to turn it into a synthetic fiber.
Primarily, rayon is used for area rugs because of
its silk like appearance. It can be damaged by
acids, has low resistance to abrasion and is also
prone to cellulose browning.