From the August/September 2012 Issue:

Fab Fibers for Rugs

Wool and silk are longtime standards for rugs and carpeting, but a host of other materials expands your choices

This unusual Tabriz rug with a silk foundation and cotton pile was made in Persia in the late nineteenth century. 4 feet 2 inches by 5 feet 6 inches. $9,800. Lavender Oriental Carpets in New York City.

Banana silk creates highlighting, shading, softness and luster in rugs, says J&S Designer Flooring in Morristown. The example shown is available in 6 by 9, 8 by 10, 9 by 12, 10 by 14 feet and custom sizes. A standard 6-by-9-foot starts around $3,000. jsdesignerflooring.

Modern bamboo silk rugs from Creative Touch in Secaucus are hand-knotted in India with the luxurious, silky touch of Nepalese weave, a style and structure of Nepalese/Tibetan rugs used mainly in modern collections. Available in stock and custom sizes. Price for a 5-by-8-foot rug, $3,400.

Sisal (Porthos, left) and jute (African Manja, right) are plant fibers woven into durable floor coverings that are flat with no pile, says Syed Hussaini of The Rug Importer in Paramus and East Hanover ( Available in many sizes, 8-by-10-foot rugs are $675 for the machine-made Porthos, $5,500 for the hand-knotted African Manja. Hussaini says natural fibers can be very durable. “In terms of overall durability and performance, sisal and sisal blends are probably going to be your best bet,” he says. “In more high-trafficked areas, choose a weave with lots of shade and texture variation, in one of the darker hues for better maintenance and cleaning.”

When selecting sisal weaves, be aware that it can show indentations from the continued pressure of furniture and other heavy objects. “For this reason,” Hussaini says, “we recommend the use of flat weaves in dining rooms and other areas of the home where chairs or other furniture may be moved regularly. Sisal and jute are also more suitable in dry areas — and are not recommended for bathrooms and basements.”

Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It’s one of the most affordable natural fibers and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses. There are many beautiful color variations used in jute carpets and area rugs.

One last tip from The Rug Importer: “Wall-to-wall sisal is beautiful, but installation can be tricky,” says Tariq Qari, president of The Rug Importer. “Our carpet installers are experts in laying sisal and doing the seam work — and this important detail gives the room a beautiful finishing touch.”

The Sirocco rug, named for a Mediterranean wind that carries the Sahara’s dust across the seas to southern Europe, is cashmere, a premium wool not normally used in rugs. It’s from SHIIR, a new collection by Soucie Horner Ltd., an interior design firm, and Oscar Isberian Rugs, a renowned rug purveyor. Available in sizes from 3 by 5 feet to 10 by 14 feet in peat, graphite and sandstorm (shown). Pricing on request.