Identifying Rug Material: A Handy Guide by Rug Love

A rug can transform any space, bringing warmth, colour, and texture into your home. However, the material of a rug plays a crucial role in its longevity, care requirements, and overall suitability for your specific needs. So, how can you identify what material a rug is made from? Here, we’ll delve into some key techniques and characteristics to help you unravel this mystery.

A Wool Rug

The Feel Test

The feel of the rug under your fingers can tell you a lot about its composition. Synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, or olefin generally feel smooth and somewhat plastic-like, while natural fibers such as wool, cotton, or jute will be rougher and more textured.

The Burn Test

This should be conducted with extreme caution and only when you're uncertain about the composition of a small portion of the rug. It involves burning a few strands and observing how they react to the flame.

  • Wool: Smells like burning hair when set alight and produces a dull, orange flame. It extinguishes itself once the flame source is removed.
  • Cotton and Rayon: These catch fire quickly and produce a yellow flame. The smell is similar to burning paper.
  • Silk: Burns slowly and curls away from the flame, giving off the smell of burning hair.
  • Nylon and Olefin: These melt rather than burn and usually ball up, producing a chemical smell.
  • Polyester: Also melts and balls up, but produces black smoke and a sweet smell.

The Knot Test

Handmade rugs, especially those made from natural fibers like wool and silk, will show individual knots on their undersides. Machine-made rugs, typically made of synthetic fibers, won't have these knots.

The Price and Appearance Test

The price can often be indicative of the type of material used. Natural fibers such as silk and high-quality wool usually come with a higher price tag due to their durability and intricate crafting process.

In terms of appearance, silk rugs have a distinct sheen that is hard to mimic. Wool rugs, on the other hand, have a more matte appearance but are quite dense and plush.

Professional Assistance

If you're still unsure about your rug's material after these tests, it’s best to seek professional assistance. A rug expert or a professional cleaning service can help identify the type of material used.


Knowing your rug's material is essential for proper care, maintenance, and understanding its value. While it may be a little daunting at first, you'll soon become adept at distinguishing between different materials. Remember, the ultimate goal is to find a rug you love, and Rug Love is here to help you on your journey!

Whether you're looking for a sumptuous silk masterpiece, a durable and classic wool rug, or a versatile synthetic piece, we have it all. Explore the magic of well-crafted rugs with us and find your perfect match!

To View our full range of Rugs and Runners click the links below.

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