Rugs can be produced in a variety of different materials, but perhaps the most beautiful and sustainable material is silk. Silk rugs are butter-soft, have a faint shimmer, and have the feeling of absolute luxury. Because they are such high-quality pieces, they come with an investment as one would expect.
And that is why viscose rugs started to pop-up—as a more affordable alternative. Alternatives to silk have been on the market for decades. You may be familiar with it from the clothing industry where it is called rayon. In the rug industry, we know it as viscose, art silk, or bamboo silk.
So what is the difference between viscose rugs and natural silk rugs? And why does it matter?
We already mentioned just how beautiful silk rugs are, so it’s no surprise that they are one of the most prized possessions in people’s homes. Silk is a natural fiber that is extracted from the cocoons of silkworms—the production process is time-consuming and adds to the cost of natural silk rugs.
Silk fibers are one of the strongest natural fibers and are also extremely fine—this allows silk rugs to have a large number of knots per square inch (KPSI). This allows rugs to have more intricate design work and to be more pliable. It also gives the rug longevity as it maintains the fiber strength for a considerable amount of time.
Pair that with the buttery soft texture—that isn’t slippery—and the beautiful way it refracts light, and you can see why silk rugs are worth the investment.
Viscose is a man-made fiber that was invented as an alternative to silk. It is made from wood pulp, cotton, and the banana leaf.
When comparing viscose to silk, the naked eye will have a difficult time telling them apart—they look extremely similar. Like silk, viscose has a beautiful luster but the fiber is susceptible to stains.
Viscose rugs do have a place in your home, you simply need to know where to place them to keep them looking great.
Why does it matter?
When you purchase a silk rug, you are purchasing an investment piece. Yes, they are expensive but they will last a lifetime and hold onto their beauty over the years. Silk rugs are statement pieces that add a touch of luxury to your home. Simply stated, they are worth the investment.
Purchasing a viscose rug is kind to your wallet upfront but there is a chance that you will be buying multiple rugs over time. On average, you will need to replace a viscose rug every 10 years compared to 50 years for a silk rug.
Many people find viscose rugs to be a good substitute for silk rugs when budget is a factor.
How can you tell the difference between silk and viscose?
There are two easy ways to tell the difference between natural silk and viscose rugs.
Using the Burn Test, you take a small piece of the fringe or another small piece of material that the rug is made of and put a flame to it. If the ash comes out chalky and smells like burnt paper, you’re looking at a viscose rug. If the ash comes out hard and crispy and smells like burnt hair, it’s natural silk.
The odds of someone allowing you to burn a piece of their rug are quite low, so you can rely on the Rub Test instead. Rub the rug vigorously in your hands. Viscose will remain cool to the touch, whereas silk rugs will warm up between your hands.
A final note
At Meredith Heron Collection, we believe education is key. Viscose rugs are beautiful and can be the perfect solution for you. While for others, silk rugs are the better choice. It’s important to understand the differences and make an educated choice when purchasing your next rug.