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Highlight: Natural vs. Synthetic Material

A common curiosity for consumers arises when they see the base material for a particular product - Natural Fibers vs Synthetic.  Each group includes many fiber sources, each with their own unique capabilities and strengths.

 

Natural Fibers:

Natural fibers have two main sources, either plant fibers (ie cotton) or animal hair (ie wool).  In some cases, the main body of the plant is used; for instance in sisal made from various grasses and/or bark fibers.  Natural fibers are typically tough-wearing and resilient.  They are very good in many situations.  But they may not be the 'best' fit for particular circumstances.  Their generality is their greatest weakness.

Natural fibers tend not to take bright colors well.  It is possible that colors are lost during cleaning routines, or that they stain if exposed to things like wine or other spills.  They may be sensitive to moisture, either molding or rotting if exposed for long periods.  They may slowly break down in direct sunlight as well, fading or losing structural integrity.  Don't let those notes discourage.  These fibers have been used for hundreds of years for rugs, clothes, and other textiles.  Some of those items still remain to this day.  Depending on the usage and the material, some fibers are very soft and pleasant to the touch, and others more rigid and scratchy.

Synthetic Fibers:

Synthetic fibers are those created industrially.  The ultimate source is typically crude oil, refined into inert fibers.  Some fibers have qualities that allow products made from them exclusively.  Others are better suited in a support role with other natural fibers.  Chemical names that may be found are: nylon, polyester, polypropylene and the like.  Sometimes, trade names are used instead of the scientific name.

Synthetic fibers tend to focus on one (or a few) characteristic.  For instance, nylon is solution-dyed, meaning the color is throughout the fiber and not just on the surface.  This material holds color very well, meaning physical and chemical damages has little impact on color.  Alternatively, Olefin is an extremely tough fiber.  However, it cannot be used in all the same situations as other fibers as it may not behave of feel the same in a given situation.  Synthetics, in general, can take more extreme colors, holding on to them more brilliantly than natural fibers for longer.  Some fibers are created with the color within, others require unusual circumstances to open the 'pores' of the material for dying.  Therefore, synthetics are less prone to accidental soiling for household liquids.  However, because they are oil-based, petroleum products in the home act as the Achilles' heel for many of these fibers - nail polish remover will eat right through synthetic materials.  Alternatively, oil and water do not mix, synthetics typically ignore water, as the fibers themselves are not absorbent.

 

Material choices abound.  Despite the base construction, all materials will eventually break down, fading and rotting away.  The question is if the given environment is asking too much of a given material or if there is a better option to accomplish the desired results.  Regardless, all of these materials should be professionally cleaned, as the professional will know how best to treat the fiber and the construction for maximum effectivity as well as maintaining integrity.


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Product Highlight: Play Rugs

Play Rugs involve healthful and constructive entertainment.  It may be fanciful or whimsical, but the play always promotes constructive values and inclusive fun.  The rugs are made with easy-to-clean materials and built tough to handle the rigors of institutions while still providing the fun detail for home use.

CoastalRugs.com offers many Play Rugs from a few different manufacturers (Flagship, Joy Carpets, Kid's World).  These rugs ostensibly work well in many environments - from households to instiutions.  However, they also work well for any situation that wants to promote fun in the young and old alike; places like libraries, youth centers, classrooms, and household recreation-rooms.  The rugs are offered as premade area rugs.  But, many of the patterns also come as wall-to-wall broadloom for use in typical carpet installations.


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Product Highlight: Wall Hangers

One cannot mention 'wall hangers' without mentioning the underlying reason/birth of such an item: Tapestries.  This topic will be covered by its own Highlight at some point.  But, the short on the topic is that tapestries are vertically hung textiles that served many purposes; decoration, insulation, and/or sound-damping.  The methods to hang such items may be as simple as pegs or nails straight through the textile into the underlying wall structure to elaborate and ornate hardware that mirrors the auspices and complexity of the textile itself.

Modern textiles serve much the same purpose as they once did, from decoration through to environmental control.  Also, hanging techniques have not changed much as well, from simple pegs to elaborate hardware.  Conventional hanging of tapestries follows either of two main methods: loops/pocket -or- clamps.  Each of these methods involve a similar set of hardware; a rod about the length of the hanging edge mounted to the wall at each end and at reasonable intervals in the middle if the hanging method allows room for such.

  • Loops/Pocket need the tapestry or rug to have a fabric loop sewn onto the top edge.  Through which a rod is slid, to stiffen and connect to the anchoring hardware.  This sleeve may be continuous or segmented along the edge, as well as being of appropriate proportion to the weight/size of the hanging.
  • Clamps do not require alterations to the tapestry/rug.  Small gripping hooks are squeezed onto the top edge of the tapestry that then hook over the main wall hanger bar.  The fabric loops mentioned above are replaced by metal hooks clamped to the fabric and hung over the bar at intervals.  These clamped are designed to have as little impact on the textile as possible.

CoastalRugs.com has sourced some wall hanger options that satisfy both methods mentioned above.  Regardless of the method employed, it is suggested that not more than 10lbs per foot is hung on a wall hanger without consultation.  We can discuss hardware options for unconventional circumstances and situations.  Or, we can provide the necessary kits for individuals to hang their items all by themselves.  Many of the options are able to customized on site for the length and installation method desired.

Check out the collections and design options shown in our catalog.


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Product Highlight: Braided Rugs

The sight of a Braided Rug may conjure an image of colonial America.  These rugs embodied the tough conditions and the resourcefulness of the time and persons.  These rugs were typically hand woven from scraps of materials, and cobbled into shape.  The final size and color determined more by the resources on hand than from an initial plan.

The typical rug is made from a concentrically wound strip of braided cord, spiraled around and around into circular shape (round or oval).  The stripe may have been made from any number of available materials at the time; wool, cotton, hemp, etc.

Modern changes have also changed the production and design options of these rugs.  Now a days, many more materials are available.  The traditional wool and cottons still exists, but added are some of the synthetic materials; nylon, polyester, etc.  These each have their strengths and weaknesses.  The natural fibers have a nice, warm appearance and feel, with more muted tones.  Whereas the synthetics allow for use in less hospitable environments, better wear, and possibility of brighter/bolder colors.

Though the strips' creation may be aided by modern machines, the actual construction still requires much in the way of manual labor.  The shape and size of the rug is determined by hand, as rugs are created for an intended size/shape from the start, and are not cut from raw sheet-goods.

In addition to the constituent material, construction methods have also expanded.  Once limited by an individual's dexterity, modern machines can create more intricate weaving patterns for the base strip.  The options have increased from a single braided cord to include fabric cording and a multi-weave cord (aka cable-lock), each with their own look.

Ultimately, the selection has increased, and the final choice typically comes down to aesthetic preference.  Some situations suggest the use of synthetics or natural fibers; i.e. indoor/dry or outdoor/wet use.  We have a selection of rugs that have a wide range of physical design options; material, color, size, shape, and braid-type.  These can appeal to modern preferences as well as nodding back to their historical roots in this country.

Browse the catalog and make your choice.  We are here if you need to ask any questions.  These rugs can be ordered in the traditional ovals shapes (round/oval) - made in the traditional concentric spiral method.  But, also in rectangular formats (square/rectangular/octagonal) - made, not with concentric rings, but parallel strips, with the edges finished for strength, cosmetics, and to prevent fraying.  Nothing prevents most any shape from being specified in a custom order.  In fact, there are non-rug uses as well, such as pillows, baskets, chair pads, placemats, etc.


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Product Highlight: Rug Pads and Tapes

The nicest or most expensive rug is just as much a danger as a giant hole in the floor if it becomes a tripping or fall hazard.  Enter rug pads and tapes.  These items work together to prevent damage to under-floors as well as providing sure footing for traffic.

Scenario A) Soft goods and hard floors do not provide a huge amount of stiction (static friction) - This means that a rug or mat laid on hardwood or tile may unexpectedly slide out from underfoot.  In addition, the textile has the possibility of transferring some color or marring the under-floor.  To prevent both situations, a gripping pad or adhesive tape is recommended to help hold the rug/mat in place.  These types of products may be shopped in the Rug Pads and Tapes category at in our store.

The basic purpose of the pads is to provide lateral grip between the rug and floor.  However, some pads are available with a bit of extra cushion.  This extra cushion provides minor foot feel, but does a better job of conforming to slightly irregular surfaces and maintaining contact between the rug and floor.

Scenario B) A rug laid on top of existing wall-to-wall will 'walk' if not anchored in place - A rug or mat that is not held in place will migrate across the room every time someone steps on it.  This problem is more of a nuisance compared to the previous scenario.  It is exacerbated by the density and pile of the underlying carpet.  On each step, the underlying rug fibers bend down and reflex sideways, exerting a small amount of lateral movement on the rebound.

Some rug pads are designed to fight this effect.  Due to the circumstance and mitigating factors, it may not be possible to completely eliminate this 'creep'.  These pads are mildly adhesive, and try to grab the rug and underlying fibers, anchoring them in place.  They have the restriction of not being too aggressive with grabbing the under fibers with overly-strong adhesive - they must not leave any residue/glue/etc to the underlying carpet.  As such, they do the best possible without causing damage to the under rug.

Situation ?) The catch-all circumstance - Perhaps it is holding a mat on a stone step or some other non-typical usage.  Rug tapes provide a tool that may be used to try to affix rugs and mats in place.  These range in intentions from providing minor grip to near permanent installation.   We may have a selection of tapes available for sale online, but the selection is too broad to fully show all the possible choices.  Give us a call or drop a note about a project to dicuss ideas and possible solutions.

Typically, any of the rug pads can be cut to necessary size and shape.  It is not necessary for the pad to extend exactly to the edge of any given rug or mat.  However, a majority of the rug should be interfaced to its underlayment by a realtively high percentage of its area.

Care should be taken to clean the hard surface of moisture, oils, sand, dust, and other debris.  Also, the back of the rug should be vacuumed to remove excess fibers or dust (especially for existing rugs).  Most times, it is easiest to a pad that has a bit of tack to the back of the rug and then flip the rug into place.  However, the final goal is the what matters.  Whatever easily gets the rug pad flatly and cleanly into place is acceptable to achieve that final goal.


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