What does a polypropylene rug feel like?

A customer asked the question; what does a polypropylene rug feel like? We all have different ideas of what feel’s good and bad so this is difficult question to answer.

When it comes to mass production of rugs the most popular manufacturing method is the Wilton weave. The most popular fibre in Wilton rug production is polypropylene. This is mainly because it’s an easy to produce versatile fibre that bulks well, meaning it either feels chunkier or less fibre can be used to cover the surface of the rug. Polypropylene very efficient on looms during manufacture and is used in a vast diversity of rug qualities from very cheap to relatively expensive, so here is where the confusion can starts. The one consistency with the Wilton woven rug is backing, when you turn the rug over you can see the obvious woven elements of the rug.

Backing of a Woven Wilton

The back of a woven Wilton

Because polypropylene is easy to produce most carpet and rug manufacturers produce the fibre in house using slightly different recipes to produce their own brand. There are two main types of polypropylene, BCF (Bulk Continuous Filament) and Heatset, of the two BCF is the cheaper with a harsher touch. Heatset is more expensive because of the extra processing it goes through to give it a softer touch… But it doesn’t stop there because the question is what does a polypropylene rug feel like, not what does the fibre feel like.

Just to recap: the vast majority polypropylene rugs are woven Wilton’s and BCF polypropylene is cheaper and harsher to touch than a Heatset polypropylene fibre.

Cheap Polyproylene

Singles yarn on a cheap polypropylene rug

Now we need look at how the yarn is spun as this too gives the finished rug a different texture and feel. There are usually two ways the polypropylene is finished, that is single (one ply yarn) and two ply yarn. With a singles yarn the individual filaments of the yarn, that’s the bits the width of a hair, are twisted / spun together to make a thicker stronger one ply yarn strand. This type if yarn is usually used in short pile velvet texture rugs and will give better coverage.

Two Ply Yarn on a Shaggy Rug

Two ply yarn is produced by winding or twisting two singles yarns together, a two ply yarn has more resilience and will normally hold its shape better than singles yarns. Because the yarn is plied together it gives a tighter, firmer feel. Two ply yarns are often used in deeper pile and shaggy rugs to help them keep their shape and appearance.

So that brings us back the question: What does a polypropylene rug feel like? The answer really depends upon the style of rug it is and the quality of yarn that is used. A rug made of a BCF yarn should be cheaper and feel harsher than a rug made with a heatset polypropylene. A rug produced with a two ply yarn should feel firmer than a rug produce with a singles yarn with the same stitch rate (tufts per sq metre).

Polypropylene is probably the most used yarn in the carpet industry, it is highly likely that you already have polypropylene carpets in your home or place of work. One thing is for certain if you are buying a rug made with polypropylene fibre then the manufacturer will have made the best possible handle and touch they can for the money.

In Conclusion: you can be fairly confident that you are generally going get a better quality and a better handle as the price of the rug increases.

14 thoughts on “What does a polypropylene rug feel like?

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  2. John Buck

    Many thanks for this info, which is very interesting. I have just purchased a rug in a traditional Persian design which was advertised as made from polypropylene. It has a soft warm feel just like the ancient wool rug it is replacing. But the rug has two labels on the back. One says is is made from polypropylene, but the Turkish manufacturers label says “Merinos Hali” Now Hali in Turkish means carpet and we all know what Merino wool is. So I think my very cheap carpet, sold as polypropylene, may actually be wool.

    1. encove Post author

      Hi John, Merinos (Merinos Hali) and (I think) their sister company is Dinarsu Hali is one of the largest rug manufacturers in Turkey. They do make a good quality product, but as far as I am aware they don’t produce in rugs in wool. If the label say polypropylene then it will be just that. However it just goes to show just how far the yarn technology is advancing if you have to research it. Thanks Phil

  3. John Buck

    Many thanks Phil for putting me right. I am still very pleased with my rug, even if it is polypropylene and not wool. It looks and feels much more expensive that it actually was.

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