Wool or Silk Persian Rug?

Sheep and Silk WormWool vs. Silk Persian Rugs

Authentic Persian and Oriental rugs are made not only of the finest of wool, but also can be made of silk.

You may wonder which is better to purchase: The answer is neither. Neither is “better,” but one or the other may be a better choice depending on what you plan to do with the rug.

If you’re going to place it on a floor and walk upon it, it’s probably better to purchase a wool rug – they are much more durable. Silk rugs show wear from traffic very quickly and are better for areas where people rarely walk.

If you plan to use the rug more as a work of art – you plan to hang it on a wall, for example – a silk rug may be best because a silk rug isn’t as durable as one made of wool but does show more detail. Silk rugs often have a higher knot count than wool due to the finer nature of the fibers. This increase in labor means that many times silk rugs are more expensive than wool rugs.

Most handmade Persian rugs made today are crafted from fine wool (such as camel hair, Manchester or Kork wool). Relatively few authentic Persian rugs are made of silk today. Most on the market are antiques and therefore are rare, quite valuable and really shouldn’t be trod upon.

To choose a quality silk rug, check for the following:

  • You’ll want to make sure it’s actually made of silk. To tell if it is, pull a teeny strand of silk from the rug and burn it. If it’s silk, it should shrivel and smell like burned hair.
  • The rug should be very shiny when looking down its nap. The more noticeable the shine, the better the chances that the rug is really made of silk.
  • Note that some dealers use the term “art silk,” when talking about some rugs. This is not indicative of the artistry that went in to making the rug. Instead, it means “artificial silk.”

As for a wool rug, to make sure it’s of a high quality, check for the following:

  • While a wool rug shouldn’t be shiny, it should have a sheen or luster to it.
  • Be careful, however, because some poor quality wools are blended with artificial materials made from petroleum that falsely give the wool the sheen of a good quality wool. These wools will fall apart over time. They also can become smelly as the years go by, especially if laid on a heated floor.
  • You want to look for a rug with wool that has been hand-spun, if possible. Wools that were machine-spun are fine, but not as highly regarded. The good news is that a rug made of machine-spun wool won’t be as expensive as one that is crafted with hand-spun wool.

If you’re still unsure if a wool or a silk rug is right for you, discuss your needs with our rug experts. Stop by our showroom or call 972-733-0400 to schedule a tour.

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