As the holiday season draws near, so spikes our interest in home décor and all things beautiful and pretty. For those looking to redo their flooring options, we shall today explore the ultimate objet d'art of floor furnishings, the silk rugs.
Silk rugs are admired for their velvety softness and regal beauty. They are spun from the material that makes up the cocoon of a silkworm or Asian silk moth caterpillar. The silk is harvested by boiling or heating cocoons and unraveling the fibers of the cocoon by hand. The strands are then plied and spun to create silk thread or yarn with high tensile strength. The yarn is dyed for rich, full color and distinctive luster and sheen. Thus, silk rugs made with natural silk are singularly distinct and beautiful.
Comparison with Wool Rugs
The main difference between the wool and silk rugs is the price point. Silk, being more costly and rare material, commands higher price and hence silk rugs tend to be more expensive. Appearance wise, the silk rugs have a slight sheen, while wool rugs have more of a matte look.
Durability is another factor of comparison. Wool rugs are considered more durable than silk rugs. Having stronger and denser piles with natural properties of wool, wool rugs are significantly resistant to stains and damages, even when placed in high traffic areas at home. They are fairly easy to clean and vacuum on regular basis without the risk of damage or harm.
With remarkable tensile strength, silk is also durable, but it can break or be damaged or stain easily. Placed in high traffic area, it loses it sheen. Furthermore, unlike wool and cotton, silk fiber tends to lose its shape when wet or pulled. This contributes to its overall delicate quality. But, with special care and maintenance, silk rugs enjoy longevity and their continuous popularity as cherished heirloom possessions.
How To Distinguish Between Real & Artificial Silk
Real silk is expensive. So authentic silk rugs will cost more. Artificial silk is made from either mercerized cotton or rayon or a synthetic blend of chemically altered fibers. In all cases, the materials are treated chemically to cause the threads – and the resulting fabric – to increase in sheen and tensile strength. Artificial silk looks like its genuine counterpart, but without the smooth, luxurious, and slightly waxy texture of real silk.
“Real silk will still have minor bumps or grooves in the weave, whereas artificial silk will have a smooth, even weave. Artificial silk doesn’t hold color as well as real silk, and it wears down more quickly. Viscose and acrylic tend to pill and pull apart, they show dirt more easily, and they yellow or fade as they age. Viscose, rayon, acrylic, and polyester simply will not feel as luxurious as real silk.”
Care & Maintenance of Silk Rugs
Silk’s luster is the quality most sensitive to damage. Careless handling may destroy the luster and eventually damage the durability of the fiber. Additionally, silk can lose up to 20% of its strength when it gets wet. So, abrasive cleaning agents and steam cleaning should be avoided lest it damage the rug. Like wool rugs, silk rugs can be vacuumed a couple of times in a month, ideally with a brush less vacuum head. Other types of vacuums can pull out and damage the fibers. You can also gently sweep the rug with a broom or take it out for a fair shake. Beating silk rugs or deep wet cleaning at home is not advised at all. In case of a liquid spill, blot it out with a clean, dry cloth. Do not try to scrape at spills as it will damage the fibers. In case of serious spill and stain, take it to a professional cleaner.
Once you have decided to buy one, make sure you are paying your top dollars for the real McCoy, not a fake one. Always inquire if the pure silk rug your buying comes with an authenticity certificate. Most Kashmiri Silk rugs from India have a Govt. of India authentication on the label. Also, ask the kind of silk that has been used. Pure silk means natural silk, whereas Bamboo Silk/ Artificial Silk and other such labels refer to cheap chemical substitutes of silk.