Shopping Guide: Natural Fiber Rugs

A Guide to Natural Fiber Rugs

There are many reasons why natural fiber rugs are a go-to favorite. Jute, sisal and seagrass rugs are easy to care for, affordable and eco-friendly. Their natural, earthy texture makes them amazingly versatile — and a perfectly neutral foundation for any decor. In fact, many designers opt to go au naturel, using a natural fiber rug in nearly every room of a house.

While they share many similarities, the differences between jute, sisal and seagrass are what sets them apart. You may find that one is more suited to your lifestyle than the other. So if you want to know if jute rugs are soft, if you should go sisal in your high-traffic entry or if seagrass can handle spills in a playroom, then read on.

Jute Rugs

Jute is a natural plant stem fiber that is primarily grown in Bangladesh and India and is also used to make burlap and twine. Jute fibers are soft and smooth with a waxy sheen, resulting in the softest choice underfoot. For a super-soft jute rug, look for one that’s blended with chenille. Because of their weave, our Braided Link Jute Rug and our Braided Jute Rug have a softer texture than your average jute rug.

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Natural Fiber, Jute rug

Our Braided Jute Rug has a thick weave and coastal-casual fringe on the edges.

natural_fiber_rugs_jute_3

The rich texture and natural tonal variation of jute rugs comes in handy for masking minor stains or spills. However, jute rugs are less durable than sisal or seagrass, so they’re a better match for spaces with medium traffic, like dining rooms or bedrooms.

We love the lovely organic feel of jute rugs, but they aren’t for everyone. Because jute is made from this natural fiber, shedding often occurs when the rug is new. This typical eases up the older the rug gets. Another important thing to note, color and texture can differ from rug to rug. Our jute rugs are 100% hand-spun and hand-loomed, so variation is unavoidable.

Sisal Rugs

Sisal fibers come from the agave plant, the same family of plants that make aloe and tequila. They’re grown in Central America, but major production is from Brazil and East Africa. Sisal is the strongest, most durable of the three – and often the pricier, too. Their hardy weave means they last and can stand up to pet-scratching!

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Natural Fiber, Sisal rug

Our classic Sisal Rug has super tight knots which means it can stand up to wear and tear like a champ.

Natural Fiber, Sisal rug

Note that while sisal rugs are very durable, they can fade in direct sunlight and can become discolored easily, even by water.

Seagrass Rugs

Seagrass is a fast-growing marine plant found in the Asia-Pacific region. Because it’s grown in water, the reedy plant produces a strong, non-porous yarn that’s resistant to stains. Once a water spill dries, a seagrass rug will return to its normal color. The dense weave also makes it a very durable choice for high-traffic areas in the home, from the mudroom to the family room. Your seagrass rug will last you years.

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Seagrass rugs

Our Seagrass Rug is great for dining areas and family rooms because it stands up to stains like you wouldn’t believe. It’s tight weave means it isn’t super soft though.

Seagrass rugs

Take note: we don’t generally recommend any of our natural fiber rugs for moist or humid areas, like bathrooms. And if you’re still not sure which rug is right for you, order a swatch to get a better idea of color and feel.

COIR MATS

Coir mats are made from coconut husks

We bet you didn’t know that coir is a material derived from the husks of coconuts! First, the husks are seasoned in a lagoon, and then they’re beaten using wooden mallets to extract the fiber. The fiber is then hand-woven into your doormat by artisans using century old looming techniques.

Coir mats are made from natural fibers, so it’s inevitable that they will break down over time. To extend the life of your coir mat, avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and try to keep it fairly dry. If it’s completely soaked through with water, it will break down faster, so allow it to fully dry!

Unfortunately shedding is normal for any coir mat, but over time, the shedding will diminish. Simply shake it off or vacuum the mat to remove loose fibers.

Browse more rug inspiration by following our Rugs and Flooring Pinterest Board, or browse our extensive collection of rugs online.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

How to Decorate Team

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.

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30 Comments

  1. Reply

    Lori

    August 19, 2015

    How do these rugs do for outdoor use on a covered patio? And which material if any would be the best choice

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 20, 2015

      Lori,
      In order for the rug to last, we suggest using a rug that is specifically designed for outdoor use on your covered patio, but we do have an outdoor sisal rug that would blend the look of a natural fiber with the durability of an outdoor rug. Our St. Tropez Indoor/Outdoor Rug has the look of sisal, but it’ll last!
      Best of Luck!
      The How to Decorate Team

  2. Reply

    Rachel

    July 5, 2015

    I would like to use a natural file rug in our dining room. Our hardwoods are light, not dark, like all of your photos show. Will the sisal rug with the red border look bad against the light floors?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 13, 2015

      Hi Rachel,
      Not at all, our seagrass and sisal rug look really nice with virtually every hardwood floor stain!
      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  3. Reply

    Nazima

    July 4, 2015

    Hello-

    I am looking for a natural rug to put under my zebra rug which is real zebra hide…..Which kind of natural rugs would you recommend and if you have any stores in mind thru online shopping please that I could look at and possibly purchase.

    Thank you!

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 22, 2015

      Hi Nazima,
      You can find all of our natural fiber rugs here.
      Best of Luck!
      The How to Decorate Team

  4. Reply

    Jeanie Hill

    December 15, 2014

    Are the sisal rugs flat enough that a door could open over one? I need one at the entrance coming into the house from the garage and wonder if the door would clear when swung open. There is a half inch clearance (I can slide my hand beneath the door and the hardwood floor when open.

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      December 17, 2014

      Hi Jeanie,
      I think a sisal or seagrass rug should be fine, as neither of them have a very high pile. You could also order a sample just in case!
      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  5. Reply

    Amy

    November 17, 2014

    I have a basically neutral living room except for a sofa and chair with a floral bro daisy fabric (greens, golds, dark reds). I have not been able to find a patterned (oriental style) to match the fabric. I was thinking of your braided jute rug with the fringe but I am afraid it might look odd. Thoughts?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 21, 2014

      Hi Amy,
      Thanks for your comment. We actually have a design team that can help you with your home. It’s a free service that we offer to all of our customers. Use this form to submit some photos, and our design team will create a design plan for your space. We look forward to helping you!
      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  6. Reply

    Char

    November 13, 2014

    Love the natural grass rugs but I also love the grey/white duvet set. I was wondering if you could let me know where that can be purchased ?.We have a newly acquired house on the bay and will be purchasing rugs for it around mid-December!

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      March 25, 2015

      Hi Char,
      The gray and white duvet and quilt set in this post is our Ava Block Print Bedding and Reply

      karen s

      September 19, 2014

      I have a black and cream ticking shower curtain from pottery barn (sorry but I really like it). Thought a natural fiber rug would look good but you do not recommend in bathroom. Would like 3×5 rug. May use red or a vibrant pink as accent but open to any colors or suggestions. The walls and floor are very neutral. Have a black stand with wicker baskets in it and other than that white vanity . Suggestions?

      • How to Decorate Team
        Reply

        Caroline @ How to Decorate

        November 5, 2014

        Hi Karen,
        Unfortunately we aren’t sure a natural fiber rug will be the right choice for your bathroom. Many natural fiber rug options aren’t super absorbent. We might suggest a smaller rug that can stand up to water!

        We do love the idea of choosing a color as an accent. What a fun idea!
        Best of Luck,
        The How to Decorate Team

    • Reply

      Tammy

      August 19, 2014

      Need help! I have 2 chairs fabric is your Augustine Amber With a green paint
      in my kitchen
      But opens to my great room,which also has leather.and the chairs ,
      Need a indoor outdoor rug, the rug will be close to great room which has a ivory rug
      I don’t know what color.I have.maple cabinets hope you can find that fabric!
      Also black /gray granite please want the best colors to
      go with those Berger chairs, please help

      • How to Decorate Team
        Reply

        Caroline @ How to Decorate

        August 19, 2014

        Hi Tammy,

        Thanks for your comment. We would love to give you some guidance for decorating your great room. We have an entire team devoted to helping customers make design decisions in their home. Simply complete this form, and our Design Solutions team will create a plan for you!

        Happy Decorating,
        The How to Decorate Team

    • Reply

      Kim Dowdy

      July 19, 2014

      Hello Team. Your April 14, 2014 at 9:25 am reply regarding a rug recommendation includes a link to Jute with Chenille Rug. When I attempt to use the link, it gives me “0” results, but lists other items with partial words in it. Are these rugs still available? I too want a softer feel and would like to get a sample of it and of a sea grass rug. I have outdoor space that will be used frequently, and a wool rug I’d like to replace in the family room. I’d appreciate your help. Thanks, Kim

      • How to Decorate Team
        Reply

        Caroline @ How to Decorate

        July 30, 2014

        Hi Kim,

        Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, our jute rug with chenille is no longer available. We’re so sorry for the inconvenience. Our Lattice Knot Wool & Jute Rug might be a great alternative though. Because it’s blended with wool, it has a softer feel to it, with that natural fiber look! The lattice pattern is a beautiful detail too! Our Raleigh Natural Fiber Rug would be another good option as it’s blended with cotton!

        It’s a great idea to order samples, just so you can get an accurate feel for the softness and coloring.

        Hope that helps. Best of luck!
        The How to Decorate Team

    • Reply

      doris

      June 19, 2014

      I need to know how to spot clean the seagrass rug I just bought from you,

    • Reply

      doris

      June 19, 2014

      I just purchased a seagrass rug for our dining room. I need to know how to spot clean it.

      • Caroline McDonald
        Reply

        Caroline McDonald

        November 15, 2016

        Doris,
        Most carpet cleaners should be fine. Just be sure to test the cleaner in an inconspicuous area first!

    • Reply

      Sheila Swearingen

      June 11, 2014

      I purchased a seagrass rug from Ballard’s about 7 years ago and it still looks new. I love that feature of seagrass. We recently moved it from our dining room to loving room. Under the dining table, we didn’t notice that it has some areas that aren’t lying flat. If it were a wool carpet, we would simply pull each end to flatten out the “wrinkles” and have tried that with the seagrass to no avail. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

    • Reply

      Joann Karnes

      June 4, 2014

      I am thinking of using a seagrass rug in my kitchen. Would that work ok.

      • How to Decorate Team
        Reply

        Caroline @ How to Decorate

        June 6, 2014

        Hi Joann,

        Seagrass rugs by nature are VERY durable. We absolutely think that you could use a seagrass rug in your kitchen. They are naturally resistant to water so we find it very easy just to sop up any liquid spills before they leave a stain. Because of the tight weave, seagrass isn’t the softness rug material we offer, but we definitely think it’ll be durable enough to survive a hardworking kitchen! We say go for it!

        Best,
        The How to Decorate Team

    • Reply

      Barbara Miller

      April 12, 2014

      I have been considering purchasing a natural fiber rug for our small great room. I am planning on layering a cowhide zebra dyed rug over the top. This is our only living area and we do a lot of indoor-outdoor living spring, summer and fall. Besides that I have a kitty that does claw the carpet. The main reason I hesitated to use a natural fiber rug is that they tend to be uncomfortable to walk on, never mind sit on. Do you have suggestions as to which fiber would work best, or if they would work at all. This rug would be placed on top of hardwood floors.

      • How to Decorate Team
        Reply

        How to Decorate Team

        April 14, 2014

        Hi Barbara,

        If you’re interested in a natural fiber rug that is a bit softer underfoot than your standard natural fiber, we suggest looking for something with a bit of either wool or chenille in it, like our Jute with Chenille rug. With the use of a rug pad, this will work perfectly under hardwoods. Hope that helps!

        Happy Decorating,
        The How to Decorate Team

    • Reply

      Anne Williams

      February 18, 2014

      Three years ago I purchased one of your sisal rugs with a black border. I now have to replace the rug and have my hardwood floors refurbished because the rug disintegrated on my hardwood floors.

      Not only was the rug not durable, the additional cost to repair my floors has added to its lack of appeal. I would suggest you note that these rugs must have a rug pad to prevent damage to floors.

      • How to Decorate Team
        Reply

        How to Decorate Team

        March 27, 2014

        Hi Anne,

        I believe our Customer Support team has reached out to you to resolve this issue. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we hope that our team has been able to help! Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

        Best,
        The How to Decorate Team

    • Reply

      Carol Webb

      February 14, 2014

      I am redoing my great room and dining room which are open. My taste is traditional with a french country infuence. I am wanting a casual elegant looking room. Will a sisal work well or braided link jute rug? Thanks for your help.

      carol webb

      • How to Decorate Team
        Reply

        How to Decorate Team

        February 19, 2014

        Hi Carol,

        We love the look of natural fiber rugs in almost any room — you’ll notice that in our catalog, we use natural fiber rugs in very formal living rooms as well as casual family spaces. As far as sisal vs. braided jute, jute will give you a bit more texture, and sisal is a little more polished. It just depends on what look you’re going for.

        Let us know how it turns out.
        Happy Decorating,
        The How to Decorate Team

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