Polyester vs. Polypropylene Rugs
Polyester or polypropylene? These are two of the most popular types of synthetic fiber rugs, with good reason. While they’re extremely similar, they still have a few important differences that make them better suited for certain lifestyles. If you want to feel confident in your purchase, arm yourself with all the knowledge you need using this guide to polyester vs. polypropylene rugs.
Polyester and polypropylene rugs are both a great value. Their affordability makes them wonderful options for non-permanent spaces like rentals, dorm rooms, or baby nurseries. Because these rugs are man-made, they come in endless colors and styles that mimic more expensive versions, so you can still get the look, but for less.
Beyond costing less, these rugs are also less hassle. In fact, polyester and polypropylene are some of the easiest rug materials to clean. The trade-off? They wear faster compared to rugs made from raw organic fibers. Basically, with either polyester or polypropylene, you get a simple, stunning rug for the short-term. For a tidy overview of both rug materials, see below:
- Shared Pros: comfortable, affordable, water resistant, stain resistant, fade resistant, super easy to clean
- Shared Cons: low resilience, oil absorbent
It’s important to remember that the name of the fiber used doesn’t indicate a rug’s true quality. For a full picture of how a rug will perform in your home, check out our Complete Rug Buying Guide for all the other factors you should consider.
Look and Feel
Polyester and polypropylene are actual plastic, so they’re flexible and tough materials. But as rug fibers, they’re also supremely soft. Density and overall fluffiness will come down to the specific construction of your rug. That being said, polypropylene is frequently said to share the lavish, cozy quality of wool. You can always make up for less cushioning in either type of rug by using a rug pad underneath it.
Because of their smooth, solid surfaces, polyester and polypropylene rugs aren’t made to bounce back under heavy foot traffic. In an entryway or hallway, for example, these rugs will look gorgeous and remain stain free, but they won’t have much staying power. A polyester rug will be the first to show wear and tear, with the fibers coming undone into frayed edges after enough use. A nylon rug would be the strongest choice, but all synthetic fiber rugs will lose their softness over time.
Here’s where both polyester and polypropylene rugs truly shine and prove their might. Not only do the fibers hold radiant colors exceptionally well, but because of their tight construction, it’s virtually impossible to alter a synthetic rug’s color with most stains. In fact, water-based spills famously wipe away from a synthetic rug’s smooth surface.
That being said, both polyester and polypropylene rugs are known to dull and yellow with regular skin contact. The oily residue discolors the rug fibers as it builds on top of them. Polyester rugs are better than polypropylene rugs at keeping their texture and they won’t dull as quickly. For a better breakdown of a polyester rug’s qualities, read our full guide to Why You Need a Polyester Rug.
Polypropylene and polyester rugs repel moisture, so they’re less likely to grow mold or mildew. This also means moisture damage – like you’d typically see with pet urine or everyday spills – isn’t so much a concern with these types of rugs. Polypropylene is the less absorbent between the two so it’s better suited for accident-prone households.
To make sure liquids won’t sink into either material, just make sure the base of your rug is not made of jute. A plastic backing will keep out odor and mold, while a natural fiber jute backing will hold it in.
Both polypropylene and polyester rug fibers absorb oily substances, so they shouldn’t be used under a vanity where hair or skin products could take a tumble. A kitchen or dining room would also be a risky placement choice for these types of rugs if you’re wanting to make them last.
Never fear. You can make the most use of your stain-resistant synthetic rug in a living room or outdoor seating area. The low cost of these materials makes them especially convenient for covering such large areas. Polypropylene is least likely to fade or mold over with exposure to sun or spills.
While both polypropylene and polyester rugs are often described as “heavy-duty” in terms of their strength, this also applies to their easy cleaning. Since polypropylene and polyester rugs have synthetic weaves, they offer no pockets to hide dirt. This is a blessing in disguise, since regular vacuuming is really all that’s required to keep these rugs looking fresh. Spot cleaning is typically all that’s needed for stain removal with either type of rug.
Neither polypropylene nor polyester rugs need to be confined to low-traffic areas, but they’ll certainly last longer if they are. Both synthetic materials tend to last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, meaning you’re not locked into a single look or style forever. All things considered, a short lifespan is a small price to pay for a colorfast, quick-to-clean rug.
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