Although cotton or jute backing is preferred, many rugs are manufactured with a secondary backing. I prefer rugs that are woven without the secondary backing. Because you can tell if it is a good quality rug when you can detect the pattern of the rug while looking at it from the back. Whether a rug is machine-made or hand-knotted it has to be woven into something. Cotton or jute is preferred, but polypropylene mesh is fine when used in the backing of a rug (but never the face fiber). However; some rugs need that secondary backing to add density and weight. Also consider how the are rug is bonded.
Wool Fiber that has been shorn from New Zealand sheep is the best fiber for an area rug. Why a New Zealand sheep? Because they have been bred to produce "carpet quality" wool fiber. An area rug of New Zealand wool fiber will be soft on the feet and extremely durable. Most stains are not a problem; simply blot gently with clear warm water for best results. An area rugs density will play an important role in its life and performance. A flimsy cotton or olefin (polypropylene) rug or a runner without a secondary backing is nothing but trouble. A rug without sufficient density will wrinkle, warp, buckle and bunch. Not to mention the battle for possession that takes place when you try to vacuum it. The vacuum almost always wins this battle as you try using your feet to keep it under submission and out of the suction tube. I dont know anyone who enjoys constantly adjusting and straightening their rugs. If you buy a rug with sufficient pile density (or weight) it will remain where you place it and behave when you vacuum. I prefer rugs of at least 12mm. Especially if they are to be placed over wall-to-wall carpet. Buy a dense rug and let gravity keep it in position and under control.
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