Rugs-Carpets | Which is Better, Wool or Nylon?



This is a continuation of the last post where I cautioned against using these three fibers, sisal, silk and cotton for your rugs and carpets.


Dash and Albert Plain Tin

And it’s not that you can’t use them, just beware that they may not hold up.

There is a lot of debate, however over which is better for rugs and carpets, wool or nylon?


Well… it depends. Both are terrific products but for different reasons.


  • nothing, but nothing beats nylon for wearability.

    Folks in the carpet biz are always saying, you will be sick of it, long before you’ll need to replace it.

  • affordable
  • comes in a variety of styles and patterns and but is well-suited for wall-to-wall areas, stairwells and areas that take a pounding
  • Con – can be difficult to remove stains. This is why nylon carpets always come with some sort of stain protection, but it does wear off.
  • Shows traffic patterns, but that will dissipate with a good cleaning.


Here are some beautiful nylon broadlooms from Masland Carpets.


I’m very proud to say that I have a direct account with them and they are one of my sources in Laurel’s Rolodex. It’s a wonderful company.


This is one of my favorites. It’s actually a commercial grade carpet and even though it doesn’t look like it here, it is reminiscent of seagrass when it’s down. This stuff is as indestructible as it gets and awfully good-looking. It’s called Vibe and the only color I ever use is called In Tune which is difficult to describe, but it’s a warm slightly brassy neutral.



masland-hudson-valleyHudson Valley




  • luxurious, long-lasting fiber if cared for properly
  • easier to remove stains
  • because of the natural lanolin, is actually self-cleaning

Story time. Years and years ago, when I was a newly-wed and a student at the New York School of Interior Design, I spilled a big glob of rubber cement on our Oriental Rug. I could not get it all out and what was left was a crusty patch which wasn’t all that noticeable, unless you were looking for it.

Years later, I remembered the crusty patch and I searched every inch of the rug for it and it was GONE!

Hot Tip.


I’ve said this before and you are going to probably ignore me because it goes against everything you believe to be true.

If you want to destroy your fine wool Oriental rug, go ahead and have it CLEANED.


Why will it destroy your rug?

Okay? Would you send a sheep to a dry cleaner to clean it? Why not? That’s what we do with our oriental rugs and what happens is that every time we do this, we remove the natural lanolin in the wool. It’s that lanolin which protects the fiber from dirt and from breaking.


  • wool will still break and shed, but generally stops most of this after a time.

And again, having your fine wool rug cleaned will cause more breakage and may even lead to a threadbare rug.

  • wool ranges in price from reasonable to very unreasonable
  • wool is good for wall-to-wall and area rugs
  • it comes in both machine-made and hand-knotted versions for rugs

There are also a lot of other weaves such as Axminster, Wilton, Hand Tufted, etc.

  • A fine hand-knotted oriental rug should last for a life-time and beyond. In fact, it should get better with age as the colors and patina mellow.

That is…if you can resist sending it out for dry-cleaning.

But Laurel… the rug is DIRTY!  I HAVE TO HAVE IT CLEANED!!!


Look, I understand completely. In our germaphobic culture, we are breast-fed to believe that if we don’t clean the crap out of everything, we are going to get sick and die. Quite frankly, and this is another topic, but I believe the opposite to be true. Still, I know that you don’t want a disgusting, smelly rug in your home and neither do I.

How to Properly Care for and Clean Your Fine Oriental Rugs


  • Vacuum your area rug at least once a week, but please make sure that the brush setting is on off. :]
  • Once a year, turn the rug upside down and vacuum the back.
  • Ideally, once a year, the rug will get a sun bath on a hot dry day for a few hours.

I realize, that you will probably never do the last two, but if you can, your rug will remain quite clean. The sun is a natural disinfectant. Did you know that? For accidents, of course it is fine to spot clean, but no dry cleaning and I would also avoid any other kind of cleaning which uses detergent as well. That too, will remove the natural lanolin.

Okay. There are a VAST array of wool broadlooms (carpeting) and area rugs which range in price from not too expensive to insanely expensive.


Let’s begin with the inexpensive.

These would be the flat weaves like the one I have in my living room from Surya.



Sometimes you will hear these referred to as a Dhurrie, Kilim or Soumak. The soumaks are cool because they are reversible and come closest to mimicking the hand-knotted versions.



Did you know that these rugs can be used as upholstery? Surya now carries lots of wonderful ottomans and benches upholstered in their flat weave rugs. How cool is that?


More costly, there are wonderful wool broadloom carpets that can be either installed wall-to-wall or fabricated into an area rug.


One of my favorites is Ondine from Prestige Mills which is a wool Wilton weave pattern mimicking the ubiquitous Pueblo which is sisal and also from Prestige. Yes! It looks great! And as stated here, you will hate yourself one day, if you get it.



I know… it’s so friggin’ tempting, isn’t it? This is one of my all-time favorite, favorite living rooms by the brilliant Ashley Whittaker. And the pale gray SISAL rug is just sublime. It certainly looks practical, but if you spill on it— again, it WILL stain and you WON’T be able to get it out. I know. Life isn’t fair sometimes, is it?

On the relatively lower end, are machine-made wool Oriental rugs. Sometimes, they will add striations to mimic a hand-knotted rug, but generally it looks a bit fake.  This is a fine Oriental machine-made broadloom which could be used wall-to-wall or made into an area rug, also from Prestige Mills.



These kinds of styles are great when you need a weird size but still want an Oriental rug.

In addition, there are hand-tufted wool rugs and one of my favorite sources for these beauties is Dash and Albert. These are actually less expensive than the broadloom from Prestige.

dash-and-albert-hartwell-hooked-rugHartwell from Dash and Albert


Another all-time favorite hand-hooked pattern, from Dash and Albert— Plain Tin, it’s called. [There’s a photo of it at the top of the page in the new colorway- cadette.]

dash-and-allbert-plain-tinHere are some new colorways that were shown at Americasmart last summer.


And here is a 3 x5 Plain Tin in Charcoal [which is slightly purple] area rug for my little entry. Actually, I got it as a sample but knew that I would keep it. Then, I ordered the larger size for my client. :]


 And finally are the fine hand-knotted rugs and other hand-hooked rugs. These can get quite pricey.

Alright, this is what you need to know about fine hand-knotted rugs

It’s about price. It drives me nuts. And quite frankly, it’s not the way I do business. And I certainly do not wish to disparage anyone’s culture, however, most Oriental rugs are made well— in the Orient [duh] which is India, Pakistan, China, Iran, etc. And the people in those countries have a different way of doing business.

Haggling, is what we usually call it.

However, happily, with the advent of the internet, the haggling-price-you-see-is-nothing-like-what-you-pay-but-you-have-to-bargain-with-the-salesman are largely gone. Now, you’ll see. “retail— $7,000 Sale price $2,500” Something like that. It’s all bullshite, ya know? But, that’s the way it is.

However… for a hand-knotted Oriental rug, you should expect to spend at least $20.00 a sq. foot. Please notice that I said SQUARE FOOT. If you wanna know how that translates into a sq. yard, just multiply by nine. Therefore, if something is $20.00 a sq. foot it’s $180.00 a sq. yard.

And you might spend as much as $90.00 for a fine hand-knotted/hand-hooked rug. If it’s more than that, it probably has a name attached to it like Stephanie Odegard, Elizabeth Eakins or Mark Inc and you are dealing either with a really high knot count and/or an intricate design unique copy-righted design.

How do you know if your rug is worth what you are paying for it?

That is a very good question and I wish there was a simple answer because crooks are often extremely appealing. If you aren’t really sure, I would shop around and possibly get some advice from an appraiser.


Elissa Cullman

Above and the next two images are the very fine hand-hooked rugs from Elizabeth Eakins. These are unbelievably gorgeous and you might need some smelling salts when you see the price.  I once did a small one of these in a cool master bedroom in a home from the 1700’s. [yes, I took pics but they were horrible.] It was 8 x 8 and today it would be around $16,000!

OMG! I found them. They are pretty bad which is why I never used most of them. This is from a job I did 14 years ago! And it was also from the house in Better Homes and Gardens.



 Well, you get the idea. Ugh. We waited an entire YEAR for that Yewwood bed!

Well, back to the great photos which I’ve already posted, but here they are again.

traditional-dining-room-thomas-pheasant-virginia-201007_1000-watermarkedThomas Pheasant


Anne Decker

Well, I could keep going on and on here… however, since some of you have other things to do— haha! I’ll finish off with my favorite type of hand-knotted, Oriental rugs, the Oushaks. They originated in what is now Iran and the antique versions are absolutely sublime with their soft mushy designs and colors. But, the new ones are still wonderful as you can see from these two beauties from the French Market Collection.


French Market Yvette Oushak blue

Well, I’m just back from workation and now, it’s the weekend again! Hope it’s a great one for y’all!





7th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2020 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Rebecca Meals - August 9, 2016 - 1:55 PM

    Laurel, what about wool rugs and shedding? All the information I can find online says one of two things: 1.) a quality wool rug will stop shedding after about 2 months, and 2.) a wool rug will never stop shedding but will get better over time. I’ve nearly 6 months in and mine won’t stop!!! I’ve already moved it out of the living room into the master bedroom (lower traffic area). It’s an 8X10 under a king size bed (I would have preferred a 9X12, but it is what it is), so there is a nice border along the three sides of the bed for you to step onto when getting in and out of bed. What always happens is that when the kids start to play or crawl on it, the fibers come out heavily and very visibly. I vacuumed twice a day when we first got it because it was so bad. I filled an entire 13 gallon trash bag with the fibers I dumped out of my vacuum basin. Even now, I see fiber everywhere. It moves off the rug and collects all over my hardwood floor. If I drop clothing on the floor by accident, I pick it up covered in wool and can’t get it off. One of my kids knocked an entire basket of laundry off the bed and I had to re-wash the entire thing. It’s driving me crazy!!! Will it ever stop? There was a 30-day return policy on the rug, but then they said it would take a couple months to stop shedding. But what if it doesn’t? Now what? I don’t know how much longer to wait before I simply return it and demand a refund. I can’t turn off the brush roller on my vacuum cleaner, but I do have it on the highest setting. I’ve even used a broom on it instead of the vacuum (which is much more difficult and takes longer). I’m just fed up. What to do?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 9, 2016 - 2:26 PM

      Hi Rebecca,

      That sounds awful. I do know that wool rugs do shed– especially when new. But that sounds excessive. I would contact the place you got it and tell them what you told me.ReplyCancel

      • Rebecca Meals - August 27, 2016 - 11:00 AM

        Thank you, Laurel. I will do that. It’s 100% wool, hand-tufted. I thought that was one of the key features to look for when selecting a quality rug. Surely though, there are other factors that contribute to a good rug. I wonder if the length of the fiber may be shorter or something. That’s not something they mention in the specifications for rugs though. (I’m a knitter, so I’m quite familiar with fiber length and how it affects yarns, and this is a similar concept!)

        I will be looking at another store from your recommended vendor list to purchase a new one later. Hopefully I can find one that will work for us, with 4 kids and heavy traffic. It may be time to consider a flat-weave. The price is killing me though on all these rugs! I’m stalking pages waiting for sales. Thanks again!!!ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - August 27, 2016 - 7:27 PM

          Hi Rebecca,

          Well one thing I know is that the natural lanolin affects the quality of the wool. And sheep who live in colder climates produce more lanolin.

  • Ellen - June 17, 2016 - 8:35 PM

    Hi Laurel
    Thanks for all the information on carpet. It’s so helpful to me since we are updating an old cottage in Hampton Bays. I like the Masland carpets you mentioned. I’m interested in vibe but the in-tune color seems dark. We have a lot of older wood pieces and trying to lighten things up and get a more beachy feel. Have you seen the vibe carpet in sensation color? The other Masland carpet I really like was sisal weave in rich hold. It looks like sisal- so earthy and textural. I really enjoy your articles! Thanks, EllenReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - February 8, 2016 - 3:40 PM

    Any chance you would know the source of this rug? Thanks for the great article, I bookmarked all of the sites!

    • Laurel Bern - February 8, 2016 - 8:34 PM

      Hi Lindsey,

      I’m sorry I don’t. I even took a stab at it, but in this case could not find the source. Dash and Albert has nice rugs, however.ReplyCancel

      • Lindsey - February 12, 2016 - 5:13 PM

        Thanks so much for looking into it! I do love Dash and Albert too.ReplyCancel

  • Dolores - May 17, 2015 - 8:04 PM

    Just found this, yayy 🙂 and it’s perfect for me because I am looking to change my hall carpeting. Even though it is just 5 years old, and there’s nothing wrong,because, as you mentioned- nylon is indestructible. But I choose the wrong color the first time around. Hate it.I would prefer to do bare wood floors, but then my three standard poodles wouldn’t have good traction.Can’t risk them being hurt.
    I am definitely looking into the Vibe carpet you wrote about if it mimics seagrass. If I had a choice-I would do seagrass for sure, but I heard that seagrass is slippery on stairs ? I have therm in the bedrooms and love them..
    Re cleaning Persian carpets..if you have small rugs, take them outside in the winter, and put them face down onto newly fallen snow, and then beat them with a carpet beater to get the dirt out.It works great, they are so nice and clean and bright after the snow treatment.And bohooooo!I had my beautiful Persian carpet cleaned last year- but they said that they wash it, rather than dry cleaning the carpet, but I had no choice, my poor old dog was sick..ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 18, 2015 - 9:28 PM

      Hi Dolores,

      Masland’s Vibe is a great carpet. It comes in a lot of colors but the one I like is called “In Tune” which is not gold, not beige, but like tarnished brass. It’s a very good, warm neutral. and yes, seagrass is slippery on stairs. I’ve seen it done, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

      Very interesting about the snow treatment! I was always told to leave them out in the hot sun in the summer for a few hours. The sun is a natural disinfectant.ReplyCancel

  • Janet Marcus - October 25, 2014 - 1:35 AM

    You can clean smaller Persian rugs by taking them out to your driveway, using one of those sprayers with a bottle that attaches to your hose, place a very small amount of Joy or other dishing washing detergent in the sprayer and hose the rug with it. Rinse the rug with plain water until no more soap comes out of it. Let the rug sit in the sun until the top feels dry. Then flip it over and place over the tops of lawn chairs to elevate the rug and let dry completely in the sun. I do this once every five years.

    Larger rugs send to a specialist in cleaning Persian rugs. They do not dry clean rugs, they wash them. Be careful with the vacuum which can chew the edges to shreds. I use a stiff broom on the edges rather than a vacuum.

    Further comment…with dogs or kids in the house…you can kiss synthetic fiber rugs good-bye within 5 years. I have wool carpeting on my stairs which has been there 12 years and it doesn’t show any wear at all…but at $90 yard, it damn well better not. You get what you pay for.ReplyCancel