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Area rug and carpet safety

Most materials, natural or synthetic, have some environmental impact, and those used for carpets and rugs are no exception. Health hazard comes mainly from rug and carpet being outgassing potentially toxic fumes, as well as from rug and carpet mold (mildew) infestation.

It is known for some time that some natural fibers - especially those of animal origin - can cause discomfort in sensitive individuals. For a while, it was thought that synthetic materials used for carpet and rug production are safe in this respect. Most were labeled as non-allergenic and considered a better alternative.

However, growing evidence showed that synthetic materials also can cause sensitivity discomfort. Most area rugs combine synthetic face fibers nylon, polyester, and olefin (polypropylene) - produced mainly from petroleum derivates,  with over 100 chemicals added for stain resistance, wear resistance, mothproofing, fungicides, soil repellents, processing aids and adhesives binding the backings and the tufts together. Many of these chemicals, as well as fibers themselves, are sources of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOC like formaldehyde, and many others), which are a health hazard, and can outgas for a long time.

Particularly offensive outgassing comes from glues and rubbers. This makes carpets generally greater health risk than rugs, but rugs with significant amount of latex (or other) glues - such are those with double backing - are also a concern.

More often than not, natural fibers and materials are also chemically treated. If you are environmentally concerned, look for untreated area rugs, or those made with low-emission substances and materials. Granted, that would make the job of carpet/rug maintenance and keeping biological pollutants (bacteria, fungi, moth) away more difficult. Another option is to apply a vapor-barrier sealant to block rug or carpet out-gassing.

If your new carpet, or rug, is chemically treated and unprotected, it is always good to keep the space well ventilated for up to a few weeks. And it doesn't hurt to make sure you'll be able to exchange or return the rug if you develop symptoms of chemical sensitivity.

Possible impact of a new carpet/rug on your living space and health deserves your full attention. Look for a carpet or rug made of low VOC emission materials. Make sure that you are well informed about possible area rug environmental effects before your final decision.

Carpet and rugs terminology - This sounds like a school class - but this is the one you don't want to miss. An educated buying decision translates into a buying success, and that is your goal. Certainly, understanding carpet and rug terminology is something you need for enjoyable, successful shopping.  And it is not as simple as it may seem at first...

Construction - Simply put, rug or carpet construction is a particular way of putting it together. Whether produced by hand, or by machine, they are made in a certain way. This includes all that is done to come up with a finished product: from tufting or weaving the yarn to dyeing and applying chemical or other treatments...

Materials - Nearly all of materials used for rug and carpet construction are in their face-fiber and backing. It is usually the face-fiber material that gets most of attention and consideration. This is because the rug/carpet fiber forming its face is most exposed, both, visually and physically. Hence it is the main determinant of appearance quality and retention...

Label and warranty - Rug/carpet label and its warranty can give important information and indications in regard to its quality level. Getting familiar with their contents is time well spent. Here's what you should look for...

Area rug size and shape - In somewhat different ways, area rug size and shape have both, functional and aesthetic aspect. At first, one would say that area rug's size is pretty much determined by dimensions of the space it is intended to. In reality, the decision on how large area rug will be, and whether it is to be square, round or of some other shape, should come after careful consideration of not only room's size and geometry, but also typical traffic patterns, form and arrangement of other objects and decor elements present, as well as the intended use of the room, or space...

Colors and Patterns - Color of your rug, or carpet, creates certain visual effect, emotion, and an atmosphere. Individual perceptions vary, but most of us will be affected similarly. Here's a brief overview of what are out typical responses to colors and patterns. It may help you decide what rug color and pattern type is best for your room...

Design style - Possible variations in the visual characteristics of the rug/carpet face - its design - are literally countless. They come from visual rug/carpet attributes created by both, fiber coloration, and its dimensional appearance. Luckily, all this immense variety is being channeled, fairly efficiently, into a few main classifications...

Carpet and rug buying checklist - The two main aspects of every rug or carpet are (1) its aesthetics and (2) practicality. Once you find the one that has the right looks, the next step is to check out how appropriate are its materials and construction type to its intended use. In other words, what is its quality level. The following checklist will help you figure that out...

Rug and carpet care tips - From the moment a new rug or carpet enters your home, certain steps and procedures should be followed to ensure its functionality and appearance retention. They are related to placement and installation, as well as carpet or rug care and maintenance. Here are the main pointers.

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