Hemp Rugs and Floor Coverings

Hemp rugs are natural area rugs that that can last for years without losing their shape or color. Hemp rugs are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners who want their decor to be as environmentally friendly as it is beautiful.

What Is Hemp?

Hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa, one of the most useful plants known to man. Although these days, Cannabis may be best known for its psychotropic properties, the plant is used to make a range of hemp products from clothing to household accessories to cosmetics. Hemp fiber is the longest and strongest of all natural plant fibers. Hemp fiber is so strong, in fact, that for many years its main use was in the rope and other cordage used on sailing vessels.

Hemp contains two types of fibers. The longer bast fibers account for 20 to 30 percent of the plant. They are high in cellulose and low in lignin, and are generally found in the exterior of the stalk. Hemp bast are the fibers that are used to make hemp carpet and hemp rugs.

The inner woody core of the hemp plant consists of shorter fibers called hurds. Traditionally, hurds were considered byproducts of bast extraction and were discarded. Today, however, hurds are increasingly being used in paper and newsprint manufacture.

What Is a Hemp Rug?

Most contemporary hemp area rugs are flat-weave rugs with a nubby texture that are typically woven by hand on broadlooms. The rough texture of this type of hemp rug will soften over time and the fibers in the rug will actually become stronger with more wear.

Hemp rugs can also be created by more conventional means. A hemp area rug or hemp carpet can be produced on a traditional loom with practically any number of knots per square inch, any pile, and with or without loops. Tibetans have been producing these types of hemp floor coverings for centuries. Hemp can be dyed with both natural and aniline dyes, and it can also be combined with other fibers like wool, seagrass and even synthetics. Most people who buy natural fiber rugs prefer hemp in its undyed state, however.

What Are the Benefits of Buying a Hemp Rug?

Hemp is an exceptionally durable material, and it’s strong enough for high traffic areas, both indoors and out. Unlike other types of plant fibers, hemp will not deteriorate if it becomes wet, so hemp floor coverings are a great choice for the bathroom and kitchen.

Hemp is also an extremely versatile plant in terms of its growing conditions, so resilient that it grows wild in many parts of the world without the need for pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. In contrast to cotton, which has high water needs, hemp does not need excessive irrigation. It also produces far more tons of fiber per acre than cotton does, because hemp fibers can be harvested up to three times a year. Like other natural plant fibers, hemp is biodegradable.

A hemp area rug is beautiful and strong, and has a resilience that artificial fibers are unable to match. If you’re looking for a floor covering that will add warmth and texture to your home, think hemp.

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