Bamboo rugs are incredibly soft and are a beautiful addition to any home. But beware: bamboo rugs stain very easily and cannot be cleaned. Sam Presnell from The Rug Gallery discusses the upsides and downsides to owning a bamboo rug. Listen or read more to find out if a bamboo rug is right for your home.
John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm John Maher, and I'm here with the owner of The Rug Gallery, Sam Presnell. Hi Sam.
Sam Presnell: Hi, John.
John: Sam, what is a bamboo rug?
Sam: I love that term. I think most people think that it's a rug made out of bamboo, but I don't believe that's what they're looking for. You can get a rug ... just basically little slats and slivers of bamboo, and then they weave it together, so it's like a rag rug type of thing. It's all made from the real bamboo, the skins of the bamboo ...
John: … Like a mat or something.
Sam: Yes, it's kind like a Sisal or a natural fiber thing, Really, I think what people are talking about is bamboo -- a lot [of] people say “bamboo silk”. That's what people are assuming. They see that a lot in a lot of textiles, including rugs.
Bamboo Rug Texture
John: Interesting. What kind of a texture or feel does a bamboo silk rug have?
Sam: My God, it's such a great feeling. It's smooth. It's really soft. It's even better than silk as far as the feel. It's got a real nice finish to it. It has a lot of sparkle to it. You can get really clear colors into it. It's just a fantastic-feeling textile.
Bamboo Rug Designs and Colors
John: What kinds of colors or designs do bamboo rugs come in?
Sam: Well, they come in every color because, like I said, it's really easy to dye. It absorbs dye very easily. You can get really deep colors with it because it is so absorbent. Then, with designs, I would say that's something that ... [it] comes in everything. You can get it in very classic rugs, as far as traditional looking rugs, Persian rugs. You can get it in very modern abstract rugs, colonial looking rugs, or hooked rugs. It pretty much is in every type of rug out there as far as design goes.
Cleaning a Bamboo Rug
John: Interesting. What are some of the other things that consumers should know about bamboo rugs. Are they cleanable?
Sam: That's the big thing. It is not cleanable, and it stains very, very easily. It looks great. A lot [of] people love that look, and it's also very reasonable in cost. Bamboo silk is basically made from the pulp. If you're making paper, you would make paper in a very similar fashion. You would grind it to the pulp, and then make it liquefiable, and then spin it into the filament, whereas you'd press it into paper. Basically, if you can imagine, a bamboo silk fiber would be a lot like a paper product. It would be a cellulose product. It would have [the] same type of things.
When it gets wet it's going to get really sticky. It's going to stick together like your newspaper, [if you got it out] in the rain. It's going to absorb, so anything that gets spilled on it, it's going to absorb very quick. It's like paper. It's going to absorb anything that gets near it. When it cleans, if you don't clean it properly, a lot of times you'll see color run, as well as you will also see that it loses that nice sheen that you had to the very beginning part of owning that rug.
Bamboo Rug Durability
John: That speaks toward the sort of maintenance or the long-term viability of a bamboo rug. Is it something that I should assume is not going to last very long, or can they be quite durable?
Sam: Yes, it's not going to last very long. It depends [on] your usage. I would not put it in high traffic situations. I don't think it's going to perform in those kinds of things. I think in those lightly used areas where it's more of a "hey, look at me" type of an area, I would think that might be a perfect rug for there, or a spare bedroom or a room that doesn't get day-to-day traffic.
What to Watch Out For
John: Any other things that people should know about bamboo rugs or final thoughts?
Sam: I think you'll see a lot of it out there, and a lot of times it's called bamboo silk. A lot of times it's called viscose. A lot times it's called art silk which means artificial silk. Bamboo is basically used in order to make you think that it's hard as bamboo. It is the furthest thing from hard as bamboo. Be leery of it. It has a great look and finish, but it's not going to perform. If you're looking for performance, I would definitely run from that particular product. But, as far as a good-looking rug at a very reasonable price, and the way it feels, oh my goodness, you just want that rug.
John: All right, that's really great information about bamboo rugs, Sam. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Sam: You're welcome John. Thank you.
John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and Oriental Rugs and Carpets, visit ruggallerycincy.com. That’s rug gallery c-i-n-c-y.com or call 513-793-9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes. If you can take the time to give us a review on iTunes as well, we'd appreciate that. See you next time on The Rug Gallery.