Understanding Fading and New Zealand’s UV Rays 

Fading of rugs in your home

New Zealanders love the sun and have a tremendous indoor-outdoor flow into homes. However, New Zealand globally suffers the harshest from the sun’s energy causing fading in rugs.

There are three major causes of sun damage to your home and soft furnishings:
• Ultra-violet light (approx. 40%)
• Infra-red light (approx. 25%)
• Visible light (approx. 25%)

The remaining 10% of damage is caused by other environmental factors such as the fastness or quality of the dye, the age of the fabric, chemical vapours and cleaning products used in home maintenance.

Ultraviolet light causes the most damage. It bleaches most natural materials such as jute, cotton, wool, leather, and wood in the short term. It also breaks down synthetic fibres such as viscose, heat-set polypropylene or any of the other petroleum-based synthetic fibres used in the manufacturing of rugs.

Long term, the sun’s rays damage the fabric fibres making them brittle and susceptible to tearing and crushing. You can commonly see this in net curtains, and drape backings falling apart. Carpet and rugs near floor-to-ceiling windows and ranch sliders often rot over long.

So how do the common natural rug fibres stand up to the fading?
Given we cannot control the solar damage, which is 90% of the fading of rugs problem, we can control the other 10% by making informed decisions.

Most common natural fibres used in the manufacturer of floor mats or area rugs

Wool: A rug made from New Zealand strong wool that is eco-friendly, sustainable and renewable, will last the longest against fading. New Zealand’s strong wool has a unique whiteness caused by our unpolluted environment and will hold dyes better, be they colour fast or natural dyes. Also, our wool growers, aware of the high UV fading in New Zealand, clearly identify fading as an issue for manufacturers. New Zealand’s strong wool resilience to fading is one reason why New Zealand wool is the wool of choice globally for soft furnishings.

Jute: This is an interesting fibre with most manufacturing coming from India; it is described as eco-friendly and renewable, however, it is typically free from chemical processing. Therefore it is highly lightly that any colour using the rug manufacturing process will fade once exposed to New Zealand sunlight.
The fading process can be relatively quick, and you may notice a difference within 4-6 weeks. It also somewhat breaks down earlier when comparing it with other natural fibres.

Cotton: The material has been used for centuries and is a durable and inexpensive rug material. Cotton rugs do hold their colour, but an inferior dye palate or method may be used to keep the manufacturing cost down. Rugs with cotton will fade over time; however, not as fast as jute.

In Summary

Naturally dyed rugs and synthetically dyed rugs suffer equally from solar fading. Colours fade unevenly, and wool and cotton dry out and become brittle over a long period. Wool has the most prolonged longevity due to the lanolin in the fibre.
Wear and use will also fade your rug with time. Rugs that start with lighter colours tend to see less impact from sun exposure since there is less vibrancy to fade.

Rugs for All prefers to sell mostly floor mats or area rugs that are made from New Zealand wool and are fit for purpose in the context of the New Zealand lifestyle and environment that we live in.

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