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Viscose & Tencel Carpets are Beautiful. Are They a Bad Buy?

Ask Ken: Buyer Beware About Shiny Viscose and Tencel Carpets

Ken's Quick Answer:

"Yes, viscose and Tencel are design-oriented and can give you a beautiful and unique look. However, caveat emptor—buyer beware. These materials are made from wood pulp which makes them very difficult to clean and maintain. That's putting it generously. Consider carpet 'bling' from nylon or polyester highlights instead."

Ken's In-Depth Answer:

All that glitters is not gold and all that is shinty is not silk. (Particularly when it comes to carpet.) With that in mind, I want to talk to you about two problematic fibers in the carpet business: viscose and Tencel. These are fibers that give carpets a soft feel, a lustrous look, and even a shiny look.

In the video above, we show you a carpet that is 60% viscose. Frankly, I don't know why. Lisa Wagner, who calls herself the 'Rug Chick' sums it up nicely. She calls viscose the "sausage of the fiber world" and "pricey paper." That's because viscose is made from wood pulp.

Just like any other natural fiber product, such as sisal carpet, if you add water it's going to stain and potentially explode. In other words, it's a very fragile fiber. It's not something you can give a hot water extraction clean or steam clean. (The only way you can clean it is using a dry method. Even then, you're really taking a risk.)

"Be careful when you're vacuuming and using a beater bar. You're essentially 'shredding' your new viscose or Tencel carpet into little pieces."

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The carpet industry realized that viscose was a problem, so they came up with another fiber called Tencel. Keep in mind that Tencel is also made with wood pulp from a eucalyptus tree. It's a little better than viscose, but I'll be honest, it's not a whole lot better!

With both viscose and Tencel, you want to be careful when you're vacuuming and using a beater bar. After all, it's paper, and you're running a brush over it. You're essentially "shredding" it and you'll see little pieces of fiber coming out.

I'm not saying to avoid a carpet made of Tencel. You get a very specific look. A lot of the finer, most expensive, and most design-oriented-looking carpets are made with Tencel. It's a great look. I just want to make sure that you know what you're getting into. There will be limits in terms of how you're going to maintain, care for, and clean that (admittedly beautiful) carpet. As they say, caveat emptor—buyer beware. Watch out for viscose and Tencel in more expensive carpets.

You can always look for carpet 'bling' achieved with polyester and nylon highlights instead!

If you have any questions about viscose and Tencel carpet, please give us a call at 401-214-0285 or visit our showroom."

Ken Fain smiling and wearing a green and yellow collared shirt

About Ken: Ken Fain is the co-owner of Island Carpet in Middletown, RI and a floorcovering veteran of more than 40 years. His popular 'Ask Ken' video series answers common flooring questions on a variety of topics. It has reached thousands of viewers on both YouTube and Facebook.

Ken Fain wearing collared shirt and a Great Dane

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