What is so great about wool?

Natural - Renewable - Sustainable - Beautiful

Wool is the fleece or coat of an animal, most commonly sheep. There are four main sheep that the wool is typically sheered from: Drysdale, Perendale, Merino, and Romney.

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Wool is a natural protein based fiber. It is the most durable of all fiber types and it sets the standard for what synthetic fibers work to mimic.

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Wool withstands the test of time.

The oldest carpet in the world that is still in existance is made of wool and still looks beautiful! This carpet dates back to the 5th century, so to say that wool ages gracefully is an understatement!

Wool has been a vital supply since the ancient times, and has contributed to the growth of European nation states, international trade, and many modern economies. Today, the world production of clean wool is about 3.14 billion pounds (that’s a lot of wool!), yet out of all that clean wool, only about 20% of the world wool production is used by the carpet and rug industry.

There are several factors that influence the quality of wool that is produced such as breed, climate, habitat, diet, age, health, gender, care, and shearing. Below are the three types of wool and what they are primarily used for.


The wool used for carpet and rug production is some of the finest in the world. Check out the video below to see the entire process from the shearing of sheep to the production of carpet.

There are so many elements to a single strand of wool it is actually amazing when you think about it. Lets disect a piece of wool from the outside in and see exactly what it is that makes up wool.

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Outer Layer: Cuticle

The cuticle is a protective layer of overlapping scales with a porous, filmy skin. This layer gives wool its inherent aesthetic qualities, such as softness and luster, as well as other performance features.


  • The cuticle is surrounded by glands that produce lanolin, that serves to protect the wool and skin of the sheep against the environment and climate.

  • Lanolin, also called “wool grease” is completely removed when the wool is processed.

  • Lanolin is a byproduct of wool processing and is used in a variety of products from pesticides to moisturizer to lubricants.


  • The membrane between the cuticle and the cortex, allows both dyes and moisture to penetrate the wool and provides the fiber with its natural ability to hold onto color (dyes) well.

  • This membrane also enables the fiber to absorb humidity and airborne toxins, producing a cleaner, more comfortable indoor environment.


The cortex or core forms about 90% of the fiber’s bulk.

  • It’s composed of millions of long cells that are held together by natural binding materials.

  • There are two types of cortex cells that spiral around one another.

  • The interlocking molecules of the cortex cells provides long-lasting durability and traps insulating air between the fibers.

Inside Layer: Medulla

The medulla is a cluster of the hollow, spongy cells.

  • Aid wool in its retntion of moisture and dyes

  • The medulla varies in size based on the breed.

  • Coarser wools have a thicker medulla

  • Finer wools may not have this layer at all

Right Handed Helix and Left Handed Helix

The Helix is buried in the centre of the fiber and has two countering forces one from the left and one from the right- which are coiled together like a rope but offer an intense spring and elasticity. This is a great asset to wool as it lends important structure to the fiber. It is capable of continuously resisting pressure and can be bent many thousands of ties and still spring back.

Wool has an amazing amount of features and benefits


Wool’s chemical structure is linked together in a spiral shape giving it a natural crimp. This natural crimp gives the wool resilient strength, on-going durability, and a lasting appearance. A single strand of wool can be stretch and compressed thousands of times and still retain its original shape and provide softness and comfort under foot.

Wool also offers a natural liquid repellency. The scales on the outside of the wool fiber cause liquids to bead up and stay on the surface helping to keep wool stain free. If the stain is blotted before the liquid seeps into the scales there should be minimal to no staining, and because wool is naturally shedding, the stain will eventually wear off if by chance one does develop.

Noise Absorbing

Wool limits the transfer of vibrations and noise through floors, doors and walls. The higher the density pile and weight of a wool carpet dissipates sound waves more effectively. Sound absorption is one of the primary reasons wool carpet is used most often in aircrafts, casinos, and hotels.

Flame Resistant

Wool is a safe fiber; burns from fireplaces or cigarettes will cause minimal damage to a wool carpet. Wool will not melt or give off noxious fumes like synthetic fibers would.

  • it is difficult to ignite due to high water and nitrogen content

  • Does not melt, drip or emit noxious fumes

  • Low flame spread

  • Burns slowly

  • Self-extinguishes

Soil Resistant

Wool’s natural oils, and scaled structure keep dust and dirt from penetrating into the fiber. This allows wool carpet to maintain a better appearance. It keeps soil on the surface for easy clean up and releases soil easier, making the surface easier to clean and maintain.


Wool contributes to a healthier indoor environment by helping remove pollutants and allergens from the air and temporarily trapping dust and allergens which can aggravate allergies. Wool doesn’t promote the growth of dust mites or bacteria or give off harmful emissions.

Regulate Humidity

Wool has a natural ability to regulate the humidity of an interior space because it ‘breathes’, making it ideal for those who live in a humid or damp climate. Wool naturally absorbs moisture when the atmosphere is damp, and releases it when the atmosphere is dry, creating a more comfortable interior.


Wool naturally resists static build up due to its high moisture content.

Renewable & Sustainable

Wool is the ultimate sustainable fiber. Sheep grow wool continuously and can be shorn every 9-12 months, making it rapidly and readily renewable. Shearing does not harm or cause pain to the sheep in any way!

As long as there is grass for sheep to eat, wool can be produced, in contrast to synthetic fibers which require oil and refineries, a non-renewable resource for man-made fiber production.

100% Biodegradable

Wool is made from keratin, a tough insoluble natural protein with a unique structure and in its pure form will decompose without causing harm to the earth. At the end of its life, if kept warm and wet, or buried in soil, 100% wool will biodegrade releasing valuable nutrients. In soil wool can be used as a slow release fertilizer or as weed mats to inhibit weed growth and to control erosion, stabilizing slopes and for protection of new seed, providing valuable nitrogen fertilizer as they decompose.


Wool for carpets will be manufactured in different ways according to the design requirements. The main manufacturing methods used are machine production, tufted or woven, traditional, and hand tufted or hand knotted. Within each of these, there are many different mechanisms and skils that can create different appearances and textures.

There are a variety of companies that produce high quality wool carpet using the best quality wool, and humane practices. A few of our favorite wool manufacturers are shown below, click on their image to view their wool carpets.


To learn more about the benefits of wool, or discover the style of wool that will work best in your space, visit us at 2516 W. Battlefield, give us a call at (417) 883-4720, or email us at flooring417@gmail.com.