"I always recommend linen, since it hooks as smoothly and easily as monk's cloth, yet it retains substantial body and is more lasting than any other backing... a top notch, resilient foundation that will wear like iron."
Marion Ham, Rug Hooking Magazine
Why use linen backing for hand-hooked rugs? Because it's the best! Linen is the most durable, rot-resistant backing you can use. Rugs hooked on linen backing are easier to care for and hold their value.
Most rug collectors will not buy rugs hooked on burlap. Remember, linen costs around $1.65 per square foot, but the value of a hand-hooked rug is at least $60.00 per square foot! Linen is good insurance that your hand-hooked treasures will be around for generations to come.
Burlap is great for anything that you don't need to wash regularly, such as stuffed animals, pillows and some wall-hangings. But linen will hold up to the wear and tear of floor rugs, and can be washed without rotting out the backing.
Here's a tip for making the most of your linen backing: design your rug right up to the edge of the fabric (leaving at least 3" selvage for a hem) and sew some waste material on the sides to wrap around your legs. A yarn of linen goes a lot further that way. Be sure to reinforce the raw edges before hooking so they don't fray.