How to Identify a Rug’s Construction – What Makes a Good Rug?

The rug industry had long been known for fast talking, hard driving salesman with a reputation for being less than completely honest with their customers. It’s where the term “carpet bagger” came from. Some basic tips will protect you as you begin your rug buying process.

There are three main types of rug construction – Hand Knotted, Machine Woven, and Tufted.

Hand knotted rugs are generally considered to be the best. They are woven one knot at a time on a loom. First, the weaver will take a strong cotton, wool, or silk and create the warp loom. These threads run from the top to the bottom of the rug. Taking a strand of colored wool and knotting it around two warp threads in the foundation creates each knot. Starting at one end of the rug, the weaver takes different colors of wool and, like pixels on a computer screen, and creates the design.

Once a full row of knots is woven, the weaver will weave in a weft thread. The weft thread runs perpendicular to the warp threads and literally weaves back and forth between them. This creates a tremendous amount of strength in the rug and also holds the knots in place.

While incredibly strong, the hand-knotting process is painstaking and time consuming. A room-sized rug can easily take well over a year to weave. Hand woven rugs will generally wear better than any other rug in the market and not surprisingly, cost more than their counterparts. A good hand knotted rug can easily last 50 to 100 years with proper maintenance.

Machine woven rugs are manufactured quickly with large machines. While there are a few different types of machines that will construct a rug differently from one to the next, machines are not capable of creating the same structure as hand weaving. Rather than having wool knotted and tied onto the foundation, most machine woven rugs are made with a simple “half wrap” technique where the colored fibers are held in place with much less strength than in hand woven rugs. The benefit of machine woven rugs is that they are much less expensive and simpler to produce. The average lifespan of a machine woven rug is between 20 and 25 years.

The last style is tufted rugs, which straddle the line between machine woven and hand woven. They are made by hand using a tool known as a “tufting gun.” This is a simple tool that can be used to shoot a U-shaped tuft of wool into a cotton or jute grid. Because people use the tool, it’s often referred to as “Hand Woven.” However, this type of rug is not hand woven at all. The tool produces a look and feel much like the hand knotted rug; however, it is prone to wearing out much more quickly. To combat this, manufacturers will glue a canvas backing to the underside of the rug. This helps to hold the rug together, but in time the glues will degrade and the rug will begin to fall apart and may even produce a latex smell. Most tufted rugs are woven to last around five to 10 years before they begin to degrade.

So how can the consumer tell the difference between these types of rugs? The easiest to spot is the tufted rug – buy looking underneath and finding the canvas glued to the bottom. When it comes to the other two, take a section of the pile and squeeze it along the long end. In a hand-knotted rug you will see the wool wrapping around the warp threads. In a machine woven rug, the thread itself becomes exposed as no wool wraps around it.

Look at the illustrations to better understand basic rug construction.

knotting-styles

Please note that within each category there It are large varieties with differing quality as well as subtle differences that can help a rug to last longer or cause it to wear out more quickly.

However, by understanding the basics, you will be better armed to make the right buying decision.

Want to see a quick video on everything mentioned here in the article?


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By: Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

Transform A Room By Changing the Rug

Sprucing up a room design doesn’t have to require a huge budget. In fact, using an area rug can completely transform the look and feel of any room. House & Home editors Joel Bray and Jennifer Koper devote a YouTube video to showing three completely different looks by changing only a rug. See it here at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLFP1I-pSFc

A good rug cannot only be the focal point of the design, but it can become the foundation of color and structure around which everything else can be added.

Rugs are a time consuming and difficult to create art form. A hand-woven living room sized rug can take months if not years to make. Because of that, you are much more limited in your options with rugs than with almost any other part of your design process. It is easy to find fabric to match a rug, but much more difficult to find a rug to match a fabric. Let the size of the rug, the shapes of its design, and the colors in it field and border guide your design process.

The first rule of thumb is to find a rug that you love and pick colors that complement. Unlike most furnishings, rugs can last for decades, even centuries, so find a piece you really love. Once the rug is found, find a couch or chairs that work well, drapes and blinds that complement the colors in the rug, and other design elements you want to incorporate with and around your decorating style.

Generally speaking, oriental rugs never really quite go perfectly with anything. But their colors can be used to anchor the design together. So when you follow this thinking, rugs tend to work with everything.  

When designing, keep in mind space and proportion. The rug can overwhelm or cramp a space if it is not planned properly. Always use the old carpentry advice, measure twice, cut once, or in this case, measure twice, buy once. Give a minimum of a half-foot around the edge of the rug to help frame the space. More of a border is certainly acceptable, but when rugs crawl right up against the wall, they look awkward. If the rug just barely fits under your coffee table, it probably is too small, let it fill the room a little more. Additionally, since they are on your floor, rugs more than any other furnishings create and define the boundaries of your space. A larger rug will make a space feel more pulled together and coherent, where a slightly smaller rug can make a space look and feel more open and spacious.

Feel free to vary your textures. Varied textures in a space create interest and dimension. Whether your rug is a solid shag, an ornate Persian, or a simple tribal kelim, the texture of it is a great place from which to build the textures in your room. The smooth surface of a leather couch will contrast a tribal or shag rug. The rustic texture of a throw can offset the ornate design of classic Persian motifs.  

As long as you keep color, proportion, and texture in mind, decorating around your rug is easy and a great adventure. If you are completely stumped or overwhelmed, the retail team at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs are always available to help. Just take a picture of your space and we will find the right pieces to pull it all together.


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By: Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

The Importance of Area Rug Cleaning in Albuquerque, NM

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Believe it or not, this isn’t a rug. This is a pile of dirt. The rug this came from was so packed with dirt, that when we turned it over and beat the back side of it, you could clearly see the pattern and colors of the rug.

This was caused by the dirt slowly grinding away at the fiber of the rug from the inside, so when we beat it, a lot of wool came out alongside the dirt. Unfortunately, that slow grinding process took a lot of life out of this rug.

Packed in dirt is the number one killer of rugs over time. This is why we recommend having your rugs cleaned every two years. Doing so will prevent the dirt from getting too deep into the foundation and taking years away from the life of your rug.