What You Need To Know To Buy Area Rugs

Article Written By Nena | Category: Area Rugs

Most area rugs and carpets (that are not strictly an animal skin) are similar in that they will likely have a backing that holds fibers or a “pile” to the outer or upper layer which is the soft part we walk on.

There are several materials used for making this pile, such as cotton, silk, bamboo or any number of synthetic yarns or fibers, but despite all the options with modern processes and materials and technology, the best, most durable, most comfortable, most versatile, and the most sought after floor coverings, remain wool area rugs.

How are Area Rugs Made?

  • Woven and Knotted Rugs – may be produced on a loom similar to how cloth is woven except that the pile is cut to the length required; short for low pile rugs, long for shag rugs. There are other techniques, such as “needlefelt” which is a process using electrostatic attraction of fibers, and this method is used to make rugs for industrial or commercial flooring. Wool area rugs are most commonly knotted, which means that the weft threads of the rugs framework alternate with a complimentary weft that comes up in right angels. This secondary weft is knotted to the warp and knotted. This is how the classic shag rugs are created, and also the method employed by eastern and Persian rug makers using one of the two main knots, symmetrical/Turkish, or asymmetrical/Persian.
  • Tufted Rugs – which are used for wall to wall carpeting, especially in North America, and are sold in rolls and not as individual wool area rugs or decorative throw carpets, are “tufted”, a process of infusing fiber into an initial backing and then fusing that backing to a second back for extra strength. It is a totally automated manufacturing process for large quantities of carpet and not the method used for small area rugs.
  • Flatweave for Kilim and Soumak Area Rugs – and simpler rug styles use a flatweave process; simply a warp and weft weave used for tapestries and even fabrics such as damask. This weave is also used for kilim rugs and soumak rugs. Many people who make rugs as a handicraft or hobby use the above flat weaving style or a hooked rug technique.
  • Embroidered Area Rugs – It is rare to find area rugs today that have been made solely by embroidery, but they used to be very common especially in the Victorian era, and in the 1800’s in Germany, there was a wool rug style that employed embroidery to create rugs that told stories or had very intricate patterns.

Wool Area Rugs and Common Wool Rug Blends

A wool area rug blended with nylon will be especially durable, and you will often see rug tags that will say, 80% wool and 20% synthetic fiber, or something like “80/20″. The reason for the blending is partly to strengthen lower quality wool and offer more affordable prices since high quality wool for pure wool area rugs is expensive.


Other Area Rug Fibers

  • Nylon – There are also many area rugs that are made of nylon and used especially for small area rugs that will be exposed to the elements. These may be good for door mats and print intensive designs, since nylon can be printed easily and does not fade readily. The problem with nylon is that it isn’t very nice to touch or rub or walk on with bare feet for any length of time. For cozy, comfortable indoor area rugs it is best to go with a wool area rug or a wool blend.
  • Polypropylene or Olefin – area rugs are popular because such petroleum based fibers make cheap area rugs. However they are nowhere near as durable as wool area rugs and cannot be dyed well. Looped Berber carpets and rugs made from polypropylene may seem attractive due to their low price, but they tend to become matted quickly and wear poorly unless they are a commercial grade level-loop rugs designed specifically for high traffic areas.

    Usually these high grade Olefin carpets are not sold as area rugs but are used for wall to wall carpet installation that is fused or glued or nailed directly to the floor and insulated with padding. The other thing that is made from polypropylene is the indoor-outdoor carpets and rugs that are used for porches or decks or patios. They often mimic the look of grass.

  • Polyester or “PET” – is also popular for cheap area rugs but be aware that it is not like bouncy wool, but it is known to crush or become matted very quickly. It’s only advantage for area rug manufacturers is price.

    Another label you may see on an area rug is PTT or something with Dupont. This is similar to polyester, creates a cheap area rug, but is better because the fibers are more resilient, don’t mat as quickly, are easier to clean and resist mold. However, they are not wool, they are not natural and they will never last the same or be quite as snuggly for cuddling into as a large wool area rug.

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