Area Rugs 101
Find out everything about Area Rugs before your purchase.
The benefits of Area Rugs:
• Art for the floor - makes your own design statement!
• Easy to change or redecorate - take it with you if you move.
• Creates conversation groupings and defines space.
• Absorbs sound and affords cushion to a hard surface floor.
• Provides warmth as well as enhances other furnishings.
Different Styles of Rugs
Persian rugs are from Iran. The designs and techniques used go back several thousand years and these area rugs are considered to be some of the finest available. Persian Rugs are renowned for bright colors and elaborate designs that usually fall into one of three general design categories: geometric, floral or pictorial. Many people incorrectly believe that Persian rugs and Oriental rugs are similar but each style of rug has its own distinct designs and characteristics. Most Persian rugs are made of wool or silk and will last through generations of use and provide enjoyment for centuries if well cared for. In fact, it's believed that Persian rugs become more beautiful with the passing of years. It may take 30 to 40 years after a Persian rug is made for it to be considered at its best!
While rugs made in Iran are lumped into the description of Oriental rugs, Oriental rugs are actually made in China, India, and Iran, as well as other Asian countries. The designs are beautiful and fit into the most regal interior as well as a rustic cabin. These silk or wool rugs withstand years of wear and traffic and are an excellent investment that you can enjoy every day. Hand-knotted Oriental area rugs can have as many as 1,000 knots per square inch. Authentic Oriental area rugs are made in Asia and adhere to a certain level of quality. Rug makers weave yarn on a loom, knot thread into an intricate pattern, and cut off excess thread.
Contemporary rugs are often described as modern art for your floor, although we personally feel that term can be applied to numerous styles of rugs. The bright colors and unusual shapes of some of these rugs make them seem almost like modern art for your floor. A contemporary rug could be designed specifically to match or to enhance the upholstery, drapes or wallpaper in a room. Or, it could be a one-of-a-kind design based on an artistic whim, limited only by the designer or rug maker’s imagination!
Transitional rugs cover a broad range of designs that fall in between the traditional Oriental and Persian rug styles and the contemporary rug category, where "anything goes" is often an understatement. As we have stated elsewhere, we like all rugs, but transitional styles of rugs are often our favorite. They’re fun, yet stylish and they fit right in with almost any type of decorating plan. Rugs with floral and botanical patterns both subdued and otherwise, are good examples of transitional rugs.
Flokati rugs are soft and very durable. These hand-woven rugs have been made in Greece for centuries. They were an essential item for early Greek shepherds, who used the woven wool creations for clothing and bedding as well as a floor covering. In recent years, Flokati rugs have been used in casual and contemporary settings, or to provide a Mediterranean look. They are cozy and have a great texture with a pile that is 3 or 4 inches long. One big advantage with Flokati rugs is that they offer several options for cleaning, one of which is that they can be washed in commercial size washing machines.
Shag rugs has popular look from the 1970’s and are making a comeback as a rug of choice for many people. They’re pleasantly surprised when they realize that the shag rugs of today are not the same tacky rugs of decades past when a shag rug was often considered a “must-have” item for a “cool pad.” The new shag rugs are made of better, longer-lasting materials. The soft, thick fibers offer great insulation from cold floors, and help to absorb noise when there are too many hard surfaces in a room.
The origins of the braided rug date back to Colonial America. Braided area rugs work well in homes decorated in the Arts and Crafts style or where a country look is desired. Braided rugs were originally made to fulfill a need and later developed into an art. The handcrafting of braided rugs started in the early 1700’s in the New England region of America and spread westward with the settlers, who made good use of braided rugs to cover the rough floors of their frontier cabins. Yarn or fabric is braided into strips and the strips are sewn together to make a shape, usually round or oval.
Area Rug Materials
Natural: Animal or plant fibers, including wool, cotton, sisal, jute, or bamboo.
Synthetic: Man-made material such as viscose, rayon, nylon, acrylic or polypropylene/olefin.
Wool: Widely used and it is the main component of higher quality pile area rugs.Wool is a resilient material and it has greater durability than synthetic material. Wool absorbs and retains dyes amazingly well. It is naturally resistant to fire, water and stains.
Cotton: Natural fiber that is strong and durable. Area rugs made of cotton can easily absorb and retain a wide variety of dyes, which provides the user with a multitude of color choices. In rug making, cotton is often used in conjunction with wool. Area rugs made with the cotton-wool blend have a nice feel, especially on bare feet. Cotton-wool rugs usually cost less than all-wool rugs, but people should be aware that cotton has a tendency to wear out sooner than wool.
Sisal: Extracted from the leaves of the ‘Agave Sisalana’ plant, is the most popular of the plant fibers used for rug making. This plant, sometimes called the American Aloe or Century Plant, is native to Central America, but is now grown all over the world, especially in Java, East Africa and Mexico. Even though sisal is only one of the plant-based rug materials, the name has come to be used generically for all plant-based rug materials. Sisal has long, fine fibers that allow it to be made into smooth textured yarn. Sisal rugs are anti-static, sound absorbing, flame retardant and long lasting, all of which make sisal rugs worthy of your consideration.
Jute: Made from stem fiber plants, comes mainly from India and China. Jute is well-suited for making durable yarns and fabrics because of its stability and firmness. Like other plant fibers such as sisal and coir, jute has a nice look when made into rugs, but it can be coarse and also susceptible to stains. This is just one of the reasons that natural and synthetic rug materials might be blended together to make area rugs.
Bamboo: Woody material that is found mostly in China and Japan. Bamboo, like sisal, is durable and can hold up under heavy use, which makes it a great choice for an area rug in a high-traffic area. In general, a bamboo area rug can offer great quality at a lower price. Bamboo area rugs are available in a surprisingly wide range of shapes and styles.
Silk: Natural fiber that may be used on its own or included in higher quality rugs, such as Persian and Oriental rugs. The silk is added for its luster and shine. Silk is the most expensive rug fiber and even a little bit of silk added as an accent can raise the price of the rug. Silk rugs should be handled with care and should only be cleaned by a professional rug cleaner. There is also something called faux silk or “false silk.” It is usually a synthetic, made from polyester fibers such as viscose/rayon. Mercerized cotton can also be used as a look-alike for real silk. Faux silk, also called art silk is most often used as small accents or in the construction of a short, dense pile rug.
Viscose: Made from wood pulp, is a shiny, silk-like fiber. Viscose is susceptible to matting when it is used on its own. However, when used as an accent or in a blend it becomes an excellent replacement for real, and higher-priced, silk.
Rayon: Synthetic material that has a resemblance to silk. Rayon is derived from wood (made from cellulose found in trees). Although it is similar to silk in its look and feel, rayon will melt if it is exposed to open flame.
Nylon: Another rug material that is widely used in rug making. Nylon rugs have great characteristics such as uniformity and strength as well as stain and soil resistance. Nylon area rugs come in an unlimited variety of colors and they can be easily cleaned. The resilient nature of nylon rigs makes them a good choice for placing under furniture and for areas of heavy traffic. The cost of a nylon rug is usually less than that of rugs made from natural materials. However, nylon rugs do not hold their value as well as a quality wool or silk area rug.
Acrylic: Another synthetic material, can be blended with other fibers to produce a rug that has the look of a wool rug, but at a lower cost.
Polypropylene or Olefin: Fibers are petroleum-based products that are derived from propylene and ethylene gases. These fibers are strong, colorfast, quick drying, abrasion resistant, mildew resistant, along with soil and stain resistant. Rugs made from these materials are at the lower end of the cost scale, making them more affordable than some other types of rugs. Olefin, which has a soft wool-like feel, is one of the more widely used synthetic fibers for machine made rugs. Polypropylene can be heat-set to give it more durability and less sheen, for a look that is more like wool.
Area Rug Construction
There is a variety of area rugs constructed from different materials and patterns. Your area rug should perform well in addition to looking great. To find the best area rug within your budget, consider the right combination of density, twist and fiber. Density refers to the tightness of the tufts, or knots. The denser the weave, the better the area rug will wear.
Machine Made / Power Loomed - These area rugs are made on power looms by hand, machine or computer. The loom is strung with a cotton or jute warp, and then woven using nylon, polypropylene, wool or other material. Computer operated machines produce a number of contemporary designs in various sizes and colors from a predetermined design. More than 40 shades can be achieved in a single area rug using a cross-weaving technique. Machine-made area rugs have become very popular due to the variety of sizes, colors, designs, lower pricing and availability. Machine-made area rugs are woven on Wilton, side-woven Wilton and Gripper Axminster looms.
Hand Tufted - Hand-tufted area rugs are usually created by punching yarn in a cloth that is attached to a frame, and then gluing the backs with latex after hooking the yarn. The surface loop pile is then sheared to produce a flat surface. This process creates an area rug that is very plush, generally less expensive and easier to make than hand-knotted area rugs.
Hand-Knotted - Hand knotted area rugs are woven by hand; and depending on size, construction and density, one area rug could take a year or more to complete. Hand-knotted area rugs are secured to the foundation by knotting, versus gluing, producing exceptional density and quality.
Hand-Hooked - Using a pattern and a hooking device, yarn is punched through a canvas cloth creating a looped pile. The yarns are then glued in place in lieu of knotting, and a cloth is attached to the back.
Braided Area Rugs - Braided area rugs are constructed in several different ways, including tape, tubular, yarn and flat. In the tradition of early America from which braided area rugs were created, these area rugs may be woven with many different materials such as wool, clothing, old blankets, nylon and blends.
Twist - Twist refers to the amount of yarn spirals. A yarn twist that is tighter provides added durability.
Flat Weave - Flat weave area rugs are less expensive, easier to make and are usually made of wool, cotton, bamboo, or nylon. Because they are looped, flat weave area rugs do not have a pile and are reversible.
Rug Cleaning Tips
We strongly recommend to use the proper rug pad under all rugs! This applies whether the rug is on a hardwood floor or on wall-to-wall carpeting. Area rug pads prevent area rugs from slipping on hardwood or tile surfaces and protect wood floors from abrasions. Area rug pads may also provide added cushion to the area rug, giving it a nicer feel, plus it can help your rug retain its original appearance longer and extend the life of the rug by preventing premature aging of the rug.
Rotate Your Rugs
It is recommended that you rotate your rugs at least once a year. This means turning the rug end for end or 180 degrees. This helps the rug to wear more evenly. Sunlight can cause fading and traffic patterns can cause uneven wear and rug cleaning just can't undo that. So, rotate your rugs and avoid excessive fading or deterioration. Most pictorial rugs do not fall under this guideline of rug rotation since they might feature a design or scene that is best when the rug is placed one certain way.
Regular, simple care maintains the good looks of your area rug. You may want to vacuum rugs that get a lot of foot traffic, such as those in the family room, frequently. Area rugs in rooms used less often, such as the guest bedroom, may only need vacuuming once a week.
Even stain-resistant area rugs need help looking their best. Invest in spot treatments that come either in powder or liquid form. Before using anything on your area rug, make sure to spot test the product on a small area on the back of the rug.
******Always have high-quality area rugs, hand-made Persian area rugs, Oriental area rugs, and antique area rugs professionally cleaned.******