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Area Rugs General Information

Rug History
Construction, Fiber & Style
Hand-Made vs. Machine-Made Rugs
Design Decisions
Rug Size & Placement
Selecting Underlayment/Cushion

Caring For Area Rugs

Care & Maintenance & Spot Removal
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Fiber, Construction & Style

Your rug should not only look great, it should perform well, too. To find the best rug within your budget, there are several factors to consider. The perfect rug will have just the right combination of density, twist and fiber.

  • Density refers to the closeness of the tufts or knots. The denser the pile, the better your rug will wear.
  • Twist refers to the winding of yarn around itself. A tighter yarn twist will provide added durability.

The type of FIBER used in your rug also will help determine its appearance and performance. Synthetic fibers provide brilliant colors, easy maintenance, softness and outstanding value. Natural fibers provide soft, low luster colors, long term performance and other aesthetic qualities

There are six general types of fibers, each with different characteristics:


Nylon - Wear and soil resistant and easily cleaned. Resilient, withstands heavy traffic and the weight and movement of furniture. Unlimited variety of brilliant colors.

Wool - Noted for luxury and softness. Has high bulk and is available in many colors.

Olefin (Polypropylene) - Strong and colorfast with a soft wool-like feel. Resists wear and stains. Affordable. Predominant machine-woven synthetic fiber. May also be used in outdoor carpet.

Polyester - Noted for its soft "hand" when used in thick, cut pile textures.

Acrylic - Offers the appearance of wool at a lower cost. Sometimes is blended with other fibers. Most often appears in bath rugs and mats.

Cotton - Noted for its softness and performance. Available in many colors.

Blends - There may be blends of any of the above fibers.


Handmade - Constructed by hand. Does not necessarily mean hand-knotted.

Hand-knotted - Woven by hand. A weaver actually knots the yarns by hand that make up the pile around the warp yarns that run the length of the rug.

Hand-hooked/hand-tufted - Usually refers to rugs made by craftsmen who insert yarn into a backing according to a pattern with a handheld tool. The pile of a hand-hooked rug is made up of loops. A hand-tufted rug has a cut pile surface.

Aubusson/Tapestry Weave - A hand-woven method originating In France in which the "stitches" on the face look more linear, and the back may look "stringy" This occurs when the weaver changes yam colors.

Flatwoven - Woven rugs that have no pile. Dhurries from India are usually made of cotton or wool. Kilims are generally finer, tapestry-like flat-weaves.

Knot Count - The number of knots in a square inch of rug. Handmade Chinese rugs are often described in terms of "line". For example, a 65-line rug would have 65 knots per foot of width, 65 knots per foot of length, and 29 knots per square inch.

Knotted Quality - The amount of knots in 9/10 of an inch of a rug's width and the amount of knots in 41/2 inches of the rug's length, multiplied together and divided by 4. A practical method? Turn the rug over to see if it looks finely crafted or sloppy, regardless of knot count.

Needlepoint - Area Rugs that are generally made with wool yarns worked on a canvas grid, using the same method as stitching a needlepoint pillow.

Machine-made - Constructed on an electrically powered machine, now usually computer controlled.

Wilton and Axminsten - Two types of machine loom which originated in Europe. The looms are used to weave area rugs in multi-colored patterns.

Tufting Machines - A technology invented in the United States in which yarn ends are placed into a backing. Most wall-to-wall carpet in the United States is tufted goods. Some rugs are also machine-tufted.


Abrash - A change or variation in the color of a rug due to differences in the wool or dye bath. In older or antique area rugs, abrash occurs naturally. In new rugs, both machine-made and handmade, abrash is carefully created to mimic a vintage look.

Contemporary - Modern designs that can be "soft" or "hard" depending on patterns and colors.

Field - Designates the central part of a rug design that is surrounded by a border.

Traditional - A styling designation that usually refers to either traditional Oriental/Persian patterns or traditional European patterns.

Transitional - A more casual style that falls between traditional and contemporary.

Kilims - Flat weave area rugs in geometric designs and strong colors made in the Near East.

Navajo Rugs - Flat weave area rugs in geometric patterns woven by Navajo Indians in the American Southwest.

Dhurries - Flat weave area rugs, usually with floral designs, made in India for wool or cotton - originally for use on summer-house floors.


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