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Rugs and Carpets Reading List
Area Rug BasicsIf you haven't shopped for area rugs before or don't know much about them, they're a bit of a mystery.
For instance, why can you walk into a department store and find a 6'x9' rug for $59, then walk across the street to a specialty rug store and find a rug the same size for nearly $10,000?
Several differences are obvious to nearly everyone. For instance, most shoppers will realize that thickness indicates better quality. And wool or silk certainly should cost more than synthetic fabrics. And a rug made by hand will cost more than a machine-made rug. For most of us, the understanding ends right there.
The middle of the price scale is what really causes confusion, especially when you find a beautiful 6'x9' 100% New Zealand wool in a retail store for $599. It's hard for most people to appreciate the differences between that great value and another 6'x9' 100% New Zealand wool rug for 10 times the price.
We hope to help you understand the differences between a $59 rug and a $10,000 rug, and those priced in between those extremes.
The best way to begin shopping for a rug is to determine how much you're willing to spend. There are many styles of rugs at almost any price, so if you've established a budget, you can concentrate on finding the best rug for the money.
There are many variations of rugs available today with different combinations of fibers and construction techniques involved. Those two categories, construction techniques and fibers, will be the main focus here. Together, those factors are what most influence a rug's price.
First, there are two main types of rugs:
Machine Made - these rugs are made in massive quantities using power tufting machines and looms using almost any type of yarn. These rugs can be made in different textures, styles and sizes quickly and easily and therefore are less expensive than a hand-made rug. There are many differences between tufted and woven rugs. The woven carpets have the pile face woven along with the backing, making them strong and hard-wearing. In the construction of tufted carpets, the pile is inserted into the backing material with needles.
Hand Made - these rugs vary in the amount a person is involved in the construction. Some might simply involve a person using a tool to tuft the rug by hand. Others might start with a person actually spinning the yarn and knotting each rug 1 yarn at a time. In cases such as these, a single 6'x9' rug can take 9 months or longer to construct. If you find a $6,000-$9,000 hand-made rug, that's likely the kind of handcrafted attention involved in its creation. Hand-made rugs are made with natural yarns like wool and silk. Some antique silk and wool rugs can be very valuable and have been sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As important to how a rug is constructed is the fabric used to make it. In the Olefin and Nylon categories, there are two types of yarn; staple and continuous filament (also known as BCF). The staple is much like a chain of yarn strands linked together. The area where the strands are joined forms the weakest point. That's where the fibers are most likely to break loose, leaving small loose filaments or links. The visual result is fuzziness, pilling or shedding.
Just as it sounds, continuous filament is one long strand without the weakness of a link, so filaments are much less likely to break free of the strand. BCF costs more to produce, but is less likely to show long-term wear. This distinction between staple yarns and BCF is a general simplification that doesn't take esoteric differences in the extrusion process into account. But it provides a pretty good rule-of-thumb.
Fabric choices include:
If the rug looks good and feels good AND it is in your price range, don't immediately dismiss it. If you like the style, texture and color, it might be exactly what you're looking for.
Nylon (synthetic) (BCF or Staple) - Some manufacturers use nylon in their rugs. Typically, suppliers that use nylon yarn also make broadloom (wall-to-wall carpet). Nylon is very tough and is priced higher than olefin. It's available in a great number of textures and styles. Many people buy broadloom carpets in small quantities and have them made into rugs, because they like the style and color.
Wool (Natural) - There are many types of wool. As a general rule, wool is very tough and is found in rugs at all levels of quality and price. Wool has a great soft feel to it and is flexible in the way it can be constructed. Some rugs made with what's known as "five-season wools" are some of the toughest imaginable. Of course, once you've spent the money required to purchase a five-season wool, you probably won't put its toughness to the test. You'll be more likely to treat it as the piece of art it is.
Silk (Natural) - Silk is often used as to add accent colors on high-end wool rugs. These delicate accents can really enhance the look and styling of a rug. Silk has a very soft, luxurious feel to it. Though silk can be used to make an entire rug, it will likely be one of the most expensive.
You'll find more detail on cotton/flax/linen and weaving styles such as wilton and axminister in our other articles.
This chart gives you a rough idea where most types of rugs fall in a price continuum. And while rugs are not always made of one kind of yarn, the chart can still give you an idea how the blend you've found will affect price.
For example, if you find a 50% wool rug combined with 50% olefin, it will probably cost less than a 100% wool rug. Of course, the construction and the overall quality have to be considered, too.
For much more detailed information about the fibers used in rugs, read our "fiber primer" article.
Area Rug Styles
As a result, we have tried to isolate the patterns, colors, motifs and general geographic origins that give a rug its unique character. A quick look here will let you know how we've organized our offering and help lead you to the style you're most interested in.
This vendor offers a superb selection of contemporary area rugs, oriental rugs and Persian carpets. You will find rugs at every price range and a nearly unlimited range of styles. This vendor is a rug expert who has worked in the rugs industry for years before moving to the internet; they are a reliable source for thousands of rug and carpeting products. All of their items are carefully packed and shipped so that your order will arrive at your home in top condition.
Care Tips for Your Rug
Generally, the safest recommendation regarding cleaning any type of rug is to have it done professionally using a steam-extraction method.
Like clothes, how many times the rug will need cleaning depends on the traffic a rug receives. If at all possible, a rug should not be cleaned either too often or too seldom. Caked on dirt is difficult to remove.
Latex-backed rugs (including almost all hand-hooked rugs) must not be cleaned using petroleum based solvents. The solvents destroy the latex glue on the back of the rugs. The rug will lose its body and the pile will become loose when solvents are used for cleaning.
Reversible rugs should be turned over then around, like rotating a mattress. Once both side are dirty, have both sides cleaned. If a rug has been mothproofed, cleaning will remove the compound. Most rugs offered by this vendor have mothproofing compound applied to the yarns during the dyeing process.
Some customer claim that Scotchgard has helped their rugs stay cleaner, but be sure to have it applied it before the rug is used.
Care and Cleaning Instructions for Braided Rugs
You can expect years of beauty and enjoyment from braided rugs when they are maintained properly. Home care is very important for any floor covering, and braided rugs may require some unique maintenance over the years, easily accomplished at home.
Reverse and Rotate
Choose A Professional Cleaner Carefully
Always check for colorfastness before cleaning any rug