'How To' Guides
Littman Bros |  July 14, 2009

Area Rugs and Care Information

You can find a variety of area rugs that will accent the design of a space and add warmth to a room.  Area rugs or accent rugs vary in price in terms of size and design.  Power loomed rugs are more expensive than hand knotted rugs.  Because power loomed rugs can be produced in a matter of minutes, these rugs are often much more fashion oriented toward the trends of today. The investment and time in the creation of a power loomed rug is generally much less than hand knotted or hand tufted rugs and the cost is a direct reflection of that.  As with any area rug, never vacuum the fringe as it may become damaged. If damage does occur, it is best to seek repair from a reputable rug repair workshop.  See the guidelines below on how to treat your area rugs.

Power Loomed Rugs:

Power loomed rugs, alternately known as machine made rugs are woven on machines often controlled by computers. There are varying qualities of power loomed rugs: density, fiber content and the number of colors used are all considerations in determining the rug’s quality.

It is preferable that power loomed rugs be stored rolled rather than folded, as the rug’s foundation could be adversely affected by folding and possibly creating creases. Power loomed rugs that have fringes should not be vacuumed as damage may occur. This type of rug is often desirable for a homeowner to add some style to their homes without the cost of hand tufted or hand knotted versions.

Hand Knotted Rugs:

Generally speaking, hand knotted rugs are the most durable with regards to construction. It is important to realize that within the hand knotted construction, qualities range from very high to very low, not only in the knot count itself, but also when describing the wool and other materials used in the weaving of the rug. Depending on the overall quality of the rug and the care that you give it, hand knotted rugs can last for generations. Hand knotted rugs can be stored either rolled or folded, depending on the knot density.

Hand Tufted Rugs:

While hand made in quality, these type of rugs are not knotted by hand and are made with the assistance of a tufting gun. Hand tufted rugs are often less expensive than hand knotted pieces and can be more fashion oriented. Because these rugs take less time to produce, hand tufted pieces can follow the latest fads and color trends. There a wide range of qualities of hand tufted rugs and that depends largely on the fiber piles and the density of the tufts.

Because the rug is tufted, there are no knots to anchor the yarns of the pile in place, thus a canvas backing glued to the back of the rug with latex to keep them secured. When storing a hand tufted rug, it is important that it never be folded, but rather rolled in a tight cylinder shape to prevent the foundation from breaking or backing from wrinkling. Should the fringe of a hand tufted rug become detached, it can be simply sewn back onto the rug.

Cleaning and Maintaining Rugs:

Rug maintenance and cleaning is different than maintaining installed carpet.  Area rugs will often times shed, a characteristic common among all synthetic and wool pile rugs to lose short fibers. This “shedding” process is often created when the pile is cut to required height during production and fibers fall onto the surface as “fluff”. Shedding is not considered a defect. The amount of shedding will vary based on material and quality pile height, age of the rug and knot density.  Sprouting occurs with certain types of yarns used in the making of rugs are “over-twisted” in order to give the rug it’s desired texture, and often a yarn tuft will rise above the surface (commonly known as “sprouting”). Sprouting is one of the easiest issues to remedy by merely cutting the sprout (the yarn sticking above the surface of the rug) with a pair of scissors so that it is flush with the rug’s surface. DO NOT PULL THE SPROUT AS IT CAN CAUSE ADDITIONAL DAMAGE TO THE RUG.

The term “curling” is generally referred to when a rug that is rolled and when unpacked, the end of the rug “curl” up on the corners and refuse to lay flat. The rug’s foundation or backing must be given time to relax after being unpacked. Often times, reverse rolling the rug will speed the relaxing process. Curling can also be a sign in hand knotted rugs of a very finely and lightly woven piece. Often times sewing strips of leather along the edges in cases such as these will prevent curling.This should be done by a professional rug repair workshop only.

Curling can also be used to describe the stretching or wrinkling that occurs when an area rug is placed atop wall-to-wall carpeting with heavy furniture placed on the rug’s surface. If this happens, the rug may not lay flat again as the foundation or backing has been stretched and out of shape.

Heavy furniture can crush your carpet causing permanent and visible damage. If the feet of your furniture is metal or sharp, try placing some sort of protector underneath to prevent damage to the rug. If the pile of your rug has become crushed and you wish to attempt to restore it to it’s normal height, try brushing the affected area gently with a soft brush.

Excessive fading can occur if a rug is exposed to long periods of strong sunlight and is best avoided by either re-positioning the rug or drawing blinds or draperies. Any light over the years will gradually mellow the colors and sometimes this subdued coloration can be an advantage. Faded, mellow colors are often appealing to many rug connoisseurs.

While you certainly want to ensure that all cleaning products you may choose to apply to your rug’s surface are safe and will not cause damage to your rug. Perform a thorough check of all cleaning agents before applying them to your rug’s surface.  You can use a small sample area in the corner of the rug that is not visible, or request a sample from the manufacturer.

Continuous dampness from over watering and spilling of flower pots and planters placed directly on a rug can lead to mildew rot, which is an irreparable type of damage and color transfer.

If you need to store your rug for any length of time, first make sure that it is clean and dry. It is also advisable to treat it with moth repellent and then roll the rug into a tight cylinder against the nap and wrap in breathable fabric, such as a sheet. Plastic will prevent the rug from breathing. The rug should be stored in a cool, dry well ventilated area. NEVER store heavy objects on your rolled rug as it can cause permanent damage by creasing or in some case breaking the foundation or backing of some hand tufted rugs.