There are a few basics you should know about rugs. Once you understand how to idenify what makes a rug valuable, you’ll have a greater chance at purchasing a better rug.
Rug fibers usually consist of wool in most hand knotted rugs. These rugs may also have silk highlights and artificial silk called viscose. Be aware that viscose will not perform as well as sild and may be more difficult to maintain. Synthetic fibers such as acrylic, ppolyester, nylon, and olefin can be found in more economical machine made rugs. Your most stain resistant rugs will contain synthetic fibers, but won’t feel as soft and luxurious. All other natural fiber rugs are sysceptible to staining if spots are not cleaned immediately. To avoid permanent stains, we highly recommend our MicroSeal Fabric Protection that has a long lasting effect and is WoolSafe Approved.
So what do you look for in a hand-knotted rug? Design, quality of the wool, colorfatstness, knot count and country of origin are characteristics to consider. Simply because a rug is expensive, does not mean it has colorfast dyes or is well constructed. Make sure you know what type of rug it is and shop at reputabe dealers. Above all, be extra cautious about purchasing a rug outside of the United States or on the internet.
The wool fiber can vary. Fine wool is soft and does not shed as much as wool of lesser quality. Most wool and nylons are dyed with synthetic acid dyes. A rug should always be tested for colorfastness by taking a damp white cloth and gently rubbing it into the fiber. If any color transfers on the cloth, the dyes are unstable. Also look closely at the fiber to chek the integrity. Very fine wool fibers often have the sheen of silk.
The construction of a run is also a key factor. To determine if the rug is handmade, turn it upside down and look at the back. If you cannot see the pattern as clearly as on the face, the rug is not handmade. If the rug passess the first test, look at the fringe. The fringe should be and extension of the warp yarns insode the rug and should not look like it was sewed on separately. Many rugs that claim to be hand knotted are woven on a mechanical loom.
Rugs with cloth backings are hand tufted. The cloth covers the adhesive that is holding the backing and yarn tufts together. Glued backings have a tendency to degrade over time or get torn when the rug is moved or cleaned.
If you are looking for an alternative to a handmade rug, you might look at machine woven tugs. The Karastan company has been manufacturing high quality, long lasting rugs since the 1920’s. These wool tugs closely resemble hand made rugs, are less expensive in price, and rarely have the problems associated with cheaper wool rugs. If you are not ready to invest several thousand dollars in a rug, these will be your best option.
Most important…ask the right questions. Educate yourself. And if you want some advice, contact Chase Carpet Care.