Area and Oriental Rugs

Area rugs have enjoyed increasing popularity in the recent years. This is due in part to the popularity of hard surface floors such as tile, stone and marble. Many times a homeowner will get tired of carpet and have it ripped out and replaced with tile or stone. After a few weeks, the homeowner almost invariable decides to add an area rug to the room. Area rugs serve the important functions of absorbing sound, cushioning feet and tying a room together beautifully. But how do you choose the perfect rug for your room?

Handmade Rugs
There are several basic types of area rugs. Handmade Oriental rugs are the oldest type of area rug used today. They are made using techniques that have remained unchanged for centuries. Each rug takes months to years to make. These rugs are beautiful as well as durable and often appreciate in value over time. Many factors determine the cost of a particular rug, including the material used, country of origin, types of dyes, number of colors, and number and type of knots used to make the rug. Most important to a buyer planning to put the rug in their home, is the beauty of the rug

Most handmade Oriental rugs are made of wool, but it should be noted that silk is occasionally used to make rugs coming from China. These tend to be very expensive and also very beautiful.

Dhurrie rugs are another type of rug that is sometimes made by hand. These flat woven rugs come from India and are usually made of cotton or wool

Machine Made Rugs
Also available are machine made Orientals. These are made of wool or nylon, while less valuable than handmade rugs; they can be very beautiful too.

Sculptured Carpet
In recent years, sculptured rugs have become popular. These rugs are made by cutting and re-piecing plush or Saxony style carpet. They come in an unlimited array of designs from simple borders to wildlife scenes. There are several companies in town that will custom make a sculptured rug to fit your exact specifications using colors that match your decor. These are often a less expensive alternative to Oriental rugs when you need a large area rug for your home. Another relatively economical alternative is to have ordinary carpet bound. Most carpet retailers will bind it for you. Some of the new textured carpets look fantastic this way. That is often a good choice for a floor that already has a pattern such as marble.

Fiber Types
Wool rugs are more durable than nylon, and better at hiding soil. But wool is very absorbent, which causes wool rugs to stain more easily than nylon rugs. Nylon rugs are given stain resistance during the manufacturing process. We recommend adding fiber protection to any wool area rug you purchase to help prevent permanent stains. It is also important to clean up spills as quickly as possible with a wool rug. Another fiber that is sometimes used to make Oriental rugs is silk. These beautiful rugs are strong, yet light weight compared to wool. Silk is naturally flame resistant. And while it is more difficult for us to clean, and we recommend having fiber protection applied, it is not a high maintenance rug to have in your home.

Nylon is frequently used in machine made oriental rugs. It is a less expensive but still beautiful alternative. Nylon wears well and is low maintenance. It normally has stain resistance built in when it is manufactured.

Cotton is used in Dhurrie rugs, rag rugs and other specialty rugs. It is only rarely used in wall to wall carpet. Cotton is very absorbent like wool, so it tends to hold onto stains. It is also susceptible to mildew and shrinkage. Cotton also tends to turn brown if it gets wet and does not dry quickly enough. Cotton would not be our choice for anything but a throw rug that you put in the washing machine.

A fiber commonly used in inexpensive area rugs is polypropylene (also called Olefin). Polypropylene is not a good choice for indoor rugs because it shows wear quickly. It is, however, a great choice for door mats because it is not harmed by the elements and it actually attracts oily soil such as blacktop residue, so your shoes get cleaned off when you walk on it. Another class of fibers sometimes used in area rugs is plant fibers such as sisal, jute, coir, etc. These rugs should not be used in areas where liquids could be spilled on them because they will permanently stain if not cleaned up immediately. They cannot be wet cleaned for general soiling either, so they are nearly impossible to clean once they become soiled.

Of course the most important factor in choosing a rug is how it looks in your home. Many rug stores will allow you to take a few rugs home to try for a day or two. This is the best way to be sure you make a good decision.

Here, we have included a chart that can help you tell the difference between handmade and machine made oriental rugs.
Some Typical Differences between Handmade and Machine Made Rugs
Handmade Rug
Machine Made Rug
Back of Rug
Yarns running from left to right are visible (weft yarns).
Yarns running from top to bottom are visible (warp yarns).
Fringe is an extension of warp yarns (running top to bottom).
Fringe is sewn or glued on rug.
Side Finish
Slight differences (large mistakes decrease value)
Consistent Differences
Moderate to high
Low to moderate
Area Rug Q & A
Q – We have had our area rugs for three years now and have not cleaned them. They are dark colored and do not look dirty. When will they need cleaning?

A – Just like installed carpeting, you can prolong the life of area rugs by having them professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Leaving your sand and other dry soil in your rugs wears them down, because the soil acts like sandpaper on the fibers when you walk across the rugs. Regularly removing that soil will help them to last much longer. Often a rug will need cleaning before it looks dirty.

The best rule of thumb is to have rugs that get heavy traffic, such as entryway rugs, cleaned every six months to one year. Rugs that do not get such heavy traffic can be cleaned every one to two years.

– Why does it cost more to clean area rugs than installed carpet?

– Area rugs are much more difficult to clean than installed rugs for several reasons. First, area rugs must be thoroughly examined and tested before cleaning. Many area rugs are not color fast. There is a process that can be used to make most rugs color fast, but it can take an hour or more just to test all the colors in a rug to see if any of them "bleed". The rugs must also be examined to make sure there are no weaknesses that could cause the rug to be damaged during the cleaning process.

Once it is determined that a rug can be cleaned, the rug is vacuumed with a pile lifter - a heavy duty machine that lifts the fiber and removes the dry soil at the same time. Then the non-colorfast rugs are pretreated with special solutions to lock in the dye. All rugs are pretreated with solutions that loosen soil. Rugs that can be cleaned with water are then given thorough hot or cold water extraction. In some special cases, dry cleaning methods are used. For all rugs, specialized spotters are used for stubborn spots. After cleaning, a special pH neutralizing solution is sprayed on and the rugs are groomed with a brush if needed. Then we use a controlled drying process to get the rugs dry as quickly they can safely be dried. If after all these steps, a rug does not meet our standards, we repeat all or part of the process at no additional charge. This way you get the most thorough cleaning possible. We think you can see why this process costs more than cleaning installed carpet. It is also more expensive (and more thorough) to use this hand cleaning process than to put area rugs through a rug machine as some local companies do. If you would like an estimate on cleaning your area rugs, just give us a call and we'll stop by.
Oriental and Area Rug Care
The most important step in caring for Oriental and area rugs is the same as for installed carpet. Vacuum regularly to remove dry soil so that it does not wear down the fibers. This is especially important because area rugs tend to be placed in high traffic areas, such as by the front door. Second, clean up spills when they happen. Blot up liquid spills immediately. You can use your Kidds spotter kit to spot clean, but follow the directions and test it in an inconspicuous area first. Many area rugs are not color fast, so their colors will bleed into each other if you get them moist. Third, rotate your rug every few months to even out the wear. Dhurries can even be turned over to wear both sides evenly. Fourth, have your rug professionally cleaned on a regular basis. The frequency of cleaning depends on the amount of traffic the rug gets and how close it is to the outside entries of your home where dirt comes in. Rugs at entryways should be cleaned more often than those in a guest room. In fact, if you are placing a nice rug in the entryway to your home, be sure to have a large walk off mat outside the door to help remove soil before it gets to your rug. Outside mats should be made of polypropylene (also called Olefin), because they will not mildew or fade and they actually attract oily soils, so that they will pull things like asphalt residue off your shoes.