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Originally, area rugs were made from wool or cotton. Today, offers you a choice between several natural or synthetic fibers. So what's the best choice? It all depends on how much traffic the area will receive, how easy the rug is to maintain and, of course, what you are able to afford.

Synthetic Fibers

  • Acrylic — Highly resistant to sunlight, stains and mildew. Less resistant to high traffic than other fibers.
  • Polypropylene/Olefin — The most stain-resistant synthetic fiber on the market today. Polypropylene will repel water and is impervious to most stains. Usually less costly than other fibers.
  • Nylon — Versatile, durable, easy to maintain and clean. Withstands heavy foot traffic.

Natural Fibers

  • Wool — Dyeability, durability, softness and cleanability make wool the superior fiber. Wool is the standard by which all other carpet fibers are measured. The first few months of your new wool rug will likely include “shedding” which is normal for a wool rug, and will subside over time.
  • Cotton — Softer than wool but less durable. Available in a variety of colors.
  • Jute —When exposed to direct sunlight, jute may fade or darken in color. With prolonged exposure to moisture, the fiber disintegrates. This high-fashion product is not exceptionally practical.
  • Sisal — This trendy fiber is stronger and more durable than any natural rug fiber. And since sisal is static-free and colorfast, it makes it perfect for just about any area. It’s rough surface texture is desirable by some, while others feel it is too course. Not an optimal fiber for areas with moisture.
  • Blends — Two or more of these fibers that have been combined in one rug.

How they’re made…

The following definitions of common weaving terms rugs will give you a better grasp of how rugs get from the weaver's hand or loom to your feet.
Hand made…

Hand Hooked — The weaver pushes a hooking tool through the foundation cloth to the front of the rug, then pulls the yarn to the back, leaving a loop on the surface.

Hand Knotted — Each knot is individually tied by hand. These knots are single strands of yarn that have been looped around two adjacent warp threads.

Hand Tufted — An inked-on foundation cloth is stretched over a loom. Then a manually operated hand-tufting gun pushes the yarn through the back of the cloth. When the rug is taken off the loom, a scrim and layer of latex is placed on the back. A back-cloth is then sewed on to the latex and scrim to protect your floors.
Machine made…

Jacquard — A mechanized loom that has an endless belt of punched cards. The holes in the card are arranged to produce the weave of the rug.

Wilton Loom — These rugs bear a close resemblance to hand-knotted rugs, but are machine made. The pile is woven between two backings and then split down the middle — so you get two separate rugs.

Rug Lingo

  • Hand Carved — Using hand shears, the weaver cuts a design in to the rug. The carving and sculpturing give the rug a distinctive and unique look.
  • Heat Set — A process synthetic yarns may go through to put a twist in the yarn. When the yarn is set with heat, it will have a wool-like appearance, and be more resilient than non-heat set yarns.
  • Line Count — One indicator of rug quality is the number of knots or stitches per square inch. When comparing the line count number of different rugs, it's important to remember that this number may be calculated differently, depending on how and where the rug was made.
  • Pile — The surface yarn that makes up the face of the rug.
  • Stitches/Needle Count — The number of loops of yarn. The higher the stitch or needle count, the denser the rug. Higher density rugs will last longer and wear better than more loosely woven constructions.
  • Warp and Wefts — The warp yarn is the stationary thread on the loom. These fibers are the strongest part of the rug. They are intersected with wefts — the filling yarn that is woven though the warps.
  • Border — The border is composed of decorative designs repeated in one direction around the outside of the rug.
  • Field — The field is the background of the rug inside the border. It may be a solid color or patterned.
  • Medallion — The medallion is a round or oval design in the center of the rug.

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