What’s in a Rug? A Guide to the Types of Rugs and Weaves

All rugs are not created equal. There are many ways to make a carpet and many different materials you can use to do so. The best construction method and material for your home will depend on where and how you plan to use it, the style that you prefer, and your budget. This guide will walk you through the different types of rugs available, their weaves and materials, as well as what to look for when purchasing your next carpet.

Handmade Rugs Types

Handmade rugs often outperform other types in terms of durability and quality. Even among handmade rugs, the quality can vary. Hand-tufted and hand-knotted are both handmade products, but they are two very different things.

Hand-Knotted Rugs

Hand-knotted Persian and Oriental rugs are what you imagine when you think about heirloom Persian or Oriental carpets. These rugs have been painstakingly created by artisans who use techniques that date back thousands of centuries. The rug’s pile is created by tying the yarn to the warp.

Hand-knotted rugs of the highest quality can have hundreds or thousands of knots per square inch and may take several months to complete. These rugs are true works of art. This level of artistry comes at a price, as hand-knotted carpets can cost thousands of dollars. When you consider them investment pieces, it’s not so bad. When properly cared for, they can last a lifetime and become family heirlooms. Many even increase in value with time.

Hand-Tufted rugs

Hand-tufted rugs are different from hand-knotted ones, which build the structure as they go. Instead, the hand-tufted carpet starts with backing material, such as canvas or jute, that is already made. The pattern is usually printed on the backing material. The worker can then use a handheld tufting tool to push the yarn through the backing fabric while following the pattern. The yarns are held in place by another piece of cloth and then glued. These yarns tend to come out more easily because they are not integrated into the rug’s structure like hand-knotted rugs. Hand-tufted rugs are made faster and with less skill than hand-knotted ones. These rugs are less durable than hand-knotted ones, but they’re also cheaper.

Machine-Made Rugs

Some power-loomed or machine-made rugs get a bad reputation. Indeed, the quality of machine-made or power-loomed rugs is not as good as handmade rugs. However, technological advances have allowed for high-quality machine-made rugs to be purchased at fractions of the cost of handmade ones.

Machine-made rugs can be made in an enormous variety of patterns and styles. They are also more precise than handmade ones. Machine-made rugs can be a good option if you want to go for more modern patterns or if your budget is limited.

Flatweave Rugs

So far, this article has focused on “pile carpets.” This is a rug with yarn bits rising from the backing to create a “pile.” There are also flatweave rugs to consider. There is no pile in flatweave rugs. The warp and the weft, which are typically the backing materials for a carpet with the pile, are all that make up the flatweave construction. These rugs are very durable, easy to clean, and have a low wear rate, which makes them ideal for areas with high traffic. Synthetic flatweaves are perfect for outdoor use. Kilims, which are handmade flatweaves with tribal patterns that add a global feel to a room, are popular.

Braided Rugs

Natural fiber braided rugs in the classic oval shape are common throughout America. The origins of these rugs can be traced back to colonial America when early settlers without looms or wool made them out of straw and clothing scraps. They are popular today in both “country” and “bohemian-style homes. Recently, braided Chindi rugs became popular. Chindi rugs, which are usually made of cotton scraps, offer a little more comfort and vibrant colors than natural fibers. Materials will be woven into a long, braided strand in either case. The strand is then wound into a spiral to create the desired shape.

Rug Materials

The story of a rug’s creation is not the whole picture. When buying a new carpet, you should also know the material it is made of. Some materials are better suited to certain uses and places.

Wool Rugs

Rugs are traditionally made from wool. Wool is soft and strong and dyes beautifully. It is also naturally stain-resistant. Wool is used to make the finest Persian and Oriental hand-knotted rugs. Many hand-tufted rugs are also made of wool. Wool rugs are more expensive on average than rugs made from other materials. This is especially important when purchasing a carpet for an area that receives a lot of traffic. Wool is durable and not necessarily more difficult to clean. Still, if you are looking to protect your investment, you should be cautious about placing an expensive wool carpet in a place where mud-stained shoes will likely come into contact with it on a daily basis.

Synthetic Rugs

The most popular synthetics used in rugs are polypropylene or polyester. These materials are not the same as wool, but technological advances have made them a close match. Modern synthetic fibers can be found in soft textures and are available at a fraction of the cost of wool.

Natural Fiber Rugs

Natural plant fibers such as sisal and seagrass or jute have become popular items. These materials are perfect for any decor, but they look great with earthy, coastal, and bohemian styles. Natural fibers are usually strong and low-cost. Layer a soft rug over a large flatweave rug to achieve an earthy yet comfortable look. This is a great option for large rooms, where you may want the elegance of hand-knotted rugs but not the price of a room-sized rug. The contrast between the vibrant colors of a Persian carpet and a neutral sisal is striking.

A final word: despite the fact that natural fibers have an earthy texture, they are not suitable for outdoor use. Natural fibers are very absorbent, particularly jute. Your rug can develop mold, mildew, or harmful bacteria if it rains. This could cause discoloration, foul smells, and dry rot. If you decide to use an outdoor rug, be sure it’s undercover and that it’s rolled and stored during rainy weather.

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