Rugs and Carpets: What to look for when buying them
Today’s blog post is just a quick piece of advice on choosing a rug or carpet. They can be pretty pricey and if you’re not 100% sure of what you’re looking for, you could end up with something you cringe at for not much less than the striking, soft showpiece you actually wanted.
A carpet by another name… is probably a rug
Rugs vs Carpets
Rugs are normally smaller than 2 meters in length and can also be used on walls, tables and over furniture whereas a carpet’s main purpose is to cover a large floor area (not to be confused with installed carpets that cover your whole floor as alternatives to tiles or wood).
It’s all about how they’re made
Handmade carpets can be woven, knotted, tufted or hooked and are made from cotton, wool or silk.
Hand woven rugs and carpets are also called flat weave and look the same on the front as they do on the back. Kilims and Dhurries are examples of flat weaves.
They’re super versatile and great for layering and creating a rich, textured look and feel.
Hand knotted and hand tufted carpets look very similar, but the first is more expensive. Piles are physically knotted at the back of the canvas whereas hand-tufted carpets’ piles are pulled through with a hook.
Both of these get shaved to create that plush, long pile look.
Finally, hand hooked carpets are basically tufted carpets that don’t get shaved, so you can see the U-shaped piles at the top.
Here a pattern or design is programmed into the computer and the power loom weaves it using cotton or various synthetic fibres.
Printed versus Dyed
All hand woven rugs are dyed, because the fibres are dyed before they go into the loom.
Machine made rugs however can be either dyed or printed. When a rug is printed, it means that it was woven with white piles and then printed over the entire surface of the rug. These are much cheaper, but don’t wear nearly as well as dyed rugs.
Advantages of handmade rugs and carpets
- Last longer
- Look better
- Superior fibres which feel absolutely amazing
- When they do start to wear, they’re vintage and have character
- Can be refurbished or sold
Advantages of machine made rugs and carpets
- Beautiful patterns
- More affordable
- Some synthetic fibres are very durable
Telling the sheep from the wolf in wool
- Machine woven carpets and rugs have precise and symmetrical rows and patterns on the back, whereas the hand knotted rugs will have distinct knots and some imperfections when you turn them over. Turn a hand tufted rug over, and you're likely to see a canvas.
- Binding is added afterwards with a machine made rug and on a hand made rug you can see that the binding is part of the rug.
- Where fringes are present, handmade rugs will have an extended piece of blank (without pattern) rug before it ends in the fringe, where a machine made rug will either have no fringe, or a sewn on one.
- When you separate the piles of a dyed rug the colour should run all the way through to the canvas. Printed rugs will be white at the base of the canvas.
Which rugs and carpets should you buy?
Hand made is certainly a better investment if you have the choice.
But your needs may be different and spending on a work of art (read original, unique handmade carpet) may not be the best use of your decorating budget. A decorator will be able to assist in accurately assessing your needs and getting you the best piece for your home.
Tassels & Tigers