I am a self proclaimed rug snob. I can spot a crappy rug from a mile away and will most definitely run from it. Here’s the kicker…. good rugs cost money. And the better they are, the more they cost. So here is my run down of good, better and best rugs. I’ll advise you on when to splurge and when to save, and why it is so important to understand how these rugs are made.
Let’s start by saying that all rugs ARE NOT created equal. Different manufacturers have different ways of going about making them. Some are hand knotted, some are power loomed, some are custom, some are printed…. there’s a whole lot to unpack when it comes to rugs. Here are just a few buzz words to look for when shopping for rugs and what they really mean.
Hand woven vs. machine woven – Sometimes you will hear hand knotted (which is more labor intensive than hand woven) but the fact of the matter behind it is that they are made by hand. Period. A human made that rug. Not a machine. Then, obviously, machine woven or power loomed rugs are made by a machine. Which do you think is going to be cheaper? Yes, the machine woven. Which do you think is going to be made better? You bet the hand woven/knotted is! Because there is an actual human who cares about their product going out into the world. Therefore, it is going to cost more. Not to say that all machine made rugs are poor quality. There are definitely some good ones!
Polyester, Polypropylene, Nylon and Viscose – These are all materials that machine made rugs are made from. They are synthetic fibers that can be made into yarns that machines can create rugs out of. Simple as that. Sometimes machine made rugs will use natural fibers such as cotton or wool and mix in these other materials. What is the good and the bad on this? Well, synthetic fibers are harder to clean. If you have kids or pets that spill on these, the synthetic fibers are going to soak up that spill and the stain can be pretty tough to get out. The flip side to that is these types of rugs are pretty cheap. So, if they do get stained, you can throw it out and get a new one. But honestly, who wants to do that every time there is a spill? It adds up and rearranging furniture to lay a new rug is hard work.
Wool and silk – If you purchase a wool rug at the beginning, you will have a much easier time cleaning it and you won’t have to purchase another one every time it gets dirty. Just have it professionally cleaned. Wool is made from sheep. Sheep live outside in the dirt and the elements. They get dirty and come clean. It’s just that simple. Silk ups the price significantly. It is more difficult to harvest and work with but creates a beautiful sheen on the rug.
How can you tell if a rug is hand knotted or machine made? Look at the back. If you can see the pattern on the back side of the rug, it is most likely hand knotted or hand woven. If there is a solid backing on the rug, it is most likely machine made. In my experience, the softer the backing on the rug, the better it is made. The more pliable machine made rugs seem to hold up better than the ones with the really stiff back. The back is stiff because it is glued in place, not sewn like the softer backing is. Glue breaks down over time.
My designer choice will always be handmade. That is not to say that there aren’t good quality machine made rugs out there! I use them all the time! But a handmade rug is made by an artist. Someone who is skilled in creating an item that we live our lives on. Just the thought of someone knotting my rug day in and day out for months until it is complete just blows my mind! If you can’t bring yourself to purchase a hand knotted rug, just make sure that your machine made rug is made out of wool. I won’t even look at a rug for a client if it isn’t made out of wool. Because I am not in the business of getting things for people so they can throw them away. I want any space that I create to be around for a while.
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Brenna Morgan Interiors is an interior design firm in Lake Norman, NC. Also servicing Charlotte, Davidson, and Mooresville.