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Area Rug Glossary

by Staff Writer

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Floral rug with a brown background

Rug descriptions use many terms that are common in the industry but are not necessarily well-known to shoppers. The materials in and descriptions of area rugs can be confusing, especially when shopping online. Below is a glossary of rug terminology and commonly used rug terms to make your online rug shopping experience a little easier.

Rug Weaves:

  1. Cut pile: area rugs whose tufts (loops) have been cut are known as cut pile.

  2. Flat-woven: Flatweave area rugs consist of only welt and warp threads, resulting in no pile. These area rugs are often reversible. Flat-weave area rugs will need a rug pad to prevent slipping unless they are made with thicker fibers, such as wool.

  3. Hand-knotted: Hand-knotted rugs are made by tying thousands of knots to the weft (vertical) threads on a loom, which are then secured by the warp (horizontal) threads.

  4. Hand-tufted: Hand-tufted rugs are tufted by hand, instead of by machine.

  5. Hand-woven: Hand-woven rugs are woven by hand.

  6. Looped or hooked pile: Tufted area rugs, whose tufts have been left intact, are known as looped or hooked pile rugs.

  7. Tufted: Tufted rugs are made by pushing yarn through a mesh foundation with a needle or gun. A backing secures the tufts.

Rug Materials:

  1. Abaca: Abaca is made from the leaves and stems of a banana plant. It is strong and very durable.

  2. Acrylic: Acrylic is a synthetic material often used in making rugs.

  3. Art silk: This is an artificial silk that is crafted of Rayon and designed to look and feel like silk.

  4. Bamboo rugs: Bamboo rugs are made by weaving natural bamboo fibers. Bamboo is an eco-friendly rug material.

  5. Braided rugs: Braided rugs are made in several ways: tape, tubular, yarn and flat. Braided rugs are also called rag rugs because they could be made with many different materials, including whichever rags are lying around.

  6. Canvas: Canvas is made of cotton, the yarn of which is spun and woven to make a heavy, durable fabric.

  7. Coir: Coir is made of coconut husks and is woven into area rugs.

  8. Cotton: Cotton is a natural fiber harvested from the cotton plant. Cotton makes lightweight rugs.

  9. Hemp: Hemp is a natural fiber made from the stalks of the cannabis plant. Hemp doesn't require pesticides and grows quickly, making it a renewable resource.

  10. Jute: Jute is made from the stalks of corchorus herbs; jute takes dye well.

  11. Mohair or cashmere: These are types of wool taken from different kinds of goats.

  12. New Zealand wool: Wool taken from sheep in New Zealand has higher levels of lanolin, making it very durable.

  13. Nylon: Nylon is a synthetic material used in making rugs. It is more resilient and soil-resistant than other synthetic fibers.

  14. Polyester: Polyester is a popular material for making clothes; this synthetic fiber is also used in rug making.

  15. Polypropylene: Also called olefin, polypropylene is a synthetic material used in making area rugs.

  16. Seagrass: Seagrass is made from the stems of tall marsh plants and woven into rugs.

  17. Silk: Silk is a natural protein fiber spun by silkworms or caterpillars. Silk can be cultivated or wild. Silk is often blended with stronger, more elastic wool to increase durability when used in making rugs. Most silk rugs are hand-knotted or hand-woven.

  18. Sisal: Sisal is made from agave leaves and is an extremely strong and durable natural fiber used in making rugs.

  19. Synthetic fibers: Synthetics are man-made materials used in area rugs. They look and feel similar to wool rugs but cost less.

  20. Tibetan wool: This wool, taken from sheep in Tibet, has high levels of lanolin, enhancing the wool's strength.

  21. Wool: Wool is the most common material used for rugs. It is incredibly strong and durable while remaining soft to the touch. Wool fibers are more water-, stain- and soil-resistant than most rug materials.

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