You know, it’s one thing to buy clothing, or furniture – a product’s description is pretty straightforward when you’re shopping for those things. It’s easy to understand what it means when a shirt is dry-clean only, or when a couch has a frame made of kiln-dried hardwood. They may be unusual terms, but they’re in plain English, and easy to interpret.
Rugs, on the other hand, have a language all their own. Maybe it’s a legacy handed down through the centuries of tradition surrounding the making of rugs, or maybe it’s just because rugs are such complex intersections of art and utility, but they seem to need an entirely separate vocabulary in order to accurately describe the many variations that exist.
So in order to make your trip into rug country more fruitful, we’ve put together a little guide to some basic rug terminology. Repeat after us, and you’ll be speaking fluent Rug in no time!
Jacquard: This is a weaving method in which a mechanized loom with a belt made of punch cards creates the design of the area rug. The pattern of holes punched in the cards determines the weave of the rug.
Wilton Loom: Rugs made with the Wilton Loom method are also machine-made. The fiber of the rug is woven between two backings, and then split down the middle, making two rugs.
Hand-Tufted: In this weaving method, a foundation cloth with the design inked on is stretched over a loom. Then a craftsman wielding a hand-tufting gun pushes each piece of yarn or fiber through the back of the cloth. Then a stronger backing is added to the foundation cloth, as well as a layer of latex, both of which are then covered with a final backing material.
Hand-Carved: Believe it or not, this one is just what it sounds like! A craftsman uses shears to cut a design into the rug, giving it a sculpted appearance.
Heat Set: When polypropylene is set with heat, it gives the yarn a distinctive twist that makes it look like wool.
Line Count: The line count is an indicator of a rug’s quality. Just as the thread count tells you how luxurious a set of bed sheets are, the line count tells you how dense and plush a rug is. The line count tells you how many knots or stitches are in one square inch of a rug.
Pile: The pile is the fiber or yarn that makes up the top surface of the rug. Pile can be high or low – both variations have their benefits.
Needle Count: Similar to the line count, the needle count tells you how many loops of yarn or fiber are in a rug.
Warp and Wefts: These two are a little tricky, so bear with us. Picture a loom. Think first of those long, stationary threads on the loom. Those are called the warp yarn, and are the strongest part of a rug. The fibers that are woven through the warps are the wefts.
So there you have it! Your very first lesson in the language of rugs. Your friends might look at you a little funny while you walk around practicing your newfound talent, talking about warps and wefts and Wilton looms, but they’ll catch on eventually, too. So give yourself a pat on the back for learning a new language today – and then put that knowledge to good use by browsing through our giant selection of gorgeous area rugs!