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How to Choose an Area Rug

Rug Shapes

Area rugs are made in a variety of sizes and shapes. Most rugs are rectangular and are used the most when talking about standard sizes. Other shapes include runner, oval, round and square.

Rectangular rugs are the most common shape of rug and come in a variety of sizes. It has been established that standard sizes are rectangular in shape. Some of the standard sizes are 2ft x 3ft, 3ft x 5ft, 5ft x 8ft, 8ft x 10ft and 12ft x 15ft.

Runners are the second most common shape of area rug. Runners are long and narrow rectangular rugs. They are usually 2 1/2 -3 feet wide and 6-20 feet long. Runners are used predominately in hallways, entrances and on stairs.

Oval rugs are measured the same as rectangular rugs. The larger diameter is considered the length and the smaller diameter is the width. Oval rugs are also less common.

Round The length, width and diameter are the same in a round rug. When looking for a round rug, look for sizes like 4ft x 4ft or 8ft x 8ft. Round rugs are less common than other shapes. Other shapes may be octagonal, wedge (half-moon) and heart-shaped.

Rug Designs

The most widely used designs are all-over, medallion and one-sided. All-over designs have no central or dominant design. The design runs throughout the rug or it is repeated all-over the rug. A large centerpiece on a rug is called a medallion. Medallions can be square, circular, diamond, star or hexagonal in shape. Rugs that have a design featured only on one side, can only be properly viewed from that side. These rugs are also called one-directional.

Rug Patterns

The three most common rug patterns are curvilinear, geometric and pictorial. curvilinear refers to the smooth, curving lines of the design. Flowers and vines are some motifs on curvilinear rugs. Rugs with geometric patterns have straight lines and may include squares, triangles and right angles. People and animals are portrayed in Pictorial patterns.

Rug Colors

Color is an important factor to consider when selecting an area rug. Dark colors can make a room look smaller yet create a warm, cozy look. Lighter hues tend to enlarge a space and create a restful, intimate, formal mood.

Medium shades or neutrals maintain the same sense of space. Brighter colors, such as yellow, orange and Rred, are stimulating and can also create warmth to a room. For a cooler feel, blues, greens and lighter shades of yellow are good choices.

Rug Construction

Hand-Knotted: Traditionally made with wool or silk. To construct a hand-knotted rug, the weaver strings cotton threads, called warps, on a frame which becomes the foundation of the rug. The pile yarns, usually wool or silk, are looped around cotton threads one at a time to create a thick pile. Cotton yarns are then woven side to side through the warps to hold them together; the cotton threads are generally tied off into decorative fringes. Hand-knotted rugs take the longest time to make and therefore the most expensive.

Hand-Tufted: Made with several types of fibers including wool, silk, acrylic or a combination of any of them. To construct a hand-tufted rug, a cotton canvas is stretched on a frame to form the foundation of the rug. The design is drawn on the canvas in stencil or in outline form. Using a hooking tool, pile yarns are pushed through the foundation, making a loop, which is then cut giving the finished rug a plush or cut pile surface. The back of the foundation is given a latex coating to lock the pile yarns in place. A secondary canvas backing is applied to the rug to give it more stiffness and to cover the latex. Hand-tufted rugs are usually less expensive than hand-knotted rugs.

Hand-Hooked: Hand-hooked rugs are made exactly the same way as hand-tufted rugs, except that the hand-hooked rug usually has a short, looped pile instead of a thick, cut pile. Also, the backing on a hand-hooked rug is often a light-weight mesh instead of a heavy canvas backing.

Machine-made/Power-loomed: Machine-made rugs can be made of various materials, including heat-set polypropylene, faux silk viscose and wool. Machine-made rugs are woven on power looms, where the pile yarns and the backing yarns are threaded into the machine ahead of time. A computer controls which colors are woven into certain parts of the fabric, creating the original design. Machine-made rugs can run a wide range of pricing from expensive, high-quality weaves to low, promotional rugs.

Flat Weave: Similar to hand-knotted rugs, flat-weaves are woven on a foundation typically made up of cotton warps strung on a frame called a loom. Instead of looping around and making a thicker pile, the yarns which form the pile are threaded back and forth, covering all the cotton thread like a blanket or a tapestry, creating a very flat pile. Usually, flat-weaves are the quickest hand-made rugs to produce and therefore, generally the least expensive. Flat-weaves can also be produced on power looms, making the production of these rugs even faster.

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