This is the third and final article of our informative e-learning series that addresses everything you need to know about area rugs from designing a room to making the right purchase. In the concluding article, our two floor covering experts Bernard Drzazga of Gallerie One Distinctive Rugs & Carpet and Neisan Rouhani of Matt Cameron will answer the most frequently asked questions about area rugs.
What is the most durable fiber for a high-traffic area or dining room?
Bernard Drzazga: Wool is the most durable fiber for rugs. Wool is a versatile fiber that dyes easily to create a limitless range of colors. Because of the natural scales on wool fiber surface, light is diffused and provides a soft appearance with less shine. The protein core of wool fibers are reactive, therefore they absorb dyes beautifully and hold the color well.
Wool has an elastic property that enables it to retain a dense pile through the weight of furniture, traffic and other uses for area rugs. Wool is extremely durable and maintains a good appearance for longer periods. Wool fiber is naturally flexible and coiled, which means it is more likely to stretch rather than break.
The scales on a wool fiber naturally repel water and other liquids. Although wool will absorb moisture, if liquid is spilled on a wool area rug or other wool fabric it may take time to penetrate. Wool is naturally fire resistant and will not melt when burned. While wool will catch fire, it will not support a flame, which may make it a good choice for an area rug close to a hearth.
While area rugs of any material provide acoustic benefits, wool provides excellent insulation against sound and reduces noise levels. In addition, wool naturally resists static electricity by absorbing air moisture. Wool stays cleaner longer and resists dirt. The same qualities of wool that prevent static electricity also protect against lint and dust attraction.
Any advice on how to protect my area rug from my pets?
Neisan Rouhani: Animal urine, especially if not quickly detected and removed, will cause damage to any rug, because it contains a high volume of acidic properties. Animal repellant products like NoStay, are powder based repellents that are safe to use, and are generally effective to keep pets off rugs and furniture.
Regardless of the type of stains, hand-knotted rugs should always be professionally cleaned. To determine the type and quality of dyes, expert rug cleaners will often perform a “dye-test” before mixing the appropriate shampoos to wash each rug. This process eliminates the problem of dye-runs caused by improper washing.
What are the differences between Persian and Tibetan rugs?
Bernard Drzazga: Today the differences have more to do with the country of origin as well as the materials and designs. Unless you have a pre revolution Persian rug, classic high quality Persian designs are being made today in India, Pakistan, Turkey and China. The finest Tibetan rugs available today are actually made in Nepal with the hand carded and hand spun wool coming from Tibetan sheep. Their industry got it start in the early 90’s after the Chinese invaded Tibet and the Dali Lama along with many of his followers fled to Nepal and a weaving industry was established to help the refuges. With input from western designers, the rugs made in these countries are in tune with the colors and patterns that are popular in the West — no longer only Traditional designs, but Transitional and Contemporary as well.
Neisan Rouhani: With a few exceptions, most original Persian rugs contain many vibrant colors, and exhibit very detailed patterns. India, China, and Pakistan have for many years copy-woven traditional Persian design rugs. Most Tibetan rugs have fewer color pallets with minimum designs, often used in contemporary or modern settings.
As demand for popular colors and designs change, smart weavers, regardless of location, are adapting to such changes, thereby placing less significance on tradition and style, but more importance on marketability.
How can you tell what country the rugs come from?
Bernard Drzazga: It would be difficult for someone that is not familiar with hand made rugs to be able to tell a rugs origin other then what might be listed on its tag. Anyone interested in buying a quality rug should work with a reputable rug showroom where the knowledgeable staff can answer your questions and assist you in making the right selection.
Neisan Rouhani: A rug expert is capable of closely examining the back of a hand-knotted rug and identify its place of origin, based on the arrangement, size, and techniques used in the knots. Becoming an expert takes many years of training, research, and exposure to different rugs. Experts are also able to determine the age of a specific piece based on design and combination of colors used in an older rug.
Are celebrities or famous name rugs higher in quality?
Bernard Drzazga: Not necessarily, Celebrities’ contract with major vendors to give their name to a collection and have some input in the design process and their association with the collection helps to market the rugs. These collections of designs and colors are well made and geared for mass market appeal.
High quality rugs, many of them one of kind, with unique patterns and colors are available in rug showrooms such as ours and are made by vendors who employ talented artists and weavers that take great pride in creating unique designs for a more discerning clientele.
How do I find out if the company I’m buying from uses fair labor practices, especially with children?
Neisan Rouhani: Oriental Rugs are produced wherever cost of labor is below market value. Starting in early eighties, this fact contributed to many workshops, especially in India, to take unfair advantage of a child labor. Upon discovering these practices, many rug merchants in Europe effectively exposed and sanctioned against weavers practicing child-labor. Rug merchants in United States, and other markets soon stepped-up similar efforts to sanction against guilty workshops. Since 1993, several organizations including Label STEP – Fair Trade Carpets, have successfully regulated workshops to insure no-child-labor policies.
Bernard Drzazga: Reputable weaving centers and the stores that showcase and sell there products are members of several organizations that ensure that no child labor is used in the making of their rugs. Good Weave and TLC are two organizations that work to ensure that this rug has been manufactured in a factory that has been inspected and certifies that the rug was made child labor free.
Why are area rugs so expensive?
Bernard Drzazga: The cost of a new hand made rug is based on today’s labor prices, material costs (wool, dyes, etc) and transportation costs. When you consider the cost of most luxury item (autos, electronics, etc.) the cost of a high quality rug is comparable and in most cases far less expensive.
Special thanks to our friends at Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries and Gallerie One for
sharing their valuable knowledge and imagery. Visit their websites or make an appointment with one of our designers to shop at their Merchandise Mart showrooms.