Special Supplement: Area Rugs For Every Budget
What a great product! Rugs can beautify your sales floor and compliment your merchandise mix. When properly displayed, advertised and presented, they also increase retail traffic and boost average sale.
Area rugs allow customers to add design pizazz to rooms that otherwise lack excitement. They add visual and physical warmth, and can inject a great pop of color or pattern into any room. More than any other design element, rugs help to define seating and dining areas. They are also used to break up large spaces to create visual order in what might otherwise be a chaotic scene.
Rugs soften hard surfaces, making them more comfortable on the eyes, the ears and the feet. When used with the proper padding, they provide a non-slip surface for floors and stairs. They also absorb and reduce ambient noise.
Help Customers Choose The Right Rug
The first thing most customers look for after size, when selecting an area rug, is color. That’s because rugs are often selected after decisions about furniture style and wall color have been made. Because of this, it is a good idea to encourage customers to bring fabric and paint samples with them to ensure that rug colors can be matched.
After color, customers usually consider the design or style of their new rug. Rugs can coordinate with virtually any room setting.
As mentioned previously, rugs can be used to orient furnishings in a space, but many customers will want to purchase a room-size rug. A good rule of thumb to remember when choosing a room sized rug is to leave at least 8 inches of bare floor space around it.
Sizing and Design Tips
•Add at least four feet to the width and length of a rug to be placed under a dining table so that chairs can be pulled out without extending beyond the rug.
• For safety sake, try not to let rug corners extend into high traffic areas as they can create a tripping hazard.
•Encourage your customers to purchase and use a rug pad. A good pad helps to keep the rug in place. Rugs wear from the bottom first. A good pad will, therefore, extend rug life by many years.
•Lighter colored rugs increase the perceived size of a room while darker colors create a warmer, more intimate setting.
•Patterns and darker colors are a good choice for high traffic areas to hide marks and wear in these areas.
•To add extra excitement to your design, try angling rugs for a lively feeling. This can open up a room. Angling a rug works particularly well when the sofa is also angled.
Beautiful rugs are available at all price points. In general, a rug’s price, is determined by its construction, the quality of the materials used, and the amount of hand labor involved in its manufacture. Selling a rug is similar in this respect to selling bedding or upholstered furniture. Differences in price are often the result of quality features which are not always obvious, but affect beauty, durability and long term consumer satisfaction. Pointing out these hidden features can convince a customer that a rug is worth the investment, or explain why similar looking rugs may, in fact be very different.
Retail sales associates need not master the complexities of rug weaving, but they should know the quality features and sizes of rugs they have in stock, as well as how to care for them. Basic rug types include hand knotted, tufted, hooked, flat weave, braided and power loomed.
Hand Knotted: Hand Knotted area rugs are woven by hand; and depending on size, construction and density, one area rug can take a year or more to complete. The pile on hand knotted rugs is secured to the foundation by knotting, versus gluing, to produce rugs of exceptional density and quality.
Warp & Weft: The warp and the weft make up the fabric or foundation of the rug. In a handmade rug, the knots are tied around the warp yarns which end up as the fringe. The foundation stabilizes the carpet and holds the pile in place. Properly constructed foundations ensure that a rug lies flat.
Cotton is the most common warp fiber. It is less expensive than wool, and very strong. In very fine applications, silk may be used because thin strands of silk are very strong. Weft fibers can be cotton, wool or other suitable fibers.
Knot Types: Each knot corresponds to two strands of pile. There are three basic types of knots used in the different rug producing regions of the world: the Persian, also called Senneh or asymmetrical; the Ghiordes, also known as a Turkish or symmetrical knot; and the Jufti knot.
Both symmetrical and asymmetrical knots can be used to produce high quality rugs. Knowing the difference can help experienced rug merchants identify the origins of a particular rug. A symmetrical knot completely encircles two warps. An asymmetrical knot completely encircles only one. If you look at the back of a rug and see a bump of one color surrounded by bumps of a different color across a warp, then the rug has been knotted using symmetrical knots. If the bumps of a single color always occur in pairs, you cannot tell for sure which knot was used.
The jufti knot is often used in lower quality rugs to save time. It results in a looser construction and reduced durability. Jufti knots encircle four or more warps, instead of two.
Hand Knotted Quality: Probably the best known indicator of quality in hand knotted oriental rugs is the compactness of the weave, measured as the number of knots per square inch. One “rule of thumb” is that oriental rugs having 100 or more knots per square inch are considered good, and that knot counts above 200 are excellent. The number of knots per square inch are counted by determining the number of bumps appearing on the back of the rug (measure the number of bumps in one inch in the direction of the warp and also the number in the direction of the weft and multiply).
This is not a "fool proof" method since in parallel constructions (where the warp yarns lie next to each other) each knot produces two bumps on the back, whereas in depressed warp constructions (where the warps are on two vertical planes as shown in the diagram on the previous page), each knot produces only one bump.
For a given type of knot, the more knots there are per square inch, the greater the amount of labor invested, and the higher the price. Generally, the thinner the yarn, the more knots can fit per unit area.
It is not necessarily true that a carpet with more knots per square inch is more valuable or of higher quality than one with fewer knots. This is because knot count is only one factor affecting quality, and because quality standards for different types of rugs from different regions vary. For example, fine Chinese rugs often use thicker yarns and so cannot have very high knot counts.
Well made rugs have evenly and regularly spaced knots. A pattern that looks clear and regular when viewed from the back indicates quality weaving.
Pile: The pile, is made up of yarns knotted into the foundation. It is measured from the top of the foundation to top of the rug (see diagram). Coarser constructions generally have a pile height of between 4/8 and 5/8 of an inch.
The pile on more tightly woven rugs tends to be lower since intricate patterns, a characteristic of these rugs, can become fuzzy if the pile height is too long.
Wool used to create the pile is available in many grades, the choice of which affects the finished look, quality and price of a rug. 4-ply yarns (yarn composed of four strands) tend to be more expensive than 3, 2 or single ply yarns. This is because of the relative fineness and longer fibers in the 4-ply that produce a more even surface effect.
Finer weaves (more knots per square inch) have more yarn ends per square inch and can have the same wear characteristics as coarser carpets with fewer ends per square inch but a higher pile.
Colors: All other factors being equal, the more top colors there are in an oriental rug, the more detailed its design and the greater its price.l
Pattern: Intricate patterns take a great deal of skill and weaving time. Patterns with clean, gentle curves are prized. They are often made in workshops with the help of "cartoons" that detail the color and position of each knot in the pattern.
Pile Quality: Pile height should be consistent throughout throughout any rug. Uneven pile, caused by uneven shearing, may cause portions of the carpet to wear out faster than others. Some degree of unevenness may be acceptable in cruder tribal rugs, but not in fine workshop made or power loomed rugs.
Flat Woven: The main difference between oriental rugs and flat woven rugs such as Kilims, Dhurries, Tapestries, Druggets and Soumaks is that oriental rugs have yarns knotted around the warp forming loops that make up the pile, whereas flat woven rugs are crafted from warp and weft yarns and have no pile. The different categories of flat woven rugs differ in various aspects of their construction, colors, fibers and motifs.
Power Loomed: Power loomed rugs are created on looms strung with a cotton or jute warp and then woven using nylon, polypropylene, wool or other fiber. Computer operated machines faithfully reproduce rugs in various sizes and designs without the variations seen in hand woven pieces. Woven on Wilton, side-woven Wilton and Gripper Axminster looms, power loomed rugs are produced in a wide variety of sizes and styles at excellent price points.
Power loomed rugs have knots that are tied around the weft instead of the warp. Handmade rugs have ridges on the back that run in the same direction as the fringe. Power loomed rugs have ridges that are perpendicular to the fringe. They generally have consistent quality and are tightly and evenly woven.
Hand Tufted: Hand Tufted area rugs are created by punching yarn into cloth that is attached to a frame. A latex backing is applied to stabilize the construction after hooking the yarn. The surface loop pile is then sheared to produce a flat surface. This process creates an area rug that is plush and generally reasonably priced.
Hand Hooked: Hand Hooked rugs are created using a pattern and a hooking device. Yarn is punched through a canvas cloth creating a looped pile. The yarns are then glued in place in lieu of knotting, and a cloth is attached to the back for added protection.
Needlepoint: Needlepoint rugs are made with standard needlepoint technique using wool yarns on canvas.
Braided: These rugs are made from heavy strips of fabric or yarn braided into long ropes and then sewn at their edges to form a continuous spiral. Oval shapes are the most common. Even though braided rugs were traditionally paired with colonial or rustic styled furnishings, they can be used in a variety of other casual settings as well.
Flokati: Hand woven rugs from Greece created by immersing shaggy woolen fabric in water causing the wool shag to unravel, blossom and the backing to felt.
Wool: Many Power Loomed and Hand Made rugs are made of wool. It is the traditional fiber used in fine hand made Oriental rugs. Wool not only wears longer, it also keeps its original appearance and stays cleaner looking longer than most other fibers. Its ability to absorb moisture prevents a build-up of static electricity. Wool, therefore, does not attract lint and dust. The crimp in wool fibers and the scales on the outside of fibers helps to keep dirt from penetrating the surface. The same qualities make it easy to clean. Each wool fiber is made up of millions of “coiled springs” that stretch and give rather than break, and so wool is extremely durable. Wool rugs also absorb dyes differently than synthetic rugs giving them a more authentic look.
Cotton: is a natural fiber of great durability, strength and absorbency. Each cotton fiber is made up of twenty to thirty layers of cellulose, coiled in a neat series of natural springs. When the cotton boll (seed case) is opened, the fibers dry into flat, twisted, ribbon-like shapes and become kinked together and interlocked. This interlocked form is ideal for spinning into a fine yarn.
Polypropylene: Polypropylene or Olefin fibers are petroleum products, derived from propylene and ethylene gasses. The polypropylene fiber is characterized by its resistance to moisture. It is strong, quick drying and colorfast. It is also mildew, abrasion soil and stain resistant. Polypropylene fibers have the lowest density of all manufactured fibers giving olefin textiles a very lightweight quality.
Heat Set Polypropylene is a man-made fiber that is created by a process called extrusion. Extrusion involves the pre-dyeing of pellets that are then melted down and extruded into continuous fibers. The resulting twisted yarns are treated with heat to retain their "permanent wave" for better performance and appearance retention.
Nylon: Nylon is the generic name for a group of chemically related synthetic protein-like polymer fibers. It is highly durable because of its remarkable resistance to abrasion. It also resists mold, mildew, insects, stretching and wrinkling. Nylon can be dry cleaned or washed. It dries quickly, resists soiling and can be spot cleaned .
Polyester: Polyester, a long-chain synthetic polymer can be produced with a semi-bright to dull sheen and a crisp to soft feel. This fiber is very strong, durable and has good resistance to abrasive wear. It also resists deterioration when exposed to mildew, sunlight, water and insects.
Silk: Cultivated, reeled silk is a fine, strong, continuous, protein filament produced by the larva of certain insects, especially the silkworm. The silkworm cocoon is softened by immersion in warm water. The silk filament is then reeled off and rendered soft and white by steeping and boiling in soap baths.
Silk is strong, resilient, long lasting and expensive. It resists abrasion, soiling, mildew and insects but will not stand exposure to sunlight. Silk is stronger than steel pound for pound when pulled on, but wears when walked on.
CARE & CLEANING
Although consumers should always follow manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, there are a few simple, general rules that can be followed to keep natural fiber area rugs in top condition.
Vacuuming: Many experts suggest that all parts of the rug be vacuumed at least weekly to reduce the possibility of moth infestation in wool carpets and to remove soil before it gets ground into the foundation, becoming difficult to remove. Suction type vacuums may be desirable on low pile carpets or antique rugs where the use of a "beater" model might break wool foundation yarns. Rugs should always be vacuumed width-wise (perpendicular to the fringe) to avoid getting the fringe caught.
Cleaning: Most experts recommend periodic professional cleaning of fine rugs, outside the house at least every 1-5 years (depending on the amount of traffic).
Stains: Spills and stains should be taken care of immediately before they have a chance to set. Spot cleaning of water soluble stains with a mild soap is often recommended. After cleaning, air should be allowed to circulate under the damp area to prevent mildew. For difficult stains like pet and wine stains, professional cleaning may be required. Gum or wax can be scraped off with a knife. Always test over-the-counter cleaning products on a small corner of any rug first to make sure that it will not cause damage.
Mildew: Aside from incontinent and "scratch happy" pets, mildew is the worst enemy of natural fiber rugs. Storing rugs in damp places may cause them to rot. Flowerpots placed on rugs can cause discoloration and rot.
Turning: Oriental rugs should be turned periodically to even out wear in high traffic paths.
Sunlight: Avoid direct sunlight which can cause fading.
ADDITIONAL RUG TERMS
Field: The area of a rug that lies just within the borders. Fields can be "open" (a single color) or decorated
Fringe: The portion of the warp strands that extend beyond the main body of the carpet. Power loomed Oriental design rugs may have fringe sewn onto the ends.
Medallion: A large, defined emblem or motif normally placed at the center of a rug.
Motif: A single or repeating design or color such as a floral or geometric design.
Spandrels: A corner space with scrollwork or other decorative filling. Rugs often have spandrels which lie between the borders and the field surrounding a central medallion.
Symbols: The plants, animals and everyday objects depicted on Oriental rugs often have meanings rooted in the religion, philosophy and culture of the people who weave them. Many individual symbols represent ideas, as do groups of symbols and entire compositions. Alternatively, many rugs are beautifully designed art... having no literal or figurative meaning. In either case, a rug can be the perfect beginning or ending to the consumer's purchase of home furnishings.
•Chinese Rug Symbols: There are hundreds of symbols and combinations that are woven into Chinese rugs. Here are just a few: Pairs of fish may symbolize happiness in marriage, wealth and plenty; Dragons embody power, authority and goodness; Bats are a symbol of good luck and happiness; Peonies are symbolic of beauty, affection, love, Spring and wealth; Fu dogs epitomize strength and courage; Butterflies bring luck and marriage happiness: The Shou symbol can represent immortality or longevity.
•Persian and Turkoman Symbols: Florals may be symbolic of the paradise of Islamic afterlife and can take various forms including repeating florals, diffuse florals, formal garden designs, Savonnerie, Aubusson and paneled garden designs; Tree of Life designs can represent the bridge between heaven and earth; Central Medallions are inspired either by Koran book covers or tribal insignia; Boteh or Mir boteh (princely flower) designs resemble the dominant motif on paisley patterns; The Herati design has a central diamond pattern, surrounded by four crescent shaped leaves or fish... possibly symbolic of Persian mythology in which the world is supported by four fish; The Gul emblem is an ancient Turkoman lozenge shaped motif usually presented in rows. Rugs originating in Bokhara often contain the gul design. Gul emblems range from variations of hexagonal to round to diamond shapes.
Washing: After clipping, hand woven rugs are washed to remove any dirt or insect infestations that may be present. Often chemicals can be added to the wash to change the color and surface characteristics of the finished product. They can impart an antique look, fade out colors or give a lustrous sheen.