There are many things to consider when investing in an Oriental rug, and it’s not always a simple task to choose the best carpet for you. Whatever rug you choose, you are likely to have it, and live with it, for a long time, possibly even passing it down to future generations. That’s why it’s important to feel confident about the choice. Here are some tips and guidelines for judging the quality of any rug
Is it machine made or hand woven?
Fine rug inventory
Serafian's oriental rug collection is the largest in New Mexico.
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Density related to knot count and affects the longevity of a carpet. The tighter and denser the pile is, the better the rug will withstand wear. Take your fingers and try to wiggle them into the pile. Is it difficult to work them all the way to the bottom of the pile? If so, the carpet is dense and likely to wear well.
Some carpets, particularly tribal pieces, are rare simply because the tribes that weave them are small and nomadic. An example of this is carpets from the Yallameh region in Iran. Woven by members of the Luri tribe, these carpets are fairly rare. The Luri weave most of their rugs on small looms in their homes, so larger pieces can be very hard to find. Another example is Quashquli carpets from the Quasqai region. These exceptionally tight and dense carpets are very rare, and represent an “endangered species” of the rug weaving world.
Is there damage?
Look the rug over carefully, front and back. Keep an eye out for repairs, worn places, or other signs of trouble. If a rug has a repair, decide if it is obvious, or if it blends in almost unnoticeably. Turn the rug over and squeeze the back of the rug in several places. If you notice spots that are dry and crackle, they probably have dry-rot from improper drying at some point in the carpet's past. This weakens the foundation of the rug, leading to repairs later on. Avoid any carpet with dry rot, as it has almost no resale value.
Avoid chemically washed rugs
Many rugs are chemically washed to fade or soften the colors. The caustic chemicals used to do this also strip the lanolin out of the wool, rendering it brittle and weak. Though the colors of chemically washed rugs may be appealing, the rug will wear out much more quickly. You may see rugs that are labeled as "Tea Washed" or "Herbal Washed". This process entails fading a rug chemically with abrasive chemicals, then soaking the rug in an herbal formula (usually henna or tea) to give the rug an antique patina. Though the colors in these rugs are very much in fashion today, these rugs cannot be expected to last as long as traditionally made rugs.
A safer way to fade the colors of a rug is to put the rug in the sun every day for anywhere from a few days to a few months. Because this is time consuming, few rug importers are willing to commit the time and resources to "sun-washing" their rugs. Most of the true Persian (Iranian) rugs we carry have been sun-faded if they are faded at all.
Avoid "Glue-backs" (Hand-Tufted Rugs)
The term "Glue-back" refers to a type of rug where a layer of glue is placed between the tufting of the rug and either a canvas or cloth backing. While often sold as quality "Hand-made" rugs, there are many problems that this glue can cause over time. Eventually it starts to decompose and a white powder will begin to fall out of the rug. Also, most Glue-backs will eventually "off-gas" a strong latex smell. Furthermore, it is very common that when the glue begins to wear out, the backing will "delaminate" and detach from the body of the rug, making a terrible mess and leaving you with a rug that is best thrown away rather than repaired. Lastly, Gluebacks do not take well to cleaning. Nearly all types of wash have the potential to damage the glue and can cause any or all of the aforementioned problems to occur. For these reasons, we highly recommend avoiding any rugs that are labeled "hand-tufted" or that have a layer of cloth on the back.
Serafian's Oriental Rugs
1421 Wyoming Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112
(505) 504-RUGS (7847)
Monday - Saturday:
10:00am - 6:00pm
Serafian's offers New Mexico's largest inventory of fine hand-knotted rugs from the Middle and Far East. We also provide expert area rug repair and cleaning service via our "Deep Immersion Cleaning" method.