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Glossary of Area Rug Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Would you like to learn more about our 10,000+ area rugs? Our Area Rug Glossary has descriptions of fiber/material used as well as construction styles, rug making techniques and other useful information. Use our Glossary to make a more informed decision when purchasing your beautiful new rug from SelectRugs.com. If you still have questions please call us at (877) 772-6674.

Acrylic – Man-made synthetic fiber used as a less expensive alternative to wool. A type of synthetic fiber made from a polymer which may consist wholly of polyacrylonitrile or a copolymer of a mixture of acrylonitrile with another vinyl compound.

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Art Silk – Artificial silk yarn for weaving that is made from cotton, rayon or polyester that resembles silk. It is soft to the touch and more affordable than the expensive silk originals.

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Aubusson – Style of rug that originated in France in the 15th century. Aubusson evolved into several main styles over the course of the next four centuries, including popular Antoinette, Josephine and Maison patterns. Aubusson were originally flat-weave rugs, usually featuring a floral medallion and pastel colors, but today these rug patterns have been adapted for pile rugs

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Bamboo – Bamboo rugs or mats are woven from natural bamboo fibers. Bamboo is cut into strands for woven designs and into wide strips for a hardwood floor effect.

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Berber – Term popularly used to refer to a natural colored look of carpeting. Berber is more accurately or traditionally defined as a group of North African tribes people who crafted rugs of handspun yarn from the un-dyed wool of local sheep.

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Braided – Rugs made from braided yarn, often made of 'rag' or multi-colored fabric swatches, which are then sewn into concentric circles or ovals.

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Chenille – A heavy Fabric woven with chenille cord with a deep luxurious pile that is used in rugs and bedspreads.

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Combing – Process that organizes carded wool fibers in a parallel arrangement by pulling them spiked blocks or combs. This process prepares wool for spinning.

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Contemporary – Non-traditional styles of rugs that range from shag and braided rugs to pile-weave rugs with geometric or modern patterns. Also used to describe rugs less than 25 years old.

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Cotton – Soft and fluffy fiber produced by the cotton plant. Erect bushy mallow plant or small tree bearing bolls containing seeds with many long hairy fibers. The fibers can be spun and are used in rugs for backing, fringes and used for pile.

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Cut Pile – Cut-pile is a smooth finish created by cutting off the tops of the wool loops. The cut loops are then twisted to make tufts of yarn that stand erect, creating a soft even surface. Also known as 'velour' or 'velvet' pile.

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Decolan Fiber – A wool-like yarn that is actually a polypropylene heat-set synthetic fiber that has a very soft hand.

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Density – Refers to the amount of pile yarn in the carpet and the closeness of the tufts. The more densely or tightly packed the yarn is, the more luxurious the pile will feel.

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Dhurrie – Inexpensive flat-woven rugs from India, usually made of wool or cotton. Type of Kilim.

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Faux Silk – Artificial silk made from synthetic fibers like polyester or natural fibers including mercerized cotton.

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Flat Weave – Rugs without pile or knots. Flat weave rugs are made on a loom and threaded through the warps. Kilims, Dhurries and the original Aubusson are good examples of flat woven rugs.

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Flokati – Traditional Greek rugs, hand-woven from sheep's wool. Flokati rugs come in different weights from 1400 grams to 4000 grams. The higher the gram count, the more plush and more expensive the rug will be.

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Gabbeh – Gabbeh are fluffy long piled rugs with simple colorful patterns.

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Hand-Hooked – Rugs made in a manner similar to that of hand-tufted rugs, except that the pile is left looped rather than cut. Canvas backing is spread on a frame and a hooking implement is then used to pull the yarn through the fabric. Latex glue is then applied to the back of the rug to hold the loops in place. Another layer of cloth is added to the back of the rug and the rug is then finished by turning under the ends.

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Hand-Knotted – The most expensive and longest to make, hand-knotted rugs are traditionally made with wool or silk. The weaver loops wool or silk around the warps one at a time, creating a thick pile. Cotton yarn is then woven through the warps to hold them together. Generally the cotton yarns are tied off to form a decorative fringe.

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Hand-Woven – Rugs woven on a hand loom.

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Hand- Made – Rugs that are either hand-knotted or hand-tufted. More expensive than machine-made rugs.

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Hand -Tufted – Hand-tufted rugs are made much like hand-hooked rugs, except that the loops are sheared to create a flat surface. Tufted rugs can be made with combinations of fibers, and offer a great value. Hi-Lo Tufted Rugs feature a combination of cut and looped pile, yielding a three dimensional effect.

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Hard Twist/ Cut Pile – Practical type of cut-pile carpet that minimizes flattening with its durable stiffness. The yarns are twisted and set at a high temperature.

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Hooked Rug – Rug made by pushing loops of yarn through a canvas backing. Hooked rugs are an affordable alternative to authentic knotted rugs, because hooking is a very fast technique.

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Indo-Esfahan – A rug made in India in Esfahan style.

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Jute– Rugs woven of natural plant fibers that were originally used as doormats. Jute is grown in areas of southern Asia. The fibers are then stripped from their stalks and can be spun into yarn or rope and woven. Jute rugs are woven with loop or flat construction, and have become popular for use throughout the home. Jute yarns are strong and often used as warps in knotted rugs.

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Kashmir– Silk or mercerized cotton carpets from the Islamic region of India. Kashmir rugs are woven with Persian knots and have coloration and ornate patterns unique to India.

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Kelim (Kilim)– The most well known group of flat-woven rugs. No knots are used in creating kelims. Simply, the weft strands are woven (passed) through the warp strands.

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Knotted Rugs– The knotted carpet refers to a particular decorative and functional textile made by hand on a horizontal or vertical loom using the technique of knotting. This weaving style involves wrapping tufts of wool or pile around the warps. They wool or pile is then tied around each individual warp strand to erect the pile at a 90 degree angle to the floor.

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Lattice– A design used in an all-over layout. Lattices consist of an arch or two connected, or rectangles with usually some floral motif inside them. In classic Persian rugs, lattices are curvilinear and consist of arches. The new versions are more geometric and consist of diamonds and hexagons.

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Leather– Today, most leather is made of cow hides.

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Loom– Structure that holds warp strands taut for weaving and knotting. Looms can be vertical, horizontal, fixed or mobile.

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Loop Pile– Loop pile is a hard-wearing surface, designed to minimize tracking. Loop pile is the same as cut pile before it is trimmed.

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Machine Made– Rugs woven on power-looms controlled by a computer. The computer controls which colors are woven into the fabric and where. Machine-made rugs can be made quickly, and are offered in materials including heat-set polypropylene, art silk and wool.

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Modacrylic– A Synthetic copolymer, soft, strong, resilient, and dimensionally stable. They can be easily dyed, show good press and shape retention, and are quick to dry. Stain resistant and are non-allergenic.

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Natural Rug– Rugs made of natural fibers that are usually ivory or neutral colored. Texture is the main feature of these rugs.

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Neoclassical– A revival of ancient Greek and Roman styles in art and architecture in the 18th and 19th centuries, which was characterized by order, symmetry and simplicity.

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Nylon– Strong synthetic fiber with good dyeing ability.

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Olefin– A synthetic fiber made from alkenes. Advantages of olefin are its strength, colorfastness, comfort, stain, mildew, abrasion and sunlight resistance. Also referred to as polypropylene.

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Oriental– Out-of-date word for 'of the Eastern World', or the region of the world that was found by early European explorers who circled Africa.

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Pile– The material (fiber) used for weaving rugs.

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Polyacrylic– A blend of Polyester and Acrylic fibers.

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Polyester– Synthetic fiber most often used in staple spun yarns.

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Polypropylene– A petroleum-based synthetic material which is often heat set to guarantee vibrant color, long lasting beauty, easy maintenance and enduring performance. Stain resistant. Great for high traffic areas and children.

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Power Loom– A loom operated by mechanical or electronic power.

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Rayon– Rayon is a manufactured regenerated cellulosic fiber. Its produced from naturally occurring polymers and therefore it is not a truly synthetic fiber, nor is it a natural fiber.

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Rug Pad– A term used to describe any kind of material placed under carpet to provide softness and adequate support when it is walked upon. Rug pads provide a softer feel underfoot. It usually provides added acoustical benefits and longer wear life for the carpet. Also referred to as "cushion" or "underlay".

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Runner– Long, narrow rug used primarily for hallways and stairways. Most runners are between 2.5 to 3 feet wide and 6 to 20 feet long and in some cases even longer.

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Savonnerie– The name given to French piled carpets made until 1890 that look similar to Persian Kermans. These rugs were more foot friendly than their cousin the Aubusson and had an impressionist quality many find very appealing. This rug is the model for many of today's Indian and Persian rugs.

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Sarouk– Beautiful factory woven carpets from central Iran and Iranian Azerbaijan, manufactured for export.

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Seagrass– A water grass grown throughout Asia, that has traditionally been harvested for rugs and some furniture. Seagrass is known for its durable exterior while still remaining pliable.

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Semi-Worsted– Combing process that removes shorter fibers, resulting in a more lustrous looking yarn.

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Shag Rug– Contemporary rug style with long, typically synthetic, pile.

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Shah Abbasi Motif– A group of palmettes that can be seen in all-over and medallion layouts as well as in borders. This motif is frequently seen in rugs of Kashan , Esfahan, Mashad, Nain and in rugs of countries which copy Persian styles such as India, China and Pakistan.

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Silk– Expensive fiber that comes from the cocoon of silkworms.

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Sisal– Plant of the genus Agave that yields a fiber often used for making natural rope. The name sisal is used for both the plant and for the fiber. Sometimes referred to as hemp, sisal is not actually hemp but a fiber that resembles it. Sisal rugs are natural rugs, woven from sisal fibers.

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Soumak– A group of flat-woven rugs where no knots are used in the weave.

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Tapestry– In rug terminology tapestry refers to a weft face weave with complicated designs. Also considered a wall hanging rug.

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Traditional– Style name that refers to the characteristic designs of the European and Oriental/Persian schools of weaving. Modern traditional rugs replicate the classic patterns, colors, and styles of antique rugs.

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Transitional– Broad style that falls between traditional European and Oriental rug designs and new contemporary styles. Floral and botanical patterns are good examples of rugs in this category.

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Tufted Rug– Technique of punching tufts of wool through the base fabric. Used to create inexpensive versions of hand-knotted rugs.

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Twist– Winding of the yarn around itself to create a neat, well-defined strand.

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Weave– The technique used in weaving. There are two major weaving techniques, pile weave and flat weave.

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Wool– Fiber acquired from the hair of sheep, goats and a selection of other domesticated animals, including alpacas and twisted into yarn for weaving. Wool is the most frequently used pile material in handmade rugs. Wool straight off a sheep is highly water-resistant. Wool retains heat better than most fabrics when wet. Australia and New Zealand are leading producers of wool.

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Wool Sisal– Wool sisal-look rugs are popular alternatives to real sisal (coir and sea grass).

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Worsted– Before wool is spun into yarn, it is combed, and then worsted to improve its quality by leaving only the longer pieces of fiber for final spinning. It is used for more intricate patterns.

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Woven Carpets– Carpet made on a weaving loom where backing threads and pile are woven at the same time, creating strong anchors for the tufts.

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