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Rugs and Carpet Glossary

Abrash: Small variations in color uniformity of handmade rugs; generally desirable.

Acrylic: Inexpensive synthetic fiber, inferior to nylon and olefin.

Antimicrobial: Chemically treated to reduce growth of bacteria and fungi.

Antique wash: Heavy washing which creates a faded/worn look reminiscent of vintage rugs. Antistatic: Dissipating electrostatic charge below the level of human sensitivity.

Appearance retention rating (APR): Wear resistance rating based on simulated foot traffic test; scales from 1 (most visible change) to 5 (no visible change), with rugs/carpets suitable for moderate traffic are rated 2-3, for heavy traffic 3-3.5 and for severe traffic 3.5-4.

Aubusson: Originally flat-weave rugs from the 15th century France; nowadays often made as a pile rug.

Axminster: Machine-made rug or carpet with individually inserted pile tufts; this allows complex color patterns and designs, including Oriental. Backing: Fabric or yarns serving as a foundation for the face fiber.

Berber: Naturally (undyed) looking rugs or carpets; originally made by North African Berber tribes from undyed wool.

Bleeding: Dissolving of fiber dyes in a liquid.

Bonded: Or "fusion bonded" carpet, with tufts planted into a vinyl backing; has impermeable backing with better tuft lock than any other construction type.

Braided texture: The surface of the rug has a plaited look and texture.

Broadloom: Carpet wider than 6 feet.

Brocade: Flat-weave rug variation, in which additional colored weft strands are added over existing warp and weft structure

Carpet glue: The sticky substance which is used in carpet furnishing.

Carpet pile: The thickness of the carpet that erects from the foundation to the infinite number of free ends of threads. In the case of loop pile carpet, the loops are uncut, whereas cut pile exhibits the similar loops but cut. Cutting is done either on the loom or mechanically, after the carpet is woven.

Carved: A technique where the surface of the rug is very carefully cut into to add depth and dimension. This is typically done with scissors or electric sheers.

Chenille: Luxurious pile fabric.

Chenille accents: A corded yarn with a pile that can be made from a number of fibers. When chenille yarn is used as an accent in a rug, the resulting texture is slightly fuzzy and soft to the touch.

Color fastness: Color retention ability, usually with reference to specific color threats (light fastness, wash fastness).

Construction: Production method.

Coir: The fiber then from coconut shells and used to make natural fiber rugs.

Cotton: Soft natural plant fiber, inferior to wool and sisal or hemp.

Crocking: Excessive dye rubbing-off, due to improper application.

Curvilinear: With smooth curved patterns.

Cushion: Also "pad" or "underlay", shock-absorbing material placed underneath a rug or carpet.

Delamination: Separation of the secondary and primary backing.

Density: Individual fiber count per unit of rug/carpet area indicator; obtained from the pile yarn weight, or "face weight" (in ounces per sq. yard) divided by pile height (in inches).

Dry rot: Fiber deterioration caused by microorganisms; untreated natural fiber is especially susceptible.

Dyeing: Adding colors to rug/carpet fiber, yarn or fabric; face fiber dyeing can be done before yarn is spun (solution or stock dyeing), after it (skein, package or space dyeing) and after rug/carpet is put together (piece and continuous dyeing, printing).

Easy care: A rug that is stain resistant and easy to clean and that will show minimal wear and tear with high foot traffic.

Fabric border: Rug border which is made from fabric that is wrapped around the edges of the rug and tucked under to a finished look.

Fading: Loss of color due to the effects of light, gases (ozone, nitric oxide, hydrogen sulfide) or chemicals (cleaners, bleach, chlorine).

Faux silk: Artificial silk.

Fiber bonded: Fibers literally bonded to the carpet backing.

Flatweave: Woven on a loom, rather than knotted. In most cases, the pattern on the front of the rug can be viewed clearly from both sides, making these rugs reversible; often referred to as dhurries or kilims.

Flokati: Traditional hand-woven Greek rugs.

Fringe/Tassel detail: Fringe refers to the loose warp threads that extend beyond the end of the rug. Tassels are loose thread details that typically are added to the corners of the rug.

Friseacute; (free-zay): Carpet with very tightly twisted pile, giving to it a nubby/curled appearance.

Gauge: Separation between two neighboring tufting needles in inches; the smaller the gauge, the more dense the rug/carpet; quality units need to have 1/8 gauge or smaller.

Hair on hide: Crafted of natural hides, typically with a felted backing.

Hand hooked: The same process as hand tufted but features a looped pile surface. Sometimes rugs will combine hand hooked and hand tufted procedures.

Hand knotted: Begins with a background of vertical warp threads. Weavers then hand-tie individual knots of horizontal weft threads to create the design.

Hand loomed wool: Constructed on hand operated looms by a team of weavers who use a long steel rod to shoot fibers across vertical strings that run the lengths of the rug.

Hand stitching: Thread or yarn that is stitched by hand to the surface of a rug for added detail.

Hand tufted: A canvas is stretched tightly over a frame and the design is drawn by hand onto the canvas. A tufting gun is then used to push yarn through the canvas to cover the entire surface area. Tufted rugs can have a cut or loop pile. After tufting, a latex backing with canvas is applied.

Hand woven shag: Made on hand operated looms with hundreds of plush, twisted and slightly felted yards.

Handloom: A vertical warp is created and then a shuttle is used to apply the weft. These rugs do not require a backing.

Hard twist texture: Refers to use throughout the rug of a yarn that has been twisted more tightly than usual to create a more textural/rough effect on the final rug surface.

Heat setting: Strengthening of (usually carpet) yarn by exposure to heat.

High pile: The pile height ranges from ¾ inch to 1-1/2 inches.

High pile/Low pile: The surface of the rug combines high pile areas and low pile areas for an all-over dimensional effect.

Hooked: Made by pulling yarns through a backing.

Indoor/Outdoor: Made solely of synthetic fibers that have been infused with UV inhibitors to minimize fading. These rugs are mold and mildew resistant and can withstand up to 500 hours of direct sunlight.

Jute: Natural fiber often used for rug/carpet backing material.

Kilim: Originally small flat woven tribal or village rugs from east-central Asia.

Knitted: Machine woven hooked carpet.

Knot count: Number of knots per square inch.

Knotted: Usually high-quality handmade woven rug made by tying each individual yarn tuft to the warp strand.

Latex: Synthetic emulsion used in rug/carpet adhesives.

Loop accents: A hand hooked technique that is used in some areas of the design to add texture to the rug.

Loop texture: Small loops of yarn to add an interesting surface texture.

Low pile: The pile of the rug has been trimmed down to the warp or rug backing to a pile height of about ¼ inch.

Lustrous sheen: When the content/construction reflects light to create a visible shine on the surface of the rug.

Machine woven: Produced by large machines that have hundreds of spindles of fiber that are mechanically woven into a thin mesh backing. The designs are created by lifting the weft yarns to the surface to create pattern. The machine runs continuously to optimize efficiency. A computer dictates the pattern, minimizing the chance for error.

Matting: Apparent rug/carpet pile crush caused by foot traffic.

Medallion: Large central ornament often featured on traditional oriental and European rugs.

Medium pile: The pile height ranges from ¼ inch to ¾ inch.

Medium pile/No pile: The surface of the rug combines medium pile areas and no pile areas for an all-over dimensional effect.

Minimal shedding: A rug that will shed very little with normal foot traffic/wear and tear. Can apply to hand knotted rugs, hand tufted polyester rugs, hair on hide rugs, loomed rugs and hand hooked rugs.

Natural fiber: Plant based fiber.

No pile: The face of the rug has no vertical pile and the fibers lay horizontally. Can refer to flatweave (kilims and dhurries), soumak (knotted), braided, felt rugs and more.

No shedding: A rug that will not shed with normal foot traffic/wear and tear since fibers remain intact. Can apply to synthetic fiber machine made rugs, rugs with no pile and some felt rugs.

Nylon: Strong, resilient synthetic fiber; the two types used for most commercial carpets are 6 and 6.6; branded nylons have their properties specified by the manufacturer, unlike unbranded varieties.

Olefin (polypropylene): Strong synthetic fiber with very good chemical properties and low resilience.

Outdoor safe: A rug that is mildew/mold resistant, fade resistant and easy to clean. Can be used on porches and patios, in kitchens, kids rooms and high traffic areas. Polypropylene, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and Olefin are some common examples of outdoor safe fibers.

Overcasting: The technique of rounding the wool edges of the vertical sides of a rug to prevent fraying.

Overdyed: When a rug is taken off of the loom (after tufting, weaving or knotting has been completed) and the entire rug is then dyed with a solid color, allowing some of the original pattern to show through.

A design that is tufted onto a hand-loomed or machine made rug base to create interesting surface texture.

Pad: Also "cushion" or "underlay"; shock-absorbing material placed underneath a rug or carpet.

Persian knot: Looped around one thread with only a half-turn around the other thread.

Pile: Also "face"; top surface of a carpet or rug.

Pilling: Formation of small lumps of entangled fibers on the rug/carpet surface, as a result of use.

Pitch: Length between two neighboring stitches in woven rugs/carpets; expressed as a number of yarn ends in a 27-inch width.

Plush: Cut pile with yarn ends blending together with height more than 1-1/2 inches.

Polyester: Synthetic fiber similar to olefin.

Polypropylene: Olefin.

Printed: A design that is printed (usually by screen) onto the surface of a rug.

Recycled materials: Fibers or materials in the rug are made from recycled materials.

Resilience: The ability of the face fiber to regain the original thickness after being subjected to compression force.

Reversible: When either side of the rug can be used facing up since both sides of the rug are finished and functional. The rugs typically have no pile.

Ribbon shag: Loose pile composed primarily of flat, ribbon shaped yarns.

Runner: Long narrow rug up to 3 feet wide.

Saxony: Cut pile rug/carpet with heat set pile yarn, forming vertical tufts with well-defined tuft tip.

Sculptured: With a pattern created by uneven pile height.

Selvedge: The finished edges of a rug; prevents unraveling.

Shag: Long pile rugs with lose end pile tufts.

Shaped edges: When the edges of the rug are not standard, straight edges, but instead are irregularly shaped, often to accentuate the design of the rug.

Shoelace shag: Loose pile composed primarily of cylindrical yarns that resemble shoelaces.

Silk accents: Motifs in the rug design which are highlighted with the use of luxurious, luminous yarns.

Sisal: Strong natural plant fiber used as rug face fiber.

Soil resistant: Chemically treated to minimize soiling of the face fiber.

Soumak: Flat weave rug variety with knot-free weaving technique.

Sprouting: Protrusion of individual tuft yarns above the pile surface.

Stain resistant: Fiber (usually nylon for residential purposes) chemically treated to minimize adhering of food colors.

Static: Build-up of electrostatic charge in a rug/carpet exposed to traffic.

Super soft: Indicates a product with significant softness to the touch – ideal for rooms where people sit on the floor or kids play on the floor. Typically applies to microfiber rugs.

Tapestry: Flat weave rug with intricate color/pattern details.

Tuft bind: Force required to pull a tuft out of backing, with the minimum from 10 to 3 pounds of single pull force for loop and cut pile, respectively.

Tufted: Made on machine with needles inserting pile yarn into a backing; most economical serial rug/carpet production method.

Tufted accents: When some areas of the rug feature cut pile (in contrast to a loop texture, for example) to add tactile interest to the rug surface.

Turkish knot: Tied around two adjacent warp threads.

Twist: Number of yarn twists per inch of pile yarn length; usually in the 3-5 range.

Underlay: Also "cushion" or "pad"; shock-absorbing material placed underneath a rug, or carpet.

Undyed: A fiber that has not been bleached or dyed and retains the neutral tones and natural variations of the raw material.

Velvet carpet: Woven on velvet loom, typically in solid colors.

Viscose accents: Motifs in the rug design which are highlighted with the use of a shimmery viscose yarn.

Wool: Strong natural fiber of animal origin; the oldest, most luxurious after silk rug face fiber material.

Watermark: Irreversible shading of large rug/carpet pile areas, due to different yarn fiber orientations; not a manufacturing defect.

Weft: Width-wise running yarn in woven rug/carpets, interlacing with warp yarns.

Wilton: Produced on Wilton loom, with limited color palette, but often with intricately textured or sculptured pile; complex color patterns are possible in Wilton cross-weave.

Woven: Rug or carpet created by interlacing wefts and warps into a unified backing/pile structure.

Yarn: Strand of fibers used for rug/carpet production.
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