Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I clean my rug? +
A rug should generally be dusted and washed according to the following schedule:
High traffic hall or bathroom rug – annually
Frequently used living room, family room, or den rug – every 2 years
Formal dining room rug – every 4 to 5 years (more frequently if there is a spill)
Hanging rug or tapestry – every 5+ years
Rug that is exposed to pets – may need to be washed two or three times a year if there are accidents
(Untreated pet urine stains can cause serious damage to the rug’s foundation over time.)
Any exposed rug will become dirty over time - even one that is never touched. A rug lying on the floor or hanging on the wall collects dust that is almost invisible to the naked eye. Properly dusting a rug can release anywhere from a few tablespoons to a few cups of dirt. Dusting and washing together bring back the rug’s vibrancy and luster.
How will you clean my rug? +
First, we dust the rug by inverting it over a shallow metal grid. Vibration is then used to loosen the dust from the rug. This process is repeated until all loose soil has been removed and swept away. Then, we wash the rug by hand using a very gentle soap, so gentle that it is safe to use on pets. This soap is mixed with water and vinegar, a combination which is safe for both natural and artificial fiber rugs. A vinegar and water solution has been used traditionally for hundreds of years to remove undesirable oily residue, so it may be rinsed away. And vinegar does not harm the naturally occurring lanolin, which keeps wool soft and lustrous. After washing, the rug is rinsed repeatedly with clear water, and the excess is extracted with gentle suction.
Will the dye (color) run when you clean my rug? +
You can test for the possibility of color run in the same way that we do: take a white paper towel, dampen it with cool water, place the paper towel on top of the rug, and apply light pressure for several seconds. If color from the rug comes up on the paper towel, then the color of your rug will likely run during washing. Color run occurs from either an excess of dye that was not properly rinsed away during the original dying process or from use of inferior dyes. We have ways of cleaning your run while avoiding color run. Existing color run can be reduced or removed as well by applying a mixture of sodium hydrosulfite and yogurt to the affected area.
Can I vacuum my rug? +
Yes, you can. If your machine has a spinning brush or power head, turn this off when vacuuming a handmade area rug. When it comes to the fringe, it is best to avoid using a vacuum altogether: sweep this area with a broom. If you must vacuum the fringe, use only light suction, pushing the vacuum away from the center of the rug out toward the edges. (Fringe becomes more delicate over time and can break from aggressive vacuuming.) An old fashioned carpet sweeper is suitable for light dusting of handmade area rugs. Sweeping with a corn broom removes surface debris, which may then be vacuumed off the floor, and distributes natural lanolin in the wool, restoring luster.
Can you replace the fringe? +
Yes, we can. Three methods are potentially available:
1. Hand sewing new fringe to the rug’s foundation by the linear foot.
2. Opening the existing fringe and re-knotting it to create additional length.
3. Hand sewing individual threads into the rug’s foundation and then knotting these threads to create a new fringe.
The condition of the rug and desires of the rug’s owner will determine which methods are feasible.
Will replacing the fringe affect the value of my rug? +
The short answer is “no,” if done by hand, and “yes,” if done by machine. A handmade rug should have the fringe restored by hand. However, even when fringe is replaced by hand, if “fringe by the foot” is used, then the fringe must be of a good quality and the color needs to be compatible with the rug. We use fringe that is either white or natural (light tan). The cost of replacing fringe is determined by the method selected and the number of linear feet requiring repair.
My rug is worn in some spots, can those be fixed? +
Yes, absolutely. Worn spots may either be dyed with liquid to match the surrounding design, or these areas may be rewoven in order to replace the missing wool and restore the pile that has been worn away. Whether it is better to dye or reweave worn areas will be determined by the cost of the repair and the value of the rug. When repairing worn areas, in some cases, new warp and weft threads must be woven into the back of the rug to reinforce the foundation. After new wool is knotted onto the foundation, the repaired area is shorn and treated so that it will look compatible with the rest of the rug. The goal is for the repair to be as imperceptible as possible.
How do I know if my rug is worth fully restoring? +
A broad rule is that a rug is worthy of complete restoration if it has personal value to you. Larger rugs are generally more worthwhile to fix than smaller ones. The foundation must be sound, meaning that it is pliable. A foundation that crackles when you bend it has dry rot and, depending on the extent of the deterioration, may not be able to support a repair process like reweaving.
A beautiful and balanced rug made of good wool on a sound foundation is almost always worth the investment in restoration.
When a rug is assessed and recommendations for restoration are made, we can help you prioritize which are most important to the continued vitality and longevity of your rug.
How big should my rug be in relationship to the size of my room? +
The more furniture that you have, the smaller the rug can be in order to have a balanced appearance in the room. Typically for a room-sized rug, an 18-24 inch margin of floor showing around the rug is considered appropriate. When placing a rug under a dining table and chairs, we recommend that the rug extends at least 24 inches beyond the perimeter of the table.
Will putting furniture on my rug hurt it? +
Placing furniture on the rug will not harm it unless that furniture is moved over the same part of the rug repeatedly, creating a pattern of wear. In order to avoid this problem in spaces like dining rooms where chairs are moved often, rotate your rug seasonally – once in the spring and once in the fall. To reduce the impact that heavy furniture has on the rug’s pile, use glider cups under the legs of tables and sofas. These are available at your local hardware or home improvement store.
How can I tell if my rug is handmade? +
When trying to determine if a knotted, pile rug is handmade, it is best to look at the back of the rug. A good, handmade rug will have a uniform appearance, but there will still be slight imperfections or variations in the weave. A machine made rug will have none of these human touches.
When a rug is handmade, the overcasting along the edge is a whipstitch that comes up out of the foundation, wraps around the edge, and then goes back through the foundation. When a rug is machine made, the overcasting wraps around the edge, but it is held in place by another thread, usually clear nylon, through the top and the bottom of the rug. This contrast is very much like the difference between a hand sewn item of clothing and a machine sewn one.
Fringe on a machine made rug is a strip attached to the foundation of the rug. Fringe on a handmade rug is knotted from foundation threads which are called “the warp.” Hundreds of warp threads are placed side by side and attached to the top and bottom of the loom. Yarn is then knotted around these vertical threads to create the rug’s pile. Once a row of knots has been completed spanning across the rug’s width, a horizontal weft thread is placed across the knots to hold them in place. When the weaving has been completed and the rug is cut from the loom, each end is bound and the warp threads are tied together in small bundles to create fringe.
How old is my rug? +
This is difficult to determine without inspecting the rug in person: an expert professional who has seen many rugs should be able to help. Rugs may be sent to our store for identification and evaluation. In general, a rug’s foundation will take on a yellow cast with age. The yellowing of the foundation threads becomes deeper as the rug grows older. A cotton foundation that was originally white, which is now distinctly yellow, means that the rug could be 70 years of age or older.
What is an antique or semi-antique rug? +
In the rug business, these terms are defined as follows:
Up to 20 years old is “new.”
20-50 years old is “used.” (When referred to as “used,” a rug may or may not have been previously owned. Using a rug can enhance its beauty by softening its appearance.)
50-100 years old is “semi-antique.”
100+ years old is “antique.”
Where was my rug made? +
The specific origin of a rug can be hard to determine, but there are some guidelines that may help. If the rug is less than 20 years old, it was likely made in China, India, Romania, or Pakistan. If the outline of an Oriental rug’s design looks especially precise and crisp, it was probably made in China. New Indo (Indian) Oriental rugs have particularly dense and long pile when compared to Sino (Chinese) Oriental rugs which are often shorn more closely. A new wool rug with silk accents or a rug with a design that appears to have been carved in the wool was likely made in China. A new rug that is made to look like an older rug, such as a new Ushak or Peshawar rug was probably made in India or Pakistan. The older the rug is, the greater the likelihood that it was made in Iran, Turkey, or the Caucasus region of the former United Soviet Socialist Republics.
I will be traveling overseas. Should I buy a rug on my trip to get the best deal? +
We recommend that tourists buy with extreme caution. In order to buy a high quality rug at a fair price when traveling, you must have the expertise of an impartial and trusted associate. We have repeatedly seen customers bring back rugs of average to poor quality for which they paid inflated prices. Some of these customers were directed to shops by their tour guides – beware that guides may have ulterior motives as commissioned salespeople.
Some of the best rugs woven overseas are exported to Europe and the United States in order to receive top dollar. This means that the highest quality merchandise is not likely to be found at shopping destinations catering to tourists. If you would like to buy a rug as a souvenir of your journey, we suggest buying a small rug that you can carry home with you. If you must have the rug shipped, mark the back of it with a unique and permanent mark to be certain that the rug you bought is the rug that you receive. Under most circumstances you should only be paying $25-$60 per square foot for a wool rug and no more than $150 per square foot for a pure silk rug. These guidelines are based on what we consider to be fair retail prices in the United States. When buying a silk rug, you need to be certain that the fiber is real, not artificial. Real silk when burned and extinguished will have a strong, unpleasant odor much like that of burnt human hair. Ask the seller if you can remove a small piece of fringe to do this test before buying
Who makes the best rugs? +
The best rugs are made wherever you can find good rugs. Some generalities can be made, but the best plan when choosing a rug is to find one that you like and then scrutinize the quality of the rug to be certain that it meets with your expectations.
What should I look at before determining if a rug is worth the money? +
The design should have uniformity when looking at the front and back of the rug. Looking at the back of the rug is especially vital when trying to identify if the rug was ever modified for size or repaired. Knots should be consistent in size. The quantity of knots per square inch is not important. A rug with a bold or geometric design may not require as many knots per square inch as a rug with a curvaceous or delicate design. If the design is rendered clearly and evenly with compatible, appealing colors; that is important.
The surface of the rug should be sheared evenly, so that it has a uniform thickness. The wool should be soft and lustrous. If you “scrub” the rug with your fingertips, it should not shed. The fringe should be in fairly good condition relative to the age of the rug and tied with knots that are consistently sized and proportional to the rug.
To simplify, we recommend that you consider 5 aspects of the rug before purchasing it:
3. Material Quality
I’ve been told that KPSI or “knots per square inch” is an important measure of a rug’s value. Is that correct? +
“Knots per square inch” or KPSI is not an important measure of a rug’s quality or beauty. The world renowned Christie’s auction house does not utilize this factor when describing a rug or its condition in their catalog. Knot size and knot frequency are determined by the requirements of the designs being woven. A rough or geometric pattern can be accomplished with larger and fewer knots. A delicate or curvilinear pattern requires more knots in order to achieve the proper detail and smooth appearance. Knots in a silk rug tend to be smaller, because silk threads are very fine. Knots in a rug should be tied evenly and uniformly, and knot size and quantity must be compatible with the rug’s design.
When comparing rugs, is silk better than wool? Is an old rug higher quality than a new rug? Are Iranian (Persian) rugs better than rugs made in other countries? +
The simple answer to all of these questions is “no.” Quality is the most important factor when comparing rugs of different materials, woven in different places and at different times. Rug weaving is an ancient art, and the techniques have been passed down from generation to generation, changing little over time. A high quality rug woven last month is just as good as a high quality rug woven 50 years ago. The rarity or extraordinary beauty of the older rug may make it more valuable. And as time goes on, you will likely see fewer “bad” older rugs, because they will not be collected and maintained.
One difference between rugs woven in modern Iran and modern India that does impact quality is that in Iran, looms are still made of wood, while commercial looms in India are made of steel. A steel loom will not sag, which means it is easier to produce a rug of uniform size that is tightly woven. Tribal rugs woven on horizontal looms may be more loosely woven and therefore less durable. City rugs, woven on vertical looms, are generally tighter and more durable, because gravity works with the weaver when each warp thread is compacted down over a row of knots.
Why are there so many going out of business and liquidation sales? +
The “going out of business sale” is a tactic that has been in existence for over 50 years. In some cases, a rug seller opens a temporary storefront specifically to liquidate inventory. The rugs sold in these situations are typically delivered by the truckload to the store and may be of questionable quality. After a period of time, that store may or may not actually go out of business, and if it does, it may very well reopen in another location under a different name.
I was told that I should bargain when buying a rug. I cannot do that on-line, so why buy? +
This is an excellent question! If you buy from a reputable dealer, who does not play games, then it doesn’t matter whether you buy your rugs on-line or in a store. For over 25 years, our philosophy has been to offer high quality rugs for fair prices without subjecting potential customers to tricks and sales tactics like raising prices, so they can be quickly lowered during negotiation.
Our rugs are handmade, rather than mass produced, and almost all of them are one-of-a-kind pieces of art. In the rug business, a dealer may have an item for 5 or 10 years until the right buyer finds the right rug at the right time. We establish a fair market value for each rug when it becomes part of our inventory. The selling price of a rug reflects passing along its set value to our customer. We have eliminated the unpleasant and awkward process of bargaining based on falsely inflated prices.
Two stories illustrate what consumers have experienced when shopping in other stores:
In December 2008, a couple in our store asked me about negotiating and special sale prices, and I explained our pricing philosophy. The man then told me that he had just been to a furniture store’s holiday sale where he saw huge markdowns on the tags. However, he was very disappointed by this, because he had been in that same store just a month prior, and December’s “sale prices” were the same as November’s regular prices. The furniture store was playing a game by putting marked up prices on the tags with big slashes through them to make their old regular prices look like new sale prices. This is exactly the type of manipulation that we seek to avoid.
That same week, another customer, who had recently browsed at a well known rug shop on the East Coast, stopped by our store. She said that she found a beautiful rug for $75,000 during her trip, however, the dealer was willing to sell the rug to her for only $40,000. Knowingly, I asked her how quickly he dropped the price. She said, “As soon as I mentioned it.” I asked her how that made her feel, and she said that it made her feel like she did not know how much the rug was really worth. Needless to say, she did not buy anything from this store.
What are the most expensive rugs ever sold? +
The most recent sale was of a Kerman vase carpet offered by Christie's auction house on April 15, 2010, which realized a final price of 9.4 million dollars (including fees and taxes). Referred to as the Comtesse de Behague Vase Carpet, this Persian rug is dated to the mid-17th century. Previously, the two most expensive rugs ever sold were a silk Persian Isfahan rug that had belonged to Doris Duke and a rug called the Pearl Carpet of Baroda. Both were sold at auction by Christie's and Sotheby's, respectively. The Duke Isfahan, which is only 5' 7" x 7' 7", brought in 4.5 million dollars in June 2008, while the Pearl Carpet, so called because it is studded with pearls and other precious gems, sold for 5.5 million dollars in March 2009.
If I would like to have a rug made, can your company do that? +
Yes, we can custom make many kinds of handmade rugs both in traditional and contemporary styles. We can have rugs made from wool, silk, artificial silk, or a blend of fibers. When a rug is custom made we charge the same price per square foot as we would for a rug that is ready made. Custom rugs, depending on the size, will take anywhere from 6-12 months to arrive at our store where they are thoroughly inspected prior to shipment. When a custom made rug is special ordered, a 50% deposit is required before production will begin.
What are the standard rug sizes? +
The standard rug sizes are 3' x 5', 4' x 6', 5' x 7', 6' x 9', 8 x 10', 9' x 12', 10' x 14', and 12' x 15'. In some cases, 2' x 3' and 12' x 18' may be considered standard sizes as well. Standard runner sizes are 2' 6" wide and 6', 8', 10', or 12' long. In some cases, longer runners may be the standard.