Uncle Bobs Tips: Rug Guide

Braided Area Rug


The historical lover. Large expanses of wooden floors. Wicker chairs and couches. And under them an oval braided area rug. Yes, colorful braided rugs add wonderful decor to a home while at the same time lending that historical old fashioned look.

As a matter of fact, braided area rugs do have a long history. Their history begins in the early 1700s in new England. The poverty stricken women of the colonial times used to utilize old coats and garments and braid them into masterpieces. The woolen rugs warmed up the cold homes as well as serving as adorning the home with its unique beauty. In addition, their woven nature makes them reversible - when on side wears out it can be turned over to the other. Because the braiding process required so much time, girls were trained at a young age to assist their mothers in the craft, and this art was thereby passed down the generations.

By the mid 1800s braided area rugs were becoming an endangered species. American society was able to afford to buy rugs instead working through those tedious hours crafting them. In addition, the style had turned to more sophisticated rugs.

Then in the early 1900s braided rugs had a comeback - not because of their practicality but the simple old fashioned look became stylish once again. It also fed peoples desire for crafts, a popular hobby at the time.

During the 1930 depression, the rugs once again became a practical piece for the poor people hit by the depression. Since then these rugs have constantly been bouncing in and out of the fashion scene.

Today, although not the dominant style, historical minded people do enjoy these rugs, sometimes self crafted and other times store bought. They are often found in vacation homes as well as country styled cottages. They are often made from wool, but they are also created from cheaper materials such as cotton.


Tips on crafting your own braided rug

The first step to crafting a braided rug is finding the material. The material is cheap because it can all be second hand, but it requires more effort this way. First scan your closet to find those out dated or slightly worn or torn garments of yours. Ask you friends to do the same. Rummage sales are also a great cheap venue for such materials

Most materials can be torn by hand. Kids love to do it and make great helpers. Stronger materials must be cut with a scissors.

Divide the colored strips into separate buckets by color. This will make it easier to find the right color once you started.

You can pre-wash non washable materials as it really won't matter if they shrink.

Once you see the colors you have it is advisable to plan your color scheme before beginning. The end result is bound to be nicer and neater.

Care Instructions

Rugs made out of cotton and washable materials are the easiest to wash. Throw them into the washing machine and drip dry.

Rugs made out of non washable wool require more care. Carpet brushes on vacuums are strong and may fray the rug- they are non advisable. Rather hold brush slightly above carpet so that it doesn't actually touch carpet.

The rugs should undergo periodical professional cleaning. The power spray extraction method is recommended for them using warm but not how water. Never use steam cleaning which can be very damaging.

Like all rugs, stains should be spot cleaned as soon as possible. The earlier the stain is removed the more chance there is of removing it completely.

Rug Runners


Rug runners are generally long and thin rugs. They range from about 2 x 5 inches to 3 x 20 inches. It is possible but difficult to find rug runners which are over 3 inches. They most frequently are used to line staircases, but can also be used to run down a corridor or in an entrance way. They can go directly on floor or be placed above another carpet.


Design - Can be used to add design and interest to an area

Floor protector - to protect the floors of heavy traffic areas like floors. The floor runners can be replaced instead of replacing the whole flooring in the larger area

Floor Cushioner - Often used on steps to cushion them. This makes climbing them easier and makes them less dangerous in case of falls.


Note: The tread is the horizontal part of the step- the part you put your foot on. The riser is the vertical part of the step.

There are two ways to use stair rug runners.

a. Run the rug runner along the treads and up the risers continuously. Tack down when neccesary. This is the more common usage of rug runners. You must decide exactly where you want the rug runner to begin. It can run along the floor above the stores a bit or it can start below the lip of the floor. Likewise for the bottom area.

There are two choices how to measure your stairs for such a rug runner:

1. Use a soft tape measure. Start at your chosen beginning point on top and run the measure along the walls of the stair until you reach the intended ending point below.

2. Every riser in one staircase will almost always be the same height. If not, you would know about it because it would be extremely difficult to climb the stairs. In order to get an accurate measurement you must get the measurement of one riser. Measure from the lip of the tread down to the place where the riser meets the next tread. Then measure each tread individually. If desired add the extra amount you want the rug to flow on top and or on bottom.

b. Run short pieces of runners against the tread only. Measure all the treads and add up measurements.

If possible bring pictures of floor and surrounding areas. Always ask for swatches so you can see how it would look on your floor.

When trying to choose a rug runner for steps always match it to the bottom floor and don't worry about the top.

Stairs are generally high traffic area. The most practical rug runner for stairs are ones that are dark and busily patterned. The litmus test is to drop a penny on the rug. If it is difficult to find, the rug will probably be very practical for your stairs.

When vacuuming rug runner on stairs use vacuum carpet piece. Start from end attached to the tread on bottom of it and push towards corner that meets tread above. Notice that some dust will be pushed into corner. After every few pieces remove carpet attachment and run along corner with plain tube (no attachment) or corner piece.

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