Uncle Bobs Tips: Rug Guide

Machine made rugs

Machine made rugs, also known as machine woven or loom woven rugs, are rugs woven on power looms operated either by hand, machine, or computer. Machine-made rugs are all the rage in the rug industry due to the immense variety of sizes, colors, and designs available with machine made rugs. Moreover, machine made rugs can imitate the patterns used in the most popular hand made designs at much more affordable prices. For magnificent rugs at great value, roll out the red carpet for machine made rugs!

Are you being floored by the many terms used to describe rugs today? To ground you, here is the lowdown on the differences between handmade and machine made rugs. While area rugs were originally hand made rugs, the term currently refers to both hand made and machine made rugs. Hand made rugs, usually made of wool or other natural fiber, are the benchmark for the area rug industry. However, advances in technology have made it possible for machine made rugs (using natural or synthetic fibers) to produce intricate designs that were once reserved for hand made rugs. Today, machine rug manufacturers are producing very high quality rugs using machines.

To create machine made rugs, a loom is strung with a cotton or jute warp, and then woven using nylon, polypropylene, olefin, wool or other material. The type of fiber used in rugs determines their appearance and performance. Natural fibers, used in both handmade and machine made rugs, provide soft, low luster colors, long- term performance and other visual qualities. Synthetic fibers are used exclusively in machine made rugs. Synthetic fibers provide brilliant colors, softness, outstanding value and are easy to maintain. Synthetic fiber rugs are non-porous, making machine made rugs from synthetic fiber inherently stain proof and resistant to soiling from almost any chemical.

Here is the "dirt" on the fibers used to craft machine made rugs:

Olefin (Polypropylene) - Predominant machine-made synthetic fiber characterized by its resistance to moisture. It is strong, abrasion resistant, quick drying, colorfast, mildew resistant and soil and stain resistant. Its fibers have the lowest density of all manufactured fibers giving olefin textiles a very lightweight quality. Affordable! Often used for outdoor machine made rugs.

Nylon - Resilient, withstands heavy traffic and the weight of furniture. Wear and soil resistant and easily cleaned. Unlimited variety of brilliant colors.

Wool - Noted for high bulk, luxury and softness. Available in many colors.

Polyester - Noted for its soft hand when used in thick, cut pile textures.

Acrylic - Offers the appearance of wool at a lower cost. Sometimes is blended with other fibers. Most often appears in bath rugs and mats.

Cotton - A natural fiber of great durability, strength and absorbency. Also noted for its softness. Available in many colors.

Bulk Continuous Filament (BCF )- Synthetic yarns processed by a mechanical means to fluff them out before tufting or weaving.

Faux Silk - Usually a synthetic fiber such as viscose/rayon. Mercerized cotton is also used as a silk look-alike. Also called art silk, faux silk is used to accent rugs with a short, dense pile construction.

Derclon - Special wool-like synthetic fiber that has long-lasting durability, resists stains and fading, and has superior color retention. Desired choice when looking for hypoallergenic flooring, as the fibers do not shed and are not irritating.

Blends - There may be blends of any of the above fibers.

Contemporary rug-making machines operated by computers can produce rugs from a predetermined design in various sizes and colors. Once the design and colors are determined, a computer card tells the computer which size and color machine rug it needs to produce. Today, machine made rugs have been given an enormous dose of color with a kaleidoscope of new color options that will revolutionize the look of your floors. The color palette for machine made rugs is so wide-ranging that more than 40 shades can be achieved in a single area rug using a machine cross-weaving technique!

Rug prices depend on several factors: machine made vs. hand made rug, synthetic vs. natural fibers, and size. Machine made rugs are usually sold at a fraction of the cost of hand made rugs, and rugs made of synthetic fibers are normally less expensive than those made of natural fibers.

Another ground-level difference between handmade or hand-knotted rugs and machine-made rugs is that machine made rugs are not actually knotted. In the case of machine made rugs, fibers are put into place by a machine and then secured with latex backing. This makes the back of machine made rugs rough to the touch and creates a grid appearance on the back of the rug.

Rug performance is also determined by rug density. The denser the pile (with closer knots, tufts or stitches), the better your rug will wear. Creating rugs one knot at a time as in hand-knotted rugs results in better rug density and in a tighter, higher-quality weave than that achieved in machine made rugs. Rugs knotted by hand are also more intricate and take longer to produce than their machine made rug counterparts. The density of machine made rugs is measured in points per square meter. Depending on the thickness of the yarn being used, there can be 2.5 million points per square meter, or higher. If the machine made rug material is wool, which is thicker than a synthetic, it does not allow for such an increased density.

A fast-growing rug category lying between handmade and machine made rugs is hand-tufted rugs. These rugs are made with a handgun that forces yarns into a grid, and then the backs are covered with a latex or fabric backing. This process is much faster than hand knotting while still maintaining a handcrafted look. Put your ear to the ground and listen to the latest rumblings in the "handmade vs. machine made rug debate"! Some rug experts give handmade rugs a high five, claiming that handmade rugs will outlast machine made rugs by fifty years or more; machine made rugs lack the charm, originality, feel, history and durability of handmade rugs; machine made rugs have little, if any resale value while handmade versions gain value with age.

On the flip side, rug connoisseurs giving machine made rugs a standing ovation boast that machine made rugs look strikingly similar to handmade versions at a much lower price, and cite the great advances in both the quality and sophistication of machine made rug designs over the last decade. The advent of easy-to-clean machine made polypropylene rugs make them a popular pick, while shorter rug lives bring rug consumers back to the stores that much quicker for the latest rugs. Finally, each machine made rug can be designed to achieve different pile heights and densities, as well as various finishes and qualities.

Here are some definitions of machine made rug terms to give you a better grasp on how machine made rugs get from the loom to your feet! There are two types of looms used to create different categories of machine made rugs:

Wilton Looms: Wilton looms are situated face-to-face and feature computerized electronic heads. The loom needles loop the yarns in two synthetic backings. Loom size and structure vary based on the number of color capacities. The pile is woven between the two backings and then split down the middle - so two identical rugs emerge from the loom once the weaving process is complete.

Wilton Side Woven: Wilton side-woven rugs are woven in a similar fashion, but at a 90-degree angle to Wilton rugs. On occasion, cotton backing is used to give these rugs a softer feel.

Gripper Axminster Loom: Axminster more commonly refers to a type of carpet rather than a type of loom, although the Gripper Axminster loom was created to mass-produce carpets in 1927.

Jacquard: A mechanized loom that has an endless belt of punched cards. The holes in the card are arranged to produce the weave of the machine made rug.

Machine made rug durability make machine rugs perfect for high traffic areas such as the family room or kitchen. Machine made rugs can be made in a variety of thickness for tremendous texture and dimension. Machine made rugs bring color and a high sense of style to your home or office, flair to your floors, and fashion to your feet! Machine made rugs are so versatile, they're sure to coordinate with every interior, every d├ęcor.

With machine made rugs in traditional style that reflect the art of ancient rug-making, transitional machine made rugs that update classic designs with modern color combinations and modish textures, and with contemporary machine made rugs that are all the rage among trendy textile traders, there is no end to the timeless allure of machine made rugs.

For rugs whose style and good taste know no bounds, shop for machine made rugs today. High quality machine made rugs are sure to give you, your home and your feet the lift they deserve!

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