How to Tell Pile Rugs and Flat Weave Rugs Apart

There are two weave types of handmade rugs available to the discerning rug shopper: pile rugs and flat weave rugs. Don’t know the difference? We can help with that.

Pile Rugs Explained

What is a pile? The pile refers to the height of the rug from the bottom to the top, and all area rugs that are hand-knotted, hand-hooked, hand-tufted, hand-loomed, and shag are considered pile rugs. Because of the height, it is much thicker than fabric and you can easily tell it’s a pile rug by pinching it.

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Of all these pile rug types, hand-knotted rugs provide the best quality and longevity. Weavers hand tie millions of knots to create the beautiful designs on large area rugs. When high quality materials like wool or silk are used, the rugs can last for generations and can gain value over its lifetime. The higher the knot count, the more individual knots the weavers needed to create. It allows for greater detail in the design but does take longer and may require several weavers to work on it.

Hand-loomed rugs are made on a loom and material is shoved together with threads to keep it together and hand-hooked are rugs made of loops instead of knots, both making area rugs that are inferior to hand-knotted weaves. Hand-tufted rugs are made with an instrument that shoots material through a canvas and then applies glue to hold it in place. If you see a fabric backing underneath the rug, this is a big hint that it’s been hand-tufted.

Flat Weave Rugs Are Different

These rugs are much more like fabric and are flat, meaning they have no pile. Instead of being made of tiny knots or thick pieces of material, flat weave rugs are made with the warp strands (threads tied vertically) as a foundation and the weft strands (threads tied horizontally) are used as part of the foundation. The design is created by changing the color of the weft strands.

Traditional Native American rugs are flat weaves. There are some called Durries from India and Pakistan, and others called Kilims or Gilims are made in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, or former Soviet Republics.

Pile or Flat Weave?

What fits your needs the best? Hand-knotted pile rugs can last up to 100 years or longer when taken care of, and they can be used to decorate your home with this classic. Flat weave rugs may be best for homes with high carpets or for those with a focus on Native American motifs. No matter what type of area rugs fit your home the best, be sure to go with a rug store you can trust and pick a rug you’ll love to see every day.

At Alyshaan Fine Rugs, we carry only high quality, hand-knotted rugs because they provide the best value and longevity for our customers. If you want to learn more, stop by our rug store in Scottsdale.

By Allison Edrington.

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