You can tell a lot about a rug by how it was made. While technical, understanding the basics of the construction of area rugs is key to discerning the integrity of a product.

Oriental Weavers uses the Face-to-Face Wilton method to produce the majority of our rugs because we’ve found it creates exceptional quality while also being very cost-efficient. Another key advantage of the Wilton method is that it lends itself well to a production process known as “side-weaving.” Weaving from side-to-side rather than top-to-bottom enables up to 54 colors to be included into a single rug design and delivers an end product with a softer, denser pile. This process also allows the rug’s fringe to be woven directly into the backing materials for greater durability.

Production Methods

production-1Carpet is typically produced using either the weaving or tufting method, with the process affected by the myriad options of fiber and design, in addition to variations in color and texture combinations. The woven carpet, which is labor intensive and includes the Wilton and Axminster methods, is made with the pile and backing produced simultaneously. Tufted carpets — which are automated and capital intensive for fast, high volume production — are produced by feeding yarn into a primary backing, applying adhesive to secure the tufts and then adding a secondary backing to provide further support.

The Axminster woven carpet, distinguished by its U-shaped tufts, is produced by placing the tufts that form the carpet pile simultaneously as the backing is being woven. The backing is typically made of jute weft threads and warp threads consisting of various materials, and each tuft is secured in place by the weft. This kind of carpet has a velvet surface and while it can be produced in plain styles, Axminster ranges are typically patterned, with the degree of design and variety of colors depending on the type of loom.

production-2In the Wilton woven carpet, the pile yarn is a single continuous thread as opposed to ‘U-shaped’ pieces, while the raw materials used to produce the carpet are generally the same as the Axminster. When it is not being utilized to create a tuft, the continuous pile yarn is fed through the backing, adding to the durability and weight of the carpet. Wilton carpet is often plain and typically contains few colors, although the colors can be amplified by substituting one for another in specific areas of the design.

Tufted carpet is produced by placing individual lengths of yarn into a primary backing using a technique where the needles are driven through the backing and the yarn is held in place with hooks or ‘loopers’ as the needle is removed. The tufts are secured into the primary backing with rubber latex and a secondary backing is applied to provide the carpet with better handle, increased durability and other performance properties.

The Layman’s Carpet Glossary

Hand-knotted The knotting of pile yarns around woven backing fibers, with the resulting face of the rug sheered to a pre-determined height to give the pile uniformity. The more knots per square foot, the more valuable the rug.
Hand-tufted Using a tufting gun, pile yarns are forced through a primary backing material known as a “scrim.” This process forms a looped pile. If left uncut the rug is referred to as “hand-hooked,” and if the loops are sheared off to create a cut-pile look, “hand-tufted.”
Hand-carved The cutting or carving of lines or design patterns in a rug during the finishing process to create texture and dimensions, giving the rug a great apparent value.
Heat-set TA stage in the yarn production process whereby yarn fibers are twisted together and heated to be fused together. This permits greater design flexibility and appearance retention.
Tuft The loop of pile fabric; also the first step in the production of carpet.
Tuft density The number of tufts per square meter of carpet; a higher tuft density typically leads to better carpet performance.
Warp threads Tightly stretched threads running lengthwise, providing core support.
Weft threads Threads running across the carpet, woven between the warp threads.
Backing A base material used to secure the yarn while tufting takes place.
Border The design that forms the outside edge of a rug, surrounding or framing the field.
Fringe An extension of the warp threads on two opposite ends of the rug.
Hand How it feels to the touch; the tactile, aesthetic qualities of carpet and textiles.
Pile The nap or amount of fiber that makes up the face of the rug.
Pile height Pile height is the amount of yarn visible from the top of the face yarn to the face of the backing. It is only measured on cut pile area rugs.
Points The tip end of a pile yarn, points are used to record the number of yarns that make up an area rug. The more points per square meter the denser the construction and more detailed the rug. Your typical, quality area rug will have a minimum of 250,000 points per square meter.
Ply One or more yarns are twisted together to form a larger piece of yarn. Ply count indicates the number of single pieces that have been twisted together (e.g. two-ply or three-ply).
Medallion The large, enclosed portion of a design, usually found in the center of the rug field. Common shapes include octagons, hexagons, and diamonds.
Knots The portion of the yarn that is attached or knotted to the backing materials. With regard to cut-pile, machine-made area rugs, the knots are made up of two points. In other words, the face yarn is looped in a “U” shape under the backing materials which, when finished, will form two points and one knot. To determine the number of knots in a rug, divide the number of points by two, and vice versa.