A Beginner’s Guide to Oriental Rugs

My love for oriental rugs started when I was a teenager in high school. I used to help my father in his upholstery shop by moving furniture for his clients. Many of these clients had beautiful oriental rugs in their homes, and I soon began collecting them myself. By the age of 20, I had opened my own carpet store and since then I have been buying, selling, cleaning and evaluating carpets. My clients mean a lot to me and I hate seeing people make a bad deal when they invest in an oriental rug. This guide is meant to help you on your journey to find the perfect oriental rug for your home without overpaying or getting scammed.

The story of a client

Years ago, I sold one of my rugs to another area rug dealer. Several months later, one of my clients came in with the same carpet for cleaning. I told him that I had recently sold that rug to another dealer. Her home decorator had taken her to that rug salesman to find a new rug for her home. This carpet dealer sold him the carpet for $ 3000. He only asked for $ 1500 when he was in my store. Although this experience was unfortunate for my client who said he will never return to that dealer, I use it as a lesson to tell people how important it is to do their research before investing in an oriental rug.

Don’t be fooled by “Exit Commercial Posters”

On my commute to and from work, I pass another oriental rug store. For the past three years, they’ve had the same “Business Close”, “Clearance” and “Everything MUST Go” signs hanging in their store windows. They’re obviously not closing or those signs would have disappeared two years ago! When you see signs like these for more than a few months, they should serve as red flags. These sellers will try to tempt you with “discount prices” and claim that you are getting the best deal because they have to get rid of their items. That is false. Oriental rugs are an investment and unless you have experience and your research, you should be careful shopping at stores like these.

So how do you know if an oriental rug is really “handmade”?

It can be difficult for a beginner to tell if you are looking at a handmade rug or a machine made rug. Here are some tips you can follow to help you make the distinction.

Follow this step-by-step guide to determine if you have a handmade piece or a machine-made rug.


1. Look at the fabric on the back of the rug. Look for white, red, or blue horizontal lines (all the way to the edge) of the core threads. These threads are called weft threads. You may see partial wefts going just an inch or so and then covered with the wool knots, but it is important that these threads are horizontal to the fringe. Sometimes the horizontal threads run from one side (bound edge) of the rug to the other side. The horizontal hatch row may not be perfectly straight.

2. Look for irregularities in the colored knots on the back of the rug. You may see some areas slightly thicker than others.

3. Now look at the front of the rug. Look at the design carefully. Very rarely the design will be exactly the same size and shape from one end to the opposite end of the rug. This is especially true of older oriental rugs.

4. You may notice slight color changes that produce thick or thin streaks on the carpet. This is due to the change in the dye of the wool when weaving the rug and how the color of the wool ages with the light and the environment. These color changes are commonly found in the background color of the carpet. These color changes are called “abrash”, they are common and do not detract from the value of the rug.

5. Sometimes there is a cloth tag sewn into a corner of the rug that says “Made in Iran” or “Made in India”. You can be relatively sure that this rug is handmade.

6. Handmade rugs are almost always woven from wool pile. Machine-made rugs are often made with a nylon or polyester pile type.

7. Machine-made rugs are often made with a nylon or polyester pile type, and are generally very uniform in weave. On the back of the rug, you may see white woven threads running from the end of the fringe to the end of the fringe, or you may not see any white threads. Generally, there are no irregularities in the weave or pattern, nor will you find scratches in the color of the carpet.

What size carpet are you looking for?

Another idea to take into account is the size of the rug you are looking for to complete your room. Follow these simple tips to choose an area rug size for the style you are trying to achieve.

When choosing a carpet for a living room, sometimes the client places the front legs of the sofa on the carpet and places the occasional chairs completely on the carpet.

A standard area rug size to fit a room is to leave 1 foot. (~ 0.3048 m) of floor visible around the carpet. Of course, if you have a larger open-plan room, then the rug should ground the furniture only in space.

The size of the area rug is most important when shopping for a dining room. To protect the edges of the rug, you need to measure how far the chairs will be pulled out when the diner is seated. You don’t want the chair legs to stick to the edges of the rug. Constant scraping of the rug edges with heavy chairs will soon cause damage.

If you are buying a rug as a feature in your room, perhaps to put under a coffee table, then you want at least 8 inches. (~ 20 cm) of carpet so that it is visible around the table.

What to do with your new oriental rug

Once you buy your rug, you can decide to use it as a wall tapestry, which is not uncommon. There are several different methods to hang an oriental rug on a wall. My favorite method is to use one or more tack strips that can be found at most major hardware stores for only a few dollars for several feet. Many other methods require making a semi-permanent change to the mat, such as sewing loops of fabric to the back of the mat and weaving a pole through it that hangs from wall-mounted hooks, or sewing velcro to the back of the mat. carpet that is glued to plus velcro glued on the wall. These methods work, but they take a bit more work than necessary. Tack strips are most commonly used during carpet installation, but this is another very smart way to use them. Follow this step-by-step guide to hang a rug on the wall.


1. Decide if you want your rug to hang freely (this uses a tack strip on top and creates a slight rippling effect) or if you want it to be fully secured to the wall from each side (this uses a tack strip to along each edge of the mat and there is no ripple effect). If you want your rug to hang freely, measure how wide the top of the rug you want to hang is. If you want to secure it on all sides, measure the top, bottom, and both sides as well. Get this length measured in tack strips.

2. Cover the adhesive strips with a clear or paint finish and allow them to dry. This ensures that no acid from the wood tack strips can damage the back of the rug once it is hung.

3. Using a level to make sure the tack strip is straight, hold the strip where the top of the carpet will hang and hammer the nails along the tack strip (if hanging a heavy carpet these nails should line up with the posts behind the wall which can be found using a “stud finder”). If you are securing it from each side, repeat this process for the remaining tack strips, making sure to measure where each should go.

4. Lift the carpet up to the top tack strip and press it firmly against the strip (with the help of a second person if it is heavy). Use two or three upholstery nails to secure each corner of the carpet (and possibly the middle if you like) by driving them through the carpet and into the mounted tack strip. Upholstery nails are both functional and decorative, as they secure the carpet to the tack strip and tend to look very stylish depending on the nails you choose to use. If you secure each edge, repeat for the other three edges by making the sides first and making the bottom last.

Notes on how to hang a rug on the wall:
Be careful when handling the adhesive strips. The studs only stick out about a half inch or less, but they are very sharp!

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