F.A.Q.

Hagopian University. You have questions? We have answers!

Rugs 101

What is an oriental rug?

An oriental rug is a hand knotted/woven textile made of natural materials that comes from Far and Middle Eastern countries as well as the Balkans and Northern Africa.


How can I tell the quality of a rug?

There are many factors involved.  The quality of the wool, the consistency of the weave, the knot count and the quality of the dyes are all important factors.  Remember though that rugs have to be aesthetically pleasing first and foremost, make sure the rug will fit into your home before you become preoccupied with the issue of quality.  In the end it comes down to your own personal knowledge and of course the less you know the more you need to work with a dealer you can trust and who stands behind and cleans what they sell.  Poor quality is usually exposed in the cleaning process, if not sooner!

HINT: Watch out for rugs sold to tourists, "going out of business sales," so-called estate sales and itinerant auctions.  These types of businesses generally sell the rugs that reputable retailers pass on because of quality.  They buy low and sell high hoping that you will not do your research because you are pressured by their artificial time lines!  Take your time and buy a quality rug that you can love the rest of your life. 
 
~Wool Quality
Since most oriental rugs are made from wool, the quality of the wool is the most critical element of the rug's overall quality and in turn it's durability and soil-resistance.  Good wool will have a natural luster; bad wool is dry and brittle.  For more information regarding wool see our wool reference page The Wonder of Wool!
 

~ Knot Count
It takes a skilled weaver to produce a high knot count rug.  Usually, better grades of wool and silk are used in high knot count rugs.  Conversely, some of the most beautiful and expensive rugs in the world have low knot counts.  While it tells you a lot about the density of a rug and can affect the price and durability, the knot count, or line count should not be the only factor in deciding whether or not you buy a certain rug.  There are no minimum standards for knot counts.  It's more important that you like the rug rather than worry about whether or not it has the right number of knots per square inch.

Years of selling rugs by pushing the importance of knot count over all other quality indicators have left many rug shoppers with an incomplete picture.  A simple analogy is to think about rugs as you would art - no one would ever value a painting by simply counting the brush strokes!  Using knot count alone to judge quality is a gross oversimplification of a wonderfully complex hand made art form.

~ Design and Type
Many rugs are made with symmetrical designs, therefore when judging the quality look out for designs that are significantly stretched or compressed in a manor that detracts from the symmetry.  Although some imperfections are part of the natural beauty, significant imperfections will reduce the value.  Rugs generally fall into three production types: city, village, or tribal.  "City" rugs, which are rugs made in large weaving centers, should have very few imperfections and should be judged on the consistency of their designs, weave, and materials.  With "village" rugs imperfections are an important part of the charm where the weavers personality can be expressed through their work.  Still even with village production poor weaving and material quality should not be confused with charming design imperfections.  And finally, "tribal" rugs are woven by nomads, a group of people whose lifestyle is fast disappearing as modern society restricts their seasonal movement.  These rugs are generally small and made completely of wool (warp, weft and pile) since it is the only fiber easily available to the weavers.

~ Dyes and Abrash
Many rugs today are made with quality synthetic and natural dyes that are colorfast.  If you are buying a rug and you see that in some areas the design has a blurred outline, then it could be that the dyes are unstable and will run when it is cleaned.  One way to check for dye run problems is to rub the rug with a damp white cloth using warm water.  If the color comes off on the cloth, then the dye will most likely run when the rug is cleaned.  Our advice is to avoid rugs that show signs of dye run, unless of course you really love the piece.

With city rugs, abrash (see glossary) is not beneficial and will most definitely reduce the value.  On the other hand, with village rugs, abrash can enhance the beauty and its folk art appeal.

 

Is a finely-knotted rug always better than a coarsely knotted rug?

Not necessarily.  Knot count is only one criterian in judging quality.  Check the back of the rug, the closer the knots the finer the weave.  In village and tribal rugs, such as Turkish, Afghani, and Caucasian pieces, the larger, coarser knot is complementary to their bold, geometric designs.  Remember that lower knot counts will give the rug a more primitive or casual look which many buyers find desirable while the higher knot count rugs will impress you with their fine detail and elegance.  When comparing the knot count between rugs of different regions it is not so much an issue of quality, but one of aesthetics.  In the case of comparing two rugs from the same region, then knot count is very likely going to be an important factor in determining value

 

If a rug is thicker does it mean it's more durable?

The quality and durability of a rug depends on many factors including construction and especially the characteristics of the wool.  If the rug is thick, but a poor grade of wool is used in its construction then it will not wear well.  Conversely, if a rug is thin and tightly knotted and made with high quality wool, then it will wear like iron!

What is the difference between Persian rugs and oriental rugs?

Historically, the term Persian rug and the term oriental rug were synonymous; today this is no longer true.  Since the 1970's rugs made in India, Pakistan, China and Nepal have dominated the world rug market by offering consumers more choices and value.

What countries make the best rugs? 

All rug weaving countries are capable of producing extremely fine and beautiful quality Oriental rugs.  And, they are also capable of producing inferior rugs.  People often believe that all Persian rugs are better than rugs from other countries.  This is definitely not so.  In fact since the U.S. lifted the Persian rug embargo in 2000 many inferior Persian rugs were imported into the U.S. hoping to command high prices on their name alone.  Since a wide variation exists in the quality of wool and the weave of Persian rugs it is always a good idea to buy your rug from a reputable dealer.

Can I get a good deal buying a rug overseas?

Maybe.  Many of our customers bring their overseas purchases to us for appraisal only to find out that they did not get exactly what they thought they were buying.  For instance, many of the rugs sold to tourists in Turkiye are actually imported from China.  Other times rugs sold as silk are rayon or mercerized cotton.  Our advice is that if you want to buy overseas, keep the purchase small enough so that you can still enjoy it if you find out that you didn't get a good deal.

HINT: If you do purchase overseas always pay by credit card so that you have some recourse if the merchandise is misrepresented.  Also, be aware that in most cases your tour guide is paid a handsome commission for bringing you to the rug merchant.

Are Going Out of Business sales (G.O.B.) an opportunity to save money?

BUYER BEWARE!  G.O.B.'s have become the most common scams in the rug business today.  Unscrupulous rug dealers take advantage of weak consumer protection laws to mislead customers into thinking that they are actually going out of business when in fact they are using to their advantage a marketing message that customers instinctively respond to like sheep.  These dealers assume their customers will not compare prices because of the large discounts offered and will use high pressure to make the sale.  Also, since they have no long-term stake in your satisfaction they have no incentive to sell quality rugs.  After they are finished duping enough consumers to make a hefty profit but just before the local authorities wise up, they close up shop and move to a new area, sometimes just down the street!

Should I buy rugs from airport, hotel, or estate auctions?

An auction that comes and goes and that uses temporary spaces are in many cases a great place to get taken advantage of!  There have been some high profile criminal activities associated with this method of sale.  Some of the pitfalls include mislabeled country of origin, false claims of silk content, buyer's premiums and shills.  If you don't know what a shill is you should not be bidding at one of these auctions.  Only buy from established auction houses that have a good reputation.

Do Oriental rugs always go up in value making them a sound investment?

Market trends show that investment-quality rugs, usually antique or semi-antique, can go up in value.  However, when buying any rug, you should always look at your selection first and foremost as a beautiful decorative piece of art that will enhance your living environment.  Most individuals will never "cash in" by buying a rug and then selling it ten or twenty years later for a profit, but by purchasing a quality rug and keeping it forever you are making a good investment.  There are not many products today that can make claim to lasting a lifetime.  Quality rugs can become family heirlooms cherished for the memories they stimulate by their wonderful colors and designs.  Also, if it means anything at all to you, it may be one of your last chances to thumb your nose at our throwaway culture!

Why would I want to put a rug on top of carpet?

Think of your rug as you would a picture on the wall, and think of your carpet as you would the paint!  A rug is a focal point and it defines a space.  Rugs can pull all your other furniture and fabrics together to create a completely harmonious environment.  Most people have beige or neutral colored carpet and their room would benefit from having a rug placed under the coffee or dining room table.  Still not convinced?  Try a rug or two with our free in home trial (FIT) program and you will see what so many of our customers mean when they say: "I love my Hagopian rug!

Do I need a rug pad and why?

Yes!  Please don't try to save money by not buying a good pad; you will most likely live to regret that decision in a few years.  Buy a pad that is specifically made for rugs, carpet pad will not work because it is designed to allow the carpet to be stretched over it while a rug pad is designed to grip.

The thin rubber pads can be used in front of doors with a low clearance, but should not be used otherwise.  The thin rubber pads are popular because retailers want an item they can sell that a customer can easily carry and cut at home, not because it works well.  We recommend a pad that is about 3/8" of an inch thick.  It will keep the rug from slipping plus it is very important to also protect it with a good pad so that furniture legs don't dig into you valuable rug.

A pad is also a good idea when putting your rug on top of carpet, especially very thick carpet.  The thicker the carpet the more likely the rug will creep.  We use a stiff pad to give the rug a rigid surface so that it will lay flat.

We will cut your pad about two inches shorter than the width and the length (less the fringge) of your rug.  Think of buying a pad as an inexpensive way to double the life of your rug and keep your rugs from moving, plus it feels better too!

How do I care for my rug?

Rugs are easy to care for and will give you years of enjoyment with a minimal amount of care.  Start with regular vacuuming always being careful not to catch the fringe.  Rotate the rug 180 degrees every year or so.  And, lastly have HAGOPIAN clean it when the fringe looks soiled or when you notice it looks dull.  For more on care information see our cleaning service section on this website.

How long does it take to make a rug? And, aren't they expensive?

Handmade rugs are a GREAT value!

Don't believe me? Well, let's do the math...

Let's take a 9 X 12 rug that sells for $3999. as an example.

A 9 X 12 rug is 108 square feet, or 15,552 square inches (108 X 144)

Let's say that this 9 X 12 rug is of medium quality and had 150 knots per square inch:

150 knots x 15,552 square inches = 2,332,800
WOW! One 9 x 12 rug has over two million knots!!!

A good weaver can weave about 5,000 knots per day. So keeping that in mind...

2,332,800/5000 = 466 days.

3 weavers work on a 9 x 12 rug.

466 days / 3 = 155 days per weaver or 31 weeks.

31 weeks x 40 hours a week= 1240 hours per weaver 

or

3720 hours total!

3720 x $7.15 (min. wage) = $26,598

$26,598 is weaving time only.

Oh, and let's not forget about:

So taking into account the amount of time, materials, care and craftsmanship that goes into creating just a single handmade rug, and the fact that they last decades, you can't deny the amazing value that you're getting!