RUGS 101

Quick Tips:  

  • never use a beater bar vacuum attachment on hand made products 
  • spot clean with a few drops of clear dish soap mixed with warm water
  • rotate rugs every 6 months for even fading and traffic patterns

Hand Knotted:

Hand-knotting rugs is an intense labor of love whereby each tuft in a rug is created by literally tying a knot around a warp thread. This ancient and time-honored technique of weaving is extremely intricate, time-consuming, and demands ability that most weavers can only achieve after years of training. Larger rugs often employ as many as a dozen skilled artisans working on a single rug at the same time. This process may take as few as three months and as long as one year to yield a single rug. The finer the knot, that is to say the higher the knot count, the more intricate and valuable the rug can be. Hand knotted rugs will remain as beautiful as the day they were purchased for twenty or more years even in high traffic areas when properly cared for.  

Online hand knotted collections:  Antique & Vintage  Kazak  Tibetan  Transitional  Traditional

One of a Kind by size :  24 s.f and under  25-79 s.f  80 s.f and up  All Runners  

Above: Kashee's Manufacturing Facility in Pakistan
Below is a great video Courtesy of: Amara Rugs on the making of hand knotted rugs. 

Hand Tufted:

Tufting a rug is a manner of rug construction whereby a pattern is sketched on canvas and tufts of thread are punched through a canvas cloth that is attached to a frame. The lack of knots, though, requires that an additional backing be applied to the canvas, the primary backing is latex over which a secondary backing of canvas is glued. The surface pile is then sheered to produce a flat surface. Due to their affordability, rugs of this craft are an emerging trend in home furnishing design. Tufted rugs are prone to shedding, both when they are new and again as the latex begins to break down.  As with all constructions, not all are created equal, some tufted rugs will shed for their duration, while others will slow down as the extra fiber is worn and vacuumed away.  Tufted rugs have a life expectancy of  7-10 years under average use.

Online hand tufted collections: Transitional Traditional 


Hand Hooked:

Hooked rugs are constructed in the same manner as tufted rugs with one distinct difference, the yarn is punched through a canvas creating a looped pile. The life expectancy is slightly shorter than tufted rugs because they tend to be less dense leaving the fibers more venerable to wear. 

Online hand hooked collections:  Americana, Hand Hooked, Cotton Hooked


Hand Woven or Flat Weave:

Also referred to as Soumak (double sided weave), Kilim ( traditionally from Turkey) or Dhurrie ( traditionally from India).   A simple but durable rug, flat-woven rugs are among the most basic and beautiful of all hand-loomed floor coverings. The underlying art of flat-woven rugs is their ability to be reversed, and their suitability in nearly any setting, from the rustic to the cosmopolitan. Hand woven or flat woven rugs are known for their durability and cleanability since they do not have a backing.  As with all constructions not all are created equal, look for weight and softnedd of the yarn. Life expectancy can be just slightly less than hand knotted rugs. 

Online Hand Woven Collections:  Most Popular  Traditional or Soumak  Transitional 


 Machine Made :

Also referred to as power loomed, or wilton weave.  Some higher quality machine made rugs can last nearly as long hand knotted rugs,  look for denser pile and soft backing.  Machine made rugs would include broadloom or wall to wall carpet which can be cut and bound to shape and size, offering a fully customizable look for less cost than a hand made option.  Life expectancy can be less than 10 years for lower quality or 20+ for high quality axminsters which have been in production in the UK since the 18th century.  

 Online Collection:  Machine Made 



Wool fiber has characteristics that make it ideal for rug construction. Wool contains lanolin, making it inherently repellent of moisture and water. The natural properties of wool make it stain resistant and thereby easy to clean and maintain. Many types of wool are used in rug construction and the main difference between them is the strength of the fiber. Sheep that are raised at higher altitudes withstand severe weather conditions and therefore create a stronger, more durable wool. Himalayan wool for example is derived from sheep raised in the extreme conditions found in the Himalayan Mountains and produce fibers used in most Tibetan rugs. This wool is extremely dense, strong and soft. Ghazni Wool is used in the Afghanistan Pakistan region and creates a silk like softness characteristic of rugs produced in these regions. New Zealand wool may be the most widely used and considered by some to be the most effective for area rugs.



Cotton is a natural fiber of great durability and strength. Each fiber is made up of twenty to thirty layers of cellulose coiled in a neat series of natural springs. When the cotton boll, or seed case is opened the fibers dry into flat, twisted, ribbon like shapes and become kinked together and interlocked. This interlocked form is ideal for spinning into fine yarn.

Bamboo Silk / Art Silk / Silkette / Viscose

Bamboo Silk has much of the same look and feel as silk, but is a more sustainable and lower cost alternative. These fibers are often incorporated into an otherwise wool rug giving added texture and shine.  Bamboo Silk is itself a type of viscose or Art Silk,  normal “viscose” was always made from wood cellulose while bamboo silk is made from bamboo cellulose.  In both cases the base material is treated so that it becomes a paste which is then combined with other ingredients, and extruded and dried to produce the fiber.  Because of this, they are both considered to be “viscose,” and the proper name of Bamboo Silk is “Bamboo Viscose.”  This name indicates both how the fiber is made and from what material it is derived. However although both are called Viscose, because of the different base material from which they are made, the two have different performance characteristics, and bamboo’s are quite superior.  Regarding cleaning of our Bamboo Silk, it is best to use a professional.  However there are times when a quick response is needed.  Gently blot the soiled area, using a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb liquids from spills.  Do not scrub!

Hand Spun Wool:

Hand spinning is a much more expensive and time consuming process than machine spinning, but it has two distinct advantages. Hand spinning breaks down fewer fibers of wool, so the end result is a stronger fiber and longer wearing wool. Hand spun wool has an irregular diameter, which gives the rug a more interesting texture. Rugs made with hand spun wool are prone to sprouting, where the ends of yarns uncurl as they are walked upon and vacuumed, simply trim these ends even with the rest of the rugs pile, do not pull.  


Vegetable Dye Wool: 

Also phrased as, natural or vegetal has been used by Rugmakers in the Middle East and Asia for thousands of years.  Colors produced in this time honored tradition are saturated without being edgy or harsh, are chamingly variegated especially when done in conjunction with hand spinning.  The effect of the irregularity of color is a rug that is vibrabnt, giving an impression of character. 

How do I clean my handmade rugs?

The natural characteristics of wool make it the most durable, resilient, anti static and flame retardant natural fiber known. To help prolong the life of your rug, vacuum it regularly to remove loose dirt and soil. Vacuuming an area rug with a good machine will go a long way towards prolonging the appearance and life of your carpet and is the primary defense against dry soils that can quickly build on area rugs.   We encourage a "less is more" philosophy on spot cleaning, starting with a dry towel to blot up spills, then using water on a clean towel to blot up surface spills.  If spots remain use a bit of white vinegar mixed with water, if the spills contained oils, a dab of clear dish soap on a clean towel is recommended.  For open backed rugs (knotted or woven) place a dry towel underneath the affected area to protect the floor underneath from moisture.  Once the spills have been lifted, apply fresh water to flush out any detergents followed by applying pressure to the front and back side with dry towels until the towels no longer soak in liquids, this may take several towels.  If the affected area is large and required the use of both detergents and water, lift the area of the rug off the floor and point a fan at the area to help the drying process. IF THE RUG HAS A BACKING (tufted or hooked) greater caution must be used when applying liquids, keep in mind that anything you put into the rug will likely soak through the surface and be difficult to remove once there. SISAL AND GRASS fibers will absorb liquids and should be cleaned with a dry solvent only.  Professional cleaning is also recommended every 2-5 years depending on wear, Bradford's offer both hand washing and machine washing services. Cleaning of BAMBOO OR VISCOSE fibers is best left to the professionals, after a spill, blot or scoop with a dry towel, do not rub !  


Why is my new rug shedding?

 It is characteristic of your wool rug to shed at first. Traffic causes loose wool fibers to gather on top of the rug. Frequent vacuuming helps minimize this, and as the loose fibers are removed, the rug will gradually stop shedding.


Why does my rug keep getting sprouts?

Sometimes hand-knotted oriental rugs will get small "pulls" or loose threads that pop out of the pile - we call them sprouts. This is usually because the pile is made up of hand-spun wool and is a normal part of the break in process. Some rugs are prone to sprout more than others, but regardless of how many sprouts your rug gets you want to treat them all in the same way. Do NOT pull on your sprouts, just take a pair of sharp scissors and trim the top off the sprout, making it even with the surrounding surface. Watch the video below to learn more about sprouts. Or check out our BLOG post Sprouts!



Do I need an underlay or rug pad?

 We strongly recommend a rug pad under all rugs to protect your rug from abrasion, impact created by furniture and traffic as well as cleaning. A quality pad can add years to the life of your rug while providing additional safety and acoustic benefits. If you have radiant heated floors, make sure you get the correct type of padding to allow for maximum heat flow.  Bradford’s sells several types of rug pad that can be ordered and shipped to your home by contacting our gallery in Portland, Maine. Or online at:



My area rug just arrived and it appears to be creased?

During storage and shipping many area rugs develop creases or the pile gets compressed, this usually disappears within two weeks more quickly when vacuumed frequently.


What size rug do I need ?

While size is very important to the function of area rugs, personal tastes and budget are equally important factors.   Think about a range of size options to fit your space to allow some flexibility, use an old bed sheet or painters tape to "map out" the area.  Above all, BUY WHAT YOU LOVE.  The link below offers some visual tools -



Thanks for visiting !