[decor]: On the Subject of... Rug Materials and Construction


When it comes to selecting a rug for a space there is a lot to consider:
  1. Material and construction considerations
  2. Size
  3. Location (living space vs. bedroom vs. hallway)
  4. Design - What it should look like (colour, pattern)
  5. Texture - what it should feel like (high pile, low pile, soft, etc)

Given my affinity to natural materials it is probably no wonder that criteria #1 for me is the most important one.  What that means practically is that when looking at rugs I only consider wool, cotton, leather, jute ones so those are the only ones I actually own.  What has made it easier for me is that there are so many area rugs of all different sizes now available that is possible to find a great natural rug at great price points. Of course, when I walk through Elte from time to time I seem to be always drawn to most expensive rugs there - there is something about them that subconsciously attracts me - only to make a shy detour after a touch test and quick glance of $25K price tag. Yup, maybe some day when my kids become famous ... (fill in the blank).

When it comes to more affordable natural rugs I was always more guided by designs and colours than actual construction, meaning that I would equally consider  hand-woven and hand-tufted wool rugs and would buy either of them if I liked how they looked and how they felt to touch. Hand-tufted ones would be more of my choice most of the time due to more modern design but also because they are less expensive. Until I stopped.

One such hand-tufted rug that I purchased for its colourful design and 9x12 size started emitting strange smell after some time. Smell could be described as if something was burnt and furthermore it started shedding white powder when you would lift it. I purchased it from very credible store and I could not believe that this was happening. First I thought that I should take it to the cleaners considering that more than a year has passed after I purchased it and I did not think I could return it to the store. Before I invested in cleaning it, I searched the net for possible causes only to realize that this is a very prevalent problem and one that is not solvable - you either live with it or you get rid of the rug.

It seems that Pottery Barn had many rugs with the same issue for a period of time and they dealt with this by issuing store credits to people who experienced this problem. In my case, I went back to the store and got credit for 50% of the purchase price which was something, but it still meant that I shelled out quite a bit for rug that was unusable.

So what is the actual problem? What I read and what a cleaner I talked to confirmed for me is that latex (glue) that is applied to hand-tufted rug in order to keep it together starts to break up emitting this smell and it sheds as a white powder. The problem is that smelling the rug in the store does not really help - you will either not notice the problem due to other rugs or space, or the smell will not develop until later which is what happened to me. Following this experience I vowed never to buy another hand-tufted rug again. Sadly I now pass by many wonderful designs and great price points - but one nightmare was enough.

To know the difference, just look at the back. Hand-woven rug's back should look like this - similar to the front, while hand-tufted one has canvas back.

Image above is the back of the rug below. I got this at Home Sense (Home Goods) for $99 - great price point for 3x8 hand-woven runner - sadly it did not work in my space so it was returned.

What I have in this space at the moment is 2x8 leather runner that I got for - wait for it - $15 at Home Sense/ Home Goods - yes, it was one of those 'start the car' moments.

Peaking through behind the bar area is beautiful Persian rug I got at Ikea years ago that has incredible colours. I still own a few hand-tufted rugs which I purchased previous to my negative experience and every so often I sniff them like a crazy person especially as on of them is Pottery Barn rug in my son's bedroom.

Some other rugs around the house include:

my favorite purchase of all time - AS IS clearance at Ikea for this 8x10 hand-woven rug - love the deal, love the rug - photo does not do it justice
latest purchase from Home Sense/Goods - 2x6 runner currently in our entrance hallway
garage sale find of this 4x6 Persian rug which I paid $20 for to use in breakfast nook
in our kitchen - performs beautifully - from Elte

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