What you need to know before buying a Hand Tufted/Designer Area Rug
You know the old saying, ‘The nose, knows.’ In the case of the tufted area rug that is true.
A tufted area rug is an area rug that is laminated together with glue. The pattern is stenciled onto a cloth canvass with a marker and the rug fiber is looped through with a tufted gun or hand tool.
Latex glue is then generously applied to the back of the canvass to hold fibers in place and a secondary backing is glued on to finish it off, see photo top left.
Tufted area rugs are quick and easy to make, so they can be made into the shapes, designs and colours that are in demand by buyers. As beautiful as tufted area rugs are there can be some unwanted characteristics, such as:
- Bad Odour. Tufted area rugs made in India or China have been known to have a unpleasant odour that can vary from mild to offensive. The reason for this odour is the latex glue used to make them. The glue is usually low quality and sometimes mixed with fillers, such as marble dust, to make it spread further. The smell is permanent; no amount of professional cleaning or deodorizing products are able to remove it.
To avoid this problem give the area rug a good sniff, if possible roll the rug up and smell the open ends of the roll or “grin” the rug fibers (see photo top right). The smell may not always be detectable while in the store because of other smells and air movement, but once home in a smaller room it can be quite apparent.
- Rug Fiber sheds. This usually occurs with wool tufted area rugs. The wool fibers vary in quality. To test to see if the rug will excessively shed, tug on the wool fibers. If they break off easily the rug will wear more quickly and the fibers may become an airborne irritant. Another way to test is to rub your hand over the rug to see how many fibers fly around. Synthetic tufted area rugs do not have this issue.
- Dye Bleed. If the tufted area rug has a dark coloured backing it may bleed when wet. When using the area rug on light coloured carpet it is best to use under pad to protect it from colour transfer. To test to see if it will bleed, press a damp cloth onto the backing to check for colour transfer. Also when the design is stenciled onto the canvas prior to making the rug, marker lines may bleed through the rug fibers if rug is improperly cleaned or gets wet from flooding or spills.
Another thing to consider when buying a tufted area rug is where it will be used. In high traffic areas synthetic and cotton tufted area rugs get dirty looking quickly and the grey dinginess likes to remain after cleaning. Tufted area rugs are not a good choice if you have pets. If any pet accidents happen the smell is nearly impossible to remove because it gets absorbed by the glue holding the rug together.
Stains are harder to remove because they cannot be cleaned as thoroughly due to the fact that the area rug is glued together. Tufted area rugs can de-laminate if cleaned with too much moisture and/or heat.
Over time the edging on the back or fringes may become unglued or you may see rust coloured stains around edges where the glue has oxidized. In older tufted area rugs the glue may dry out and start to break down making the rug limber. This causes you to see white sand like dirt come from the area rug. Those are good indicators it might be a time to replace your rug.
Tufted area rugs are great if you are looking for a decorative rug, and are not concerned about longevity; just take care not to fall in love with a low quality one.