Rug Glossary

At The Rug Tailor, we carry a wide selection of rugs with many different styles, construction techniques, and materials to choose from. In order to describe the various rug characteristics and features, we sometimes use terminology that may be not clear for the regular customer. As such we decided to put together this glossary where we describe what some of the terminologies mean. We hope you find this page helpful, and as always if you have any questions, please see our contact us page for our full contact details.


A colour variation effect, which appears naturally in many antique hand-woven rugs. This effect usually appears in horizontal lines and occurs as a result in variations in dyes used or slight differences in yarns. Manufacturers of modern rugs sometimes intentionally create this effect to reproduce this antique look at a fraction of the price.


A lightweight and soft synthetic fibre. It's colourfast and does not shrink when washed.

Antique Wash

A technique of aging colours by submerging the rug into a special chemical solution.

Anti-Static Rugs

A special treatment applied to rugs to reduce static electricity build up. Most machine-made rugs are anti-static.


An Islamic art technique where repeated geometric forms are used to form a pattern of intertwining shapes. While these shapes are often abstract they are often used to form a pattern of plants, flowers, or branches.

Art. Silk (Faux Silk)

Artificial silk can be created using a variety of fibres such as viscose or rayon. It resembles real silk in many ways; from the soft touch to the light reflective nature of silk. While these imitations can be extremely well done, they lack the durable superiority of silk. The main advantages of art silk are the cost and maintenance expenditure.


The material used at the rear of the rug on top of which the pile is woven.

Background Colour

The principal colour on the rug's surface. It usually takes up more than 50% of the overall rug colouration.


A mixture of two or more fibers in the composition of any one rug.

Border Rugs

The outer area of a rug all around the edges. In many rug designs, the border has a different design the core area. Other rugs have borders made of entirely different materials or fibres from the core fabric.


Colours/dyes do not run when exposed to water.


A construction technique usually done by hand where the rug surface is engraved to fashion ridges or canals. Those channels combine to create a design or highlight the detailing and depth of a rug.

Chenille Rugs

A unique process of rug construction by which short lengths of fabric are wrapped around a tight core of yarn. The edges of the fabric stand at a right angle giving chenille both its softness and unique look. Chenille rugs can be made using cotton, acrylic, rayon or olefin.

Classic Rugs

Rug designs that pre-date the 20th century. Many designs that fall into this category are hundreds of years old and have originated in different parts of the world such as South East Asia and the Middle East.

Contemporary/Modern Rugs

Any rug design that is not considered classical such as striped rugs, non-patterned floral rugs, plain rugs and shaggy rugs.

Cut Pile Rugs

The process of smoothing the surface of a wool rug by levelling and twisting the yarns. This results in a flat and soft surface that is pleasant to the touch.

Flat-Woven Rugs

Rugs constructed using a method that does not require knots. Flat-woven rugs do not require backing and as such very flexible and in many cases reversible.

Fringe (Antique Fringe)

Twisted threads sometimes arranged in batches found along the edges along the width of the rug (on both sides). Those fringes are a common feature of antique and Persian rugs and are used today by modern manufacturers to recreate that same authentic look.

Hand Knotted Rugs

One of the most intricate, expensive, and time-consuming rug making techniques. Knots are woven one at a time creating a thick luxurious pile; the more knots per square inch the more luxurious and expensive the rug is.

Handmade Rugs / Hand-Woven Rugs

Rugs made without the aid of automated machinery. Generally speaking, handmade rugs are more durable and expensive than machine-made rugs.

Hand-Tufted Rugs

A method of construction that mimics hand-knotted rugs but is much easier to make. Threads are punched through a pre-fabricated backing and held together with special glue, a secondary backing is then applied to protect the knots. The surface of the rug can be cut in different ways to give a multi-layer or three-dimensional effects. The result is a high quality and durable rug.

Hard Twist

A type of cut pile rug where the yarn is twisted and heated to prevent unravelling. This technique is used to minimise flattening with use.

Heat-set Rugs

A process used in machine made rugs by which the yarn is heated to give it strength, softness, and prevent unravelling.

Jute Rugs

Rugs made of a natural plant fiber that is grown mainly in South East Asia. The original use for jute was for doormats as they are very hard wearing and extremely durable.

Kilim/Kelim Rugs

A popular type of hand-woven rugs that are made using the flat-weave technique. Kilim rugs are thin but heavy as they are often made of wool, they are also often reversible, which means they can be used on both sides. They are often colourful and use abstract geometrical shapes for their design.

Loop Pile

Uncut pile where the yarns remain unleavened. This gives the rug extra durability and minimises tracking.

Machine Made Rugs

Rugs made using automated (often computerised) machinery. Machine made rugs offer great value in comparison with handmade rugs. They also can achieve designs and colour mixes that are notoriously difficult to produce using handmade techniques. In addition, they come in a greater multitude of sizes and use a greater range of material such as wool, polypropylene, viscose, rayon, olefin and nylon.

Multi-level loop pile

Different pile heights on any one rug that achieve a three-dimensional effect.

Nepalese Weave

(see Hand Knotted)


A synthetic fibre with a wide variety of uses. It is used in rug making and in the textile industry in general for its strength and dye absorbing characteristics.

Oriental Rugs

A term used to describe classic rugs made in the Middle East and South East Asia with the exception of Iran.


The main body of a rug that is not flat-woven.


A synthetic fiber that is often used in clothing. It can be manipulated in a variety of ways to produce varying degrees of softness, and its main advantage is its wrinkle resistance. Polyester is used in machine-made and handmade rugs.


A synthetic fiber that is often used in the construction of machine made rugs. It has many advanced properties including stain resistance and easy maintenance. It is also anti-static, mould, and moth resistant, and offers excellent value. Polypropylene rugs are often heat-set (see above).

Rug Pad

Often referred to as anti-slip underlay; it is a pad placed underneath a rug to reduce creeping and help keep the rug in place.


Long and narrow rugs that are mainly used in hallways and stairways.

Shag/Shaggy Rug

A modern type of rug with extra long pile. Shag rugs come in a variety of lengths and density and are highly sought after due to the great feel underfoot.


A characteristic of new wool rugs, whereby the rug sheds excess fibers with use. This is completely natural and does not negatively affect the rug's pile or appearance.


A strong natural plant fiber that is often used to make rope.

Sisal Style Rugs

Rugs made of a synthetic fiber that resembles natural sisal.


A dying technique by which batches of fiber used in the construction of any one rug are submerged in different tones of the same colour dye to produce an abrash (see above) effect.

Tibetan Weave

A complex hand-weaving technique that is unique to the Tibet region.

Traditional Rugs

(see Classic Rugs)

Tribal Rugs

Certain rug designs that originated in the Middle East among nomad tribes. Those designs can be abstract and/or make use of animal shapes. Many tribal rugs contain a large multitude of colours and they are often not symmetrical. Many modern manufacturers imitate tribal rugs by intentionally making sure they are not symmetrical.


A batch of twisted fibers/threads.