Rugs 101

Bringing understated elegance and timeless sophistication to any room - a Jaipur Living rug is known for its unmatched quality and bold designs. Learn more about the construction, materials, and processes that make for a stunning range of texture, luster, and dimension with our rugs buying guide.

Rug Construction Types
Power Loomed

Individual knots are hand-tied on a vertical loom one row at a time by expertly trained artisans to create hand-knotted rugs. Depending on the density of the knots, rugs of this construction can last for generations. Intricate and textural hand-carving with high-low pile effects can be a feature of these handmade luxury rugs. The average hand-knotted rug takes 240 days to make. Typically, this construction features durable wool or wool blends with luxurious silk or viscose.


For hand-tufted rugs, yarn is hand-punched through a pre-woven fabric with a specialized tufting gun. The hand-tufted construction features precise designs, often has a plush pile, and is made of wool and/or viscose fibers. There are a few rug-making techniques within the hand-tufted construction, including the hand-hooked process. Hand-hooked rugs are not sheared after the tufting process, which would create a smooth, cut pile, and instead have an uncut, looped pile. A cotton-latex backing is glued on to hold the knots in place, offering strength and rigidity to the rug.


Handwoven or handloomed rugs are made on hand-operated looms where weavers use a rod to shoot the fibers vertically across the length of the rug. The fibers within this construction may be felted or twisted wool yarns, soft and fine viscose, synthetic yarns, or natural fibers. Handwoven rugs usually have low to medium piles, other than high-piled shag rugs, and may or may not have a canvas backing.


Flat-woven rugs, or dhurries and kilims, consist only of warp and weft threads, meaning they do not have the thickness of a knotted or tufted rug. With their flat finish, they are durable, easy to care for, and often reversible. Flat-woven rugs are typically made of wool, cotton, natural fibers, or synthetic fibers.

Power Loomed

Power-loomed rugs are machine made on electrically powered looms that are controlled by computers. They feature a wide range of color options, complex designs, a variety of fiber type, and a shorter lead time than other constructions. Typically made of synthetic fibers like polyester, polypropylene, or recycled PET yarns, this construction is a good option for easy care, owing to their inherent stain-resistant fiber quality. If viscose or other cellulose fibers are used, these power-loomed qualities can have soft and luxurious, though less durable, characteristics.

Common Rug Materials
100% Wool
Silk and Sari Silk
Viscose, Rayon & Tencel
100% Cotton
100% Wool

Wool fibers are durable, naturally resistant to stains, and wonderful for insulation. Comforting underfoot, wool is a great option for adding a soft and plush textile to any regularly trafficked space in the home. New wool rugs—especially hand-tufted—will shed at first, but vacuuming will help diminish this property. Jaipur Living sources our wool from live sheep sheared ethically and humanely as a natural part of their health and maintenance routine.

Why Choose Wool: Wool is well known for its durability and resilience. Naturally water resistant, it is easy to wipe away spills before staining. Wool is considered to be a hypoallergenic material, resistant to bacteria and mildew. It is a versatile fabric that can be treated, woven, and colored in a variety of ways.

Other Considerations: Set stains can be difficult to clean. Wool is also more expensive than many other natural fibers and materials due to its manufacturing process.

Silk and Sari Silk

Lustrous and luxurious in look and feel, silk and sari silk are ideal options for a fine, sumptuous material underfoot. With their subtle sheen and extremely soft hand, these fibers are best suited for low-traffic areas, like bedrooms, due to their delicate composition.

Silk is a natural fiber harvested from the cocoons of either cultivated or wild silkworms. It requires great skill to weave silk rugs, and they are often true investment pieces. Sari silk, or recycled strips of fabric from traditional silk saris, is a vibrant and shimmery fabric with a beautiful textile story.

Why Choose Silk: Silk rugs are often the softest you will find and have an elegant finish. Silk is relatively durable and can last a lifetime with proper care. Natural luster and shine show through in the finished rug. Silk takes dye very well, which allows for beautiful color variation.

Other Considerations: Footprints and furniture marks show easily. Silk is not as stain-resistant as other fibers, so care needs to be taken around the rug.

Viscose, Rayon & Tencel

Manufactured to mimic the look and feel of silk - viscose, rayon, and tencel are generated from the cellulose found in plant-based materials, such as wood pulp or bamboo. Processed through chemical processing and then spun into strands, these are luxurious fiber that often leave a lustrous sheen.

When fine fibers like viscose, rayon, sari silk, and silk are blended together with a durable material like wool, they are sturdier and more fortified for a longer-lasting addition to homes. These materials are great for low traffic areas like bedrooms or formal living rooms, but not great for high-traffic areas or those that need cleaning – like entries or dining rooms.

Why Choose Viscose/Rayon: These materials add luster and shimmer to designs, and are soft to the touch. A natural luster and shine through in the finished rug. These materials are easy to dye. “Faux Silk” can be highly reflective, and the colors change constantly with light, yielding a uniquely dynamic look.

Other Considerations: These materials may be easily flattened by heavy furniture, and are harder to clean than wool or cotton.

100% Cotton

Generally used in flat-woven constructions, cotton is soft and easy to care for. More affordable than wool and known for its eco-friendly construction, cotton takes dye very well which makes for unique and bold-colored rugs.

Typically having a more relaxed or casual look, cotton rugs are hypoallergenic as well as a great kid- and pet-friendly option.

Why Choose Cotton: Cotton is asy to clean and machine washable, often reversible and inexpensive. It also color very well so colors can be bolder and brighter. Cotton is considered to be a hypoallergenic material, resistant to bacteria and mildew, and is also biodegradable and eco-friendly.

Other Considerations: Cotton is a lighter fabric than other natural alternatives, so it doesn't produce very plush rugs. It is not as durable as those woven from other natural fibers, not as stain-resistant as wool, and is a less effective insulator than other fibers.

Synthetics (Polyester, Polypropylene, Recycled PET, & Acrylic)

Mostly used for power-loomed constructions, these manmade fibers imitate the look and feel of natural materials like wool and silk. They are strong, durable, and inherently stain-resistant materials that are easy to clean and care for—lending the perfect option to kid- and pet-friendly homes or heavily trafficked rooms.

Not all synthetic rugs can be used outdoors, but polyester, recycled PET (recycled plastic bottles woven into a soft and durable fiber), and polypropylene fibers are often treated to be weather-resistant for outdoor use. Compared to other materials like wool and silk, synthetic rugs are a fraction of the price and are ideal for bringing stylish and budget-friendly looks to homes.

Why Choose Synthetics: Synthetics are a bargain offering same look & feel of a wool rug at the fraction of the price, with a faster turn-around time. Fibers can be treated to be highly stain-resistant, and are durable and easy to clean. These materials are good for people who are allergic but want wool look, and offer great value and performance for the price.

Other Considerations: Synthetics are shinier and slicker than true wool, and not as durable as those woven from other natural fibers. They are not always easy to dye so color options more limited. Sythetics are stain resistant but can attract oils, which trap dirt.

Naturals (Hemp, Jute, Sea Grass, & Sisal)

Natural or plant-based fiber rugs ground spaces with organic and versatile texture. Jute, sisal, hemp, and sea grass rugs are durable and strong, perfect for layering with other textiles, and are sourced from renewable materials.

While many natural fibers are coarse and sometimes rough to the touch, jute is the softest plant-based fiber and often has a naturally soft hand. These rugs are a great accent in mid- to high-traffic areas, but should not be placed in spaces with a high moisture content.

Why Choose Naturals: Nauturals provide a neutral background to both contemporary and traditional décor schemes. They are strong and durable materials, especially sisal and abaca. These materials are eco-friendly production methods mean the production of natural rugs is more sustainable. These materials are naturally-textured and lend themselves to woven patterns, and some plant-based fibers (like jute & hemp) take dye well. They can be cleaned by simply shaking the dirt out.

Other Considerations: Naturals are coarser than other fibers and can feel rough underfoot, and are not as stain resistant as wool and synthetics. Because they absorb moisture, natural fibers are not suited to damp environments. With daily exposure to direct sunlight, natural fibers may fade or darken.

Rug Maintenance and Care

To ensure longevity and maintain your rugs' natural beauty, rugs should be vacuumed on a regular basis with the beater bar off to remove dirt, dust, and allergens.
Be sure to check with the manufacturer's instructions before cleaning your rug. Some natural fiber rugs, such as sisal and jute, can be more difficult and expensive to clean if there are stains and spills.

Learn more about how to properly care for your rugs with our Care & Cleaning manual for material-specific cleaning recommendations.

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