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Rugs carry thousands of years of culture and history from Iran to India, Russia, Turkey through the silk road. The weavers weave each rug with his or her own story along with the designs that are passed on generation-by-generation. Anyone acquiring one will want to preserve that bit of their heritage as best they can. There are, however, many things that can harm a rug. Here are just a few things you may find on your antique rug.

Wear Patterns

Antiques were useful items of furniture before they were beautiful works of art. Most rugs from our ancestors have been used with heavy walking traffic with shoes on. This heavy traffic thins out patches of fabric and leaves faded spots. The rugs will definitely need restoration by experts to smooth out the bald patches.

Fading From The Sun

If the rug was placed in a room with lots of UV rays for years, the color of the fabric may have started to fade. The fabric will also lose some of its strength. A rug specialist can bring back the original color with different methods upon inspection. Fortunately, you can prevent further damage by rotating the rug at least once a year. You can also have window tinting film installed on your windows to block UV rays without darkening the windows.

Insect Damage

Moths think of rugs as ‘lunch,’ and so do carpet beetles. If the rug you inherited has been stored somewhere that isn’t air-tight, cloth moths might have laid eggs on it and eaten the wool knot on the back of the rug, leaving behind a bit of cobwebby filament and sandy grit on the back. The good news is that the filaments of the rug’s fabric often are packed together tightly enough to resist falling off. The bad news is that these bugs like dark spaces, so if part of the rug was in the dark for a while, bugs may be eating the front of the rug. The first step in dealing with this would be a thorough and professional cleaning. After that, it may need patching or re-weaving the damaged area from a repair and mending professional.

Water Damage

Water is hard on fabric, particularly wool. A rug without the felt pad underneath attracts microorganisms due to humidity. The moister is trapped underneath and dry-rots the foundation of the rug. This is noticable when the rug is folded and the cracking sound is heard. There are other instances when people put a potted plant on a rug, and the runoff from watering the plant can do significant damage. An expert will likely need to re-weave the damaged part.

Wearing Off The Edges

Fringe and borders get a lot of wear and tear. Sometimes excessive vacuum cleaners tear the fringe and eventually chew up the rug and open up the threads one-by-one. The result is that the 10 foot long rug that your grandmother bought comes down to you about 9 foot and 7 inches long. You will need a specialist to add the border and fringe and re-secure it to prevent unraveling.


Along with walking on it for years, old spills of food, drinks, and urine leave residue and settle in to the fabric and base of a rug if left alone, and it can be extremely difficult to remove. As an example, urine is acidic and can burn the fiber. So once the fiber is burnt, cleaning will not remove the stain. However, specially trained cleaners can remove these stains or it can be re-woven. Let the rug specialist to fix it.

Warp And Weft Trouble Many types of rugs are made by threading yarn, called the weft, under and over lines of yarn that is laid out lengthwise. The later yarns are called the warp of a rug. All sorts of problems can crop up with the warp and weft of an antique rug. Too much tension in the weft can cause the edges to curl under in an unseemly way, especially if they are thickly napped. Water and wear can weaken the warp, causing it to break down. Sometimes, the tensions in the warp are so uneven you wind up with a wrinkle woven in to the rug, which can then become a tear. It could take an expert to cut the edges of the rug and re-weave it so that it will go back to its intended shape.

If you have just inherited an old rug and you want to honor the history that it brings by restoring it to its former glory, you have help near by. ABC Rug Outlet has been restoring rugs in the Washington Metropolitan Area for years and would love to take these challenges. Please call us at 301-493-4000 to speak with our cleaning and restoration expert.

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