Have you ever wondered what is hidden behind the rug? You may have noticed that carpet sellers and experts often turn the corner or even the whole rug to the back and examine it. But why do they flip the rug, and what do they check? What secrets does the backside of the rug reveal?
Reasons for Checking the Underside of the Rug
Evaluating the rug for pricing and determining its value is very important. When buying and evaluating a rug, one of the most important things to do is to turn a part of the rug to check its underside. An experienced and expert rug specialist can easily assess the rug by looking at it. When they flip the rug, it’s like they remove its mask to see its true face. In the following, we will explain the reasons why checking the underside of the rug is so important.
Seeing the back of the rug allows a person to see the real technical aspects of weaving: knotting and “structure”, type of weaving and pile of the rug. This in turn helps to determine the origin of the rug.
Determining the Quality of the Rug
The back of the rug shows the relative quality and fineness of weaving and knot density. The finer the rug is woven, the higher its knot density. In addition, the back of the rug also reveals the type of foundation, color of yarns and many other things. For example, if the weaving of the rug is done with several strands of one yarn, it can be easily detected from the back of the rug.
Repair and Re-weaving of Rugs
Professional restorers have the skill to repair and restore a rug that in many cases, by looking at its front, its repaired parts are not easily noticeable. However, when you flip the rug, it may show you clearly or with some attention what parts of it were damaged and how its repair and reconstruction quality is.
Checking Colors of Rugs
The back of the rug can also reveal things about the colors used in it. Especially if there is a big difference between colors on both sides of the rug. Usually colors on top of rugs are lighter than on their backs. This is mostly due to fading colors due to exposure to sunlight as unlike backside which rarely gets light and sun, top side often exposed to sunlight, so colors on top fade gradually in contact with light and if they are not natural, they may bleed from rugs and fade away. Sometimes rugs are deliberately faded and exposed to sun so that their backs also fade away. The only reason this is done is to hide this fact that colors have faded away. If front side is darker than backside, it’s better to ask an expert to look at it, as it may have been repainted on top.
Helping to Determine Age of Rugs
The backside of weaving helps to show age and antiquity of rugs as well. Creating a rug that has a relatively smooth and worn surface or has faded colors takes time. Wear on rugs can look like corrosion in some ways. White foundations will start to appear which may look like small white spots and single white knots, or may be more prominent, and you can see white threads on top (pile side). In this case, rugs are called podnema.
In many rugs that have a lot of wear on pile, edges or ends are also uneven or very short. Wear occurs as a result of using rugs and corrosion occurs in parts that are woven with metal fibers or have colors that contain metal salts. In this way, parts of rugs with such features become corroded. Corrosion may occur throughout rugs, but rarely evenly as different colors have different concentrations of metal elements. Wear often occurs across entire surface of rugs, however some parts may have less contact and remain healthier. Therefore checking backside may be key to discovering high antiquity of an antique rug that looks relatively younger.
Identifying the Design and Pattern of the Rug
The back of the rug, which has no pile, makes its design and pattern more visible, especially in cases where the rug has been worn and corroded for some reasons. The back of the rug is usually in better condition than the front. Based on some traditions such as endowment or sanctity of some names, inscriptions on rugs are sometimes written backwards, which may help to read them by flipping the rug.
Identifying Pest Infestation, Moth Damage and Other Defects
If the rug has been damaged by insects or moths, it may be visible on the surface of the rug, but it is more noticeable on the back of the rug. If the damage has not reached the foundation, it can be repaired. The area where the knot pile is attached to the foundation on the back of the rug wears out and sometimes progresses to the point where the pile yarn of the rug is completely detached from the foundation.
By checking the back of the rug, some other problems such as rotting of the rug caused by exposure to wet ground or some defects of the rug that may be related to the quality of raw materials, warping and weaving, transportation and storage, or how to maintain it can be identified. For example, in some cases due to uneven foundation and improper packing of yarns that results in incorrect attachment of knots to foundation, backside of rugs are irregular and disorderly.
As you can see, there are many reasons why you should check the backside of rugs before buying or evaluating them. The backside can reveal important information about the origin, quality, age, color, design, pattern, repair, and defects of the rug. By flipping the rug and examining its underside, you can make a better decision and avoid any unpleasant surprises. Next time you visit a carpet shop or browse online, don't forget to look at what's hidden behind the rug.