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7 Signs Your Oriental Rug is Fake

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So you have a beautiful oriental rug that adds the perfect amount of charm to your room, but did you know that there are tell-tale signs that your rug is fake?

Maybe you are looking to buy a rug and want to know how to tell if the oriental rug you have your eye on is fake.

With sites like eBay and Craiglist, there is no way of authenticating that antique oriental rug you've been eyeing up. Even brick and mortar rug stores are known for being shady!

We're here to let you in on the best kept secrets of the world's rug dealers in...

7 Signs Your Oriental Rug is Fake

7. Your Rug has a Hard Plastic Back

An authentic, hand knotted oriental rug will always feature a soft backing whose pattern matches the top pile like a mirror image. 

If the back is not a mirror image of the front, the rug is not an authentic, hand knotted oriental rug. 

When the back of the rug is hard plastic, this mean that your rugs top pile is made from a synthetic material and the hard plastic back is holding the rug together.

oriental rug

It may be hard to see in the picture above, but on the left is a hand knotted wool rug.

The hand knotted rug is soft on both the top and bottom, and the back is a mirror image of the front.

On the right is a synthetic rug. The back is hard to the touch and the fringe is sewn on.

These are a few popular materials used in synthetic rugs: 

  • Polypropylene
  • Nylon
  • Acrylic
  • Polyester 

These materials are budget-friendly, but do not last as long as wool rugs. A synthetic rug is meant to be aesthetically pleasing for a short amount of time.

With professional cleaning, a synthetic rug will last only 3-5 years.

Check out our Wool VS Polypropylene blog to learn more about the differences between wool rugs and polypropylene rugs.

6. The Colors are Bleeding

Authentic oriental rugs should only be dyed with all-natural vegetable dyes. When the practice of hand knotting oriental rugs began, centuries ago, chemical dyes were not even close to being invented!

If you not only want a beautiful area rug, but also want the experience of owning a rug that is rooted in history and royalty, vegetable dyes are the only way to go!

Most dyes will appear brilliant and true to exactly what you are looking for, but the real test is how well they last under a stain and frequent traffic. 

Determining whether the dyes are good or bad lies within whether or not the dyes are colorfast. 

Colorfast dye

Using a dye that is colorfast is essential to creating a decades-lasting oriental rug. Although difficult to determine, you can test it by taking a damp cloth and leaving it on top of the rug over night. The next day, if there is color on the cloth (transferred dye), the dye is not stable or colorfast. 

To test to rug, be sure that your rug dealer either allows for a 24 hour consignment period OR offers a money back guarantee.

If neither is offered, walk away from the purchase! The rug business is known to be a shady business. You don't want to line someone else's pockets without receiving an authentic product. 

RugKnots  only uses stable, all-natural vegetable dyes. 

Some chemical dyes may be relatively stable but will eventually transfer toxic chemicals when dampened. 

Tibetan vegetable dyes

RugKnots also offers a 30-day money back guarantee on all in-stock rugs purchases, but we're pretty sure you won't want it.

We also offer free shipping and returns!

Being an online factory direct retailer, we understand that you need to touch and feel your rug in your home. And that sometimes a rug is just not the right fit. Also, because we are factory direct, we do not have to pay a middle man, which means you don't have to pay a middle man!

That's how we can offer our clients the most effective customer service and premium quality rugs at an affordable price!

[VIDEO] David teaches all you need to know about how to test rug dye for yourself!

Fugitive dyes

The piece that David tests above was dyed with a fugitive dye. Never purchase a rug that was washed with a fugitive dye.

Spilling anything water or oil based will result in a bleeding dye mess on your carpet below, hard wood flooring apersian rugsnd clothing.

Anything porous could be ruined from the stain of a fugitive dye bleeding.

This intense bleeding results from a short cut in the dying process.

The rug was not properly rinsed after the dying process, leaving the dyes fugitive.

RugKnots rugs are not only rinsed, but hand washed, ensuring your rug will never bleed, remains as soft and plush as possible.

Believe it or not, the main contributor to the rugs softness is how the rug was washed. Of course, hand washing is the most effective.

Ink

If you smell ink...antique oriental rugs

Hear ink...

Or see ink...

Run!

Run as fast as you can. This is the most shady process that unscrupulous rug dealers use to hid imperfections on their rugs.

Holes, cuts, fading, and bald spots are covered up with ink in the hopes that the buyer won't notice the imperfections.

This is especially important to know when you buy an antique rug. Because of their age, inconsistencies are more likely to have occurred on the piece. 

When you buy an oriental rug, be sure the type of dye used is written on the invoice. This ensures that the dealer cannot contradict his claims if you decide to return the rug.

5. The Fringe is Sewn or Glued On

The fringe on a hand knotted oriental rug not only is a design element, it is a structural element. When the rug is being hand knotted, the fringe is the first element on the loom. The decorative knots are then tied around the structural fringe. 

The fringe is a part of what's holding the rug together. Because the fringe is so vital to a hand knotted oriental rug, rug dealers add fake fringe to a rug to make it appear hand knotted. 

oriental area rugs

This an especially common practice on hand tufted rugs. If you flip the rug on its back, you'll see that the fringe is either glued or sewn on. 

This is one of the easiest ways to determine if your oriental rug is fake. 

You can see on the image above that the tufted rug's fringe is clearly sewn on.

4. It's Not Hand Knotted

Meticulously tied by a specialized artisan, every single knot in an authentic hand knotted oriental rug should be hand tied. 

oriental rugs online

If the piece is marked as hand tufted, this is not the same thing as a hand knotted rug.

Hand tufting is the practice in which a canvas backing is stretched behind a stencil and a tufting gun punches a design into the canvas — very similar to a Lite Brite! The practice takes very little training and the rug looses its investment potential and is left quite weak. The lifetime of a hand tufted rug is about seven years, while hand knotted rug's lifetimes are 50+ years.

What's so polarizing about this is that although hand tufted rugs are a lot easier to produce, they don't even cost much less than a hand knotted rug. Again, lining the rug dealer's pocket even further.

Thankfully, you can buy hand-tufted rugs from Rugknots at the honest, low prices they should be sold at. 

If life has been hard on your oriental rug, you always have the option of over dying. Over dying is the process of taking a faded rug, de-saturating the rug and then re-saturating the rug with a single vibrant color.

Like this antique overdyed rug below!

red oriental rug

RugKnots Pink Overdyed Rug

A hand tufted rug is not as strong and can't withstand an over dying process. The bleaching agent used to de-saturate the rug will break down the bonds of the glue holding the tufted rug together.

3. The Rug Isn't Made With Wool

persian rug

Half the charm of an oriental rug lies within the history of the practice. Artisans hand knotted the carpets. Merchants haggled the prices in the fragrant bazaars. Kings, emperors, and pharaohs laid their feet upon their functional pieces of art.

Not only are they beautiful, but oh the history and culture behind them!

Swoon...

Hand knotted rugs are a romanticized art form that is lost when the piece is made from plastic by a machine. The charm is simply gone.

RugKnots uses only the premium grade wool imported from the hills of New Zealand and from the finest local wool farmers in Pakistan.

oriental weavers

Wool is: 

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Antibacterial
  • Flame retardant

You will never have any allergy issues with wool (as long as you're not allergic to it). A wool oriental rug will last you decades, and can even be used as investment and heirloom pieces.

persian rugs for sale

This antique rug on 1stdibs.com is starting at $100,000 US USD

oriental carpets

This RugKnots piece is less than 2% of the 1stdibs.com price!

As you can see, if taken care of properly, hand knotted wool rugs will hold their value extremely well. You will be lucky if a synthetic rug lasts 3 years. They are simply not made to last. We love this quote from one of our clients:

"The beautiful RugKnots rugs evoke a far away place where goods are hand made with pride" — V. Radden

In order to own a true, authentic oriental rug, it must be made from wool! Check out this video to see why you NEED a wool rug.

2. You Got a "Steal" on the Rug

Because the rug is hand knotted, it takes a significant amount of skill and time to complete an oriental rug.  As with anything that is handmade by an artisan, hand knotted wool rugs are expensive.

But...

wool rugs

They are investments. 

Hand knotted wool rugs have so much investment potential. If taken care of, wool rugs will last decades - if not centuries. Remember when people used to take their shoes to cobblers? And clothes to tailors? Same concept. Goods today have a lifetime and once the lifetime is expired, they are meant to be thrown away. 

Back in the day, clothes, shoes, and yes rugs, were made to last. 

The same hand knotting practice used centuries ago for kings is used today. If your rug was unusually inexpensive, be sure it is not made from a synthetic material, hand tufted, or made with unstable dyes. 

1. Going out of business sales

hand knotted rugs

The next thing that you will want to avoid is going out of business sales. Everyone knows this trick right? They advertise that they are going out of business — everything is "70% OFF!" and "EVERYTHING MUST GO!"

This allows the customer to buy high quality goods for a fraction of the price. Right?

Wrong!

Stores will truck out the valuable merchandise, truck in new, lower quality stuff, open their doors, and make everyone believe that they are receiving high quality goods.

That is... if they are even going out of business at all!

[VIDEO] Check out this retro parody of going out business rug sales!

Many times they just advertise this to bring in extra revenue around a holiday like Labor Day or Fourth of July. This is just another reason why it is of paramount importance that you find a reliable rug retailer to provide you with a high quality, authentic oriental rug

Abe Farshneshani has made a business out of going out of business. His business plan is to open rug shops around the D.C. area, hold going out of business sales and then open up shop down the street!

RugKnots is located just an hour outside of D.C. and we have stayed in business with loyal customers for decades now. Don't fall prey to all the unscrupulous rug dealers out there!

*BONUS TIP*

How To Avoid Buying A Fake Rug 

Furniture Stores — Big box furniture stores such as Ikea, and even higher-end ones like Wolfs or Ethan Allen, sell fake oriental rugs. After convincing you that you need to buy their furniture, they will try to sell you a package.

Which is great, but...

Usually the rugs they are selling are synthetic or hand tufted. Even if the rugs they are selling happen to be authentic hand knotted oriental rugs, they will not posses the knowledge about the rugs structure, origins or how to style it.

To be safe, avoid a store that does not exclusively sell hand knotted rugs to sure that you are getting the best deal possible from the best company possible!

Remember these 7 signs when buying oriental rugs to make sure that your oriental rug is not fake!


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1 comment


  • some oriental rugs have white white fringe. is this cotton bleached or oxidized? what color does the cotton typically come before its bleached. is it a linen natural color, the color of a white sheeps wool?

    sarah on

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