All About The Back / Underside Of A Rug

What You Should Know About The Underside / Back Of The Rug

All the Questions You May Have About Rugs and Carpets

We constantly see rug dealers and “carpet mavens” flipping the corner or even the entire rug over to it’s back and examining the underside. But why do they flip it to see the back of a rug? Why do they even look at the underside of the rug in the first place?

As we explain below, when shopping for a rug, turning a portion of it over to examine the underside is extremely important.

Picture of the back / underside of an antique Persian rug from Nazmiyal Antique Rugs in NYC

Picture of the back / underside of an antique Persian

Reasons for examining the underside of a rug:

  • Diagnostic point of view: Viewing the back of the rug is what allows one to see the actual technical aspects of the weave / rug knots or “structure”. This, in turn, will aid in determining the place of origin of the rug.
  • Determining the quality of the rug: The reverse side will reveal the relative quality / fineness of the weave itself as well as the knot density.
  • Rug repair and restoration: Many time, rug repairs and restorations are not easily detectable when viewing the face of the rug. But when you turn the rug over, the underside of the rug may show more clearly where the restoration took place.
  • Examining the carpet dyes: The back of the rug can also reveal something about the dyes that were used. Especially if there is a big disparity between the color on both sides of the carpet. The front of the rug will usually be lighter than the back. This is mostly due to sun fading as the face gets exposed to light while the back rarely does. The early synthetic dyes are fugitive on exposure to light and the light does not reach the back of the carpet. This is unless the rug had been deliberately flipped over and exposed to fade the back as well. The only reason this would be done would be to try and conceal the fact that it is faded. If the front is darker than the back, you may want someone to look it over as it may have been artificially re-colored or painted.
  • Helping to determine how old the rug is: The texture of the back also helps indicate the age of the rug. A relatively smooth or “hairless” back surface takes time to develop. Most new modern rugs will have a more fibrous, fuzzy texture. Examining the back of the rug may be the key to discovering the great age of an antique carpet whose front looks relatively new.

This rug blog about about the back / underside of a rug in our Rug Q&A’s series was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rug Gallery In Manhattan, NYC.

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