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Jute Area Rugs

Introduction:

The two most common styles of jute rugs are: bordered jute rugs and hand spun jute rugs, both of which are commonly referred to as flat-weave rugs. There is actually a third if you consider tufted jute rugs, but this category is quite small in relation to the other two. Most of these rugs are manufactured in India, which makes sense, as the majority of the jute fiber is produced in India.

Bordered Jute Area Rugs:

Bordered Jute Rugs are a popular rug choice because of their clean look, selection of colors and reasonable price point. These rugs are commonly woven in a simple boucle weave although I have also seen them in a herringbone weave. Once the rug is woven it is generally given a latex backing, which stabilizes the weave and gives structure to the rug. I would not recommend purchasing this style of rug if it doesn't have a latex backing. The latex also helps to keep the rug from moving around, but it's not uncommon to use an additional thin rug gripper/pad. The latex backing is often natural latex, the border natural cotton, or linen, and with the jute being a natural fiber, the entire rug is biodegradable.

excellent mitered corner and blind stitch

Properly Stitched Mitered Corner With Blind Stitched Border - Simple Boucle Weave - Click image to enlarge

Latex backing on jute rug

Latex Backed Jute Rug​​​​

After the latex has been applied, and left to cure, a border is applied to the rug. Cotton is the usual material, but linen and even leather are sometimes used. The border is generally about 2", but here again I have seen smaller borders of 1", and borders up to 4" wide. The borders are usually a complementary color to the body of the rug (often tone-on-tone) and are a natural element of the rug to highlight or "punch up" with cushions, poufs, throws, or wall art.

Mitered Corner - Sisal Herringbone - Animal Print

A Properly Stitched Mitered Corner With A Wider, Blind Stitched, Decorative Border - click image to enlarge

sisal boucle mitered corner

A Properly Stitched Mitered Corner With Straight Over-stitching

There are different ways that the borders are attached to the body of the rug. They can be sewn with a "blind stitch", then folded over the edge of the rug to the back and glued to the latex backing. Or the border can be folded around the edge of the rug and sewn through from top to bottom. If this is how the rug looks that you are considering, make sure that it's a quality manufacturer making the rug and that they sew this line of stitching straight. It is also very important that this stitched line is always on the border and doesn't "wander" off onto the body of the rug. This will leave a gap between the border and the rug body and will eventually lead to the border separating from the body of the rug.

Over stitched border mitered corner

A Properly Stitched Mitered Corner And Over-stitch - click image to enlarge

Example-Square-Corner

A Square Corner With Blind Stitched Border - click image to enlarge

There is then a choice for corners to have "square corners" or "mitered corners". If you are choosing a mitered corner make sure that the corner is tight and flush and looks finished. The corner shouldn't turn up. This is very important as a poorly finished corner will detract from the appearance of the rug.

example of poor stitching and mitered corner

An Example Of Poor Over-stitching And A Poorly Stitched Mitered Corner - Click image to enlarge

Poorly done mitered corner

Another Example Of A Poorly Stitched Mitered Corner And Poor Over-stitching​​​​

The body of the rug is generally a solid color, and the borders are generally available in a variety of colors or patterns. There are even companies that will custom manufacture to your specifications.

General Care And Maintenance:

With regard to the care of these rugs, regular vacuuming is the way to go. Jute is a very tough fiber and will last for years, however, I would advise caution with regard to general cleaning and spot cleaning.

I was asked how to clean these rugs hundreds of times during the years that I sold them. Sales people will tell you, and rug cleaning companies may also tell you, that these rugs can be cleaned. My experience is different. As an experiment I sent a rug to a very well know national rug cleaning company, who assured me they could properly clean my rug. They destroyed it! Jute rugs simply can't be cleaned like other rugs. You are dealing with three different materials: jute, latex and a border material. When they dry after cleaning, each of these materials will dry/shrink differently, and the end result is less than attractive. Cleaning companies might tell you that they will "stake" the rug for the drying process and everything will be alright. It won't.

I sold thousands of these rugs and I can testify that jute will even stain when water is spilled on it (it can leave a watermark). For example, a rug under a dining room table for a family with small children, might not be the best choice. Also, for some reason cats and dogs, when they aren't feeling well like to vomit on these rugs. This happened more often than you would think, I believe because the rugs are made from natural fibers.

Some don't have a problem with the odd spill, and will even say that it adds to the character of the rug, but if that's not you then perhaps another rug might be a better choice. If you have your heart set on this style of rug, there is also the option of treating your rug with a stain prevention product. These can be found in most home centers. Just keep in mind that the treatment does wear off after a couple of years (depends on your traffic), and it is only effective for stains, that is, you still have to vacuum your rug regularly.

Hand Spun Jute Rugs:

Hand Spun Jute Rugs have become very popular in recent years, and as their name implies are woven with hand spun jute yarn. They are usually "chunkier" than their bordered jute cousins and are often offered in the "natural" jute color, which is a lovely golden brown, although other colors are also available. Perhaps one of the most popular choices is the heavy boucle weave, in the natural jute color, however, there are other weaves, colors and patterns available. I would say that they are more rustic looking than the bordered rugs and generally heavier in form and appearance.

Hand Spun Jute Rug

Chunky Hand Spun Jute Rug

Hand-spun-jute-rug

Chunky Hand spun Jute Rug

These rugs don't require a latex backing, so using a rug gripper/under-pad is a good idea. Also, because of their general appearance they may be more forgiving of spills, however, as mentioned earlier a stain prevention treatment still wouldn't be a bad idea, and frequent vacuuming is still required. Because they don't have latex backing these rugs are reversible for double the wear, and are sometimes blended with other fibers such as cotton.

Perhaps the number one compliant with the hand spun jute rugs is that they tend to shed and often leave a dusty fiber residue under the rug. This is specific to the hand spun jute rugs and is not a problem with the machine spun yarn that is used to make the bordered jute rugs. Again, if you think this is something you couldn't live with then perhaps the hand spun jute rug is not for you. They are however, usually quite reasonably priced and look very nice in the right setting. You will just have to weigh the pros and cons if this is what you are looking for in a rug.

Caution - Bleached Jute Rugs:

Lastly, I have noticed that bleached jute rugs, in both the bordered jute and the hand spun jute, have been getting some attention and are trending at the moment. The jute fibers are bleached with hydrogen peroxide before being woven into a rug. Initially the rugs look very nice, almost like wool, but after a few months they begin to take on an unattractive yellow color. The more intense the UV light is that they are exposed to the faster this yellowing happens, so my recommendation would be to steer clear of the bleached jute option.