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Why Does My Oriental Rug Look Different From Various Angles?

One aspect of pile rugs that often gets overlooked but has a significant impact on their appearance is the direction of the nap.  Oriental Rug Salon regularly receives calls from interior designers and rug owners advising that their area rug “looks different” when viewed from different angles.

When you run your hand back and forth across the surface of a rug, you’ll notice that the rug feels smooth in one direction, while in the other direction, it has a rough feel. The reason for this is because the rug pile doesn’t stand straight up but slants toward one end of the rug. This slant doesn’t just give the textile a tactile quality, but it has a noticeable impact on the rug’s colors because of how the pile reflects light. If you stand at one end of a rug and look in the smooth direction, the colors will appear lighter, and if you look in the rough direction of the pile, the colors will appear darker.

Depending on the colors of your rug, the lighting in your room, and other factors, you may prefer which way your rug pile is facing in your room. When a rug is new, the pile usually slants in the same direction giving the pile and colors a uniform and even look. However, we rarely walk across a rug in the same direction as the nap; we walk across them sideways and against the nap. Foot traffic also tends to follow patterns; we walk across a room the same way to sit on the couch or at a table or get from one room to another.

Over time, foot traffic against the nap can cause the pile in those places to change direction and slant in a different direction from the rest of the rug. This is called nap reversal.

Because the slant of the pile has such a noticeable impact on the colors, now, when you look across the rug you may see sections where it seems like the colors are a bit different; this is sometimes called shading. When a rug is in use, nap reversal and the shading that can result may be hidden by dirt and furniture placement. Once the rug is cleaned, it may be more noticeable, and you might think this is a cleaning issue, but it takes time to develop and occurred before the rug was seen by a professional rug cleaning company.

A thorough cleaning will include grooming the pile to make it as uniform as possible. This can help mitigate nap reversal, but it often is permanent. These effects tend to be more evident in rugs with a longer, thicker pile or a solid color. Depending on how you use your rug, you may not be able to prevent nap reversal from happening, but there are a few steps you can take that will help delay it and minimize its appearance.

  1. Vacuum your rugs regularly to remove as much loose soil as possible.
  2. Rotate your rug 180 degrees every six months so that foot traffic is spread more evenly across the entire rug rather than wearing the same few places.
  3. Finally, regularly having your area rug professionally cleaned by Oriental Rug Salon will help remove odors, soil, sand, dust mites, pollen, and other contaminants from the pile, thereby extending the life and beauty of your area rug.

Oriental Rug Salon is a Certified Partner with the prestigious Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and the International Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI).  We are A+ Rated by the Better Business Bureau and an eight-year-in-a-row-winner of the coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award.  We are internationally Certified as a WoolSafe Service Provider.

For more information about Oriental Rug Salon and our thoroughly exhaustive Oriental, wool and silk area rug cleaning, repair or appraisal services, please visit us online at www.OrientalRugSalon.com or “call us on the carpet” any time at 239-424-8171.  You can also visit us on our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/OrientalRugSalon