Unravel the Language of Rugs: Must Know Rug Terms

Rugs are more than floor coverings – they are works of art that add warmth, character, and style to any space. There are centuries of history behind the craft of rug-making, including diverse techniques, styles, and traditions from regions and cultures around the world.

Whether you’re a seasoned rug enthusiast or just starting to explore the world of rugs, understanding the rug terminology used in the industry is essential to discovering and understanding the rugs you love. In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to essential rug terms that every rug aficionado should know. From “Pile” to “Shag”, we’ll delve into the intricacies of rug craftsmanship and design, empowering you to make more informed choices when it comes to selecting the perfect rug for your home.

The Arid Modern Medallion Persian Indoor/Outdoor Terracotta High-Low Area Rug depicted in an outdoor living room setting
One rug term to know is “Border”. The red, high-low, decorative edge of this bordered rug combines sophistication and tactile appeal in one stylish design.


The border is the outermost part of a rug that frames the central area. When used, a rug border features a distinct pattern or motif, which traces the entire perimeter of the main field. Borders are common features in traditional Oriental, Persian, and European rug patterns. Borders can be simple or elaborate, and they contribute to the rug’s aesthetic appeal.

Flat Weave

Flat weave is a term that refers to a type of rug construction where the pile is intentionally kept low or non-existent. Flat-woven rugs are made by weaving the weft threads directly through the warp threads, creating a thin, flat surface. This technique results in lightweight and highly versatile rugs. The low profile of a flat weave rug is frequently selected for easy placement under furniture, doorways, and areas with heavy foot traffic. 


Fringe is the decorative trim that extends from the ends of some rugs. It can be either braided or knotted, adding a touch of elegance and traditional charm. While not all rugs have fringe, it is a characteristic often associated with Oriental, Persian, and Moroccan rug designs.

Hi-Lo or High-Low

Hi-Lo, also known as high-low, refers to a rug with contrasting pile heights. This technique involves creating a pattern or design by combining areas with higher pile (raised) and lower pile (lowered). The high-low effect adds depth, texture, and visual interest to the rug’s surface.

The Well-Jute Akita Moroccan Lattice Rug depicted in a modern interior room scene

A new trend in jute rugs is rugs that aren’t actually made of jute at all! Flat weave rugs, like the Well-Jute Akita Moroccan Lattice Rug, mimic the look of jute while providing the modern convenience of easy cleaning


Jute is a natural fiber commonly used as a backing material for rugs. It is derived from the jute plant and is known for its strength and durability. Jute backing provides stability to the rug, preventing it from sliding or shifting on the floor, while also creating a gentle surface that can be placed on wood floors. Some flat weave rugs are made entirely of jute.

Lattice and Trellis

Lattice and trellis are similar geometric patterns often found in rugs, especially Moroccan rugs. The patterns are formed by interlocking or crisscrossing lines, which result in a grid-like appearance. While seemingly simple, lattice and trellis patterns feature an endless variety of subtle variations for a warm, organic feel. 


Another rug term to know is “Medallion”. A medallion is a central focal point in a rug’s design. It is often a symmetrical motif or pattern that stands out from the rest of the rug’s layout. Medallions can vary in size, shape, and complexity, and they add visual interest and balance to the overall rug design.


Rug pile refers to the surface or top layer of a rug. It is made up of individual fibers, which can be looped, cut, or a combination of both. The length and density of the rug pile impact the rug’s appearance, texture, and durability. Understanding the different types of rug pile can help you determine the right rug for your needs and preferences.

The Lattice Moroccan Trellis Ivory Dark Blue Flat-Weave Rug is rolled out between a large window and a console table
Adding a runner rug to your stairs or hallway, like the Lattice Moroccan Trellis Ivory Dark Blue Flat-Weave Rug, instantly enhances its aesthetic appeal with warmth, color, and personality.


A runner, in rug terms, is a long, narrow rug that is specifically designed to cover hallways, staircases or other elongated areas. Runners are typically rectangular in shape, with a length much greater than their width. Amongst the many functional and aesthetic benefits of runner rugs, they protect your floors, enhance your space, and make an easy, stylish statement.

Serged Edge

Serging is a popular finishing technique used to secure and protect the edges of a rug. It involves wrapping the edges with a tightly stitched yarn or thread, creating a neat and durable border. A serged edge helps prevent fraying and prolongs the lifespan of the rug.


Shag rugs feature a long, fluffy pile that creates a soft and luxurious feel underfoot. The rug pile is often made of thick, loosely twisted yarns that stand upright. Shag rugs are known for their cozy texture and contemporary aesthetic, adding warmth and comfort to any room.


When it comes to rug terms, “warp” refers to the vertical threads that form the foundation of a rug. These threads are stretched tightly on a loom, providing structure and support for the rug’s design. The warp is usually not visible in the finished rug but is an essential component of its construction.


The weft refers to the horizontal threads that interlace with the warp to create the rug’s pattern or design. These threads are woven over and under the warp threads, creating a tightly woven fabric. The weft adds strength and stability to the rug.

The San Marino Flat-Weave Rug hangs on a wall behind a bench with books and two beige pillows
A vintage rug with a medallion, like the San Marino Flat-Weave Rug, creates a captivating focal point that effortlessly enhances the room with charm and character.

Think You Know Your Rug Terms?

By familiarizing yourself with these rug terms, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of rug craftsmanship, construction, and design. Whether you’re shopping for a traditional Persian rug or a modern flat weave, knowing the proper rug terminology will enable you to make informed decisions and appreciate the intricacies of these textile masterpieces. So, next time you explore the world of rugs, you can confidently discuss rug pile heights, identify medallions, and choose between shag and flat weave, all while immersing yourself in the rich and diverse universe of rugs.

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