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  • Writer's pictureBal Arisi

The Enemies of all Great Looking Rugs—Traffic Lanes, Wear Patterns, and Pile Distortion


area rug, traffic pattern
traffic lane

The rug you purchased and laid in your home is not the rug you own now. How did this happen? Bal Arisi receives many calls from rug owners wondering how to get that amazing looking rug back again? Here are some tips regarding what you may be seeing on your rug, what to do to improve your rug’s appearance, and how to avoid these things from happening too quickly.


The most common complaint from area rug owners is that the area of rug that they see is dull, dirty, matted down. Most often this is what is called a traffic lane.

1. Traffic Lanes Traffic lanes are caused by soils deposited on the pathways we walk on around our furniture, or on our way through a room to the next room, and by low performing rug fibers, such as faux silk, that don’t hold up to normal traffic and show everything. Over time, the traffic lanes will become soiled and gray, whereas the rug under the furniture still looks new. What you can do to avoid this: Vacuum the common problem area as least twice a week to remove soil build-up, and rotate your rug 180 degrees every six months to keep wear even. Regular annual professional area rug cleaning will keep your rug look newer longer.


The second most common problem area rug owners site is that the area of rug that they see is worn more than other areas. This is called a wear pattern.

2. Wear Patterns Wear patterns are caused by worn down, abraded fibers due to heavy use, such as in a hallway or entry. Traffic lanes that do not receive extra attention eventually become wear patterns, and low performing fibers, such as faux silk, will literally break down under heavy foot traffic causing wear patterns. Different than normal traffic lanes that may wash out, wear patterns are permanent damage that will not improve with cleaning. If left unchecked, these areas will eventually become threadbare. What you can do to avoid the problem: Put a good rug pad under your rugs to help absorb the worst wear. Rotate your rug and reposition furniture to protect these thin areas, and repair areas that are close to breaking before they become actual holes.


The third problem area rug owners site are areas of shading. Darker areas appear on their once consistently shaded rug. This is known as pile distortion.


area rug, pile distortion
pile distortion

3. Pile Distortion Pile distortion happens when wear causes rug pile to untwist and light is absorbed in these areas while the non-trafficked areas around it reflect light. In heavy traffic lanes, foot traffic may be “training” your rug pile to lean in the wrong direction. Improper spot cleaning at home can also be resetting the pile lay, and low performing fibers, such as faux silk, don’t hold their twist and will not lay in the right direction, even with normal foot traffic. These distorted dark patches of rug pile cannot be groomed properly to lay in the same direction as the rest of the rug pile, and it shows up more in open patterned rugs than in busy patterned rugs. What you can do to fix or avoid the problem: Vacuum your rugs from bottom to top, from side to side, and then one last time from top to bottom to help set the pile. (The bottom is the end of the rug that the pile lays toward.) Make sure that you do not vacuum over the fringe or the side cord. If this doesn’t help, bring your rug into Bal Arisi for a professional area rug washing and we may be able to groom the fibers back again.

When purchasing a new rug, avoid low performing rug fibers such as polyester, faux silk, cotton which do not hold up under heavy wear. Stick to wool, which is a strong fiber for area rugs.


Call Bal Arisi (267) 918-2085 for any of your rug needs and rug padding purchase, we are here to help!


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