Latex In Handmade Rugs
The terms “handmade” and “hand knotted” are not interchangeable. A rug advertised as “handmade” is usually a tufted rug. A tufted rug is easy to spot. The pattern of the rug is not visible from the back, nor are any knots, because there is a cloth backing on the entire rug. The backing is there to protect the yarn and the latex. There are no knots in a tufted rug. The yarn is pushed through the base fabric by hand with a punch tool. After the entire rug is filled in with these tufts, the back of the rug is coated with one or more layers of latex, then with the cloth backing. The loops are cut at this point. The glue will now hold the tufts to the backing or foundation. Tufted rugs give the look of a knotted rug with a substantially reduced price.
Latex is an issue because it is expensive, a synthetic rubber usually, which is an added cost to making a rug. The less you use the better the cost. Most manufacturers of tufted rugs cut the latex with chalk or other substances that thicken and makes the latex spread easier and covers more area with less product. The real problem comes down the road. As the latex ages it dries out. Just like glue. The back becomes very stiff, if bent or rolled you can hear a cracking noise. This is the hardened latex breaking apart. There is usually a dusting of latex and chalk on the floor too. Usually you blame the retailer or the cleaner. You thought you had a high quality wool rug that would last as long as you desired. Unfortunately you now hear the hard truth and the word, “Sorry.” Most manufacturer’s warrantees are 1 year.