The root of the proliferation of braided rugs is the early colonial period in American history. Women would construct braided rugs from any available scrap materials for warmth and comfort in the home. With the harsh winters and limited resources these rugs provided a much needed service. However as necessity waned and industry developed braided rug construction moved away from the realm of handicrafts.
Originally a labour intensive and time consuming task, this all changed around the year 1910 as a result of the work of a fellow named Romeo Paulus.
Romeo, an employee of shoelace factory had an epiphany. He realised that the same production methods used in shoelace production could be used in the construction of braided rugs. He repurposed a piece of existing shoelace machinery and started making the first machine made braided rugs in the United States.
In today’s world, machine made braided rugs are constructed using one of these two methods. If you are interested in purchasing a braided rug then use this article to decide which type you prefer.
A round braid is composed of a single central core enclosed within a braided outer shell. Round braids share many similarities with rope and in fact are often made using the same machinery.
A round braid is the lowest cost braided rug as it is the easiest to manufacture. This low cost is its selling point. The most likely places you would find a braided rug constructed in this way would be in discount and bargain stores.
The Achilles heel of a round braid is the quality of the core material. The core material is unseen by the consumer but is 100% responsible for the durability of the rug. Due to the ‘cheap’ nature of a round-braid braided rug, the core material is often made from a cheap material, such as foam rubber or even paper. These materials do not make a durable rug.
Flat braids hark back to the traditional methods of braided rug construction. They are better at retaining their shape and form than round braided rugs and look smarter. Flat braided rugs can be made from cloth or yarn, but the techniques for the final process are the same for each.
Using either cloth cut into strips around one or two inches wide or yarn woven into strips, the strips were folded along the outer edges and in the centre to form and enclosed strand. The makes for a clean edge and gives the construction added strength. The braid is then arranged into the desired shape and stitched together. The flat braid technique is more expensive for the time it takes to make and can be used to make some designer rugs.