(The following is an edited excerpt from Warp, Weft & Weave: A Life Collecting and Investing in Handmade Oriental Rugs by Sam Ramazani)
Today we’re going to talk about something that can really damage a valuable rug – the sun. Sunlight has tremendous bleaching ability and is something that people very often don’t consider when placing their rugs in the home.
Sunlight – An Interesting Problem
Sunlight is an interesting problem. Oriental rugs are meant to be used, and seen, not to be hidden away in the dark. But the sun is going to fade a rug, no two ways about that.
Proper rotation will serve your rugs well, in that rotating will fade a rug evenly and actually can give a beautiful look to your rugs. Choosing this method of managing sunlight fade, rugs should be rotated fairly often, depending on the amount of exposure they are getting. Strong sunlight could call for rotating every few months. Milder sunlight may only require rotation when cleaning (which is the easiest to remember). Keeping a close eye on the amount of fading will help you decide what schedule is right for you.
Fixing a Sunlight Damaged Rug
Sometimes a rug gets very strong exposure to sunlight and can fade dramatically. I have some clients who once put a rug in such strong sunlight that it almost ruined the rug. This rug was put in a room facing a window with full sun in Arizona. When they sent it to me, it was essentially one solid color, it was so bleached. We were able to rescue the rug by shearing it.
Because the sun had just bleached the very tip of the wool yarns, we were able to take the shearers and remove the faded part.
Extreme Sun Exposure
When a rug is going to have this kind of UV exposure, the best thing to do is cover the windows with a clear UV blocking film, which will block out 99% of the UV. Even in full sun with the curtains open, the rug will be immune to fading.