Correctly Finish Carpet Edges to Make a Rug

Binding, Serging and Fringing Tips

Modern living room
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If you want to make an area rug from a carpet remnant or from a swath of broadloom carpet off a roll, there are several options for finishing the edges to prevent fraying. The most common choices for carpet finishing are binding, serging, and fringing.

Generally speaking this is not a technique you can do yourself, but instead requires that you have a professional do the work with specialty machines. The techniques for finishing carpet edges with each of the three methods are described below. 

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    Corner of a bound carpet edge

    Cheryl Simmons

    Binding is typically the easiest and least expensive method of finishing a carpet edge. Binding the edge of a carpet involves wrapping a strip of fabric (which is generally made from either polyester or cotton) around the edge of the carpet and stitching it in place. This is done by a carpet binding machine.

    Among the benefits of binding a carpet edge in this way are relatively low cost and the vast selection of binding materials available. There is a seemingly limitless color selection in binding, meaning that virtually any color of carpet can be matched. By matching the binding to the color of the carpet, the edge of the carpet will blend in without standing out.  A contrasting color could be also chosen  to create an accept, but most experts feel that the binding is so thin (about one-quarter of an inch) that the overall effect is a bit bizarre.

    This is the least expensive method for finished the edges of a carpet piece. 

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    Area rug featuring a serged edging

    Cheryl Simmons

    Serging the edge of the carpet pieces produces a look that seems hand-sewn, although it is most often done by machine. Serging is also called overlock stitching, and it is done with a special machine designed for the purpose.

    When finished, a serged edge looks as though a thick fiber has been wrapped around the edge of the carpet continuously. It is often considered to provide a higher-end look than simple binding, and it is commonly seen on manufactured (commercially purchased) area rugs. Serging is also available in a wide array of colors, although many places may have fewer choices in serging colors than in binding colors. 

    Serging is almost always more expensive than binding, but many people find the custom-look to be well worth the money.

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    Fringing on an area rug

    Cheryl Simmons

    Fringing is a common and somewhat iconic finishing treatment for area rugs. This is a look that is often seen: long fringed tassels, usually a white or off-white color.

    In hand-knotted rugs, the fringe is necessary, as it is the edge of the “backbone” fibers of the rug. On machine-made rugs, however, fringe is only for appearance and serves no practical purpose.

    While many people enjoy the look of an area rug with fringe, there are many others who find it to be a nuisance. It makes the rug difficult to vacuum, for example, as the ends get sucked into the vacuum and tangled. The fringe isalso easily stained or soiled, and usually difficult to clean.

    Fringing is usually more expensive than either binding or serging.