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, however, these aren't techniques you can do yourself; rather, it requires that you have a professional do the work with specialty machines.
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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 the relatively low cost and the vast selection of binding materials available. There is a significant number of colors from which to choose 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 properly. A contrasting color could be also chosen to create an accent, but most experts feel that the binding is so thin (about 1/4-inch) that the overall effect is a bit bizarre.
Although it might take a little practice and lead to mixed results, you can attempt to bind a carpet edge at home. After trimming the carpet remnant, apply binding tape in 6-inch increments all the way around the edge of the carpet. Apply a bit of hot glue to where the binding tape meets on either end to seal it together.
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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. Serging is almost always more expensive than binding.
When finished, a serged edge looks as though a thick fiber has been wrapped around the edge of the carpet continuously, which creates a higher-end look than simple binding. This is the type of carpet stitching that's 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.
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Fringing is a common and somewhat iconic finishing treatment for area rugs. 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. Fringing is usually more expensive than either binding or serging.
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 is also easily stained or soiled and usually difficult to clean.