Silk or Art Silk

silk display

We’re sorry to say it, but when someone says they have a silk rug I seriously doubt that fact.  Silk area rugs are few and far between. Most of the time it is a Faux Silk or “Art Silk”.

Most fake silk rugs are made with:

  • Art Silk (ARTificial) or Faux Silk
  • Mercerized Cotton
  • Rayon or Viscose
  • Man-made Silk

If you see a label that says man-made silk, it is not real silk. Only silk worms can make silk.  Also, silk rugs seldom have a label on them. Manufacturers are very good at making a rug look like silk but with a little bit of knowledge you can avoid paying too much for a fake silk area rug.

Things to look for:

  1. Knot Count – A real silk rug will have a high knot count.  It should have at least 200 KPSI (Knots Per Square Inch) and most will have more than 500 KPSI.  Because it has a high knot count, it should have a very intricate design pattern.
  1. Fringes – The best way of telling a real from fake silk rug is to look at the fringes – very, very closely. A real silk rug will have real silk fringes that can be clearly seen to be an extension of the rug, not sewn on later.

fringe trimmed in silk

On the above rug the flat part is cotton and then silk was pulled through to make the fringes.  A very close examination shows that the colour and texture of the cotton and silk are slightly different. The fringes (tassels) are silk, so if you only look at the long part of the fringes you could believe this was a true silk rug. That would change when it started to rapidly fade or if it is properly appraised by an expert and determined not to be real silk at all.

folded edge

Here you can see the folded fringe base – a common characteristic of an artificial rug.  The fringe has been attached post rug making.

pure silk edge

This is a beautiful example of a genuine silk rug fringe, and you can easily see the fringe is part of the rug’s foundation.

  1. Burn Smell – If you possibly can, snip a tiny piece of the fringe and put it quickly through a flame and out again. The burnt piece should be a crisp, black ball and the smoke should smell like burning hair. (Rayon smells like burning paper and the ash is soft and chalky).
  1. Rubbing – if the rug is rubbed vigorously, real silk will feel warm to the touch whereas artificial silk will feel cold.

True silk area rugs are uncommon and we don’t see very many here at Reliable Carpet Care.  However, when we do get in a silk rug for cleaning it is lovely to look at. The beauty and workmanship that goes into them is breathtaking – so many knots per square inch and the details are amazingly fine. Many believe that real silk rugs should never be walked on, but rather only used as wall art.

Expert Identification and Appraisal:

If you have a rug that you are unsure of, feel free to bring it to our office at 270 Carlaw Ave. in Toronto.  We help you determine if your rug is real silk, and also guide you on how best to care for your rug.

Many appraisers only estimate the replacement value of your rugs and, while appropriate for insurance purposes, these appraisals can be misleading when it comes to selling your rug. We can provide you with replacement value and resale value estimates for your antique, heirloom, and generational rugs.

For further details on this process, see or call 416-461-4006 for an appointment.