How to Stretch an Oriental Rug

Stretching an Oriental rug is an important maintenance task that helps restore the rug’s original shape and tension. Over time, these handmade rugs can become wrinkled, buckled, or loose due to factors like high foot traffic, furniture weight, or changes in humidity. If left unchecked, these issues can lead to permanent damage and a worn, unsightly look. The stretching process involves pulling and tightening the rug along its edges to re-tension the fibers and remove any ripples, wrinkles, or buckles that have formed. This allows the rug to lay flat again with an even, taut surface. However, it requires care and precision to avoid overstretching or damaging the delicate fibers, fringe, or foundation of the rug.

This article provides straightforward, step-by-step instructions on how to properly stretch an Oriental rug yourself. Follow this guide to achieve a smooth, taut, and revitalized look for your prized Oriental rug.

Learn to Stretch Your Oriental Rug

  1. Prepare the Rug: Begin by thoroughly brushing the rug’s pile with a soft-bristled brush or your hands. Gently smooth out any existing wrinkles or buckles. This step helps loosen and straighten the fibers, making them more pliable for stretching.
  2. Roll the Rug: Tightly roll up the rug, starting from one straight edge and rolling towards the opposite straight edge. Aim for a compact, sausage-like roll. This process helps to temporarily compress the fibers and prepare them for stretching.
  3. Unroll and Brush: Carefully unroll the rug and lay it flat on a clean surface. Use the brush or your hands to thoroughly smooth out the pile, applying firm pressure to help flatten any remaining wrinkles or ripples.
  4. Ironing (Optional): For stubborn wrinkles or particularly delicate rugs, you may consider using a low-heat iron. Always move the iron in the direction of the pile, not against it. Gently iron the rug’s surface to help relax the fibers and achieve a smoother appearance. Exercise caution and avoid excessive heat, which can damage the rug.
  5. Secure the Corners: Place weights or heavy objects at each corner of the rug to prevent the edges from curling up during the stretching process.
  6. Begin Stretching: Starting from one corner, use a knee kicker or a specialized rug-stretching tool to carefully pull and stretch the rug along its edges. Apply gentle, even tension, working your way around the perimeter of the rug.
  7. Maintain Even Tension: As you stretch each side, ensure that the tension is distributed evenly across the rug’s surface. Avoid overstretching in certain areas, as this can cause distortion or damage.
  8. Final Inspection: Once you’ve completed stretching the entire rug, inspect it carefully for any remaining wrinkles or unevenness. If necessary, repeat the stretching process in problem areas until you achieve a smooth, taut surface.

Avoid excessive force or heat, as these can irreparably damage the delicate fibers and diminish the rug’s value and beauty. If you encounter significant challenges or have concerns about damaging an antique or valuable rug, it’s best to seek professional assistance.

Tips and Precautions

Delicate and antique Oriental rugs require extra care during the stretching process. Thoroughly examine for any existing tears, worn areas, or fragility before proceeding. For irreplaceable or extremely valuable pieces, consider seeking professional stretching services to ensure proper handling and avoid potential damage.

To minimize future wrinkling and maintain your rug’s taut appearance, implement regular maintenance practices. Rotate the rug periodically to evenly distribute wear. Use rug pads or underlays to prevent slippage and bunching. Additionally, maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels to minimize fiber contractions that can lead to rippling.


By following the basic instructions provided – getting the area ready and using the right stretching method – you can properly re-stretch your oriental rug. With a few common tools and some time, this straightforward process will make your handmade oriental rug look smooth, flat, and like new again. Plan to re-stretch every couple of years to maintain these delicate rugs in top shape.

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