What You Should Know Before Purchasing a Rug

   Purchasing a rug can be a daunting task.  With so many options to choose from—ranging in fiber content, style, construction, and, most certainly, price—one can easily become overwhelmed.  Don’t fret; we’re here to help!  Breaking down the process into simple steps and categories helps to demystify the quest for your magic carpet, so you can rest assured your toes (and wallet) will finally be happy.

   It’s best to start with a plan—a floor plan, that is.  Your furniture arrangement and overall spatial dimensions will determine what size rug best fits your space.  If your furniture is against a wall, the rug generally just needs to be large enough for the front legs of your furniture to rest on top of the rug. If your furniture is free-standing in the middle of a space, the rug should comfortably fit below all the furniture pieces.  In a bedroom, you could either use a larger area rug or two runners alongside the bed.  Moreover, it’s safe to say that designers prefer about 1-2 feet, or 18 inches, of floor space between a rug’s edge and the wall.

   Articulating the exact functions and users of your space will help you determine what kind of rug you should purchase.  Carpets have a variety of pile-heights and construction methods, from long, fluffy shag rugs to flat-weave kilims.  If you know you might want to lounge around or play with your little one crawling about on your carpet, a comfy higher pile or even shag rug might provide the most comfort.  If you’re searching for an entry-way runner, however, a flat-weave or lower pile would wear much better in high traffic situations. 

   You should also consider how long you want the rug to last—and how much you’re willing to pay for that quality.  Hand-knotted rugs are very expensive, as they are labor-intensive and take a long time to manufacturer.  With proper maintenance, however, these rugs can last 20 or more years, and boast minimal shedding.  Hand-tufted, hand-hooked, and power-loomed options will last anywhere from 3-10 years, with power-loomed products being the most affordable option.  Flat-weave carpets with no pile can also last 20+ years without the high price-tag of hand-knotted rugs and are often reversible.

   Additionally, fiber content affects a carpet’s durability, cost, aesthetics, and hand (tactile quality).  Natural fibers (cotton, sisal, jute, silk, and wool) have different properties among themselves and certainly differ from those of synthetics (polypropylene, acrylic, viscose, polyester).  Wool is the most popular and time-tested fiber for carpets.  Derived from sheep, wool is naturally resilient in part due to the spiral shape of the fibers as they “spring” back into shape.  Wool is also a good insulator and is a sustainable choice (as are most natural-fiber products).  If properly cared for, wool rugs can last a very long time—however, they will cost a pretty penny and require lots of maintenance.  Although the fibers can hide dirt more easily than smoother synthetic fibers, they do absorb protein-based stains like blood, and dye stains like coffee and wine can be difficult to remove too.  They usually require professional cleaning which can become costly.  And, finally, aside from wool’s higher price tag and upkeep, wool has low resistance to abrasion which makes it a poor choice for a high-traffic area such as an entryway, hallway, or child’s play area.  Wool rugs are better suited as a beautiful accent to a formal living room or dining room.

   Nylon and polypropylene, among other synthetics, are becoming more and more popular in the rug industry as they’re durable as well as generally more affordable than naturally-derived fibers.  Nylon is the hardest of all synthetics and resists wear and abrasion well.  It also has very high resilience, meaning it bounces back to it’s original form easily after being crushed.  Because nylon and polypropylene are solution-dyed (the fibers are dyed before they’re loomed), these rugs are very fade-resistant.  These fibers also resist water and moisture, so they work well in damp spaces such as basements or outdoors.  Although nylon is generally easy to clean, it is susceptible to food stains and household chemical stains (bleach, cleaners).  Polypropylene, although less durable and resilient than nylon, is inert and therefore resists acid and bleach well.  However, because it has tendencies to mat under high use and attract oils, polypropylene carpets are best suited for low-traffic situations that are susceptible to spills, perhaps by children or pets, while nylon is perfect for high-traffic areas like mudrooms and entryways. Polyester, another synthetic, looks and feels great when new and is more affordable then nylon, but lacks resiliency and can easily look worn down and matted.  When choosing polyester, opt for shorter, twisted, dense piles—or even loops, like berber—which will help with wear.  These more affordable synthetic options are the way to go when choosing a more temporary or trendy solution; when your son finally outgrows his dinosaur-themed room, you can sleep easy knowing you didn’t pay a premium for that purple triceratops rug. 

For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us directly at Amy Youngblood Interiors; we’re happy to walk through the process of selecting the perfect rug with you!