How to Shop for an Area Rug
Whether you are looking for a way to add those finishing touches to a new room or revitalize a not so new room, an area rug is the fastest way to change the mood or character of a room. In addition to its aesthetics and design characteristics, an area rug can help absorb the noise level in a room with hardwood, tile or other hard surface floors, it can also add warmth and charm. There's an endless array of rug styles and designs to choose from. They vary from Oriental to Persian, contemporary to traditional and European to Native American designs. In addition to the design of the area rug, the next variable is the size of the area rug. There are several common area rug sizes, 4x6, 6x9 and 9x11. The smaller area and scatter rugs can be ideal for adorning smaller spaces, while large sizes work very well for dining rooms, kitchens and living rooms. Most area rugs are rectangular in shape, however you can add flair and make the area rug the focal point of your room by choosing a round or octagonal shape.
While area rugs were originally hand made rugs, the term currently refers to both hand made and machine made rugs. Hand made rugs are the benchmark for the area rug industry. Machine made rugs can imitate the patterns used in the most popular of the hand made designs, at a much more affordable price. Hand made area rugs are usually made of wool or silk or other natural fibers, while machine made rugs can be made from both natural and synthetic fibers. Advances in technology have made it possible for machine made rug manufacturers to use natural fibers and intricate designs that were usually reserved for the hand made rugs. Many area rug manufacturers are producing very high quality rugs with natural fibers. The most common natural fiber being used today is wool. (See additional information on wool and synthetic fibers below.)
The pricing for area rugs is varied and is generally based on several factors; machine made v. hand made, synthetic v. natural fibers, and size. Machine made rugs are usually sold at a fraction of the cost of hand made rugs. Area rugs made of synthetic fibers are normally less expensive than those made of natural fibers. And of course, the size of the rug will also determine the price.
Woven, tufted, bordered, sculptured, textured... Oriental, Persian, Berber and Native American designs are just a few that can be found in nearly any price range. Whatever your need, a rug that fits your style is easy to find on RugsDirect.com.
Below are some tips that may help make your area rug selection easier.
Area Rug Selection Tips
Remember, the rug has to fit the room and it can do so in more ways than one. You should consider how the room is used, how much traffic the area gets, how it will be viewed and under what light. For high-traffic areas such as hallways and foyers, you may want a durable, patterned rug.
Choose a rug that will perform well, with the right combination of density and fiber. The denser the pile, (with closer tufts or stitches), the better your rug will wear. Synthetic yarns - nylon, polyester, acrylic, and polypropylene “olefin” - and the naturals - wool and cotton - are durable, soft, and easy to clean.
Machine-made rugs often look strikingly similar to the hand made kind, but they’re usually much less expensive. And as a reminder, you should consider the fringe. If the rug you like has fringe be careful when using the vacuum cleaner.
A light colored rug makes a room look more spacious, while deeper colors help make a room feel cozy.
If you have the opportunity, you may want to start with a totally empty room, choose a rug first, then paint or paper the walls in colors found in the rug. Choose furniture that will enhance the colors or patterns found in the rug.
If you already have your furniture, choose a rug that picks up the colors used in your furnishing patterns. Patterns can be mixed if they are coordinated by color. Elements of a rug design can be further incorporated into the overall design scheme.
A rug with a bold, overall design can be the focal point of a room, choose a chair or sofa in solid or subdued patterns.
Don't underestimate the value of an underlay or pad. Protect your new area rug with a proper padding. Not only will the pad absorb the impact of feet and noise, it will reduce wear and tear on the rug and make vacuuming easier. A proper rug pad will also prevent the rug from sliding on hardwood or laminate flooring.
Lastly, when buying a rug, make sure to select from a reputable dealer with a wide selection and a guarantee on their merchandise.
Construction and Fiber
Your rug should not only look great, it should perform well, too. To find the best rug within your budget, there are several factors to consider.
The type of fiber used in your rug will help determine its appearance and performance. Synthetic fibers provide brilliant colors, easy maintenance, softness and outstanding value. Natural fibers provide soft, low luster colors, long term performance and other aesthetic qualities
The following are some of the general types of fibers, each with different characteristics:
Nylon - Wear and soil resistant and easily cleaned. Resilient, withstands heavy traffic and the weight and movement of furniture. Unlimited variety of brilliant colors.
Wool - Noted for luxury and softness. Has high bulk and is available in many colors.
Olefin (Polypropylene) - Strong and colorfast with a soft wool-like feel. Resists wear and stains. Affordable. Predominant machine-woven synthetic fiber. May also be used in outdoor carpet.
Polyester - Noted for its soft "hand" when used in thick, cut pile textures.
Acrylic - Offers the appearance of wool at a lower cost. Sometimes is blended with other fibers. Most often appears in bath rugs and mats.
Cotton - Noted for its softness and performance. Available in many colors.
Blends - There may be blends of any of the above fibers.
Wool and Synthetic
What is the difference between wool and synthetic rugs?
Synthetic fibers are used exclusively in machine made rugs. One of the greatest advantages of synthetic rugs is a byproduct of the fiber being non-porous. This means that it is inherently stain proof and resists soiling and staining from almost any chemical. Synthetic fiber rugs are also more affordable than a wool rug. Wool fiber is available in both machine and hand made rugs. Wool is the traditional fiber used in fine hand made Oriental rugs. Wool not only wears longer, it also keeps its good appearance and stays new-looking longer. Each wool fiber is made up of millions of "coiled springs" that stretch and give rather than break, and so wool is extremely durable. Wool rugs absorb dyes differently than synthetic rugs giving them a more authentic look.
Wool, one of the oldest textile fibers known, has survived the test of time because of its unique natural properties. The basic characteristics wool possessed in the Stone Age era, for instance, are still the fundamental qualities that make wool unique in this century. Today there are many other textile fibers, but as yet science has not been able to produce another fiber containing all the natural properties of wool. Wool remains unique; a masterpiece of design.
Facts on Wool
Wool is Water Repellent
While wool can absorb moisture, it repels liquids. The scales on the outside of the fiber cause liquid to roll off the surface of the wool fabric. For instance, if you accidentally spill water on the floor, it is no use trying to mop it up with an old wool jumper because the wool will not absorb the liquid. Similarly, if water spills on your area rug it will take quite some time before the water penetrates your wool rug.
Wool is Fire Resistant
Wool is naturally safe. It does not have to be specially treated to become non-flammable. While it can catch alight, it will not flare up nor support a flame. Instead of burning freely, once the flame is removed a cold ash is left which can be brushed away immediately. Wool does not melt when burned, and so cannot stick to the skin and cause serious burns. Because of its fire-resistant qualities, wool blankets, furnishings and carpets in your home are necessary insurance, and wool for clothing (particularly children) will protect from accidents associated with fire. Firemen wear wool uniforms, and fire fighters in rural areas should always ensure they dress themselves in wool before rushing to fight a fire.
Wool is Naturally Elastic
Wool is naturally elastic, greater than that of any other fiber. Wool can be twisted, turned and stretched, and yet it returns to its natural shape. This is why wrinkles disappear from wool garments when they are rested, and why wool carpets retain their springy pile for many years. A wool fiber when dry can be extended by about 30 percent. When wet it will stretch by between 60 and 70 percent.
Wool Wears Longer
Wool not only wears longer, it also keeps its good appearance and stays new looking longer. It doesn't get shabby in a short space of time. Each wool fiber is made up of millions of "coiled springs" that stretch and give rather than break, and so wool is extremely durable. Wool stands up to the stresses and strains of normal wear because it gives rather than resists friction. The durability and strength of the coarser wool gives us furnishings materials and rugs which retain their good appearance for a long time. One of the reasons why so many people hang on to a favorite old wool garment for so many years is because it retains its original appearance longer than most other fabrics.
Wool is Versatile
Wool fabric, knitwear and rugs are made from a wide range of wool types varying from extra fine for suits and knitwear through to broad fibers which give carpets their strength and character. This means that wool gives designers endless potential for their creations - from delicate fabrics to rugged outdoor wear. Wool technologists have developed an endless number of combinations of weave, knits and textures, from sheer lacy knits and light airy worsteds to bulky tweeds and heavy over coating. Different sheep breeds, each with their own unique fiber characteristics provide manufacturers with different wools for an even wider range of products. Blending various wool types in different ways adds further to wool's versatility. It is small wonder then that wool is found in products as diverse as paint-rollers and mattresses, carpets and coats, furnishing fabrics and high-fashion suits, blankets and underwear, curtains and skiwear, wall paper and tennis ball coverings.
Wool Resists Static
Because wool naturally absorbs moisture from the air; the tendency to collect static electricity is reduced. Walking across a wool carpet, you are less likely to receive a shock when you touch a grounded object. Wool garments are much less likely to "spark" or cling to the body.
Wool Insulates Against Noise
Wool is a wonderful insulator against noise. It absorbs sound and reduces noise level considerably. For this reason wool carpets are often used in offices, restaurants, airport terminals, etc. Wool is also an ideal material used in such places as concert halls to attain the best acoustics possible.
Wool Resists Dirt
Wool resists dirt, retains its appearance, and stays cleaner longer. Its ability to absorb moisture prevents a build-up of static electricity and therefore wool does not attract lint and dust from the air. Furthermore the crimp in the wool fiber and the scales on the outside of the fiber assist in keeping dirt from penetrating the surface. The same qualities also make it easier to clean.
Wool Dyes Beautifully
Wool dyes so easily and the range of colors is limitless. The scales on the surface of the wool fiber tend to diffuse light giving less reflection and a softer color. Because proteins in the core of the fiber are reactive, they can absorb and combine with a wide variety of dyes. This means that the wool holds its color well as the dye becomes part of the fiber.
Most area rugs will last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. However, there are four factors that rugs fear the most: grit, moisture, moths and general wear. The suggestions below will help combat these factors and give your rug extended life.
Regular, but simple, care on your area rug helps counter the abuse your rug suffers and help it retain its beauty. What other home furnishing is walked all over?
Vacuum every few days in high traffic areas, and once a week in less-used areas. Use a well-functioning vacuum cleaner, with an enclosed, efficient, dirt, grit and dust-catching bag. Most rugs today have been treated for stain and soil resistance, but stain resistant does not necessarily mean, "stain proof." Address spills quickly and remove them as soon as possible to afford the easiest spot removal. Act preventively and avoid contact with difficult spots that are hard to remove - makeup, pesticides, disinfectants, iodine, mustard, and plant food products. Have area rugs cleaned on a regular schedule, before it begins to show soil - a schedule of every 1 to 3 years by a professional cleaning company is reasonable for well traveled areas of the home. The frequency depends on the traffic, climate, location and geography.
The rug should be rotated once per year, especially in well-trafficked areas. The bright sunlight can damage the dyes used in some rugs. Also, the wear patterns will be even by rotation.
A good quality pad can extend the life of your rug. It can also prevent slipping and slip/fall accidents.
Moths and Carpet Beetles can do extensive damage to you rug. They can eat the pile as well as the foundation. Check your rug regularly on the back for signs of damage.