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Buying your first oriental rug

Everything you need to know to make initial rug buying experience enjoyable

Purchasing an oriental rug, especially your first oriental rug can be very exciting, but also very overwhelming.  Not only do the colors and designs vary greatly, but so can the price. Here are a few tips to help you along your journey of finding the perfect oriental rug for you:

Tip 1: There are different types of rugs, make sure you are buying the right type.

Some common types of rugs include:

Machine-made rugs made out of synthetic materials like rayon, olefin, or neoprene.

Power-loomed machine rugs made with natural fibers like cotton and wool

Hand-tufted rugs made on a canvas foundation with wool and a latex based adhesive

Hand-woven rugs with hand-tied knots woven on a loom with natural fibers.

Hand-woven rugs are what most people refer to as oriental rugs.  Don’t be fooled into thinking a rug is hand-woven just because it is advertised as hand-made.  A lot of times a hand-tufted rug will be advertised as hand-woven to confuse a buyer. Although a hand-woven rug is most likely more expensive than a machine-made or tufted rug, their value and longevity make up for the difference in price.

Tip 2: No matter how big the rug sale discount is…you are most likely paying what the rug is worth.

It is not uncommon for rug dealers to sell rugs at 50%-80% off of retail.  This certainly does not mean you should not take advantage of buying a nice rug at a great price, but if a rug is priced at $20,000 and you paid $5,000, then the actual value of the rug is probably closer to $5000.

Tip 3: Pay attention to the quality of the wool and dyes in the rug.

In the past, the quality of a rug was determined by the tightness of the weave.  While this is still a consideration today it is certainly not the only factor, or even the most important!  Finding a rug with good stable dyes and a well-spun, durable wool much more important.

Certain types of rug dyes will run and bleed very easily. They will also fade quickly.  These are aniline-based chemical dyes and there is a test that is easy to perform to determine if these dyes are in a rug.  Take a damp white cloth and rub it gently on the rug. If any of the colors come off of the rug and onto the cloth then this is a rug to stay away from.  

The tightness of a rug does not dictate its durability.  A tightly woven rug will have a very tight and polished design, while a looser woven rug will have a bigger, less polished design.  A lot of my customers actually prefer a looser woven rug because it generally has a less formal and softer look. An indication of a rug with lower quality wool is when you see a rug with pulls or sprouts popping up on the rug.  This means the wool is coming unspun and loosening from the foundation, and this can occur with a tight or loose rug.

Tip 4: Be mindful of space when choosing your rug.

Make sure the rug the choice for your home is not too small, or too big for our space.

A dining room rug should be large enough to accommodate not only the table but also all four legs of the chairs when you and your guests are seated at the table.  

A living room/family room rug should be large enough for the front legs of the sofa as well as accompanying chairs to be on the rug.  This way when you and your guests are seated your feet are on a soft rug and not hard floor, but the rug does not have to be big enough to accommodate the entire couch.  

A good look for a bedroom is to have three rugs frame the bed as opposed to one large rug that the bed sits on.  

Lastly be mindful of any floor registers you may have in your home, these should not be covered up by rugs.

Tip 5: Find a rug dealer you trust!

A good rug dealer will help guide you through the process of buying a rug and make it enjoyable, not stressful.  They will be able to provide details of their rug including when and where it was woven, the types of dyes, the type of wool, and a description of the design.  They will also help you determine the appropriate size rug for your space.

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