Shopping for rugs can be both fun and intimidating. There are so many choices in color, style, and fiber that it can be difficult to make a decision. But arming yourself with a little knowledge will make buying an area rug more fun than intimidating. And isn’t that what decorating is supposed to be?

Size is one of the first things you must decide on. Are you looking for a small 3×5 to go in front of your French doors or do you need a larger 8×10 in your living room? There are some guidelines to help you determine the proper size for your needs.

If you are looking for a rug to be placed under your dining room table you will want to allow for a rug large enough to cover the floor when the chairs have been pushed back from the table. Add 6 inches to this measurement and you will have the correct size. Using this method of measurement insures that all chair legs remain on the rug when in use and prevents any accidents when a chair catches on the edge of a rug that is too small. Awkward chair movement is not what you want at a dinner party!

In the living room you have more choices. You can choose to have all furniture sit completely on the rug. This would require a very large rug and generally is used in a large room where you are trying to create separate seating areas. A more common choice is to have a rug placed under the coffee table and the front legs of any surrounding sofas and chairs rest on the rug. But there is nothing wrong with choosing a smaller 4×6 accent rug and simply placing it under your coffee table with no furniture touching it. Just be sure that all legs of your coffee table sit on the rug.

The bedroom offers different options. You can choose to place a large 8×10 or 9×11 under the bed. Be sure to allow 3 feet on all sides of the bed for the proper look. Or you can place two runners on either side of the bed. These runners are usually 2-3 feet wide and 7-9 feet long. Perfect as bedside rugs.

The choice is yours. Just be sure the scale is correct for the room and furniture. Too small and the rug will not be noticed; too big and it can overpower everything else in the room.

Budget is a fact of life and must be considered when buying an area rug. Now that you know what size you are looking for you can make better decisions on how much to spend.

Hand knotted rugs are the most expensive. These rugs are just what they say; each knot has been tied by hand. The general rule is, the more knots per square inch the more durable and valuable and expensive the rug will be. If you are lucky enough to have one of these rugs it is a good investment as it will last a lifetime.

Most budgets do not have room for such a rug. Therefore, the next best thing is to purchase a hand tufted or hand hooked rug. Both of these rugs utilize machinery as well as manual labor. In tufting, a tufting gun is used to push yarn through a pattern on the back of the rug. If you check the backside of a rug and see a cloth backing you can assume the rug is tufted. A hand hooked rug is one in which a weaver uses a metal hooking tool to pull the yarn through the backing. Both of these rugs will cost much less than the hand knotted version and are quite durable as well.

Machine made is the least expensive option and can be found in all price ranges depending on the size and fiber used.

Fiber choices will also impact your budget. Natural fibers are the most expensive and include wool, cotton, silk, jute, bamboo and sisal.

  • Wool is the most durable and is the standard by which all other material and fibers are measured. It accepts dye easily and is also easy to maintain.
  • Cotton is not quite as durable as wool but can produce a softer rug.
  • Jute, Sisal and Bamboo are popular for their eco-friendly properties. They can be used indoors or outdoors but will not last as long as wool or cotton. Sisal is the most durable of the three and is colorfast and static-free. It is often found in a wool/sisal blend offering the best qualities of both fibers.

Synthetic fibers include acrylic, nylon, and olefin. Often these fibers will be blended to create a durable and colorful rug. Rugs made from synthetic fibers are also the most affordable.

  • Acrylic is resistant to fading and mildew and is a good choice for any room that receives a lot of sunlight or exposure to moisture such as kitchens, bathrooms and children’s rooms.
  • Nylon is a good choice for any area that receives a lot of foot traffic. It is durable and easy to clean.
  • Polypropylene/olefin is the most durable of the synthetic fibers. It is stain-resistant, water resistant and the most affordable. A good choice for any busy room in your home

Now that you know a little something about buying an area rug the colors and patterns you choose are up to you. Coordinating with the other colors in your room will be easy as these rugs come in just about any color combination you could want. An area rug can be the final piece that completes your room so take your time and enjoy the shopping process.


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