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A guide to choosing an area rug

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A guide to choosing an area rug

Area rugs can last a lifetime, so it is important to purchase the best rug you can afford. Rugs have many functions. Determining why you want one will help you hone in on the right choice.

Do you want your area rug to:

  • Protect your hardwood
  • Warm up a cold floor
  • Be part of your décor
  • Define traffic flow in a hallway
  • Add visual interest to a room
  • Add a sense of unity to your furniture

Other factors to consider when shopping for an area rug for your home are size, durability, shape, texture, cost and beauty.

A little research will help you select the best type of area rug for your needs.

Hand-knotted rugs

These are some of the most expensive area rugs since they are hand-knotted by a skilled weaver. It is also what makes these rugs unique. Hand-knotted rugs are primarily woven from wool with some silk used for accents and some cotton in the foundation. This combination creates a robust and durable rug. Take care of it, and this type of rug can last for centuries and will age with grace and beauty.

Machine Made Rugs

Machine-made rugs are affordable and are a great option for those on a budget. They are made on large rollers called power looms and manufactured from synthetic fibres such as rayon, nylon, polypropylene or acrylic. They replicate the look and colour of a hand-knotted rug but have a life span of about 20 years. They are much more reasonably priced than authentic hand-knotted rugs. Machine-made rugs are mass-produced so they are not unique and do not hold any resale value.

Natural Fibre Rugs

Natural fibre rugs are made from plant-based fibres such as jute, bamboo, coir and sisal. They are usually reversible and provide a casual look to a room. If you are looking for simplicity, natural fibre rugs are a good choice. Sisal is the toughest of these types of rugs and can be used in high traffic areas such as hallways, although it will get shiny and slippery with age. They are affordable and eco-friendly, but not as durable as wool-based rugs.

Braided rugs

These oval or round rugs were first created by early American settlers from strips of dyed cotton. Nowadays they can be manufactured out of wool, chenille and synthetic fibres. They are inexpensive and look great in an informal setting. Dirt can easily be vacuumed off them, but they are difficult to wash.

Size and placement

Placement and size go hand in hand when choosing the dimensions of an area rug. If the rug is to encompass most of the room – the general rule of thumb is there should be a two-foot wide space between the edge of the rug and the wall. For example, for a 10 by 12 foot room the rug should measure approximately eight feet wide.

Rugs for a dining room should be wide enough that the chairs can rest securely on the carpet even when they are pulled out.

Entrance ways should be large and sturdy enough to accommodate a heavy flow of traffic. A small rug maximizes the risk of tripping and falling.

Where to buy

Browse online to get a feel for what you like and what works for your wallet before stepping out into any store. Many rug stores have salesmen with slick pitches and if you are not sure of what you want, you will get swayed by the bargains.

Department store markups are enormous, and discount superstores tend to have low quality merchandise.

Choose what you love within the constraints of your budget.

By Beverley Burgess Bell 

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