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What to Consider Before Buying a Rug

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A collaboration between Parker Gwen and Surya

Parker Gwen is the leader in providing the complete home experience by helping customers harmoniously blend home furnishings and technology.

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Top Questions Answered for Buying a Rug

What are the different materials used in rugs?

There are many different materials that are used in rugs – no one material is better than any other, but they each have inherent characteristics that make them better suited for different uses / environments. Here are four of the most popular rugs materials:


Wool is a protein fiber from sheep’s fleece, which can be spun into yarn. Wool is sustainable, biodegradable, highly durable, highly resilient, and has natural oils that provide softness. Non-dyed wool products will vary from piece to piece, and dyed wool will have slight color variation as well. All wool sheds, but shedding varies depending on the quality of wool and shedding will subside over time.

Polypropylene is a synthetic (man-made) material, made by extruding polymers or petrochemicals. It is solution-dyed, meaning the material is dyed in a liquid state before it is formed into yarn. Polypropylene is highly durable, moisture resistant, and stain resistant; it has minimal-to-no shedding and minimal-to-no color variation from piece to piece. Polypropylene rugs have a slight chemical odor which will fade over time.

Viscose is a hybrid of natural cellulose and synthetic fibers; cellulose pulp (such as from bamboo) is regenerated through chemical processing and spun into yarn. Viscose imitates the look and texture of silk at a lower price. It’s also biodegradable, soft and silky, and has a lustrous sheen. Viscose is NOT recommended for high traffic areas, due to high shedding, matting down of non-resilient fibers, and stains are difficult to clean.

Jute is a cellulose fiber extracted from a plant, which can be spun into yarn. It’s sustainable, biodegradable, durable, affordable, and moisture resilient. Fans of jute love the natural color variation and crafted, rustic look. The color of jute will vary due to the time of year when the fibers are harvested (variation is visible in non-dyed and dyed yarns). Jute feels coarse and can have high shedding (when used in pile construction).

How do I know what size of rug to buy based on my space?

In a living room, for example, most designers would recommend a large rug on which all furniture can sit – or a rug large enough for at least the coffee table and front legs of the sofa to fit. In a dining room or kitchen, the rug under the table should be large enough that chairs can be pulled out from the table and still be on the rug. However, in any room, the rug shouldn’t go all the way to the walls.

What is the best type of rug for high traffic? What should I look for if I want a durable rug that will last?

Machine Woven Polypropylene rugs are affordable, durable, and great for high traffic areas. This type of rug has almost no shedding. And because polypropylene is solution dyed, these rugs can withstand more indirect sunlight than rugs of other materials (keep in mind, even solution dyed yarn will eventually fade). Machine woven rugs were once considered cheap and not fashionable, but amazing innovations in material, design, and color have elevated machine woven rugs to trend-right accessories that can even look handmade.


On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re looking for a rug that will last, Hand Knotted Wool is the way to go. Hand Knotted rugs are made by artisans who tie each knot by hand, one-by-one. Hand Knotted Wool rugs have high perceived value and can achieve intricate details. This type of rug is high end, durable, and resilient. Hand Knotted Wool rugs can last a lifetime and even be passed down for generations to come with proper care and cleaning.

 

To help any rug last as long as possible, rotate the rug every 3-6 months to distribute wear (as from foot traffic) and sunlight evenly across the surface of the rug.

How about a dining room...something that can avoid stains and is easy for cleanup?

Synthetic materials, such as polyester or polypropylene, are usually stain resistant and easy to clean. Opting for a rug with no pile will be the easiest for cleaning up food debris and vacuuming. A rug with pile may require a little extra care, but (in the right material) is still a viable option for the dining room – just be sure to avoid shags and plush piles!


Indoor/outdoor rugs are a great place to start when looking for a rug for a dining room or kitchen. Because they’re made to be outdoor safe, they’re easy to clean – you can even take the rug outside to hose it off, just hang it over the porch railing or a fence so it can completely dry out before bringing it back inside.

Do I need a rug pad and why?

Yes! A rug pad provides a durable, long-lasting foundation that protects a rug for years to come. 

The proper rug pad can:   

Extend the life of the rug by reducing wear and tear and enhancing air circulation between the rug and floor.

Help to prevent accidents by holding the rug in place, minimizing movement and slippage.

Add extra comfort underfoot by providing additional cushioning and support.

Protect all floor types, including both hard surfaces and carpets.

From a design perspective, is it okay to put a rug on carpet?

YES! It is completely up to personal preference. Feel free to layer a rug on a wall-to-wall carpeting if you want to do so. Pick a rug that goes with your style other furniture or decor in the room.

Another common trend is layering rugs, which can give your room added texture and color. By layering a more colorful rug on top of a neutral rug you can add color to any room, but not have to worry about it being overwhelming. Adding a textured rug as a top layer is a great way to give your room a focal point.

Why are some rugs so much more expensive than others?

The price of a rug depends on three factors: the construction, the material, and the size

Let’s start with the easy one: a larger rug will cost more than an smaller rug.

The cost of raw materials also has a big impact on the cost of the final rug. Polypropylene and jute are generally an inexpensive materials, while Semi-Worsted NZ Wool and Silk are very high end materials. But there are other complexities that impact price – the price of wool can vary greatly depending on the quality, and the price a yarn can vary depending on the spinning and dyeing techniques.

The final factor is the construction of the rug. Machine woven rugs are generally less expensive than handmade rugs, because machine woven rugs can be made very quickly with very few factory employees. However, artisans often spend 9 months weaving one hand knotted 8’ x 10’ rug – the cost of hand knotted rugs reflects the time and expertise required to make the piece. Other handmade techniques, such as hand weaving and hand tufting, are faster than hand knotting – but they still require time and expertise that aren’t needed to make machine woven rugs. Other factors impact price as well – such as density (points in machine woven rugs, knots per inch in hand knotted rugs), pile height (material consumption), and finishing techniques.

Other than design preferences are there any other benefits of having a rug?

The rug is the foundation of any room. Rugs are not only important for the style they add to an environment, they are also comfortable under foot, protect your floors, reduce noise, and help provide a comfortable place for kids to play.

Why does my new rug smell, is it safe?

Dyes, yarns, backing, and packing material all have natural odors that are sometimes magnified after being sealed for shipping and storage. This is normal and safe. Odors should dissipate within a week once the rug is removed from the packaging.

My rug is shedding is that normal?

Shedding is considered normal, and will vary depending on the construction and content. Shedding will usually subside over time, although some rugs may have mild shedding for the lifetime of the rug. It typically takes 20-25 vacuums at a minimum (depending on foot traffic) to curtail shedding. Hand tufted rugs will have the highest shedding, while machine woven rugs have the lowest shedding. Wool and viscose have the highest shedding, while polypropylene, olefin, polyester, acrylic, and nylon have the lowest shedding.

Have More Questions?

Email us at support@parkergwen.com and one of our Customer Support Advocates would be happy to help you.


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