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Buying Area Rugs

area rug on a hardwoood floor

It's best, but not always possible to buy your area rug first and then plan other furnishing around the rug as it will often act as a centerpiece in your room. When this is not possible, you should bring in paint chips and color samples of your flooring, furniture, drapery, and other furnishings that you would like to coordinate with your area rug.

Tip: Before shopping, look around on the internet and in magazines to get some idea of what type of rug you are looking for. Try to find different colors and styles that match your décor. When shopping at your local retailer, you can bring in these pictures so that they can direct you to area rugs that closely meet your design needs.

If you are unsure of where to start when it comes to laying out your room with an area rug, check out our ideas for popular layouts that you may choose from. Click here to find several ideas for laying out area rugs in living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, and kitchens.

Highlighted Area Rug Products

Choosing an Area Rug that Compliments your Room

The color and design possibilities are virtually unlimited when it comes to area rugs. Your area rug can serve as a focal point or can compliment other focal points such as a fireplace or large piece of art.

Note: Area rugs can be round, square, rectangle, octagonal, oval, or one of many other shapes. Area rugs can also have fringed edges or smooth finished edges.

Choice of Style

Example of traditional and contemporary patterns

Area rug design styles range from traditional to casual and contemporary to country. They can feature all over designs where a continuous pattern or image is repeated across the entire surface or they can have a centerpiece or medallion that is framed with a border. Medallions are common when the area rug is meant to serve as the focal point of the room. All over designs or repetitive patterns are more common when the rug is meant to compliment another more apparent focal point in the room.

Tip: A good rule of thumb is that geometric and floral designs clash with each other, but both go well with stripes.

Area Rug Colors and Textures

Examples of light and dark color area rugs

Depending on the types of dye used, area rug colors can vary from muted earth tones to bold, vibrant colors. Light colored area rugs tend to open up a space whereas dark colored rugs can make a room feel cozier. You should try to coordinate the color of your rug with at least one other color in your room.

Tip: Multi–colored area rugs or those with busier patterns help to hide stains well.

Depending on how the rug is constructed and the type of fiber used, there are many different textures that are created. Area rugs can have a thick, fluffy pile made of soft fibers or can be rough and flat when made with many vegetable fibers. The surface of can also be embossed to create multi level designs and/or given an aged effect by an antique or tea wash. To learn more about the construction of area rugs and the different carpet fibers used, visit FindAnyFloor's page on Area Rugs Construction and Area Rug Fibers and Fiber Dyes.

Note: Rubber backed area rugs can stain many floor coverings such as hardwood and bamboo flooring therefore they should be avoided. Also avoid those with a rough backing that may scratch some floors.

Making a Good Investment with your Area Rug

You should take into consideration the expected lifetime of an area rug before making your purchase. Two of the most important factors in determining the lifetime of an area rug are its construction method and the materials used. For example, hand–knotted wool or silk area rugs can last for over 100 years and therefore usually have the highest resale value of any rug. Quite the contrary, machine made acrylic area rugs are inexpensive but have a much shorter lifetime and therefore little resale value.

Selecting an Area Rug Size

Diagram of rug
sizes compared to an average person

It is important that you measure your room before shopping for an area rug. The general rule of thumb is to buy an area rug that is at least 2 feet shorter than the shortest wall in the room. Also, measure furniture that will be placed on or around the rug in order to ensure that your area rug is large enough to accommodate these items.

Note: Area rugs that are over 8' x 10' are often called "carpet" and those that are over 14'x24' are often called "palace carpet". Area rug dimensions can vary up to 5% and may or may not include fringe in the measurement.

If your area rug will be used under a dining room table, be sure that the rug leaves plenty of room for you to slide the chair out and back in without reaching the edge and catching the rug. 3–4 feet on each side of the table is usually sufficient room for this.

Note: You can also use more than one area rug in the same room depending on the size of the room. Many rug manufacturers offer matching rugs of different sizes that easily coordinate with each other.

Knots per Square Inch and Line Count

"Knots per square inch" measures the number of knots in one square inch of an area rug. This can range from 40 – 2,000. "Lines" are a measurement of how many knots run across one linear foot of carpet. To put it into perspective, a rug with 60 knots per square inch equals about a 90–line rug. A 60 knot rug would not be a top quality rug. 200 knots per square inch would be considered a very quality rug. 1000 knots or more is very rare to find.

Note: Area rugs with high knot counts are usually very resilient rugs. This results in less visible tracking on the rug. Tracking is where the pile has been crushed or laid down on its side from being walked on.

Counting knots per square inch can be difficult because one knot can easily be counted as two. When all of the knots are tied on one plane, each knot appears as two bumps when viewed from the backside of the rug and is therefore often counted incorrectly as two knots. When the knots are on two separate planes, you only see one bump and therefore it is easier to count the knots correctly.

Tip: The easiest way to identify the difference is to look at the colors of the bumps. If the colored bumps always appear in pairs, each pair should only be counted as one knot.

Choosing a Rug Padding or Underlayment

A rug pad can prevent slipping and protect the floor

Not only can area rugs slip and slide without padding, which can be very dangerous, they can rub on and be damaged by the floor covering underneath. Rug pads or underlayments are thin layers of material that are placed under your rug to resist rug slipping and protect those walking on its surface. They also help to extend the life of both your rug and your floor covering underneath and add cushioning for more comfort underfoot. Rug padding should be used under all area rugs even if they are being placed over carpeting. Rug pads are relatively inexpensive compared to the value they provide.

Buying Area Rugs Online

If you decide to buy your area rugs online there are some guidelines that you should follow to ensure that you purchase from a reputable area rug retailer and that you don't get stuck with an area rug that does not meet your expectations. When buying area rugs from online retailers, you should look for sites that have clickable security certificates such as VeriSign, e–Trust, or the Better Business Bureau. Many online rug stores offer a "try before you buy" policy. Make sure you fully understand their return policy in case you are unsatisfied with your purchase.

Need More Help?

Need more help selecting the right area rug for your space? Be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions for more great info on area rugs. If that doesn't answer your questions you can always feel free to ask one of our professionals by using the live chat feature at the top of this page or by posting in our FindAnyFloor Forums.