Picking the right rug for your home is more than just colors and designs

Rug shopping can be as simple as flipping through samples in the store or images online until you come to the one with an eye-catching color or pattern. But if you’re looking for an area rug that you can keep for more than a few months, you’re about to make a substantial investment that can mean the difference between a beautiful accent you can enjoy for years and an eyesore that you’ll want to replace within a few months.
Here are five things to consider:

1. Check the back of the rug

A rug’s weave is the foundation of any good rug – it helps determine everything from texture to durability. That’s true whether you’re buying a heirloom hand-woven rug or a rug woven on a high-tech power loom.
You don’t have to be a rug expert! Just check the back of the rug. With quality manufacturing, you’ll see tight, orderly, uniform stitching, which means the rug was created on good equipment with quality control measures in place. You’ll also get an idea of the number of knots per square inch, which is a typical indicator of good construction.
Power loomed rug backing Hand knotted rug backing
The comparison above shows a quality power-loomed rug’s construction (at left) compared to a more expensive hand knotted rug. Both feature tight, orderly, uniform stitching, although the hand woven knots may not be quite as uniform.

2. Know your rug materials

For any weaver, the “gold standard” for rug materials is wool, or wool blends. There are a lot of reasons why getting a wool rug may be worth the extra investment, but you can find more economical options that will still provide a quality rug.
Cotton rugs are versatile, low-maintenance and easy to care for, but they’re not as durable as wool rugs. Natural fibers like bamboo, jute, and sisal can also provide an economical and eco-friendly option.
You can also select from different types of synthetics. Polyester and polypropylene are the most common synthetic thread types, and they are typically easy to clean, excellent at blocking stains, and they resist fading. They’re a great choice for children’s rooms or recreational areas your priority is wear and stain resistance.

3. Pick a colorful rug that stays colorful

A rug can look amazing in the showroom, but that doesn’t matter if the colors won’t hold up over time. Look for “factory washed” rugs – which means that the rugs should resist bleeding or premature fading.
You can also put the color to the test by dabbing the back of a rug with a damp paper towel. If dye starts to bleed onto the paper towel, it likely means that the slightest spill or pet accident will alter its shade or make it run.
5-tips-to-help-you-buy-a-great-rug - check the color

4. Find a flexible rug

We’re not talking about a rug that you can use in any room (although that’s always useful.) Your rug should literally be flexible, not too stiff and unwieldy. Rugs with a less rigid structure make it much easier to rearrange the room or even move to a new living space. Equally important, they’re much less prone to wear over time.
More expensive rugs can be rolled up easily, or even folded. The key is to find a balance between affordability and flexibility.
flexible power loomed rug

5. Choose the right rug for the right space

There are a lot of reasons for buying a rug: a splash of color, a scene-stealing conversation piece, a play area, or just a comfortable space to sprawl on in front of the TV. You can buy the most ornate, sturdy, economical rug in the store, but if it doesn’t accomplish what you want, it’s not a good rug.
If you want to ensure you’re happy with your purchase, don’t impulse-buy something because it’s eye-catching. Have a plan: measure your space, think about what kind of foot traffic it will have to survive, imagine how it will interact with other features in the room such as doorways and furniture.
Also, think about how you use the space, and what kind of visual you want to create. Will the rug really look like it’s part of the room? Or does it look random and unplanned? The design and color of a rug go a long way to determining the mood of a room; is the space about casual conversation? Elegant dining? Family fun? Pick a style, pattern, and color scheme that helps set that tone.
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