Not Going Out Like That

How to Buy a Rug


If you have ever bought a hand knotted wool rug, you know the prices vary greatly and it’s hard to tell what a special rug like this should cost. I recently did some research on the subject and wanted to share it with you.

What is a Hand-Knotted Rug? A hand-knotted rug is often referred to as an “oriental” and they are typically made in Iran (Persia), India, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan, Romania, Egypt or Nepal. The country of origin does not determine quality. A skilled weaver individually ties every knot, creating a one-of-a-kind rug. Rugs are made of natural fibers such as wool, silk, or cotton.

There are two types of hand-knotted rugs – flatweave and pile. I personally prefer the look of flatweave rugs myself. Within the flatweave category you can purchase a Dhurry (often most economical), a Soumak (more plus in feel) or a Kilim.  Pile rugs are more plush and also have a few variety of weaves.

What makes a hand-knotted rug so expensive ? Well … they are hand made by a person or persons who have passed down the tradition from generation to generation for hundreds of years. It could take YEARS to make a large rug that is 10 X 12 or larger. Often times, natural dyes are used to dye the wool yarn that is being used, which makes it even more expensive. There is also cost associated with the quality of the wool being used,  and the level of detail in the design.

KPSI (knots per square inch) affect the cost of a rug too.  Typical KPSI is 50 to 160,  400 per square inch is remarkable. The KPSI will affect how long the rug will last. Keep in mind that silk does not hold up as well as wool so for high traffic areas like hallways, wool rugs are recommended. Also, silk threads are thinner so a rug with more silk content will have more KPSI but may not hold up as well as a rug that is entirely wool.

When buying a hand-knotted rug, look for the following:

– The pattern of the rug is almost as clear on the back as it is on the front.

– The fringe is part of the rug and not sewn on.

– The rug is wool

– Ask what the KPSI is, keeping in mind the 50-160 range.

Hand TUFTED rugs are totally different. Hand-tufted rugs are made with a tufting hook or pneumatic tufting gun. First, a foundation fabric with an imprinted design is stretched onto a frame. Wool is then punched back and forth through the fabric, leaving loops on the face. For a really interesting article on hand tufted rugs, check this out.

Where to Buy Rugs: Choose a store that has been in business in your area for many years. Trustworthy, well-run businesses endure. The best dealers will show you a sampling of everything available today, and will recommend the best type of rug for your purpose and budget. Be wary of stores that go out of business and pop up years later in a different location. They may not be around later when you need them.

When you are ready to shop, you can narrow down the time spent looking by simply telling a rug dealer the following (as an example):

I am looking for a hand knotted flatweave rug that is approximately 5 x 8, and has a lot of ____ color.

Sometimes I think it is best NOT to share your budget because you might find a rug that is below your allowable spend and you want to be able to negotiate on that price, without the seller knowing that it’s well within your budget.

Here are a few inspiration photos of rugs in beautiful spaces. I especially love the combination of modern pieces with an old world piece such as an Oriental rug.

rug 4

rug 1

rug 5

rug 6

rug 2


2 thoughts on “How to Buy a Rug

  1. An – I also bought Ikea for the kids’ rooms. One only lasted 2 years and I bought an inexpensive wool rug from CB2 that seems to be holding up better. I def think that the oriental rugs should be reserved for areas where dogs / kids / food are not involved.

  2. Agree- we bought an expensive rug once and realized it was not a good idea as the dogs at that point were still allowed inside so there would be a lot of dig hair in it- and it was thin silk shag- very hard to vacuum
    We quickly changed to cheaper ikea rugs as we switch them out often!

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