How to Buy a Handmade Rug

Three Methods:Prepare to Buy a Handmade RugSelect a Rug DealerEvaluate the Quality of the Rug

Rug making is an artisan trade that dates back more than 3,000 years. Handmade rugs, such as Persian or Oriental rugs, often are passed down through generations because of their durability, value and aesthetic beauty. However, before purchasing a handmade rug, it is important to evaluate its quality, weave and durability. Use these tips to buy a handmade rug.

Method 1
Prepare to Buy a Handmade Rug

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    Determine the ideal size of the rug. Before shopping for a handmade rug, measure the room or area that the rug will cover. In most cases, the measurements should allow for a border of flooring to show around the perimeter of the rug.
    • Consider several different sizes for each room. The greater the range of sizes, the more choices you will have when purchasing a handmade rug. Rooms like hallways, entryways and dining rooms may not allow flexibility with sizing options; however, living rooms and bedrooms typically enable you consider several rug sizes based on different furniture arrangements in the rooms.
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    Decide whether you prefer traditional or modern rug designs. It is helpful to determine your design preference prior to shopping. Traditional rug designs generally display symbolic associations, or they may utilize curvilinear designs from paintings or other artwork. Contemporary designs are available in a wide range of styles, and typically display bold patterns.
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    Set a budget for your handmade rug purchase. Handmade rugs are available in a wide range of prices, from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Factors like the rug size and quality affect the price.

Method 2
Select a Rug Dealer

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    Seek out a reputable rug dealer who is an expert in handmade rugs. An expert dealer will educate you about the craftsmanship of the rugs, and can provide information about the fiber content, quality and country of origin for each rug. A reputable dealer will provide comparisons between different rugs and won't pressure you to buy a specific type or design of rug. Some dealers may even allow you to take rugs home to evaluate how they look in your space before purchasing them.
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    Look for a rug dealer who specializes in hand-knotted rugs, and provides a large selection of rugs available in the store.
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    Ask each prospective rug dealer about where their rugs were made. Several countries violate child labor laws and force children to weave rugs in poor conditions with little pay. A reputable rug dealer won't sell rugs made with child labor.
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    Avoid "going out of business" sales and traveling rug dealers. Although the prices may be cheaper, the rugs sold by these dealers typically have been rejected by handmade rug importers.

Method 3
Evaluate the Quality of the Rug

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    Examine how the rug lies on the floor. Some irregularity is expected in handmade products. However, a quality handmade rug should lie flat on the floor and have an even shape.
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    Ask the rug dealer about the materials from which the rug is constructed. Most rugs are made of silk and wool.
    • Choose silk rugs for their luxurious look and feel. However, they are not ideal for high traffic areas.
    • Choose wool rugs for their durability. Wool is the most durable fiber, but there are many grades of wool. The wool from the neck and belly of young sheep is the best quality for handmade rugs. Make sure the wool was sheared from a live animal, as wool from dead animals typically feels rough and scratchy. Ask if the wool was spun by hand or by machine. Because of the way dye is absorbed, hand-spun wool provides more variegation in the fiber colors and is usually valued over machine-spun wool.
    • Avoid rugs with synthetic materials. The synthetic materials will degrade over time.
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    Determine if the rug was hand-knotted. Hand-knotted rugs are the highest quality handmade rugs available; and therefore, are the most expensive. It can take months or even years for an artisan to complete 1 hand-knotted rug.
    • Consider hand-tufted rugs or flat-weave rugs. Hand-tufted rugs, which involved threading yarn into designs through the back of the rug, are less expensive than hand-knotted rugs. Flat-weave rugs are the lowest quality handmade rugs, and the least expensive option.
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    Evaluate the rug density. Rugs are made in several densities, ranging from 30 knots per inch to 290 knots per inch. The higher the knots per inch, the finer the weave of the rug. Intricate designs with smooth and graceful lines require higher knots per inch.
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    Ask the rug dealer whether natural or synthetic dyes were used on the rug's fibers.
    • Purchase a rug made with natural dyes to maintain the rug's value over time. Natural dyes from indigo plants, bark, fruit and insects can fade over time when exposed to light, but the faded effect usually enhances the rug's natural beauty. Natural dyes add almost 30 percent more to the cost of the rug.
    • Buy a rug made with synthetic dyes for a wider range or shades and colors. Synthetic chemical dyes usually are made with either an acid dye or a chrome dye. If you choose to purchase a rug made with synthetic dyes, make sure the finished look is not too bright and harsh, or alternately, too washed out. Synthetic dyes tend to hold their color longer than natural dyes with exposed to light.


  • Some rugs advertised as "silk" are not really silk, but are rayon. Before purchasing a silk rug, take a fiber off of the rug and burn it. Real silk will leave a small stem, while rayon will disintegrate. Many "silk" rugs from Pakistan, China and India are not actually silk.


  • Do not dry clean or steam clean handmade wool rugs. The chemicals used in dry cleaning can be harmful to the rug fibers and affect the longevity of the rug. Steam cleaning strips the natural oils from the wool, converting live wool to dead wool.

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Categories: Home Decorating