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Carpet & rugs: picking the right one

Shopping for a new carpet or rug can be delightful experience: beautiful patterns, colors, artistry and styles come in seemingly endless abundance. So much so, it makes it difficult to make that final decision. This is where it helps to get organized, take a breath or two, and pay attention to all important details. It is these "little details" that may decide if your new rug or carpet will still be pleasing you - or not - six months or a year after you buy it.

Buying carpet & rugs based solely on its in-store appeal is a risky proposition. It pays to know exactly what you want to accomplish with it. All important factors - aesthetics, mood, appearance retention - have to be considered in the context of a particular room the rug is intended for. A bit of planning and creativity goes long way.

There are two sides to every carpet or rug: (1) practical value, which boils down to its appearance retention ability and ease of maintenance, and (2) aesthetic value, which spans from general visual effects related to its size, shape, color and/or pattern, to aesthetic quality of its specific attributes - particular theme, motif or style. For you to be happy with your new carpet or rug, it has to do well on all fronts - there is no way around it.

Carpet & rugs practical value

What determines practical value of a rug, or carpet is:

(1) its construction quality, and
    (2) its specific physical properties.

First thing to consider is rug/carpet construction. The way it is put together, face fiber form, density, twist and treatments, as well as type of backing, spell out loud how long and well it will serve you and its purpose. And so does its pad construction and material. Also, you want to know what the label does say and, of course, the warranty.

Next, you want to see how appropriate to your needs are rug/carpet materials. Natural or synthetic, each has its pluses and minuses, and it may matter to you. One aspect of materials used in a rug that is not to be overlooked is their environmental effect. For some people it is more important than for others, but it is always good to be informed.

Of course, the key element in determining how appropriate to your needs are rug/carpet construction and materials used, is the intended rug purpose. More specifically, the type of space it will be used for. Main considerations here are the amount of foot traffic, typical activity, humidity and sun exposure.

Carpet & rugs aesthetic value

When contemplating a new rug, most everyone starts with its size and shape. While seemingly a no-brainer, this is an important consideration, not only for the overall impression, but also for rug's practicality. Best you can do is to play with the particular space, and other decor elements present. Sooner or later, the pieces will fall in place, and you'll have a clear idea of what the winner looks like. The faster, though not as enjoyable alternative, is to simply copy-cat a similar, already existing space you find adorable.

These basic two approaches extend to rug/carpet color and pattern attributes. An appropriate rug featuring non-specific color/pattern attributes will be easier to find, simply because there's more to chose from. However, if your heart goes for a particular motif, theme or style, it is worth a try.

A little practical note: unless you only need to make yourself happy, try to get all "other parties" involved, even if they are not all too pushy to participate. Socializing the process usually makes it easier, more interesting and fruitful, sparing you from the possible   objections.

The above practical and aesthetic considerations will greatly narrow down the selection. It will help you to focus on that very best rug, or carpet for you. Knowing what to look for in a rug guarantees you'll make the right decision.

Carpet & rug pricing and value

Both, practical and aesthetic value of a rug or carpet are directly related to its price. Or so should be. In general, you would expect from more expensive ones to last longer as well. That is not always the case. What gets factored into the price doesn't always have justification - afterall, it is a free market. So, to get to the bottom of why any rug, or carpet, costs as much as it does, you need to do your own value factoring and comparison. Not seldom, you'll find out that the main difference between expensive and affordable rug/carpet is pretty much the same as between expensive and inexpensive wines - in the price.

Being aware of what the actual quality factors are gives you the power to filter out marketing hype, traps and stereotypes, and see what is the real value of that very piece you're interested in. That is, what is its practical worth. Deciding what are its aesthetics worth should be your subjective call, although it is quite usual that people accept and follow common stereotypes. That doesn't give you a rich personal experience, but sure can save time.

Talking about it, if you don't have the time to go through all the links, you still may want to look at this carpet/rug quality checklist. It sums up in a single page the new rug and carpet buying "know-how". Use it to make sure that your new area rug, or carpet, will be easy to maintain and lasting, as much as it is beautiful.

Carpet and rugs terminology - This sounds like a school class - but this is the one you don't want to miss. An educated buying decision translates into a buying success, and that is your goal. Certainly, understanding carpet and rug terminology is something you need for enjoyable, successful shopping.  And it is not as simple as it may seem at first...

Construction - Simply put, rug or carpet construction is a particular way of putting it together. Whether produced by hand, or by machine, they are made in a certain way. This includes all that is done to come up with a finished product: from tufting or weaving the yarn to dyeing and applying chemical or other treatments...

Materials - Nearly all of materials used for rug and carpet construction are in their face-fiber and backing. It is usually the face-fiber material that gets most of attention and consideration. This is because the rug/carpet fiber forming its face is most exposed, both, visually and physically. Hence it is the main determinant of appearance quality and retention...

Environmental effect - Most materials, natural or synthetic, have some environmental impact, and those used for carpets and rugs are no exception. Health hazard comes mainly from rug and carpet being outgassing potentially toxic fumes, as well as from rug and carpet mold (mildew) infestation...

Label and warranty - Rug/carpet label and its warranty can give important information and indications in regard to its quality level. Getting familiar with their contents is time well spent. Here's what you should look for...

Area rug size and shape - In somewhat different ways, area rug size and shape have both, functional and aesthetic aspect. At first, one would say that area rug's size is pretty much determined by dimensions of the space it is intended to. In reality, the decision on how large area rug will be, and whether it is to be square, round or of some other shape, should come after careful consideration of not only room's size and geometry, but also typical traffic patterns, form and arrangement of other objects and decor elements present, as well as the intended use of the room, or space...

Colors and Patterns - Color of your rug, or carpet, creates certain visual effect, emotion, and an atmosphere. Individual perceptions vary, but most of us will be affected similarly. Here's a brief overview of what are out typical responses to colors and patterns. It may help you decide what rug color and pattern type is best for your room...

Design style - Possible variations in the visual characteristics of the rug/carpet face - its design - are literally countless. They come from visual rug/carpet attributes created by both, fiber coloration, and its dimensional appearance. Luckily, all this immense variety is being channeled, fairly efficiently, into a few main classifications...

Carpet and rug buying checklist - The two main aspects of every rug or carpet are (1) its aesthetics and (2) practicality. Once you find the one that has the right looks, the next step is to check out how appropriate are its materials and construction type to its intended use. In other words, what is its quality level. The following checklist will help you figure that out...

Rug and carpet care tips - From the moment a new rug or carpet enters your home, certain steps and procedures should be followed to ensure its functionality and appearance retention. They are related to placement and installation, as well as carpet or rug care and maintenance. Here are the main pointers.

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