How to Buy a Fine Handmade Rug

So you’ve dreamed of owning a fine, handmade rug for years, maybe decades, and now you finally have the resources to make the investment. How do you make sure that you get the top value for your handmade rug, and avoid getting swindled? It can be a tricky business, but forewarned is forearmed. Read these excellent tips for buying a handmade rug before you venture into showrooms to make your dream purchase.

1. Get the Big Picture

A fine rug handmade by an experienced adult artisan is a study in symmetry. When lying on the floor, it should be relatively square, lying flat and straight, regular in shape and not lumpy or crooked. The colors should be neither brash nor faded, with a clear design that is almost the same on the back as on the front. A fine, handmade rug is a sophisticated and distinguished piece of art, and that quality will speak to you in a subtle yet undeniable way.

2. There are No Bargains

If a rug is declared handmade, but it is dramatically less expensive than other handmade rugs, there is generally a good reason. First and foremost, it has likely been produced by child labor. Fine handmade rugs are produced by skilled adult artisans who are well-paid for their talent, and that is reflected in the price. Be on guard if a deal sounds too good to be true—either someone has suffered for its production or it’s a fake.

3. Be Alert for Fakes

Speaking of fakes, here are a few ways to avoid them. There are three main types of Oriental rugs: machine-made, hand-tufted, and hand-woven or hand-knotted. Machine-made rugs can be quite lovely, but are not of artistic or investment quality. They are best identified by their fringe—it is sewn on by machine. Hand-tufted rugs are a misnomer, as they are not handmade and also not of artistic or handmade quality. A design is tufted through the back of the rug without knotting and then the loose ends sealed with a petroleum-based rubber backing.  (This backing can sometime emit a chemical odor, especially if placed on a heated floor surface.) A handmade or hand-woven rug is just that, either handmade or woven by hand. If it has been crafted by a skilled adult artisan it will meet the criteria mentioned in the first paragraph, and the price will reflect that quality.

4. Look for Quality:

Finely knotted rugs (up to 290 knots per inch) are generally considered more desirable and valuable, as the more knots can better relay the subtle curves in the design. But the number of knots is not always the best indication of a fine rug—a simple village rug could be just as valuable and have far fewer knots per inch. Other indications of quality are the fabrics used, with fine wool and silk being the most desirable. Dyes, too, are a critical aspect of the rug. Vegetal dyes are quite sought after, but only a small percentage of handmade rugs have these natural dyes. In particular, be wary of a dealer who purports to have older rugs with vegetal dyes. The art of natural dyes was virtually lost in the last 100 years and is only now being revived. Always blot a rug with a damp white napkin to test colorfastness.

5. Know Your Space

Before you start shopping, be sure to do the proper preparation work. Measure your room accurately, subtracting a border of flooring around the rug. Having a size range, rather than one set size will give you more flexibility in your purchase. Determine if you want a traditional or contemporary style. Thinking through size and style in advance will help you to narrow down your choices when you are shopping.

6. Find a Reputable Dealer:

You have the best chance of finding a fine, handmade rug through a reputable dealer. A note on interior designers: They can be helpful in connecting you with a credible rug gallery and even in making a decorative choice, but remember that the rug vendor is the real expert on a quality rug. A creditable rug dealer will gently guide, not pressure, will delight in sharing knowledge, and will not offer deep discounts or unbelievable bargains. More than anything else, listen to your heart and let it guide you to the rug that will beautify your home for many years to come.

As you can see, buying a fine, handmade rug is a serious investment, requiring time, research, and trusted expertise. You can always rely on The Rug Warehouse for the finest handmade rugs and expert guidance. For more information on how to buy a high-quality, handmade rug, please visit The Rug Warehouse website or the Los Angeles showroom by calling 310-838-0450.