Rugs can easily range in price from a few hundred dollars to ten’s of thousands and beyond. So when you are buying a rug, how do you know if your being overcharged, paying a fair price, or getting a great deal?
Lets me briefly touch on rugs sold at big box stores, discount centers, and some furniture stores. These rugs are generally a few hundred dollars and maybe up to the $2000 mark for larger rugs.
These rugs are commonly made from synthetic fibers similar to those found in wall-to-wall carpeting. Synthetic fibers are usually more stain resistant but can loose their luster after a few short years.
There are some natural fiber rugs that fall into this price range; namely hand tufted and machine made wool rugs, as well as machine made rugs of viscose, rayon, sisal and other bast fibers.
In both natural and synthetic rugs of this quality, the cost of restorative cleaning to remedy stains and odors can meet or exceed the replacement cost. However, it is difficult and most times impossible to find an exact replacement for any rug. When you consider the time it took to go through hundreds of rugs at different retailers to find the one rug that fit your style and decor, it may be worth investing in a quality cleaning service.
For rugs that are less than $500 it may be expected that they won’t last long and if they do, great. But often consumers expect more when they spend $500-$1500 on a rug. After all, you could have a large room of wall-to-wall carpet installed for that amount. Most commonly this is experienced with hand tufted rugs. Since they are commonly wool and “hand made” consumers assume they have more value, however, the latex backing generally weakens and delaminates before the appearance wears out. If tufted rugs are made of quality wool, repair may be a cost effective solution.
In general, I usually consider these rugs to have a useful life of less than 10 years. Mostly because these rugs are constructed with cost effective materials (synthetic fiber and low quality wool) and time saving techniques (machine made and hand tufted) that tend to wear out or at least get to a point where restorative cleaning is not cost effective.
These rugs have very little to no resale value, but what about that rug you inherited from your parents or picked up at an estate sale.
When it comes to hand knotted rug, there are many factors that attribute to the value or Oriental Rugs including…
- Knot Density
- Materials Used
- Design Elements/ Complexity
- Colors, and Dye types
- And Supply & Demand
For the purpose of this blog I a am only going to discuss modern and new production rugs that are less than 30 years old.
Buying an Oriental rug is much the same as buying a car. As soon as you drive the car off the lot, it is now a “used” car and the value has significantly dropped. Purchasing new Oriental rugs is much the same. Once you take the rug home and roll it out on the floor it is worth significantly less than what you paid for it. It is for this reason that we often evaluate cleaning, repairs, and restoration against replacement value and sentimental attachment.
The quality of the rug will largely determine how quickly a rug looses value, particularly knot density, quality of wool, and condition. Lower quality rugs will show wear faster and therefore loose value faster. Regular professional cleaning will prolong the life of your rug and protect its value.
Probably the most easily identifiable feature to determine quality of a rug, is knot density.
This coarse weave on the left has 56 knot per square inch, while the fine weave on the right has 400 knots per square inch. The fine rug has 7x’s more knots meaning that it would have taken about 7x’s longer to weave. It’s the difference of one weaver completing a 9×12 rug in a few months and three weaver completing the same size rug in over 12 months.
The finer knot count also allows for more detailed and clear rug pattern (think of a grainy picture versus a clear picture). Quality silk rugs will have between 400-900 knots per square inch meaning it could take up to 2-3 times longer to weave than a fine wool rug and will likely cost 2-3 times more. Very fine silk rugs can have over 1000 knots per square inch.
Generally speaking, the finer the knot count, the finer the material being used. There are different qualities of wool from different breeds of sheep from different regions of the world and sheared from different parts of the animal. A weaver is likely to use a better quality wool if they are investing the time to weave a fine rug. Likewise, they are likely to have used better dies creating an overall better product.
While knot count is a good indication of quality it is not always the case. Often times we see artificial “silk” rugs with a fine knot count. When new, an untrained consumer can easily mistake them for real silk but they are actually made of cotton. These cotton rugs tend to have pile distortion after a few short years and are very susceptible to sun fading.
Finally, condition is a large factor when price evaluating older rugs. Permanent stains, odors, dye bleed, color loss, and wear can greatly affect the value of any rug. Always inspect rugs thoroughly when purchasing them second hand. Even when buying new rugs from a rug dealer it is possible to find dye bleeding or moth damage. Some of these conditions can possibly be corrected or improved by a qualified rug care professional and restore some value.
If you are completely unsure of your rugs value, many rug dealers and rug cleaners will offer a free evaluation and tell you if your rug is worth hundreds, or thousands, or nothing at all. A complete rug appraisal will generally cost $250 or more. In most cases a rug is never going to have a resale value worth what it was purchased for. A rug does not have anymore value simply because it is wool or hand woven and typically have to be more than 70 years old to start recovering its depreciated value. Some rugs may never appreciate no matter how good the condition and how old it is. A Ford Pinto may never be worth more than its original purchase price, while a classic Ford Mustang in mint condition may be worth 2-5 times more.
While rugs are usually not appreciating investments, a good purchase can be a valuable investment in a long lasting floor covering fashion for your home.