Why Are Rugs So Expensive?

Rugs are a big investment in the style of your home, and like many other large furniture and decor pieces, high-quality rugs tend to be very expensive. This begs the question, why are rugs so expensive? There are many factors that contribute to rug price tags, including fiber types, construction, manufacturing countries, durability, and rug size. The combination of these determines the final price of your rug.

Unfortunately, in most cases, it is very difficult to find an inexpensive rug without making sacrifices in quality and style. While it may be tempting to settle for a less expensive rug made with cheaper techniques and materials (and that certainly is an excellent option for some), it comes at the risk of having to replace the rug in a relatively short period of time. If you are looking for ideas to buy a more affordable rug without sacrificing quality, there are multiple options available, but, for now, we’ll look at what contributes to the price of a rug.

1. Material

Cats on Rug Unsplash

It makes sense that the material would factor heavily into a rug’s price. The rug’s material determines everything about the rug—cleanability, durability, softness, shedding, color retention, and much more. Traditionally, rugs are made entirely of natural fibers. These fibers include materials like cotton, sisal, jute, and wool. Wool is the most popular natural fiber used in rug manufacturing and for good reason. It has the best combination of softness and durability of any other fiber. Unlike the other natural fibers, which all come from plants, wool comes from sheep which have to be bred and cared for. This leads to a more luxurious but higher priced material.

Synthetic fibers are a go-to choice for anyone looking for a more affordable purchase because they’re generally cheaper and more stain-resistant than natural fibers. Those benefits, however, do come at a price. Synthetic fibers, like acrylic, polypropylene, viscose, and polyester, are significantly rougher than their natural fiber counterparts and often less durable. Each synthetic fiber has its own unique benefits and deficiencies, polypropylene, for example, is a relatively inexpensive material that is durable, easy to clean and holds vibrant colors for long periods of time, but it also has a rougher feel and lacks the ability to “bounce back” like other materials. If a heavy weight pushes back the fibers of a polypropylene rug, it won’t be able to return to its previous shape.

2. Construction Types

Perhaps the most important factor in determining the rug price of a rug is its construction type. Hand-knotted rugs are the most expensive and meticulously crafted type of rug. These rugs are made entirely by hand and often take a very long time to complete. A team of three skilled craftsmen is typically able to complete one new inch of a rug in a full day’s work. At this rate, a single 5×8 foot rug can take six months to complete. This slower pace comes with several benefits, in addition to fabulously intricate patterns, a hand-knotted rug typically lasts more than 20 years, decades longer than other techniques.

Many people opt for less expensive types of rugs, such as hand tufted or machine made. Hand tufted and hand hooked rugs both take about 3-5 months to manufacture using a combination of hand and machine techniques. Power looms can create dozens of rugs every single day. Hand tufted, hand hooked, and power loomed rugs all have a lifespan of about 3-10 years.

Flat-weave rugs run in the same price range as these more affordable construction types but have a completely different feel. Flat weave rugs last twenty plus years and take 3-4 months to make.

3. Country of Origin

Flat Weave rugs Unsplash

Most rugs are made overseas where most rug styles were invented. The most common countries for rug manufacturing are India, China, Egypt, and Turkey.

  • China is the leader in hand-tufted and hand-hooked rugs including shag and outdoor rugs. China also has more access to synthetic fibers making them a leader in those materials.
  • Like China, Egypt also produces a large number of shag and outdoor rugs, but often opts for machine-made rather than hand-tufted techniques. Egyptian manufacturers power-loom on a Wilton loom, which is a mechanism that regulates the feeding of pile yarns into the loom to form patterns.
  • India is famous for its meticulously crafted hand-knotted rugs, but they also produce a fair amount of hand-tufted rugs as well. Most Indian manufacturers use wool to make their product, but synthetic fibers also come from the region.
  • Turkey, just like Egypt, uses a power-looming technique to create machine-made rugs. Turkey uses many of the same processes as the Egyptian manufacturers and the two often compete directly.

4. Durability

CLE317A from Challe by Safavieh

 

It may seem obvious, but more durable rugs often come with a higher price tag. Durability means these rugs will last longer, be more resistant to damage, and be easier to maintain. If you commit to a more durable and more expensive rug, then you won’t have to purchase a replacement rug for several decades. This will lead to an overall better value when compared to less durable rugs that have a lifespan of 3-5 years.

There are several different factors that contribute to the overall durability of a rug. The most durable materials are wool, polypropylene, nylon, sisal, jute, and seagrass. Wool, of course, being the most expensive. Polypropylene is much more affordable but can feel uncomfortable to some. For more information, check out our blog post on the most durable rug materials.

The rugs weave also contributes to the overall durability. Hand-knotted rugs are often the most durable followed by hand-tufted and hand-hooked rugs. Machine made rugs are significantly less durable and typically last fewer than 10 years.

5. Size

MOS161A from Mosaic by Safavieh

The final factor that goes into the price of a rug ought to be obvious, the larger the rug, the higher the price. A larger rug requires more material and more time to make which drives up the cost. The general design rule is to keep at least eighteen inches of bare floor exposed by the rug’s edges. This rule applies to almost every room, with the exception of smaller spaces where this isn’t possible.

It’s tempting to opt for a smaller rug to save money, but an undersized rug will make your room look smaller. If you’re in doubt between two different sizes, it’s often best to go with the bigger one. Large rugs unify the furniture and will give the illusion that the room is bigger than it actually is. When it comes to rug size, it is generally worth it to pay a little more.

Why Are Rugs So Expensive?

 

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