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Are Carpets And Rugs Different?

It can be pretty easy to confuse the definition of a rug and that of a carpet. After all, they look pretty much alike when placed side by side, and in most cases, there is no practical difference between the two. However, there are certain differences between these types of floor coverings.

The Difference In Fiber Types

The carpet consists mostly of nylon-6 fibers, which are very strong and durable. Rugs consist primarily of natural fibers like wool or silk, but they can also contain exotic materials like camel hair, or alpaca fur.

Silk rugs are more expensive than wool rugs because it takes about 1 million silkworms to produce enough silk for one rug. The demand for high-quality handcrafted natural fiber rugs has increased in recent years as people become more conscious about their purchases. Visit to read more about the different types of fibers used in luxury rugs.

In some cases,  rugs are made entirely of synthetic fibers. If this is the case, it will be mentioned in the rug’s description.

A Difference In The Construction

Generally speaking, carpets are made with two layers: one on top—the carpet pile—and underneath it—the backing material. For carpets, yarn is usually used for this purpose while for rug making, the fabric is the usual choice.

There are exceptions in most cases though because a carpet’s weaving materials can also include things like leather fibers and artificial fabrics.

Another difference between a rug and a carpet is that well-made rugs will be made with selvage stitches along their sides. These function to allow for expansion and contraction as humidity levels change, or as they are moved from one location or season to another.

This construction technique also prevents the fringe from unraveling from the main body of the piece. While most rugs will both pile up and have bindings, there are some that can be made in one piece. These types of rugs will soundly lie flat on the floor without loose ends or frayed-out edges to catch dust particles and dirt.

It can be difficult if not impossible for an average person to tell whether a floor covering is a carpet or a rug simply by looking at it. However, these two differences described above exist regardless of your ability to see them easily.

A Difference In The Weave

A “rug” typically has a backing or binding to secure it to the ground or floor while a “carpet” does not. Sometimes rugs can be made without any backings at all.

However, the majority of rugs have some kind of substrate used for this purpose—and carpets do not require such backings because they will generally lie flat against the floor uninterrupted from one edge of the carpet to the other.

But while some rugs may be made with backings, there are also rugs that do not have these bindings and can be easily elevated to provide a warm surface between the feet and the ground. Such types of rugs do not need to adhere to wall edges or other such mounting components.

  • Tufted Carpets

Tufted carpets are made by pushing yarn through an adhesive backing material (usually latex) and securing them in place with two rows of stitching using a sewing machine or tufting gun.

The pile height is determined by the size of the tufts used. This type of carpet can be easily stretched, cleaned, repaired, and replaced. Some examples of tufted carpets include Saxony, Frieze, plush main, Berbers, and Wilton Styles.

  • Weave Rugs

Weave rug is typically made either on horizontal looms which use only one piece of yarn to produce the design or vertical looms which require four pieces of yarn. The vertical loom is more efficient at weaving intricate designs into the rug. One example of weave rugs includes needlepoint, Venetian, and Wilton styles.

  • Knot Style Rugs

A knot-style rug uses a special technique called looping or cut-loop to create plush area rugs with very dense pile heights. This type of carpet is created using either nylon or polypropylene loops which are then cut down to create an ultra-dense yarn bundle.

There are two types of cutting tools used in this process: one that simply cuts through all bundles but leaves the loops intact making the surface feel flat, and another which cuts through some loops while cutting others leaving little to no tuft showing depending on how the yarn is cut.

The loops are then anchored to the back of the rug using either adhesives or latex coatings. This type of carpet can be easily stretched, repaired, and replaced. Some examples of knot-style rugs include broadloom carpets, plush area rugs, cut pile area rugs, and Saxony style area rugs.

The Difference In Thickness And Pile Height

Carpets are generally thick and plush, providing a luxurious look and feel underfoot. Carpets can be as thin as about ¼ inch or as thick as 4 inches, depending on your preference.

Carpet pile height refers to the height of the yarn from top to bottom. A low pile carpet has a shorter pile height while a high-pile carpet has a taller one. Some carpets have rippled or corded surfaces that reflect light differently than flat surfaces do. These types of carpets make a room appear larger because they reflect light and create a more open visual space.

Rugs tend to be thinner than carpets, but still thick enough to provide comfort underfoot. Rugs can also be as thin as ¼ inch or as thick as 4 inches. Rug Pile height refers to the measurement from the top of the tufted material on one side of the rug to another and sometimes includes fringe length measurements as well.

A low pile rug has a shorter pile height while a high-pile rug has a taller one. The most common rugs are hooked, hand-knotted, flatweaves, coir matting, and kilims which have no pile at all.

Difference In Size

Carpeting is usually made in rolls that are large enough to cover the floor of an average home, whereas rugs are generally intended for smaller areas like hallways or bedrooms.

In the United States, where both carpeting and rugs are plentiful, carpeting is much more common. This type of floor covering covers a larger portion of the floor as compared to a rug.

Carpet is considered an indoor floor covering, but it can also be used for outdoor spaces like patios and porches. Rugs are specifically designed for indoor use because they are usually made out of more fragile natural materials that could not stand up to direct sunlight or extreme weather conditions.

It’s possible to take a rug outside if necessary, but it requires some extra care in order to prevent any damage from occurring. A good rule of thumb is: if you wouldn’t walk on it barefoot inside your home, then don’t take it outside either!

If you want to install carpeting over hardwood floors, then an extra pad is a must—without a pad, a rug will move around too much and eventually fall apart in foot traffic.

Difference In Price

Generally speaking, a well-made area rug will cost a bit more than a wall-to-wall carpet. The materials used in making each one affect their price points accordingly: A whole lot of wool goes into making high-quality rugs while polyester fibers make great carpeting that is cheaper to manufacture. This is but a general rule, as there are rugs made from polyester and carpets made from wool.

Rugs require more time and money to manufacture because they are woven on looms instead of being punched out on an assembly line like carpeting. Rugs also take longer to produce than carpeting.

It is estimated that it takes about a year to make a rug that will cover 125 square feet of floor space. On the other hand, most carpeting can be rolled from the loom onto a large roll and shipped directly to a retailer where it’s sold for a fraction of what it costs in materials.

Different Uses For Rugs And Carpets

Because carpets are generally thicker than rugs, these types of floor coverings are better for bearing weight when it comes to walking on them. People who use this type of flooring cover should look for a carpet with high pile thicknesses—which measure anywhere from 0.5 inches up to even four inches beneath the topmost layer where it meets the backing material that holds everything together.

Rugs, on the other hand, need not be subject to safe bearing weights because they are generally thin and made from cloth types of materials. With rugs, the pile should be cut so that it does not have protruding ends to snag objects.

In homes with children or pets, a carpet tends to be better to use since these floor coverings are more likely to withstand heavy foot traffic better than other kinds of floor coverings like runners or mats.

These tend not to look as nice in homes though because if they do get dirty, they cannot be cleanly wiped off with water and soap-like carpets can; there is also no way for them to prevent stains.

The Difference In Cleaning And Maintenance

Carpet cleaning must only be done by professionals due to the dangers associated with high-powered suction equipment that forces steam into deep fibers in order to clean them out.

Professional cleaners use chemicals that soak up the dirt but do not harm fiber quality. Not all carpets are meant for wet cleaning; some types should only be cleaned with dry steam.

Most carpets are made using synthetic fibers that can be dyed to vivid colors, but these dyes are not colorfast which means they will fade over time. Rugs are typically made using natural fibers that are naturally dyed and do not require chemicals, water, or steam to clean them.

Spills should be blotted up immediately with a clean white cloth before it has time to penetrate the pile of the rug. All types of rugs may be vacuumed regularly without affecting their appearance or quality.

Summing Up…

The only reason for using floor coverings like rugs and carpets is to add warmth, color, and texture to rooms. It’s best to keep this in mind while shopping because too many decisions can get you stuck and confused when there are so many options available.

When it comes down to deciding between a rug and carpet: use the rule of your bare feet: would you walk on it barefoot? If yes, rugs are a great choice. But if you have pets or kids at home, carpets are an ideal choice for long-term use.


Jeff Campbell