Where to Find Reasonably Priced Rugs That Aren’t Hideous or Really Poor Quality



If you’ve fallen in love with these interiors full of beautiful rugs, only to have your stomach drop to the floor when you realise the price of said rug is a cool $100,000.

It can punch and suck the decorating excitement out of you more thoroughly than the highly effective dyson vacuum cleaner.

And while there’s a lot of cheap and ugly rugs out there, there’s also some amazing bargains to be had.


Where to shop for good quality and affordable rugs

There’s two types of affordable quality rugs.

The first is used. While this method takes time. In general it offers up the best quality rugs for the cheapest prices.

I personally am always looking, and have come across many bargains this way.

The second is new. I’ll show you the cheapest options made of real quality materials and some tricks to getting a large size rug for less.

So let’s get you started.


How to buy a quality used rug

When looking at vintage rugs, the key to not buying a dud that forever has that second hand smell is these five things.

1) Look for to see if it’s woven

If it has the same pattern in the back as the front, then it should be woven.

Anything else on the back of the rug usually means it’s tufted. Which I’d avoid, as tufted rugs tend to get smells stuck in the glue backing. And no matter how much you wash them, the smells won’t come out.


2) Check if it is a good quality wool

Wool is the most durable and hardwearing of all rug fibres, which means it lasts the longest. Plus the most sustainable.  It’s also really good at hiding dirt and generally easy to be cleaned by a rug cleaner.

If the rug is real wool it should have some shine and the dye colours should be bright (although take into account it could be dirty).

If you scratch your fingers over the rug you shouldn’t get fluff off the rug and into your hand. If you do, that means it’s poor quality wool and avoid it unless its a great colour and super cheap.

3) Check if it’s a good quality silk

The other good quality rugs are silk rugs. You can test if it’s completely silk by pulling a thread or two and lighting it. If it burns, shrivels, and smells like burnt hair it should be real silk.

Note the best quality silk rugs are really thin and have a brilliance of colour.

4) Check for it’s shape

While handmade rugs tend not to be perfectly rectangular, the rug shouldn’t be really irregular in shape or pulling in any way.

If it is, that usually means poor craftsmanship so pay less for it.

5) Check if the dye is bleeding

Poor quality dye, or dye that hasn’t been washed out throroughtly during production of the rug, will bleed out of the fibres and into other fibres in the rug giving you an imperfect design.

You can check for this by seeing if there is any bleeding on the back or by pulling apart the fibres and seeing if there is any transfer of colour between the fibres.

If there’s a little I don’t worry too much, unless I’m paying a high end price. Sometimes imperfections are beautiful.

Now, that you have an idea of quality, how much should you pay?


How to buy used rugs without being ripped off

I personally have always liked the suggestion by rugchick that if you pay $10 usd per square meter you shouldn’t be getting ripped off.

Knowledge is your friend when it comes to rug shopping. Knowing the basic anatomy of your rug and what to look for will ensure you won’t be marked as a sucker.

Some very basic details are that woven rugs tend to be made on a loom where vertical strings are tied called warps in the long direction, and wefts run across horizontally weaving in and out of the warps. See how a rug is made here.


For each design there are also some main areas like the medalion which sits in the centre of the rug and borders around the edge. See the full anatomy below.


I also keep this rug website bookmarked in my phone.  It has visuals of all of the different rug styles from around the world.

That way if I’m not sure what I’m looking at, or want to check how good the location of the rug’s craftsmen really are, I look for the style here, and then double check it’s value across the web.

So now, you’re info packed with knowledge on spotting quality and not getting ripped off. Let’s get you shopping.


Where to shop for quality used rugs

There’s lots of opportunities to find good quality rugs going cheap at auctions, flea markets, second hand stores, estate sales, and small tucked away antique shops.

This needs patience, but there’s also nothing like finding a one of a kind beautifully woven rug for the price of a spa day.

Nowdays, you don’t even need to dirty a fingertip searching through dusty second hand stores when online has many options too.

You won’t be able to tell the quality or colour so well online. Yet many times, the prices are worth the risk.


Some sources for buying second hand rugs are:

    • preloved.co.uk, ebay.com, etsy.com, trademe.co.nz, craigslist, and so on. My favourite search is this one.
    • Your local salvation army or second hand consignment stores – these types of stores require regular visits as you never know what’s going to be there, and the best items get snapped up quick. The good thing with these stores is that lots of people are put off the rugs section because it does feel a little gross. Your willingness is your ability to get a bargain
    • Estate sales – If you have done your research these can be a great way to nab a bargain
    • Online auction houses – slightly different from ebay. You often have better quality stock and many times even better prices than ebay if you find the right auction house for your area since there is less competition bidding. I also find summer months (when people are away on holidays) a great time to nab the best bargains for the same reason



How to clean your used rug

Now, let’s hope you’ve grabbed a bargain! I always recommend finding yourself a specific rug cleaner to clean your bargain. Dry cleaning can leave chemical residues in your beautifully natural rug and since they’re not dedicated, and it’s not worth the risk of them ruining it.

As a rough idea expect to pay around $28 – 32 usd per meter square for cleaning.

Now, if hunting around dusty old shops sounds more like torture than the ultimate day of retail adventure then here are then next best options in terms of finding good quality rugs.


Where to buy affordable new rugs that aren’t hideous or poor quality

While getting new woven rugs cheap can often mean poor quality materials, dye, and construction there are other types of rugs that have fantastic value and still are quality.

Here are 4 ways to get quality rugs for a reasonable price.

1) Sisal, jute, and seagrass rugs

This is the cheapest type of rug for the size.  I particularly love these ikea ones.

Why? They add a lot of texture to your home and the cost per square meter is one of the best.

One word of caution is that they are apparently hard to clean spills from, especially if you buy one with a fabric border or rubber back.

For that reason I prefer the borderless and backless versions like the ikea one linked to above.

The other option I really like is sea grass matting. It works incredibly well here in Ibiza because it’s pretty hard wearing and has a beach vibe to it.

With seagrass matting it’s also woven without a backing. And when it’s woven it’s usually made into a pattern, and you all know how I love pattern for brining interest into your home.

2) Woven cotton rugs like Kilim

While they are not so hardwearing as wool, and they tend to show dirt more, you can just throw them in a large size washing machine. They’re also relatively easy (read more affordable) to get cleaned.

Look for ones with vibrant colours. They tend to be done with vegetable dyes, and make sure that the yarn is dyed before the rug is woven. Anything just printed on won’t stand up to the wear and washing.

3) Hides

Hides are another good option They are incredibly hard wearing and spills clean up like they would on hair. Pretty easy as not much sticks.

They are the only type of white rug I ever recommend. And the only rug type I put in kitchens.

How to buy a good quality hide:

    • Check if the hair looks healthy, and feels soft and glossy when you run your hand over it
    • Check for a well cut and even shape to the rug. If it’s not semi symmetrical it can look funny on your floor at home
    • No holes, sores, damage, or branding as these indicate a poor quality rug. Some little repairs are ok as long as they can’t be seen from the top side
    • Check for curling of the edges. This happens when the hide is not well treated chemically, or the skin has dried out from the hot sun. Check that the skin is soft and supple and that the hide lies perfectly flat as there is almost nothing you can do if the hide ends up curling



4) Sew smaller rugs together to make large area rugs

Another cheeky way I have found to get an insanely cheap rug is to buy smaller rugs which tend to be cheaper and stitch them all together.

This is particularly good with new rugs because if they are all they same they’ll all be the same material and dye which means cleaning them will be easy.

I did this with four recycled denim rugs that cost me $40 each, and when stitched together created a 3m x 4m rug for under $200.


How to keep your rugs nice

The most important thing to keep Kilims and other woven rugs nice, is a rug pad underneath. This is a plastic, felt, or rubber mat that you make 2 – 3 centimetres smaller than your rug on all sides.

What it does is it stops your rug from slipping around all over the place and creasing up.

With the right rug pad underneath, I’ve seen even thick woven blankets used as rugs before.

No matter what your rug, a rug mat will help you protect your rug from friction of movement which will help your rug last longer.

A good quality rug pad is usually made of natural materials. Use a felt rug pad for large rugs that won’t slip around so much. Or natural rubber rug pads for smaller rugs that will slip.

Some of the other (non natural) rug pad materials, disintegrate, or can mark and damage your flooring over time. Thats why just incase I always go for natural rubber or felt.


Some sources for reasonable quality and affordable new rugs are:

    • West elm – They have good modern designs in woven wool rugs. Check the quality in store and buy on sale for the best deals. As much as I like the overdyed rugs, I avoid them because the indian ink they’re dyed with runs with spills making them hard to clean.
    • Ikea – The hides although not the best quality aren’t bad, and the jute, and sisal rugs are good quality and the cheapest prices out there.
    • Overstock.com – They sell all the rugs that other stores haven’t managed to sell yet. While its online so it’s hard to see the quality. Some of the prices are really good
    • Your local Chinese store or bulk warehouse – You might be surprised what your local chinese store or bulk warehouse stocks. Ours has seagrass mats for very little money. And in New Zealand The Warehouse had really good seagrass mats for sale.
    • Anthropologie – Their flat woven rugs are beautiful and pretty good quality for reasonable money.
    • eBay – A lot of smaller stockists from around the world have their shops on eBay and I’ve heard that many of the bigger stores sell their old stock off at discounted rates on there.
    • Etsy – I’ve found many little stores on Etsy that ship from the countries of origin direct to your home. They have a big range of rugs and reasonable prices.
    • Smaller online stores – With many people starting up their own smaller online stores, I’ve found the pricing can be very good. Especially when they’re having sales.



What size rug should you be looking for?

Ideally you want your furniture to have at least the front feet of your furniture on the rug. Why? Because it visually pulls all your furniture together and makes it feel like it’s in it’s own little room.

For a dining room you want to be able to have whole table and enough room either side to pull out the chairs without them falling off the rug and feeling unbalanced or awkward.

For a bedroom you want a decent amount of the rug to be either side of the bed and out of the base of the bed.

That said, when shopping for vintage rugs, you may fall in love with something that’s much smaller. And smaller rugs tend to go for less money in general so are they worth the purchase?

While not ideal, I have seen them work well in some spaces. For example. The image below uses smaller rugs in a bedroom layered on top of one another to create the size required.



And here it shows a smaller rug placed in a traffic space separately. Almost like a floating piece of art. You can do the same on the sides and ends of the bed with smaller rugs too.


Rugs bring pattern, are a great way to tie the colours in your room together. Textiles like rugs also bring an instant feeling of homeliness and warmth to your home, that you just can’t get from other textured materials.

That’s why I consider them an essential part of decorating.

How did you find your rugs for your home? Or got yourself a rug related question. Pop it in the comments below.


Published by: Rach Bryant


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