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Carpets and Rugs: What’s the Difference?
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Your home deserves to be every bit enchanting that you dream it can be. Though how to make a house into a dream home is different for everyone, the most logical question to ask is why not start from the ground up? That’s right, start with the floors. But before jumping feet-first into any flooring endeavor, make sure you know just what floor you’re looking for – some flooring choices and terms can easily get mixed up.

Probably not used as interchangeably as ‘Kleenex’ is used for ‘tissues,’ there is still some confusion about how rugs and carpet differ. (No need to check the calendar; this isn’t an early April Fools’ Day joke.) Yes, both are made of natural or synthetic fibers, cushion feet, work to insulate rooms, and are chosen for their aesthetics and wear-ability, however, in this instance of flooring choices, size is what matters.

The main, overall, and possibly only difference between rugs and carpeting is the size of the two. Just take a look around your own home and the floors you chose. If you’re walking on a soft, durable surface (the opposite of solid wood floors), then the choices have been narrowed down to rug or carpeting. If that material covers the entirety of the floor from wall-to-wall, it’s carpet. If the flooring material has been draped or placed over another floor type, then it’s a rug. Specifically, after some Internet-digging, several reputable flooring experts list a rug as a textile that usually doesn’t exceed 6.5 feet (2 meters). Carpet floors are ones that are typically larger than 6.5 feet (2 meters).

It’s tough to say which flooring came first, and how each name was designated. However, dating back to the 1600s, having a floor that wasn’t stone, beaten earth, or even simply dirt in a home was considered a luxury. Before it reached lower classes that a floor that could be both equally comfortable and hard-wearing, upper classes often chose rugs for decorations. Because of different designs, patterns, motifs, geometrical designs, colors, knots, and weaves used varied from culture to culture and place to place, the possibilities of decorative rugs were endless. In fact, in wealthy homes in Europe and Asia, families would put multiple rugs on display.

Though the modern-day definition of rugs were the textiles used as decorations before they were used as floor coverings, Encyclopædia Britannica states that ‘carpet’ was used to describe any covering – not just floor coverings – until the 19th century. So, a carpet wasn’t just used as a floor covering; it was used to describe table coverings and tablecloths, tapestries, and the like, all of which now have separate, discrete words.

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