26 Aug Buying the Best Old Rugs For Your House

No matter what condition your old house is in, you need good rugs. A good rug can dress up even the dingiest room, adding color, warmth, and comfort. The problem is, rugs are expensive. Antique rugs are especially expensive. Most people make compromises with their rugs and end up buying something not-so-good because they feel they can’t afford really nice rugs. Ron and I have been buying rugs for years, so let me share what we’ve learned.

1) Old rugs are often better than new rugs.
When I say “old,” I mean antique — older than 50 years. True “Oriental” carpets were hand-knotted and hand-dyed and made to last well over 100 years. If you like antique furtniture, you should like antique rugs. An antique rug will show some wear and that’s okay because these rugs are tough and made to last. A really worn antique oriental rug will show white specks of the knotted fibers. That’s okay too. Even in a worn spot like that, it will withstand decades of further wear.

2) Old rugs are made from natural fibers: usually wool or silk.
You want wool. It’s easy to clean and it wears well. There’s cotton too, usually in hooked rugs. Hooked rugs do not hold up well because they are loosely woven. We had a beautiful big hooked rug in our bedroom but our dogs at the time were fond of playing on it — they tore it up.

3) Old rugs will often have some stains. Some stains we can live with. Others aren’t worth the compromise of living with the unsightly mark. If the stain shows through the back of the rug, you won’t be able to get it out. That siad, a good old rug is worth cleaning. Most cities have a business that cleans rugs. A room-sized rug might cost $100 to clean but it’s worth it if you expect to use the rug for years and years.

4) Auctions are the best places to get good old rugs cheap. Don’t get caught up in the bidding fever. Sometimes an auciton has attracted dealers: they can pay high prices at an auction because they charge high prices. You have to be patient. Set a spending limit for yourself (before the auction!) but also be reasonable. A good old rug at an auction could run you $500 or more, a fraction of the retail price. But remember, this is an investment that’s meant to last decades and decades.

That said, if you’re patient and willing to hold out, you can find great room-sized vintage rugs for abotu $100. Recently, we bought a circa-1920s 8 x 10 Asian carpet that had a visible repair and was very dirty. But we could tell it was a quality rug. We got it for about $80. Then had it cleaned for about $100. It looks great and is worth many times the money we put into it.

5) You can also find good rugs on Craigslist and even eBay, but the prices vary wildly. Some people are unrealistic about the prices they think their rugs should fetch. Other people are nearly giving them away. Again: patience helps when you’re searching.

6) Don’t buy something just because it’s a good deal. Ron is always doing this, which is why I don’t trust him to go to an auction without me! Buy a rug because it’s right for you and just what you’re looking for. Don’t buy it because it’s cheap. You’ll soon tire of that “good buy” and you won’t be able to get rid of it.

7) There’s no substitute for quality. Buying a used — antique — rug will very likely guarantee that you get quality. Do some homework. Go to some auctions to get a feel for the way quality rugs look and how well they are made. Then set your sights on searching out the rug that’s right for your old house!