How to Buy an Antique Oriental Rug Like a Pro

Your first or even your third Oriental rug purchase can be overwhelming. With some Oriental rugs priced similar to cars it is important to know what your plan is before opening your checkbook.

Turkish Sparta Rug

1. Measure Your Space

If you are not sure how to fit a rug into your space, check out our area rug size guide. Figure out what size rug you are looking for. An important question when buying a rug online is whether the listed measurement includes the fringe. I have seen some pretty long fringe, but on average fringe adds about 2 inches at each end.

Chinese Rug Fringe

The last thing you want to do is find the perfect rug, only to have it be delivered and see the fringe climbing up your walls because someone forgot to add it to the measurement. Some rug dealers round to the nearest foot, for example if a rug measures 3' x 4' 9 they may refer to it as 3' x 5'. You don't want to pay for a 3' x 5' rug and be disappointed when you find out it’s 3 inches shorter so make sure you ask the dealer if the measurement is accurate and includes the fringe. If you forget to ask about the fringe you can always trim it shorter to fit in your space.

3. Make sure it is real

Reputable rug dealers will not try to trick you into buying a machine made rug labeled as an authentic Oriental rug. But, if you are looking on eBay or Craigslist and dealing with inexperienced dealers you should be prepared to identify whether the rug is hand woven or machine made. Our guide to identifying authentic Oriental rugs can help you with that.

4. Be Ready to Haggle

Bickering with someone over a price is not everyone's forte. First, you want to ask yourself if the marked price is fair; is it a price you would pay? If not, would you pay 75%? When you are ready to haggle, make sure you have a price in mind of what you are willing to pay, but do not offer that price immediately. The likelihood the dealer will take your first offer is slim; he or she will most likely counter your offer.

A great place to build your confidence with haggling is behind a computer screen using eBay. Start out with a small item that has the Make an Offer option.

Vintage Karastan Rug

5. Try it out

If you are buying a rug online, you will obviously not have the opportunity to take it home and "try it before you buy it". For that reason it is important to be clear on the company's return policy. Make sure you are aware of the time frame you will have to put the rug down and make sure it fits in your space.

If you are buying your antique or semi-antique rug in person, ask if you can leave a deposit to try it for several days in your space. The majority of rug dealers allow their customers to try rugs in their home before making the purchase. Obviously this won't work if you are buying the rug on a site like Craigslist, so make sure you look it over carefully during the exchange.

Sarouk Rug

Lastly, you will want to inspect the rug to make sure there is no live moth or damage. This tip really applies to private sales such as sales on Craigslist. You can ask if it comes from a smoke free home, when the last time it was washed was, and whether or not they had pets that may have had accidents on the rug. It can be devastating to bring your new rug home just to find it is making your home smell like cigarette smoke. Any time I am buying a rug I smell it. Rugs are like filters; they capture all of the fragrances and dust floating around your home. I once bought a rug that smelled like women’s perfume.

What are your tips for first time rug buyers?

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