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The Difference Between a Rug and a Carpet

While the terms carpet and rug tend to be used interchangeably, there is, in fact, quite a difference between those two. Both describe a thick piece of cloth, usually woven from natural fibers like silk, wool, jute and cotton or synthetic materials used for decorative purposes. The patterns or techniques used can differ to a great extent, depending on the region or the year in which the given carpet or rug was woven.

Countries like Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey are famous for their unique weaving craft, often recognized as parts of national tradition. While the terms carpet and rug tend to be used interchangeably, there is, in fact, quite a difference between those two. Both describe a thick piece of cloth, usually woven from natural fibers like silk, wool, jute and cotton or synthetic materials used for decorative purposes. The patterns or techniques used can differ to a great extent, depending on the region or the year in which the given carpet or rug was woven.


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The term rug is of Scandinavian origin, probably from Old Norse rogg, meaning “shaggy tuft” or Proto-Germanic rawwa, which was probably related to the words “rag” and “rough”. In English, the word was used for the first time in the 15th century, much later than its equivalent, but with a similar meaning. Rugs are generally defined as being of smaller size (no longer than 6.5 feet) than carpets. Conventionally, if cloth covers space of approximately 40 square feet, it is considered to be a rug. Their most characteristic feature, however, is the fact that rugs usually have a bound edge, contrary to carpets. They can be moved freely on the floor which is a great advantage for many people, as rugs are easier in terms of transportation and maintenance. Normally, rugs are placed in the center of any given accommodation or in a close proximity of furniture such as beds or sofas.


The word carpet originates from the Old French carpite, “heavy decorated cloth”, or Italian carpita, “thick woolen cloth”, which come from Latin “to card, to pluck”. The term itself was first used in the English language in the 13th century, with the meaning of “coarse cloth” or “tablecloth”. It wasn’t until the 15th century when the meaning shifted to the one we know today – floor covering. Carpets are characterized by their size, often defined as stretching from and/or being fixed in one place. While carpets are normally laid on the floor, in some regions of the word, like Russia, they are used as wall coverings. They tend to be quite thick, giving a luxurious feel whenever you walk on them, paired with an exquisite pattern design. Hand-woven carpets can be very pricy, with famed Persian ones being the most sought-after and therefore, the most expensive. While machine-made carpets usually have less unique patterns, their lower price and precision of manufacturing compensates for this. Their maintenance can be a little more costly and time-consuming than that of rugs, which is to be expected because of their size.

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