A rug and a carpet are often terms we use interchangeably. However, when the time comes to redecorate our homes or perhaps hire a cleaning service, knowing the difference between a rug and a carpet is especially useful.
According to Merriam Webster, a rug is defined as "a piece of thick heavy fabric that usually has a nap or pile and is used as a floor covering”. If we were to quickly look up the history of rugs, linguistics would trace the word to the old Norse word “rogg”, defined as a shaggy tuft. By the 19th century, “rug” had come to mean floor mat—probably how we would describe it in layman’s terms today.
Some characteristics of rugs would be it’s convenient size and movability. Also known as “throw rugs”, these are usually woven and come in a single layer of fabric. Given this, rugs often rely on anti-slip mats and are pretty lightweight—making them easy to carry and move around. Rugs are also easy to clean, as they can often be placed into a large washing machine.
A carpet is defined as “a heavy often tufted fabric used as a floor covering". That being said, carpets are often significantly large, and can span from wall to wall. Carpets also come with second layers, making them notably thicker and able to retain their shape well. These layers are made from heavy-duty fabrics such as canvas and rubber-based fabrics, reducing slippage.
Given the size and bulk of this floor covering, cleaning would usually need to be done manually, and would cost more to clean. Special attention is also required to clean this type of floor covering, as the duration to thoroughly dry these carpets after cleaning can sometimes take up to a week.
If we were to take the definitions of the two floor coverings — a rug and carpet — above into context, we can determine that rugs can be considered as a subset of carpets. While a rug can often be laid anywhere on the floor and easily moved, some carpets are permanently affixed to the floor.
Another key difference between the two would be its size. A rug is usually around four by six feet or less, whereas a carpet can be made to cover an entire room of virtually any size.
While rugs and carpets can be made from similar items such as cotton, wool, and even synthetic fibers, price points between the two types of coverings drastically vary. Because rugs are much easier to make, store and clean, these floor coverings are much more affordable compared to their larger counterparts, and also entail less costs for maintenance.
Carpets, while more high maintenance, can also come in the form of an area carpet, which is a good in-between for those who wish to have the benefits of a carpet whilst having the movability of a rug.
No matter what type of floor covering you may have at home, a good understanding of its materials and how it was made will be helpful in making sure you get the most out of your investment, and so that your rugs and carpets can withstand the test of time.
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