Friday, July 29, 2011

Why are Rugs so Freakin' Expensive?

I’m hoping to move in to a house in the very near future, and the house we’ve put in an offer for has hardwood floors throughout. Not a speck of carpet in the entire place.

I’ve lived my entire sheltered, suburban, new construction life with wall-to-wall carpeting, which is probably why I broke my foot from walking barefoot on concrete too much. I’ve never known a living experience in which there was a hard surface to lay on other than the kitchen or bathroom floor (not that I’ve done that too much, ha ha.)

But I’m kind of a weirdo. My computer is on the floor, and when I say “on the floor,” I mean the main case, the monitor, and the mouse and keyboard—all on the floor. The monitor doesn’t even have a stand, it just leans up against a subwoofer.

So I spend a lot of time on the floor at home, laying on my stomach to type, game, or read the news. I can’t imagine doing that on hardwood floors, so rather than get a computer desk, I’m looking to drop my life savings on area rugs. How expensive could they be?

As it turns out, I could buy an entirely new computer for the price of one rug. And I don’t need a little one. Nope, no puny 3'x5' is going to work in my living room. I need something bigger. At least 8'x10'.

One thing I noticed pretty quickly about rugs is that 9 out of 10 look like something you’d see hanging on temporary display in a gas station parking lot. They’re the overstock oriental rugs you see everywhere, and even those are expensive. I’m more of a minimalist, so I don’t want stupid fancy decorations all over the floor, and floral is out.

Mission: Find a non-oriental, non-floral 8'x10' or larger area rug without spending too much.

Unfortunately, what constitutes “too much” is impossible to determine in the rug world. That’s because it’s an industry with such wildly insane prices that your spirit is broken within minutes of shopping, and you begin to think that $350 for something your dog’s going to wipe his ass on is a “good deal.” Example:

I’ll just Google an 8'x10' contemporary rug and sort results from lowest- to highest-priced. Ooh, look at that tacky one! I’d pay $50 for that.


Okay, so I can get it as low as $50. I’ll check out the Rug Stop because they also don’t charge tax and offer free shipping.


Oh, really? You mean it’s not $50, it’s in fact a mere $770?

Well, let me just get out my credit card and pay $770 for this tacky-ass rug. Note that the 2'x3' is still more than $50 by about 150%.

And so it goes in the world of rug shopping. You can see by now how one’s spirit can be broken so easily. Your choices are oriental rugs, flower rugs, or paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

Shaggy Raggy
When we were first looking at the house I mentioned earlier, we noticed that the current tenants have this wonderful, huge white rug made from a material I’d never heard of. While in a baby store a few weeks later I saw the material and recorded what the consumer tag said: It’s called Shaggy Raggy. Stupid name, incredible material.

They had at least an 8'x10' in their house, so I figured if I can afford to buy their house, I’ll probably be able to afford this rug, right? Couldn’t be more than $150 or so. Wrong. It’s $280 for the 5'x8', the largest size I can find. But hold up for a moment, that’s not even totally accurate, as this comment on the Bed Bath & Beyond website eloquently points out:

I realize that for rugs they round to the nearest foot, however, you vshould know that this rug is 4'7" by 7'7" - In my opinion, the absolute minimum size you could be to call it a 5'x8' rug. Since is $280, I thought I would let others know. It is a soft rug.

Thanks, nickname55. I noticed this myself when I first looked up these rugs: Rather than calling it 4.5' by 7.5', (which would be 4'6" by 7'6"), they’ve technically moved up into the 5' by 8' category (by rounding up from 4'7" by 7'7".) Isn’t that sneaky? So, overpriced, too small, and practically false advertising. How much did the current tenants pay for their magical unobtainable rug?

55" x 91" = 5005 square inches, and 96" x 120" = 11,520 square inches. If the price scales evenly, then we can assume this logic:

$280 / 5005"^2 = $.056 per square inch, so 11,520 x $.056 = $644.48. Crap.

I can’t afford $650 for a rug! Not with a $932,698,326,903 baby due in 10 weeks! So, it’s off to Ikea to buy the world’s crappiest rug. Their selection is amazingly crappy, yet modern, like my tastes. No oriental rugs there.

Without looking too long, I find a $200 rug at 9'x10'. It looks like cheap apartment carpet. Oh well, that’s what I’m used to, and it’s what I lay on already, so cheap Ikea rug it is. But still... $200? Why are rugs so expensive?

Seriously, you walk on them, spill stuff on them, and your baby drools on them if you have one, so what’s the point in paying a crapload for one? And how do they justify charging so much? I asked Jeeves. A rug maker in India responded:

Expensive is a relative term. You need to get more objective here. Being a rug manufacturer in Agra , India ; I feel that my customers (who import the rugs) charge a King;s ransom when they sell a rug made by me to the retailer, but what the retailer charges from the consumer is even more than a Kings ransom.

An oriental rug of size 8' x 10' takes upto 4-5 months and 5 weavers to make. Thats a lot of time. A 8x10 rug may have anything between 640K Knots to 1.7 million knots in it depending on its quality. Each knot is tied by hand. IF you take out the price per knot it will be much less than a cent. Each knot takes an average of 7 seconds to tie.

If you ever happen to come to Agra, call upon me and I will take you to the looms where the rugs are woven. Then you will truly come to appreciate the value of these rugs.

Thanks man, but the plane ticket to India would cost me three rugs. Don’t we live in the era of robots? I just want a machine-manufactured piece of shit that emulates carpet and can eventually be rolled up and thrown on the side of the road somewhere so I can drive by it every day as it slowly decays without thinking about the 5 weavers that dedicated 4-5 months of their lives to creating it.

Mission accomplished, I guess. I just didn't think that $200 would be "not too much." I guess I have a different view of the American Dream.


  1. I share your feelings on the subject. Thanks for saving me the trouble of looking on the web. IKEA it is.

  2. Typical, po-faced Yank. He thinks the world revolves around white-ass!! I of your silly country and you might realize the world has a lot more to offer than just Mcdonald's etc. Rugs are truly an under valued form of art, principally because of unscrupulous dealers and cheap spenders like your self!

  3. Sorry I don't want to spend $800 on a hideous vomit of oriental blah.

  4. This was EXACTLY my experience of shopping for a rug. All I want is a section of carpet that I can throw on my hardwood floor. I understand that it is art in many cases but I feel there is a difference between artistic rugs and functional rugs that are only there for a little comfort. I don't want any fancy designs, just a plain colour and some fabric sewn on the edges to make it look neat. I swear it would be cheaper to just carpet the room...

  5. Same problem here. Im a college student coming from a "suburban, new construction life with wall-to-wall carpeting" in South FL and now I'm living in a crappy studio apartment in upstate NY for school with wood floors that Im pretty sure are original to the 100 year old converted factory building. I can't even find a decent cheap solid color rug on Walmart's website. If they can sell a Full size comforter, 2 pillow cases, 2 sham cases, 2 sheets, and a bed skirt packaged neatly in a bag for $50, why can't I get a rug with a fraction of the material for that price? I'm just going to dump it with all my other crappy Walmart particle board furniture within a year. I'm not spending a month's rent on something my dog's going to rub her butt on.

  6. I actually ended up buying a second, even larger one later at Ikea for $200 again, and my dog and cat took turns crapping on it until even the steam cleaner refused to fix the problem and I had to roll it up and store it in the basement. Glad it didn't cost me $800!

  7. I share your frustration about the cost of rugs but I gotta tell you - I have not laughed this much in a while! Your blog story is just too funny! Thanks for the laugh - too, too cute! Shelia @ House of Highlands - trying to find a cheap outdoor rug for my home.

  8. Oi, I feel your pain. I fell in love with the idea of a nice round shag rug to add some life to my hardwood floor and some cushioning from the floor for when my dogs decide to come in and lay down. 40 minutes of online searching later I decided I did not have the money to dwell in the luxurious world of rugs.

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  11. I'm an artist, and I understand, I do...but...where are the rugs made in factories? Where!!!???

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  13. This. Is. My. Life. Right. Now.

    I'm at Lowe's... And I'll be damned if I can find a decent looking large enough rug for under $200. This market is absurd.

  14. This. Is. My. Life. Right. Now.

    I'm at Lowe's... And I'll be damned if I can find a decent looking large enough rug for under $200. This market is absurd.

  15. to "Typical, po-faced Yank" typical po-faced internet asshole discouraging blog posters from sharing a non-threatening experience by attacking them personally

  16. I totally agree about the rip off saes world of rugs. The guy is RIGHT. Machines can bang out a rug with little human interaction. They can turn rugs out all week. Fast. Is it the cots of the machines? Surely not - since they must pay for themselves 100 fold. Yarn? doubt it... I am still searching for a deal ( ie 5x8 under $50 )

  17. Go to Lowes, find a pice of carpet you like (most are on 12 ft rolls), have them cut it to size, and have them seam the edges. MUCH LESS expensive than an area rug, and much less "busy" than an oriental rug.

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