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Choosing Between Area Rugs and Broadloom Carpet

Choosing between area rugs and broadloom carpet depends on what your objectives are:

What do you want to show off?

What do you want to hide?

In other words, what is the condition of the floor below?

Broadloom Carpet

An unfinished or damaged floor surface is a good candidate for broadloom or wall-to-wall carpet. The continuous surface hides whatever is beneath it. Even if your floor is in fine shape, you may opt for broadloom because the unbroken plane of color and texture has the effect of making your room appear larger.

"Broadloom" refers to the machine used to make large carpets. Broadlooms are commonly used for large applications, such as wall-to-wall and office carpeting. Most broadlooms are now computer-operated, which means that a computer controls the colors, patterns, and even the height of the pile.

Choosing broadloom carpeting can be perplexing, given the almost unlimited choice of colors, texture, pile height and thickness. So how do you know which will work the best for you? Think about the use and traffic of the room. A heavily used family room or hallway calls for a shorter and denser carpet pile for practicality sake. Looped weave carpet is even more durable. A longer plush pile, though luxurious, will track every busy footprint. Save that look for a bedroom or another room that is seen but not used as much.

Broadloom Carpeting Pros and Cons


  • No Shifting
    Most broadloom carpets are nailed or tacked to the floor, so they don't shift around. If you like the lightweight feel of bamboo or cotton area rugs, you can get it in wall-to-wall and you won't have to kick it back into place all the time.
  • Noise Absorption
    Broadloom carpets are a great choice for soundproof rooms, such as studios and home theaters. Carpets absorb sound and keep it from escaping the room, so you get complete privacy when you need it.
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  • Insulation
    Wool rugs may be warm, but they only work on the parts they cover. Broadloom carpets insulate your entire floor, so there's none of that "cold foot shock" you feel on winter mornings.
  • No Seams
    Because it's a single piece, a broadloom carpet leaves no space for dust and dirt to get in. While you'll still get some dust over the years, it won't accumulate as fast or get kicked up from underneath.

. . . And The Cons

  • Costly Maintenance
    You can grab your favorite rug and throw it on your floor, but a broadloom carpet calls for professional installation. And when it needs to be cleaned you'll have to call for home service, which adds to the maintenance costs.
  • Semi-permanent Installation
    Broadloom carpets are more or less permanent - the time and effort it takes to replace them is hardly worth it. If you're the type that changes your tastes frequently, area rugs may be a better choice.
  • Faster Wear
    Most people rotate area rugs from time to time to minimize wear. You can't do this with broadloom carpets, so high-traffic areas will wear out faster than others. And when they do, you'll either have to live with it or re-carpet the entire room.

Area Rugs

By definition, area rugs cover only a particular area of your home. They offer more variety in terms of design and material, so you can get really creative with your choices. Bamboo area rugs, braided, and modern rugs are some of the more popular kinds. But protection-wise, they don't always measure up to broadloom carpeting.

area rug

In the smaller scale of your home environment, a rug creates a unifying focus for a seating area. There is no lovelier way to accent your hardwood or tile flooring than with a carefully chosen area rug.

Hard surfaces like wood and tile may make the room feel cold and sterile without the added warmth an area rug brings. The dimension of the rug defines the space and pulls together the furniture pieces used in the room creating a natural gathering area.

Area rugs used as colorful art for the floor can be whimsical or dramatic. When the rug displays a dominant color or print, it becomes a focal point for the entire room. An eye catching geometric or floral patterned rug also creates a good starting point for the color scheme of the walls, furniture and accessories used throughout the room.

Highs and Lows of Rugs

The Pros . . .

  • Mobility
    Area rugs can be rolled up, stored, and transported as much as you need. If you're planning to move or simply like to reorganize, rugs are the more practical choice.
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  • More Design Options
    Broadloom carpets are best purchased in muted colors to avoid overpowering the room. But contemporary rugs can be much bolder and still make a subtle effect. Bold designs look especially great on wood floors and other neutral backgrounds.
  • Easy Maintenance
    Cleaning a rug can be as simple as washing, blowing and drying. Some types, such as seagrass rugs, are more delicate and require dry cleaning, but the costs are generally lower than that of wall-to-wall broadloom carpets.
  • Cheaper
    Sure, real oriental rugs may cost as much as a new floor. But many rugs offer the same look and protection as broadloom carpets, at a fraction of the price. If you want to redesign your room for under $100, a stylish rug is the way to go.

. . . The Cons

  • Inadequate Protection
    Rugs protect only the areas they cover. Busy hallways and workrooms may be better off with full carpeting, or at least a larger rug.
  • Dust and Dirt
    Dust can easily get under the rug and scratch your flooring, especially in areas close to the outdoors. While a quick sweep can take care of the problem, you don't want to be doing it every day. This can also be a problem if you have allergy-prone kids.
  • Shifting and Sliding
    Rugs can easily be kicked out of place, and often, it's your job to put them back. You can minimize sliding by choosing rugs with anti-slip rubber backings or round rugs with thick stitched edges.

Whether you choose broadloom carpet, area rugs, or a combination of both for your home, consider first the functionality of the space and your lifestyle. Carpet and rugs are available in a myriad of materials such as wool, silk, cotton, natural fibers and several synthetic options.

Manufacturers are able to create color ways, weaves and patterns in various price points, so be imaginative. Let your floor covering choices reflect your home's personality and your own individuality.

Here's More Related Info That Might Be Helpful...

Choosing Carpeting - This article shows you what to look for when buying a carpet as well some important information about carpet warranties.

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