A few weeks back, you may recall that I listed “rugs” as one of the things you should never invest *a lot* of money in when you move as frequently as we do. You can read all about why here; but in summary: rugs tend to be so house specific that they rarely work from home to home. As such, I make it a rule to spend as little as possible on rugs for our rentals. But even though I don’t like to fork over a ton of cash to cover our floors, I still want to have decent products underfoot. This quandary often leads me to shop via the Internet; but as anyone who has shopped for rugs online knows, it’s not exactly a foolproof process. If you’re in the market for a new rug, consider these pros and cons of buying rugs online before you click!
One of the biggest advantages of buying rugs online is the cost. Sites like Rugs USA, Joss & Main, Overstock, and Wayfair (my four favorite rug sources) not only tend to have really good prices to start, but they also run regular promotions where you can stack discounts, coupons, and free shipping onto a single rug to bring the price down even lower. I almost always shop on holiday weekends to take advantage of big sales and will often scour the online clearance section to scoop up insanely discounted rugs and runners. And one more cost-saving benefit? Many retailers carry the exact same rugs (just often called by different names), so you can truly comparison shop to find the best deal.
Another big advantage to buying rugs online is the sheer selection you can quickly peruse. I’ve only been to a handful of “real life” rug stores, but I can easily say that you’ll unlikely find one with a comparable selection to what you can find online. From colors and patterns to even various size options for a particular rug, you’ll only find that kind of selection online.
If you want something specific, the searchability of online rug platforms is your best friend. Usually, I have a “look” in mind, so I use the search/filter functions to narrow retailers’ expansive collections into something I can easily look through. I typically search by color first, size second, and price third.
Man, it can be such a bummer to find a rug you love in a store like HomeGoods, but the size is completely wrong for your space. A retail store may have a rug in multiple sizes, but not every size and not every time. When shopping online, if you fall in love with a pattern you love, you will most likely be able to pick whatever size you need for your space!
I don’t know about you, but we don’t have a vehicle that can easily haul an 8×10′ rug. And let’s just say Greg does NOT love it when I ask him to meet me at a store to help haul something else home. One of the BEST perks of shopping for rugs online is that the delivery person has to do (most of) the heavy lifting for you! Bonus Points: If you happen to be home when they ring the doorbell, they will often drag it into the house for you too!
Okay – so with the excellent cost savings, selection, and convenience of shopping for rugs online, why would you ever do any different?
Difficult to Assess a Rug’s Looks
There are certainly other cons which I’ll get to in a second, but this is the biggest one. No matter how good the pictures are online, no matter how many reviews you read, and no matter how much you search for pictures of the rug in actual spaces, the chances of you really, really, really understanding what a rug will look and feel like once it arrives at your door is slim to none (unless you’ve seen it it person and/or have ordered the same rug/brand before). It’s tough enough to discern colors from a computer picture or vague description. But identifying texture, pattern scale, pile height, durability, and the rug’s lining/padding can be near impossible based on descriptions and pictures alone. Maybe I am really, really bad at understanding all the rug-related jargon, but I have not once had a rug show up and it be exactly what I expected. Some have been great, others not so much. It just always feels like a big ol’ gamble…you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get!
Difficult to Assess a Rug’s Quality
This one goes along with the previous con, but it is worth highlighting. No matter how thorough the reviews are, it is very difficult to judge the rug’s quality from an online description. After all, everyone has a different definition of what “high quality,” “durable,” and “you get what you pay for” mean. No words or descriptions can replace actually seeing and touching a rug for yourself in order to determine if it will meet your household’s requirements.
Unlikely to Find Something “Special”
Admittedly, I don’t search sites like Ebay or specialty rug retailers (because I am often looking for cheap cheap cheap and VERY temporary)…but when shopping “big box” online rug stores, it is unlikely you are going to find something truly special or “one of a kind.” Yes – you might find exactly what you want/need for your room, but be prepared that you might see the same rug at your neighbor’s house, on display in a department store, or all over Pinterest. That same price, accessibility and searchability that I listed earlier as “Pros” mean these rugs are widely accessible, mass produced, definitely not unique, and (at least in my experience), not all-that-likely to make your heart go pitter-patter when you see it. These rugs can feel…generic. That’s not always bad, just something to be aware of.
Difficult to Return
So what happens when you search and search and search for a rug online, finally settle on “the one,” only for it to arrive and it’s most definitely not “the one”? #beentheredonethat #twice #i’llshowyounextweek. What do you do with the rug now? While returning rugs from online retailers is not impossible, it certainly isn’t easy. Not only do you have to package it up to be shipped (again), but you have to do the hauling, loading/unloading, and (most often) pay for it to be returned. Again, it’s not impossible, but it definitely detracts from one of the convenience of ordering online in the first place.
If all of these tips sound like they come from personal experience, they do! I almost always buy our rugs online…in fact, every rug shown in this post was purchased via the web! Across all these purchases, I have experienced every pro and con listed out in this post. And while I’ve gotten my selections right a lot, I’ve also gotten some terribly, terribly wrong. Most recently, I majorly flubbed not one, but two (!!!) rugs I purchased for our current home. Back here next Tuesday, I’ll pick up there with a look at the two rugs I bought, why they went so wrong, and what I’m doing to (try to) make them work! See you then!