Some people cannot make a distinction between area rugs and carpets and sometimes they use the terms interchangeably. When floor covering professionals talk about “carpet“, almost always they mean wall to wall carpet. Both are soft and comfortable floor coverings, definitely a better substitute to tiles, bare hardwood or laminates. However it is not too difficult to distinguish between the two. Both have their own pros and cons:
Unlike area rugs, carpets are secured to the floor, generally tacked or cemented to it, often underlayed with cushion padding. Thus they are slip-resistant. While area rugs cover only a portion of the floor area, carpets cover the entire floor surface. The choice between the two is a matter of preference. Some people want a differently styled covering for each room, one that matches the décor and color scheme of the furniture, one that defines each living space. For them area rugs is the right choice. There are others who go for wall to wall carpeting because they want to be able to walk around the entire house barefoot, or have their children crawl on their hands and knees without having to feel the cold, hard floor surfaces. Besides, they want to give their entire house a unified look. This is definitely an advantage but on the other hand, area rugs can easily be rearranged to suit changes in furniture arrangement, or wall colors.
Carpets are more appropriate for drier climates only, because dirt and moisture stick to them, which can turn into mildew. For people living in a humid climate, large washable area rugs on top of any type of flooring other than wall to wall carpet is advisable.
Wall to wall carpets are hard to clean, so they are not a good choice for people with dust allergies. For them it is better to use polypropylene or washable area rugs.
However, both are not suitable for kitchens because food spills would make them look and smell pretty bad.
If one wants to “install” carpet over hardwood floors one would need to install smooth edge (tack strips) around the perimeter of the room, and that would damage the hardwood. The only way to cover hardwood floors without damaging the wood floor and keeping parts of the floors visible at the same time is by laying area rugs over the hardwood. However, they should be laid over a special type of pad designed for area rugs, which will help protect the hardwood and also keep the area rug from “crawling”.
Unlike wall to wall carpets, an area rug placed in an appropriate position can introduce structure to an open concept floor plan or link disparate furnishings.
If you are looking to bring colorful patterns and designs into your room without overwhelming it, area rugs are a better choice over wall to wall carpets because the latter are look best in neutral colors.
There is one practical consideration to take note of while choosing between wall to wall carpets and area rugs, which has little to do with decoration. Area rugs are yours to keep once you buy them, unlike wall to wall carpeting. You can take them with you if you move. So if you ever fall in love with a wonderful, expensive handmade rug, you can say: “Hey unlike wall to wall carpet, this is an investment and I will get to take it anywhere I want.”
One can use area rugs even if one has wall to wall carpeting. They can be laid on high traffic areas to protect the carpet or used to tie a sitting area together.
When wall to wall carpets wear out the house eventually becomes patched with different carpeting as worn out carpets in different areas are replaced. Using area rugs instead can save money because cost of replacing area rugs is relatively less especially if you find area rugs for sale when shopping for one. That shouldn’t be too difficult.
To conclude, the choice between area rugs and wall to wall carpets is as much a matter of personal taste as suitability. Being in business of area rugs, we could tell you to go with area rugs however, none of the two is better than the other in absolute terms.