Plus, a few tips for shopping for both types of these prized floor coverings.
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vintage rug modern farmhouse entryway hall
Credit: Joe Schmelzer

If you're in the market for a floor covering that is also a piece of the past, the first step is understanding the lingo. That's right: Antique and vintage are not synonymous in the rug realm. "Antique rugs are, by definition, more than 100 years old," explains Arash Yaraghi, principal at the fine-rug emporium Safavieh. "Unmatched in craftsmanship and artistry, they come from the world's most renowned rug-making centers, including Persia, Turkey, Morocco, and China." These often pricey options are intricately hand-knotted out of naturally dyed wool, silk, and cotton; the denser the weave, the finer the quality.

The term vintage, on the other hand, describes rugs that are over 30 years old; they are often made in the same regions. They're synthetically dyed and less expensive, says Joanna Mahserdjian, owner and founder of Upstate Rug Supply, in Hudson, New York.

As for how to distinguish between the two? If you're attempting to identify an estate-sale or flea-market find, here are a few details to look for: An antique will be incredibly soft to the touch, and very malleable—"if you roll back a corner or side, it will move effortlessly," Yaraghi says. It'll also be noticeably heavier than other rugs: "There's simply more to them, and lifting one will bear that out." Either type can be high-quality, however, so focus on choosing one that you find beautiful and best suits your room—and worry less about its origins or age.

There are a few things you should keep top of mind on your search, though: scale and size. When shopping for rugs of this kind, know the dimensions of your space in advance, and bring your tape measure along: These beauties don't come in standard sizes.

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