Should You Place an Expensive Oriental Rug Under a Dining Room Table?

You have undoubtedly seen it countless times in home decorating magazines, real estate listings, and HGTV shows:  the wonderfully decorated dining room with a large imposing table on top of a beautiful Oriental rug.  The rug instantly grounds the space; it immediately warms up the room.

But what are the practical implications of having a large (and probably expensive) handmade rug under a heavy dining room table?  Some have argued that rugs under dining room tables should be confined to pages of home magazines, but in reality are impractical.  Proponents of this position point out that there is the obvious risk of having food or beverages spilled on top of the rug which could permanently damage it.  They also argue that the stress that heavy chairs put on the pile when diners drag them back and forth to sit and rise from them can damage the rug.  Are proponents of this position correct?

Well, yes and no.  I agree that having a rug under a table where food and drinks are regularly served subjects the rug to the risk of staining.  But the risk is minimal as most of us don't normally drop our food and drink.  With younger children, the risk may be higher, but for the vast majority of people, I think the benefit of having a rug you love and a space that brings you joy far outweighs the unlikely risk that you will spill something on your Oriental rug that you can't easily clean or have professionally cleaned.  And as for chairs damaging your rugs, the risk exists, but it can be minimized.  It is true that I would not recommend placing a very valuable or fragile antique Oriental rug under a dining room table, but for the vast majority of handmade rugs, a dining room is a fine place for them to be enjoyed.

Following are some guidelines to follow to protect a handmade rug that is placed under a dining room table:

  1. Place protective "feet" under all table and chair legs.  Periodically ensure that the protective coverings are securely attached to the chair legs.  The protective coverings lessen the risk that any sharp edges will damage your Oriental rug's pile.
  2. Place a good quality rug pad under your table.  Again, this will minimize the risk that the weight and stress of the table and chairs will damage the pile of your rug.
  3. Vacuum your rug regularly and often so as to remove any crumbs that can become embedded in your rug's pile.  As always, avoid vacuuming the fringe.  Instead shake the fringe for loose food and dust particles.
  4. Blot all spills immediately.  Do not rub; blot with a damp white towel.  If you are worried about staining, have your rug professionally cleaned after any significant spills.
  5. At least once every four months or so, examine your rugs for damage, including possible moth damage that can occur under heavy furniture (in this instance, under heavy table legs).
  6. At least once every four months, rotate  your rug.
  7. Have your rug professionally cleaned once a year.

By following these simple guidelines, one should be able to enjoy a beautiful handmade rug under a dining room with minimal risk of damaging it.