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Patchwork Rug Buyer's Guide

Patchwork Rug Buyer's Guide

Our experts have compiled some very useful information to help you make an educated purchase decision when shopping for a custom cowhide patchwork rug. We explain some of the basics of rug buying, and we'll reveal the myths and facts about patchwork rug manufacturers and retailers.


Choosing Where to Buy

Marketing 101 - The Best Quality Rugs are Not The Most Expensive

Same quality at a lower priceHow much extra are you willing to pay for the exact same quality and design? Chances are during your quest for the perfect patchwork rug, you've come across some very fancy websites by "designer" retailers that present their rugs as being the best available, and at a very expensive price. This is Myth #1. While there are some rug manufacturers that make a poorer quality product than others, nearly every premium patchwork floor covering is made with the same top-grade cowhides, excellent stitching, and durable backings. As long as they use top-grade Brazilian cowhides (the best in the world) they all cost roughly the same to produce. The higher price you pay to designer and boutique rug makers comes from nothing but aggressive marketing and a perception that a fancy website means a better product.

The Exact Same (or better) Product for Less Guaranteed

At The Cowhide Store, we can honestly say that we produce the absolute highest quality patchwork rugs. Other high-end retailers or manufacturers offer rugs of similar quality, but none are better. This is not an unqualified boastful statement, but one based on our own customer's experiences. The only difference is our price. Our manufacturing costs are also the same as the top retailers, but our mark-up is a fraction of theirs.

Check Their Return Policy

Many patchwork retailers will not allow you to return a custom patchwork rug for any reason, citing the one-of-a-kind nature of the product. We stand behind all products by The Cowhide Store. If your rug is ever made incorrectly or is flawed in any way, we will remake it for you at no charge, and with no return shipping cost. Even when made perfectly, every custom item from The Cowhide Store is 100% returnable for a refund for any other reason. Your only cost would be the return shipping and a modest 25% restocking fee to cover a portion of our manufacturing costs. See return policy details here.


The Cowhide Store Difference

Our Original Designs

Our in-house designers have created more than 600 copyrighted designs in natural earth tones and vibrant dyed colors. Each of those designs are available in up to 100 or more sizes. Most are also available as hallway runners, and some come in round sizes and odd shapes as well.

Your Original Designs

We can produce your rug idea

We can help you make your vision a reality with very little effort on your part. Some retailers allow you to use sophisticated self-service web interfaces to create your rug design. This can be fun if you are artistically inclined. It will also be expensive. We've compared prices with these sites and were stunned. Our suggestions? If you enjoy designing rugs using their online interface, just use it to create your design and print it or take a screen shot. Send it to us and we'll give you a quote for the exact design with the same stitching and backing as out competitor.

Not artistically inclined? You can describe your design by phone or through our contact form. You can even sketch it on a napkin and send us a cell phone photo (yes, this has really happened). Give us the desired dimensions, stitching type and backing, and our design experts will create a mock-up usually within 24 hours. We offer this service at no additional charge.

Other Designs, Shapes and Patterns

We can make absolutely any design cowhide patchwork rug that you can find anywhere. And it will be the same or better quality than you will find elsewhere. We can even produce a cowhide version of most traditional floor coverings, especially geometric designs. Just contact us online anytime with a link, image, or screenshot and we'll give you a quick price quote.


Premium Construction & Attention to Detail

Precision Stitching vs. "Cut & Glued"

At the Cowhide Store we do not offer cut and glued rugs. In our experience, and from what customers of other retailers have told us, they do not wear well and tend to "unglue" in sections. Also, sometimes inferior glue is used and it can seep through the bottom of the rug onto the underlying floor. For these reasons, we use only invisible or zig-zag stitching for all of our rugs, which we believe to be the far superior method of construction.

Stitching options

  • Zig-Zag Stitching - This stitching style is our most popular. It creates a flat rug surface and allows for excellent durability and precision. We use matching color or clear threads carefully selected to blend with the color of the hair-on leather.

  • Invisible Stitching - This method attaches the patch edges top-to-top and then folds flat so the thread is barely visible. It should only be used for rugs with larger geometric patches. It creates a clean look, but the rug surface will be perfectly smooth as with zig-zag stitching. The seams will be slightly raised.

Types of Cowhide Used

  • Natural Cowhide - Hair-on cowhides come in a number of amazing natural patterns and colors. Patters include brindle, spotted, speckled (salt & pepper) and solid, in colors of browns, reds, black, tans, grays and whites. Styles that include black (or gray), brown (or tan) and white are referred to as tri-colors.

  • Colorfast Dyed - Quality leather dyes are used to create a variety of rich, vibrant colors in some of our more modern designs. Black and brown dyes are used to create better consistency in solid color designs, where natural hues may vary. Hair-on hides cannot be dyed or bleached white. Therefore white and off-white hides tend to be more expensive as they can only occur naturally.

  • Safari Prints - Colorfast dyes are also used to print exotic wild animal patterns on natural cowhide. This allows us to create safari themed designs on cowhide for use in crafting our patchwork area rugs.

  • Devore, Etched and Acid Washed - The devore process creates an artistic splash effect that removes spots of hair and replaces them with metallic colors like, gold, bronze, silver, and more. Acid washed creates a similar effect, but with non-metallic colors. Etched cowhides have designs created by removing hair very precisely to create intricate designs on the surface.

Backing Options

Yes, your patchwork rug needs a backing. There is at least one patchwork retailer who claims that a rug backing is not necessary. This myth is "purely" false. A quality backing will protect your investment and greatly extend the life of your floor covering. Here are three high-quality backings that we offer and their characteristics.

underlayment options

  • Vinyl - This durable high-quality backing has a slight texture that is moisture resistant and remains flexible in all temperature and humidity environments. It is available with or without a thin layer of padding which provides additional cushioning without making the floor covering too thick. This backing is recommended for bare floors like tile and stone. Non-slip corners are available to keep your rug from sliding.

  • Non-Woven Synthetic - This is a very thin but strong material that is breathable. It is available with or without padding and is recommended when you want the thinnest rug possible. It's best for rugs placed on carpet.

  • Padded Cotton Canvas - This is our most popular underlay material. It is durable and soft, and it adds a thin layer of cushioning. It is best for hardwood floors and excellent for tile and stone as well. Non-slip corners are available for added stability.

Finished Edges

Some other manufacturers will try to cut corners by not "finishing" the edges, leaving cut cowhide exposed on all sides. This looks cheap and sloppy. We always finish the edges of our rugs by folding under the outside patches before stitching the edges. This creates a cleaner neater appearance and enhances durability.

Durability, Care and Cleaning

  • Foot Traffic and Wear - If used correctly and taken care of properly, our rugs will last for generations. Cowhide rugs hold up remarkably well to foot traffic considering that they are made of hair-on leather. But there are some things to keep in mind. Hide rugs should be placed in areas with moderate to light foot traffic for maximum longevity. We do not recommend using patchwork rugs in very high traffic areas, like interior entry ways or foyers that lead directly outdoors. Nor should they be used in areas prone to wetness or spills, such as in front of kitchen sinks or bathtubs. Occasional wetness will not ruin hair-on cowhide as any water staining to the leather will be hidden by the hair, but excesive moisture could damage your rug.

  • Cleaning - Our premium hair-on leather naturally resists mild spills and stains. Occasional light vacuuming is all your rug should ever need. Spills can be cleaned with a damp cloth, taking care not to soak the hide.

About the Leather Used in our Rugs - Ties to the Brazilian Shoe Industry

How is a patchwork rug like a shoe? Both require ultra-precision cutting and sewing. Our patchwork rugs are made in the heart of the world famous Brazilian shoe industry. The craftspeople who produce your custom patchwork rug use the same skills and precise tools that are used for creating some of the world's best leather shoes.

All hair-on cowhide used in our patchwork rugs is a direct byproduct of the Brazilian Beef industry. Brazilian leather is know worldwide to be the finest available. And all phases of rug manufacturing are done in the most environmentally responsible way.

Trusted Online by Interior Decorators and Discriminating Home Owners for over 22 Years

The Cowhide Store is no secret in the interior design/decorating industry. We've been providing industry professionals the finest in leather floor coverings for nearly 25 years. Folks who decorate their own space love us too. Every year more and more homeowners, condo owners, and apartment dwellers discover The Cowhide Store as their affordable leather home decor source.

More Information

Let us share our 22+ years of experience in the cowhide home decor industry. If you have any questions, our patchwork rug experts are standing by and eager to help answer them. Just use our contact page link below and we'll get back to you right away. Or give us a call during business hours.


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