5 Things to Consider When Choosing an Area Rug

Published: Jul 23, 2018
Choosing an area rug

Area rugs come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, providing a wide selection to choose from for your home. With so many options out there, how do you choose a rug that satisfies both the aesthetic of your home and your lifestyle?

Here are 5 things to consider when choosing an area rug:


Choosing a material is a great place to start when deciding what rug is best for your home. The material influences the price, durability, maintenance and general aesthetic of your rug. The most common rug materials include:

Natural Fiber Rugs: The natural fiber category include wool, silk, cotton and other fibers.

  • Wool is a durable option and naturally repels liquids. It is very popular among homeowners, as it is extremely versatile and long-lasting.
  • Cotton is a less expensive option than wool and provides a more casual look.
  • Silk rugs are soft and absorbent. Silk provides vivid depth of color and a nice sheen. For more durability, silk can be combined with wool.
  • Jute and sisal are both natural fiber materials, producing durable rugs with coarse texture. Rugs made from these materials are absorbent, making them more prone to stains.

Synthetic Rugs: Synthetic rugs are typically machine made. Rugs made of synthetic fibers vary in durability, maintenance, and vibrancy of color. Common synthetic materials include:

  • Nylon provides strength and durability that can stand up in heavy traffic areas of the home. However, nylon rugs are commonly acid dyed, which can lead to fading over time.
  • Polypropylene is the most common synthetic fiber used in rugs. It is soft, stain-resistant and is an affordable option. However, the fibers are weak and breakdown overtime, allowing damage from furniture and use in high-traffic areas.
  • Polyester is durable and stands up well to wear and tear over time. Although an inexpensive option, there are limited color options due to the difficulty of dying polyester material.

Hair-on-Hide provides a low profile, durable option. Hair-on-hide rugs are generally easy to clean. There are synthetic options with a similar aesthetic, as well.


Different weaves provide different aesthetic and durability. Additionally, there are hand-woven and machine-made options, providing varying levels of value, uniformity, and craftsmanship.
area rug weave

  • Hand knotted rugs are high value and considered heirloom quality art pieces, no two are the same. Commonly made of wool or silk, they use no backing or glue. Commonly referred to as persian or oriental rugs.
  • Powerloomed rugs offer intricate designs and affordability. The fibers are inserted to a mesh backing and covered with latex, for durability.
  • Flatweave rugs are low profile and made of tightly woven material.
  • Tufted rugs follow a pre-set pattern or design. Fibers are looped through a frame, mounted to a backing and then the loops are sheared off, leaving two fibers in the place of the loop.
  • Hooked rugs are made in a similar manner to tufted rugs, fibers are looped through a design pattern on a mesh backing. This style commonly displays unique patterns and designs.

Color and Pattern

Different materials and weaves offer varying choices in color and pattern. It’s important to consider if you want the rug to be the focal point of a room or a functional accent. If you are someone who regularly changes your decor, a more neutral color and pattern may be an advantageous option. However, if you wish to plan your decor around a vibrant rug, then going with a bold, colorful pattern may be right for you.


Area rugs come in various standard sizes, ranging from 3×5 to 9×12 and even larger. You should choose the rug size based on the size of the room. A rug that is too small for a space can make a room feel uninviting and too large of a rug can overwhelm a room. It is important to consider how the rug will interact with existing furniture, as well. If you are having trouble deciding on a rug size, use painters tape to outline different sizes in your space, to see which appears most balanced.


As you are determining the material and weave of your desired area rug, it is important to consider the future maintenance requirements. Consider how much wear and tear the rug will receive in your home. Will it be located in a high traffic area with children and pets? Consider how easily you can vacuum and spot clean your rug, if in a high traffic area. Look into rug sealant options that can help protect your rug and extend its life. Additionally, regular professional rug cleaning will keep your rug in the best possible condition and prevent damage to the fibers.

Is a less expensive, synthetic option the right choice, until you are ready to invest in a higher quality, more durable rug in a couple of years? Or, are you ready to invest in a high-quality rug and regularly scheduled rug cleaning, to ensure your investment will last for many years to come? Regardless of your choice, it is important to understand the proper care that your area rug requires, in order to keep it clean and vibrant!


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