The look, the feel of cotton: we love it. It is, after all (and still) the fabric of our lives® (with thanks to the advertising geniuses at Cotton Inc.) When it comes to rugs, though, cotton can be a beautiful, smart, but slightly tricky choice.
Rugs made from cotton are often hand-woven, eco-friendly, super soft and totally gorgeous. They look spectacular on your floors and feel great to walk on (many cotton rugs are so soft, you may find yourself wanting to wrap yourself up in them like a blanket.) But as soon as you lay them out on your floors, you may notice the catch: they often want to wrap themselves up, too!
Cotton rugs, particularly smaller sizes, throw rugs, and runners naturally slip and slide, buckle, bunch, and wrinkle and the ends and corners tend to curl up very easily, even when you place them on top of carpeting. Getting your cotton rugs to lay flat and stay put can be a challenge. But the solution is simple: pair your cotton rug with the right pad.
In addition to keeping your cotton rug lying flat and in place, the right rug pad will actually extend the life of your rug by protecting it from wear and tear and making it easier to keep clean.
What to avoid
Not all rug pads are right for cotton rugs. Pads that only provide cushion without grip, like 100% felt or memory foam pads, don’t work well with cotton rugs. You’ll also want to stay away from non-slip pads containing synthetic adhesives and fillers that can break down and ruin your floors as well as your rugs. A good quality pad will also be safe for your floors and protect them from wear and tear as well.
Rug pads made with synthetic adhesives and fillers are not suitable for cotton rugs and can break down and ruin floors.
What to look for
To keep cotton rugs lying flat, you need pads with strong grip and maybe a bit of cushion, since, though they are soft, many cotton rugs tend to be thin and you may enjoy some added padding and lift. Look for pads that use the strongest gripping, longest lasting, safest, and most eco-friendly materials for keeping rugs lying flat and in place, like natural polymer blends and 100% natural rubber.
If you’d like a bit of lift, look for pads that combine natural rubber with felt and are specifically engineered for grip. The best felt and rubber pads for cotton rugs are made by heat pressing the top of the felt so it grabs the bottom of the rug firmly but gently without ripping or tearing it. This specially textured surface keeps the rug lying flat against the pad. The rubber bottom then tightly grips floors (without sticking to them or staining them, the way some synthetic adhesives can) keeping cotton rugs stable and smooth.
Rug pads made with natural rubber for grip are ideal for cotton rugs and are safe to use with all floors and finishes.
The best rug pads for cotton rugs on the market today offer this combination of materials and engineering with varying levels of cushion and lift.
With these guidelines in mind, consider the size of your rug and where you want to place it. When it comes to finding just the right pad for your cotton rug, size matters, as do issues like foot traffic, lift, and door clearance.
For small cotton rugs and runners
Scatter rugs, small rugs, and runners made of cotton can be considered relatively high-maintenance and need to be handled, and padded, with care.
Grip is the most important issue with these smaller rugs as they tend to be especially slippery and are often placed in high-traffic areas like hallways and in front of doors.
Among the best choices for these rugs, Anchor Grip is a low-profile pad with exceptional traction and surprising softness for a pad this thin. It’s made from an environmentally sustainable soybean oil-based polymer blend that treats both your delicate cotton rugs and your valuable floors with the greatest care. Anchor Grip’s solid (vs. open-weave) construction puts more padding in contact with your floors, delivering maximum gripping power, floor protection and a comfortable level of cushioning. It works particularly well in hot and humid climates and is waterproof and mold and mildew resistant.
For a bit less money with the same great quality, there are other smart, low-profile, high-grip and eco-friendly options for smaller cotton rugs.
A superlative quality, classic non-slip rug pad made with over 1lb of natural rubber per square yard, Super-Lock Natural offers a bit of cushion without too much lift.
Nature’s Grip, made with hand-woven organic jute fibers wed with natural rubber is perhaps the best choice for rugs that have to keep a very low profile, laying flush with floors. It’s a very thin pad that keeps rugs lying perfectly flat.
For medium size and larger cotton rugs
For maximum grip with a minimal lift under medium and larger size cotton rugs, consider RugPro, a low-profile, high-performance pad that works particularly well in high traffic areas and in hallways and doorways, where door clearance may be an issue. This pad’s solid design offers more floor coverage than traditional waffle-style non-slip pads, keeping dirt from reaching your floors and making vacuuming easier, effectively extending the life of your cotton rug by helping to keep it clean (especially important when you consider that dirt is the #1 cause of rug degradation; keeping your rug clean keeps it young!) RugPro is also needle-punched using very small holes to allow rugs and floors to breathe by improving airflow.
If you’d like a bit of cushion under your cotton rugs but still need to keep a relatively low profile, consider Contour-Lock. This 1/8 inch-thick felt and rubber pad offers a strong grip and moderate levels of cushioning without bulking. It’s a great overall value for reliable grip and subtle cushioning.
For more cushion, particularly under larger cotton rugs in living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms, there’s Superior-Lock, combining the best of both grip and cushion. Made with more felt and a gentle heat-pressing technique, Superior-Lock offers unyielding, non-slip traction with thick, cushioned support. It’s essentially a thick layer of felt combined with a thinner non-slip, natural rubber pad. The needle-punched felt surface naturally clings to the bottom of rugs to anchor it to its surface, giving your cotton rugs the grip need while giving you extra softness and comfort in two thicknesses, 1/4 inch and 7/16 inch, the best choice for maximum comfort under cotton rugs.