How to pick an area rug: 7 things to consider

How to pick an area rug: 7 things to consider

Area rugs can easily switch up the look and feel of a room. But they have a lot more to do with your lifestyle than your décor style.

And since most of our customers buy their rug pads at the same time as buying their rugs, we thought it'd be helpful to have some tips when choosing an area rug. Our expertise is in rug pads, though.

So we asked some experts what they recommend when shopping for area rugs and here's what they had to say.

Here's what to think about when picking an area rug

How to find the right rug that fits your home and lifestyle has a lot more considerations than just the aesthetic look. Here are the things to look for when shopping for your rug.

1. Rug Materials

An important consideration is how the area rug will be used in a room. A formal dining room will need a large rug that will fit under the dining room table but at the same time, it should be plush and fit the décor. While the rug material of an entryway should be suitable for high traffic zones, sturdy, and can withstand mud and dirt.

"Area rugs are typically made of wool or synthetic fibers but can also be made of a natural fiber like silk, cotton, bamboo, linen, jute, hemp, leather, buffalo hair, horsehair, or camel hair. I think the best material for an area rug is wool because it has natural insulating properties and does not create static electricity, which can cause shocks in people who wear synthetic materials."
- KateDiaz of Swanky Den
"Consider the location of your rug. High traffic areas like the living room, hallway, and office call for a durable, tough material like sisal or coir. Softer materials like abaca knotted rugs and wool do better in the bedroom where they will experience less wear and tear, and synthetics like woven vinyl and polypropylene are an excellent choice in the kitchen and entryway where spills and stains can be expected."
- Patrick Hyde of Sisal Carpet

2. Quality

"We've seen countless homeowners come to us with damaged floors, whether from pipe leaks or daily usage or low quality floor coverings, like rugs and carpets. So when you're choosing an area rug for your home, research the kinds of materials that work well with your flooring and steer clear of anything that can leave a stain."
- Imani Francies of Clearsurance

3. Rug Size

"One of the considerations that are key when picking an area rug is rug size. When it comes to rug sizing, you need to have the measure of the space you want to fit the rug in. Take into consideration that a living room rug should fit under a couch and the coffee table in the living room. Or in the dining room, completely cover the area of the table and chair if you are positioning it under a dining table. There is nothing that looks as tacky as a small rug that doesn't cover the specific area and looks like it is too small for the place. For rug placement in the bedroom, if you are placing the rug next to a queen bed, think of where your feet will land on the floor to decide on the placement or simply cover the area under the bed plus a generous frame around it."
- Joe Flanagan, Founder of 90s Fashion World


You might like: How to Style A Rug in the Living Room (That Fits Your Décor)

4. Rug Shape

"There is no strict rule when it comes to the shape of an area rug. A round rug looks nice in the middle of an entryway with a round table on top of it. While a square rug can work as a bedroom rug, either under a vanity or the foot of a bed. Also, don't be afraid to use multiple rugs in a space, it can divide a room, or if you layer them add more visual appeal."
- Gary Parkinson from Veejay's Renovations

5. Rug Pile - High Pile vs Low Pile

Pile height refers to the length of the yarn from the backing of the rug to the end of the yarn. An example of high pile is a shag rug and a low pile rug is a flat weave rug that is typically found in the kitchen or an entryway.

"When choosing a rug for your home, always consider what your cleaning habits are first. For people who vacuum their floors, a high pile rug will require extra effort (and time!) to keep clean."
- Karen Lee of Smart Robotic Home

6. Lifestyle

"Depending on your lifestyle, certain textiles may or may not be a good fit for your space. If you don't have kids, pets or don't expect high traffic, then the beautiful sheen of a Viscose rug may be perfect for your space. They work beautifully in bedrooms, formal living areas, and formal dining rooms.
Have high traffic areas like the entryway? Consider a wool mix rug. Wool is a natural material and due to its very durable, resilient nature, it's one of the best materials for carpets in high traffic areas. Plus, this material is naturally flame resistant and relatively easy to clean. However, the texture may not provide a soft hand that most prefer, so with a mix of 60% wool with 40% of a wear-resistant material like Nylon, then you've got yourself the perfect rug for a high traffic area.
If you're a pet lover like many of my clients, I source area rugs that are stain-resistant and used mostly for outdoor and wet areas. PET fabrics dry quickly, are durable, and are recyclable material. I also opt for jute rugs if there are pets as well for those interested in a more natural aesthetic. Adding a rug pad will also help with containing any accidents from damaging your floors."
- Veronica Sanders of Design with Veronica Sanders

7. Maintenance or Care and Cleaning

"First, consider rug's fibers and weave. This is important when considering the kind of maintenance and care your rug will require. Bold or multicolored rugs can fade if not cared for properly. Depending on the material, you can either dry clean or gently shampoo the rug. Some newer rugs actually allow you to toss them in the washer while others are more delicate."
- Diana Rodriguez-Zaba of ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba 

For rugs that can't be washed regularly, vacuuming is the next best option. Some rugs are easier than others to vacuum, so Ali shared with us some tips for choosing a rug that's easy to vacuum.

"Do not use vacuums with brushes on wool, silk, or low-quality synthetic rugs as they may cause fraying. How often you'll have to vacuum your rug is based on what shape the rug is in. A new rug that is high quality can be vacuumed once every two weeks, but a delicate vintage rug over 100 years will need a gentle sweep with a broom instead of using a vacuum."
- Ali Hafezi of Babash Rug Services


Final Thoughts

The perfect area rug can be a work of art that adds life to the décor of a living room. A woven rug made of natural materials can bring an earthy minimal feeling to your home while a thick, shag rug can make a family room cozier.

Finding the right area rug doesn't always have to mean that it is beautiful, handcrafted, or expensive; area rugs also serve a useful purpose - they can double up as a way to protect a hardwood floor, or when coupled with a rug pad it can help cushion the floor and absorb sounds.

While hand knotted rugs that perfectly match the throw pillow in the family room are definitely the fun part of choosing a rug, the logistics of choosing a rug are just as important. We hope you found these tips useful!