Area Rug Buying Guide
Giving your home decor an update can be as simple as adding a new area rug. However, finding a new area rug could cause a few more difficulties. Buying area rugs that are perfect for your home can be a painless process when you use the information in this area rug buying guide and glossary.
What you need to know
Whether you have carpet, tile or wood flooring, adding an area rug or two will protect your floors in high-traffic areas from furniture movement and daily use. Rugs are an instant update to the decor of your living room, dining room or a bedroom. Area rugs also come in many styles, sizes, materials and weaves.
Area rug styles
Online shopping for area rugs will reveal that all rugs are separated into style categories. This helps with your search and helps you identify a coordinating style for your home. For example, if your home is mainly French country, you'll probably be drawn toward traditional or country style and away from contemporary. Warehousedirectllc.com separates their rugs into seven different styles (other companies do something similar):
Casual style area rugs
The predominant features of casual-style area rugs are:
Basic or no pattern: A simple monochromatic rug or a rug with a simple border classifies as a casual rug.Natural materials: Casual rugs include bamboo rugs, simple wool rugs, leather shag rugs, jute rugs and sisal rugs.
Contemporary style area rugs
The predominant features of contemporary area rugs are:
Geometric designs: Contemporary area rugs often feature geometric shapes, waves and squiggles, blocks, stripes and bold circles similar to modern art.Brighter colors: Compared to the subdued colors of casual area rugs, contemporary rugs have bright, trendy colors throughout their designs, including bright monochromatic rugs.
Country style area rugs
The predominant features of country-style rugs are:
Floral patterns and gardens: Vines and flowers, in both bold and muted colors, can be seen on country area rugs.Roosters or other animals: Aside from roosters, pictorial designs of other domestic or farm animals can be seen on country area rugs in bold or earthier tones.Food: Country rugs may have food, like vegetables and fruit, mixed in with their other features, like the roosters and garden fare on this area rug.
Traditional style area rugs
Traditional style area rugs are the easiest to identify. Their main features are:
Persian influences: Persian rugs have intricate designs of vines, flowers and scrollwork in their borders and as their allover patterns.Borders: Traditional rugs are typically bordered, usually with inner borders, filled with intricate designs.
Transitional style area rugs
The predominant feature of transitional area rugs is:
A combination of contemporary and traditional area rug styles; transitional area rugs combine bold colors with Persian styles and borders.
Novelty or kids area rugs
The predominant features of novelty rugs are:
Shapes: Shaped floor rugs are usually used as children's rugs (like cars, stars, hearts and crowns), but shaped novelty rugs can be made for adults, often in conjunction with sports teams.Animal prints: Animal print rugs feature zebra and tiger stripes or leopard and cheetah spots and other animal prints.Sports teams: These floor rugs are a great way to show your winning spirit for your favorite basketball or football team. Sports novelty rugs feature logos, team names and colors.Animals, instruments, hobbies and licensed characters: Other novelty rugs include musical instruments or hobbies, animals that are not considered domestic or farm animals (like monkeys) and licensed characters from cartoons, movies and books.
Outdoor area rugs
The predominant features of outdoor rugs are: Outdoor rugs can come in any of the styles above, but they also have the ability to be outdoors and withstand the elements.Outdoor rugs need to be mold and mildew resistant if you plan to leave them outdoors all year round.
Area rug sizes
Rugs come in sizes ranging from small (welcome mats and smaller) to large (13 feet by 17 feet). There are even larger wall-to-wall oversized rugs, measuring around 26 feet by 37 feet. You can even get an oversize rug custom-made for an area, like an office foyer or hotel lobby.
How to chose the right size of area rug
Choosing the right size of rug can mean the difference between a comfortable room and one where something seems a little off. Here are a few tips:
If you are choosing an area rug for the center of a room, make sure it is alrge enough to reach the furniture around the edges of the room, so it won't look like it is floating in the middle of the furniture arrangement.
For runner rugs and area rugs that aren't surrounded by furniture, determine the border you would like to have around the rug; leaving about 18 to 36 inches between the rug and the wall creates an eye-pleasing border.
If you would like to visualize what the area rug will look like in your room, try taping out the dimensions on the floor with low-tack painter's tape or laying down newspaper in the size of the rug.
Round, oval and square rugs
Round, oval and square rugs share the same styles as rectangular area rugs, featuring bright colors, traditional patterns, monochromatic designs and more. Round area rugs are a nice addition to your dining area, beneath your round tables. Oval rugs would be best for oval and rectangular tables and square or octagon rugs match well with square tables. Round rugs and oval rugs are measured in diameter: 8-foot round or 8-foot oval, for example.
Runner rugs are used in hallways, stairs and other narrow spaces. They are often used in areas of high foot traffic. Runner rugs are long and narrow, the common sizes being just less than 2.5 feet by 6 feet or more. You will also find runner rugs in every style category. If you want to have a cohesive look throughout the rugs in a certain room, shop online for collections and you can match your runner rugs to your other area rugs.
In general, accent rugs are smaller than area rugs and not as long as runner rugs. Accent rugs, found in every style category, are perfect for before the fireplace, in a child's room, in the kitchen before the sink and in your entryway as a welcome mat. Most accent rugs measure from 2 feet by 3 feet to 3 feet by 5 feet. Often, novelty rugs are grouped with accent rugs.
Adding rug pads to your area rugs will increase the durability and comfort of your rugs. Rug pads keep rugs from slipping on slick floors and also keep the corners from rolling up as much. For wood and tile floors, consider adding non-slip padding beneath your floor rug. A nonskid underlay between the floor and your rug will give your rug a sumptuous feel and reduce the scratches from your rug moving around. The bottom of the rug will see less wear and your floors will remain beautiful.
When buying rug pads, pick the rug that most closely matches the size of your rug; aim for a larger pad instead of one slightly smaller. Rug pads can be cut to size to match your rug perfectly. This means even your novelty rugs can use rug pads.
Rugs have many extra names and often they can be confusing, especially when you're buying area rugs online.
Cut pile: Tufted area rugs whose tufts have been cut are known as cut pile.
Flat-woven: Flatweave area rugs consist of only welt and warp threads, resulting in no pile. These area rugs are often reversible. Flat-weave area rugs will need a rug pad to prevent slipping unless they are made with thicker fibers, such as wool.
Hand-knotted: Hand-knotted rugs are made by tying thousands of knots to the weft (vertical) threads on a loom, which are then secured by the warp (horizontal) threads.
Hand-tufted: Hand-tufted rugs are tufted by hand, instead of by machine.
Hand-woven: Hand-woven rugs are woven by hand.
Looped or hooked pile: Tufted area rugs, whose tufts have been left intact, are known as looped or hooked pile rugs.
Tufted: Tufted rugs are made by pushing yarn up through a mesh foundation with a needle or gun. A backing secures the tufts (loops).
Abaca: Abaca is made from the leaves and stems of a banana plant. It is strong and very durable.
Acrylic: Acrylic is a synthetic material often used in making rugs.
Bamboo rugs: Bamboo rugs are made by weaving natural bamboo fibers. Bamboo is an eco-friendly rug material.
Braided rugs: Braided rugs are made in several ways: tape, tubular, yarn and flat. Braided rugs are also called rag rugs because they could be made with many different materials, including whichever rags are lying around.
Canvas: Canvas is cotton, the yarn of which is spun and woven to make a heavy, durable fabric.
Coir: Coir is made of coconut husks and is woven into area rugs.
Cotton: Cotton is a natural fiber harvested from the cotton plant. Cotton makes light-weight rugs.
Hemp: Hemp is a natural fiber made from the stalks of the cannabis plant. Hemp doesn't require pesticides and grows quickly, making it a renewable resource.
Jute: Jute is made from the stalks of corchorus herbs; jute takes dye well.
Mohair or cashmere: These are types of wool are made from different kinds of goats.
New Zealand wool: Wool made from sheep in New Zealand has higher levels of lanolin, making it very durable.
Nylon: Nylon is a synthetic material used in making rugs. It is more resilient and soil resistant than other synthetic fibers.
Polyester: Polyester is a popular material for making clothes; this synthetic fiber is also used in rug making.
Polypropylene: Also called olefin, polypropylene is a synthetic material used in making area rugs.
Seagrass: Seagrass is made from the stems of tall marsh plants and woven into rugs.
Silk: Silk is a natural protein fiber spun by silkworms or caterpillars. Silk can be cultivated or wild. Silk is often blended with stronger, more elastic wool to increase durability when used in making rugs. Most silk rugs are hand-knotted or hand-woven.
Sisal: Sisal is made from agave leaves and is an extremely strong and durable natural fiber used in making rugs.
Synthetic fibers: Synthetics are man-made materials used in area rugs. They look and feel similar to wool rugs but cost less.
Tibetan wool: This is wool made from sheep in Tibet, which have high levels of lanolin, enhancing the wool's strength.
Wool: Wool is the most common material used for rugs. It is incredibly strong and durable while remaining soft to touch. Wool fibers are more water-, stain- and soil-resistant than most rug materials.
Common area rug questions
Will my vacuum damage my rugs?
Most new model vacuums are made to switch from carpets to rugs, but you will want to double check this when you're vacuuming. If it is possible, turn off the beater bar on your vacuum, or use a different attachment made for cleaning rugs. If you suspect that your vacuum isn't getting all of the dirt, take your rug outside and give it a good beating. A tennis racket is a good tool, but you can use a paddle, if you have one. After you've beaten out some dirt, go ahead and vacuum it again.
Do natural rugs, like wool and cotton, shed?
Wool rugs will shed a bit more than cotton, but you can expect most rugs to have a few "fuzzies" when you vacuum them and when you first get them. This is normal, so don't worry.
Accessorize your space
Because rugs are such a prominent showcasing feature in a room, many people decide to decorate their spaces based on their area rugs. This can be a fantastic and creative way to accessorize your home. Look for floor vases, decorative pillows and side tables that will complement the design and style of your area rugs. If you get very ambitious, you can even use rugs as wall art. Navajo rugs and Oriental rugs and needlepoint rugs make wonderful wall tapestries.