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Natural vs synthetic rugs

What You Need to Know About Natural Versus Synthetic Rugs

There are a lot of rug materials out there—and when you’re rug shopping, it can be difficult to know the difference between all these different materials, and what materials are best for your particular home. We know how overwhelming it can be!

Post Summary:

  • What are natural/synthetic rugs?
  • The pros and cons of natural and synthetic rugs
  • Common natural and synthetic rug materials

When it comes to choosing a rug, there are two main categories that rug materials fit into: natural and synthetic fibers. What’s the difference between synthetic and natural fiber rugs? We’re giving you a breakdown of natural vs synthetic rugs, what specific materials are included in each category and the pros and cons of each kind!

Natural vs synthetic rugs

What are natural fiber rugs?

Area rugs made of natural fibers range from wool, silk, and cotton to jute, sisal, and seagrass. All of these materials come from the natural world—whether through plants or animals—and are harvested, processed into fibers, and woven into rugs.

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Pros of Natural Fiber Rugs

As a whole, natural fiber rugs tend to be more durable than their synthetic counterparts. This is a major reason why so many people love them; they have a much longer lifespan than the average synthetic rug.

And, since they’re made of natural materials, they tend to be more eco-friendly (due to their smaller carbon footprint) and most are naturally non-toxic. If you have pets or babies crawling around, this is an important consideration, as some synthetic area rugs contain chemical dyes and can off-gas potentially toxic VOCs.

Cons of Natural Fiber Rugs

Ever wondered why are rugs so expensive? More effort goes into getting these fibers ready to be woven into rugs, and that laborious process means they tend to be more expensive. Wool and silk, especially, will be on the high end of the price spectrum.

If you’re on a tight budget, this may steer you away from natural fiber rugs. However, jute, seagrass, and sisal rugs tend to sell at lower price points, more on par with synthetic rugs.

The Most-Common Types of Natural-Fiber Rug Materials

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Wool: Wool is one of our favorite rug materials! There are so many things to love about wool rugs—they’re durable, stain-resistant, naturally antimicrobial, soft, and oh-so-versatile. And as we mentioned, they’re also naturally non-toxic (as long as the wool is certified organic). On the flip side, wool is one of the most expensive rug materials on the market. But if you can stretch your budget for one of these babies, it will more than pay for itself over the years you have it, since wool area rugs are so durable and long-lasting. You’re welcome, great-grandkids.Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Cotton: Your favorite t-shirt material is also used for rugs! Cotton is soft and fluffy—making it an ultra-cozy option for your floors. Like with clothing, cotton rugs are easy to clean, which makes them great for homes with kids and pets. However, cotton isn’t as durable as other natural fibers, so these rugs aren’t great for high-traffic areas and you likely won’t be able to pass them down to your grandkids as an heirloom. Similar to wool, if you want a truly non-toxic rug, you’ll want to double-check that the cotton is certified organic.

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Jute: Jute rug designs are big on texture—and jute is one of the softer options for natural fiber rugs. The way jute rugs are woven gives them a chunkier texture, which adds a lot of visual appeal to any room. Their natural color is a light brown (think: burlap), but jute can also be dyed in an array of colors. But beware: jute does shed, so skip the roller brush when vacuuming these puppies!

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Sisal: Sisal rugs are seriously durable. We’re talking about a material that is used to make ropes! Translation: it can handle some major wear and tear. However, sisal rugs aren’t the softest underfoot, and they’re more absorbent than other natural fibers (hello hard-to-remove stains)—so keep those factors in mind when shopping for sisal rugs!

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Seagrass: Seagrass rugs are also very durable, and are softer underfoot than sisal—and, as an added bonus, they’re water-resistant because the fibers of seagrass are non-porous. So, these are great for dining rooms or family rooms where spills are more likely to occur! However, since they’re non-absorbent, they don’t take dyes well-meaning, they tend to be in a more limited color range of natural hues. Natural vs synthetic rugs

Synthetic Fiber Rugs

Synthetic fiber rugs are—you guessed it—made of synthetic fibers. These fibers are machine-made from various petroleum-based chemical compounds. In other words: these are not fibers that occur naturally. But that doesn’t mean they’re inherently bad! Below are some of the pros and cons of synthetic fiber rugs.

Natural vs synthetic rugs

Pros of Synthetic Fiber Rugs

One of the best features of synthetic fiber area rugs is their affordability. You can get a lot of rug for not a lot of price tag. Many synthetic fiber rugs are also manufactured in a way that makes them resistant to mold and mildew, as well as stains. This makes them a bit more low-maintenance, and who couldn’t use more of that in their life?

Cons of Synthetic Fiber Rugs

Synthetic fiber rugs simply aren’t as durable as their natural fiber counterparts. So, while they’re more affordable, you might end up shelling out more money replacing your rug in the long run.

Some synthetic fiber rugs also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which release potentially harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. If you opt for a polyester rug, which is the material that’s most likely to contain VOCs, consider letting it sit out, unrolled for a day or two before bringing it into your home. This will give it the opportunity to “off-gas” some of the chemicals (and the potent smell) before you welcome it into your home.

The Most-Common Types of Synthetic-Fiber Rug Materials

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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PET/Polyester: Polyethylene Terephthalate (say that 5 times fast!), or PET, is the same thing as polyester—but you may see either of these names listed when you look at the rug material.

PET is made from plastic bottles, making it a bit more eco-friendly than other synthetic fiber rugs since it helps take plastic bottles out of landfills. We like PET because it’s the easiest synthetic fiber to clean (a little diluted bleach and elbow grease usually do the trick), and it’s the material that a lot of indoor-outdoor rugs are made of. The way that PET is woven also gives it a similar appearance to wool, and it’s very soft underfoot.

In general, polyester rugs are the most likely to contain VOCs, and they also fade easily and are more difficult to clean than other synthetic fibers. That’s because they’re made of petroleum-based materials, which causes the fibers to reject water and hold onto dirt.

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Polypropylene: Polypropylene rugs are one of the best synthetic dupes for wool, due to the way the fibers are woven. These rugs are soft and sturdy, as well as affordable. However, some polypropylene rugs are treated with chemicals that make them stain-resistant, which can be a concern for those wanting to cut down on chemicals in their home.

Natural vs synthetic rugs

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Nylon: Nylon is durable, stain-resistant, and affordable—all great qualities for a rug! With this material’s durability, it’s a great choice for high-traffic areas. However, some nylon rugs have a chemical smell when they first arrive, because of how they’re made, so make sure your room is well-ventilated.

Natural vs Synthetic Rugs: How Do You Choose?

The rug material you choose is all about your lifestyle and budget. So, the choice you make is based on your personal needs! Thinking through where you want to place the rug; what style, color, and pattern you’d like; how much you’d like to spend; and if you’re concerned about sustainable, eco-friendly materials. All of these factors will help guide what material to choose.

  • Want a rug that’s great for high-traffic areas? Opt for a low-pile wool rug or a durable sisal or seagrass rug.
  • Looking for bright colors and intricate patterns? Try out PET, polypropylene, or silk.
  • On a tight budget? Go for any synthetic-fiber rug. You can also find some great affordable seagrass, sisal, and jute options.
  • Want a rug that will last a lifetime? Wool is the way to go.
  • Looking for a kid or pet-friendly rug? Try wool, seagrass, or PET.

And remember—if you’re totally lost, our Modsy designers are here to help! When you start a Modsy design project, we’ll design your space in 3D, decorating it with real products you can shop on the spot. Plus, you can see how different rugs look in your space, with your other furniture and decor.

Ready to find your perfect rug?

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Wool Rug pros

6 Reasons We Love Wool Rugs (And You Will Too)

Here at Modsy, we’re big fans of wool rugs. When walking people through how to choose a rug, we turn to wool over and over again. In fact, if we could only choose one rug material for the rest of our lives, it would be wool. Why, you ask? Well, there are so many reasons that wool is our MVP rug material.

Today, we’re breaking down the benefits of wool carpeting and unpacking why this hard-working natural fiber is one of our favorites. Read on for some wool rug pros and cons to help you see if a wool rug is right for you.

Here are 6 reasons to love wool rugs and wool carpets:

Wool Rug pros

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1. Wool Rugs Are Durable and Long-Lasting

When you invest your money into something for your home, you want it to last, right? Right. Well, with a wool rug, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. While they tend to cost more on the front end, the durability of wool makes these rugs very long-lasting—so, the “cost-per-use” breakdown ends up being much less over time than with a less expensive rug. Wool rugs can last well over 50 years if you treat them well, so while they’re an investment, you’ll get to enjoy them for a longer period of time than with other rug materials. There’s a reason why so many of the antique and vintage rugs you see out there are 100% wool—because it’s a material that’s made to last and has stood the test of time!

One notable area that this durability shows up is in how easily wool recovers from indenting caused by the pressure of furniture legs. Over the lifespan of a wool rug, you’ll inevitably move once or twice—and, in moving, you’ll likely uncover some deep indents in your rug from your furniture legs. But the elasticity of wool fibers means that it will easily spring back into shape!

Wool Rug pros

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2. Wool is Non-Toxic and Antimicrobial

Wool—which comes from sheep—is an all-natural material and is naturally non-toxic. And, with so many toxins floating around in the world, it’s nice to have one less thing to worry about! It’s also naturally antimicrobial—which essentially means it cleans itself. When something is antimicrobial, it means that it inhibits or kills the growth of microorganisms. So, you won’t find mold, mildew, bacteria, or mites growing on your wool rugs. This also helps wool resist absorbing odors, which keeps your rug and room smelling more fresh!

Bonus: Wool also naturally has very high levels of nitrogen and a high water content, which makes wool flame-resistant as well!

3. Wool is an Environmentally Friendly and Renewable Resource

In addition to being a natural material, it’s worth noting that wool is a renewable resource. Adult sheep naturally produce wool year-round and are shorn about once a year. Shearing doesn’t hurt a sheep—and, in fact, it’s quite necessary for a sheep’s health and hygiene. Excess wool can impede a sheep’s ability to regulate its temperature, causing overheating, and can also trap urine and feces which attracts pests. So, shearing a sheep is a necessary and compassionate practice, and results in beautiful, environmentally friendly products. (If only an annual haircut for us yielded such great results!)

But it is a process to turn wool into rugs (or any other wool product, like clothing or blankets). After shearing, wool must be washed, sorted, carded, combed, spun, formed into yarn, and then dyed before it can be woven into a rug. This lengthy process is one of the reasons we cite when customers ask us, “why are rugs so expensive?

Wool Rug pros

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4. Wool Rugs Are Easier to Clean Than Other Materials

Wool fibers have a waxy outer coating which is what helps make wool antimicrobial. But this same coating helps wool repel liquids—a wonderful quality when it comes to rugs! If you spill anything on a wool rug, liquid will be slow to absorb, and in some cases it even rolls right off. So, you can easily dab and soak up any spills before they soak into your rug. Just make sure you get to it quickly so you don’t tempt fate! But even if you find a spill after it’s dried, a solution of dish soap and water can pick up most stains in a wool rug!

This stain-resistant quality makes wool rugs great for homes with kids and pets, where spills and messes are inevitable. And it’s also a great material for rugs in high-traffic areas. (Just opt for a low-pile wool rug in these areas, which will be easier to vacuum and clean!)

Read Next: How to Clean Your Upholstery

Wool Rug pros

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5. Wool Rugs Are Resistant to Color Fading

The same natural coating that makes wool antimicrobial and water resistant also helps its color absorption and retention—which is a great quality for dyed and colorful wool rugs. If you buy a wool rug that wasn’t chemically treated during the production process, you’ll find that the wool will be extremely fade-resistant—resulting in beautiful, brilliantly colored rugs for years and years. (Chemically processed wool removes its natural protective properties, which makes it more susceptible to color fading, but leaves the wool softer and silkier.) So, even in antique wool rugs you’ll still see rich, saturated colors because wool holds onto color so well. However, to help the color last as long as possible, keep your rug—wool, or any other material—out of constant, direct sunlight.

Wool Rug pros

6. Wool Rugs Are Highly Versatile

Wool rugs are highly versatile, and you can almost certainly find a wool rug in your preferred style. They’re made in both high and low-pile designs, so you can find a wool rug at the plushness you desire. They’re also made in a wide variety of colors and patterns. From vintage-inspired to modern, geometric to organic, patterned or solid-colored—you can find a wool rug to suit your style and color scheme.

Wool Rug pros

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Other Wool Rug Considerations

Some people may call these the cons of wool. Others might just classify them as things to con-sider before purchasing. Either way, keep these three things in mind when shopping for a wool rug!

Cost

Like we mentioned earlier, wool rugs tend to be more expensive than other rug materials. Among natural fiber rugs, wool is just behind silk as the most expensive material. And wool rugs tend to be significantly more expensive than synthetic fibers. But when it comes to natural vs synthetic rugs, we really do believe that wool rugs pay for themselves over time with how long they last. So, if you can stretch your budget to get a wool rug, we’d encourage you to do so.

Upkeep

Wool sheds a lot at first. It does come from an animal, after all—and most animals shed! However, with the way wool is woven into rugs, the shedding decreases over time. Regular vacuuming can help mitigate shedding and keep your rug looking fresh. Shoot for a quick vacuum about three times a week! One other thing to note: hand-knotted rugs shed less than power-loomed wool rugs. So, look at the production process of a rug if this is a concern!

Allergies

Some people are allergic to wool—so, obviously that’s something you’d want to consider before purchasing a wool rug. If it’s a significant allergy, we’d recommend skipping this material in your home decor altogether. Cotton and silk are great alternatives if you want to stay in the natural fibers realm. However, for someone with a mild allergy to wool and only flares up with direct contact, you could still opt for a wool rug if you feel the benefits outweigh the allergy—but be cautious about how you interact with it. Basically, avoid sitting or laying directly on the rug, and rinse off after cleaning your wool rug.

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Dining Room Rug

Rug in the Dining Room? Our Guide to the Do’s and Dont’s

Rug or no rug in the dining room? It’s a hot debate in the design world! Some say it’s a non-negotiable, while others believe a rugless dining space is the only way to go. Let’s quickly consider the pros and cons.

On the one hand, adding a rug can help define and ground the room as a distinct space. It can also help “zone” your dining area if it’s part of open-concept living space. Not to mention, a dining room rug is a great way to bring a bit of personality, color, and texture to a function-focused space. In contrast, some feel that a rug in the dining space can easily get ruined from spills and lots of foot (and chair) traffic. Depending on your lifestyle and how you use your dining room, a rug might be the right choice for you.

Here, we’ve rounded up a few tips and considerations from our Modsy designers for choosing a dining room rug that works with your space and lifestyle. Read on for their foolproof advice!

Need help choosing the right rug? Check out our Buying Guide: How Much to Spend on a Rug

and our deep-dive into Why are Rugs so Expensive? Guide to Rugs. Then find all the furniture to match with our Dining Room Checklist

Dining Room Rug

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Always Start With Size

The first rule with any dining room rug is that it shouldn’t be too small. You want to make sure you can scoot chairs in and out from the dining table without the legs getting caught on the rug.

The trick is to match your rug size to that of your dining table, then add approximately a foot of clearance on all sides—aka. the rug should be at least 6” larger than the dimensions of your table all around. Just be sure your rug doesn’t look so large in you room that it dominates and overwhelms your dining space, which will throw off the balance of the room.

See more on how to choose a rug size to find the best fit for your dining space.

Dining Room Rug

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Think About Shape

Decide if you want the shape of your dining room rug to mirror your table. Rectangular tables look best paired with rectangular rugs, but if you have a round table you have plenty of options since it looks great pairs with any shape rug—rectangular, round, or even organic-shaped.

Round and organic style rugs work particularly well if your table is in an awkward location or area in the home. For instance, if you have a round table floating in an open living space or corner, a round or organic-shape rug will help anchor it without blocking the flow of your space. This is key if you’re dealing with a small dining space.

Check out our dining table size and shape guide for more easy tips from our designers.

Dining Room Rug

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Consider Colors & Patterns

If you’re going with a dining room rug, you’ll want to consider choosing colors and patterns that can help you hide any accidental stains and conceal wear and tear over time.

Try a more elaborate or visually dense pattern to start—it’s an easy way to draw attention to the rug’s design without magnifying blemishes in the long run. You also don’t want an all-white rug in the dining room—dark colors or a mix of colors are way more forgiving!

Dining Room Rug

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Materials are Key

With any dining room rug, it’s all about keeping it easy to clean. Skip rugs made with precious materials, like silk or fur, which are extremely delicate and difficult to clean. There are many ways you can go, but remember that durability is the number one factor to consider.

One option is to look for indoor outdoor rugs that are made to be weather-, stain-, and mildew-resistant. You can also try other non-fiber rugs, such as PET designs, which are made from recycled plastic but have the look and feel of wool. These rugs are also simple to clean—you can just spot clean or wipe them down with diluted bleach.

For a foolproof durable option, you can’t go wrong with a natural fiber rug. They’re generally affordable, and ones made with seagrass are naturally stain-resistant and can stand up to lots of foot traffic.

If you’re after a durable fabric rug, wool is a good choice because it’s naturally antimicrobial, easy to clean, and will last for decades if you take care of them. Just be sure to opt for a low pile option (see next tip!)

Dining Room Rug

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Opt For Low Pile

While we love high pile rugs, they’re better suited for spaces where you want to cozy up with major plush vibes. In dining rooms, high-pile rugs can instead end up hiding dirt and crumbs!

So a low pile rug (which basically means a rug that’s not very shaggy or fluffy) is a much better option for the dining room. Consider a flatweave or even a looped-weave rug. These tightly packed woven rugs are also great if your dining room is in a high-traffic area not just because they’re durable but because they’re also thinner and won’t pose as much of a tripping hazard.

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Ask Yourself If You Need A Rug

Finally, not all dining rooms need a rug! If you’re happy with the flow of your space and the relationship between your dining table and flooring, then you might not require a rug.

One of the main things a rug does is help center and ground your dining space. However, this can also be achieved in other ways, such as centering a chandelier or surrounding your dining table with high-contrast seating.

If you don’t think a rug is right for you, that’s OK—there’s no hard and fast rule that says you absolutely need one! But if you do, you’ll want to make sure it’s always well-suited to your style and lifestyle and that it’s made to last you for years to come.

Find more rug inspo from our dining room design ideas!

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How To Choose A Rug: Insider Tips from an Expert Rug Buyer

Rugs. They really help pull a room together and make it feel complete—but they can be quite the chore to pick out and purchase. With a wildly broad range of prices and so many styles to choose from, rug shopping can get overwhelming quickly. We’ve been there! And, because we have, we want to help simplify the rug-buying process and help make it easier on you!

So, if you’ve been asking yourself, “What rug should I get??” for far too long, keep reading. We’re going to break down how to choose a rug, with considerations from price and material to size and style! Plus, Modsy’s Senior Director of Product Development and Sourcing, Meg Donovan, also shares her best rug insights!

How to Choose a Rug – A Complete Guide

Rug Prices

One question we hear quite often is, “Why are rugs so expensive?” And it’s a fair question. While you can find rugs for under $200, you can just as easily stumble across rugs that are $2,000 or more. Why the huge price discrepancy? Well, according to Meg, it generally depends on the rug size, material, production process, and country of origin.

Meg says, “When it comes to construction, a hand-loomed or hand-knotted rug will be more expensive than a power-loomed rug, as it takes way longer to produce.” Makes sense, right? And, since rugs are priced by the square foot or square meter, larger rugs will be more expensive.

In terms of material, anything that’s more durable or more difficult to source will cause a rug to be more expensive. So, since natural fibers, like wool, silk, or cotton, involve a plant or animal-based growth process (whereas synthetic fibers are merely produced) so they’ll often be a bit pricier.

And then there’s the country of origin. Meg notes that labor costs and the skill of the workers involved varies greatly in the rug industry. So, a rug that’s machine-made in China (which has lower labor costs and doesn’t require as specific of a skill set) will cost less than a hand-knotted rug from Morocco that’s made by a family who’s been in the rug business for generations.

Want to find a higher-quality rug for less? Meg suggests looking for used or secondhand rugs. Don’t be afraid to scour estate sales, flea markets, and even thrift stores or online marketplaces. You can sometimes score a real gem for a low price from someone who’s moving or is redecorating and simply wants to get a rug off their hands.

Want to dive deeper into this topic? Check out our tips on figuring out how much to spend on a rug and our stylists’ favorite picks for rugs at any budget.

Rug Sizes

Different spaces in your home require different rug sizes—so, it’s important to consider what size of rug you need before making a purchase. Because there’s nothing worse than getting a rug you’re super excited about, only to find it’s too small for your space! (Though we do have a good tip for that later in this section!)

High-level, you’ll want to consider the shape and size of your room, as well as the furniture in the space and the overall layout. These details will help determine the rug size you need. When arranging a rug in your living room, we often see people choose too small of a rug size. Here’s our big advice: skip the 5×8 rug, and don’t go any smaller than a 6×9. However, most living rooms do best with an 8×10 or 9×12 rug. That way, you can define your space with the rug (a 5×8 just can’t define a large space) and all of your furniture can be at least partially on the rug, which will make your layout feel more intentional.

In a bedroom, an 8×10 rug is the most popular size, as it is large enough to go with a king-size bed but doesn’t feel too large for a queen or even full-size bed. However, in a large bedroom you can bump up to a 9×12 for more floor coverage, and for a smaller bedroom with a full bed, you can get away with a 6×10. And in a bedroom with a twin-size bed, a 5×7 rug will do just fine!

If you already bought a rug only to discover it’s too small for your space, don’t be dismayed! Meg is a big believer that, with some simple rug layering, you can make use of this too-small rug. Here’s her trick: layer a larger rug underneath the small one. Our favorite way to do this is to use a large natural fiber rug as a base, layered under a more highly colored and patterned rug. That way, you get the floor coverage you need, while still making use of a smaller rug you love. This is also great for those who have antique or vintage rugs they love but that are too small! Learn more about how to layer rugs here!

Want us to walk you through the process of choosing the right rug size for your space and layout in a bit more depth? Check out our living room rug size guide and our bedroom rug size guide for more details and a ton of specifics to help you find the perfect rug size!

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Rug Materials

We already talked about how different rug materials will impact the overall cost of a rug. But Meg suggests that you shouldn’t make a decision on rug material strictly based on your budget. You’ll also want to think about where your rug will be placed and what lifestyle factors you should consider when purchasing a rug, since both of these factors influence what rug material might be best for your space.

How to Choose a Rug – A Complete Guide

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Natural Fiber Rugs

As we mentioned earlier, natural fibers encompass everything from silk and wool to cotton, jute, seagrass, and sisal. Natural fiber rugs are just that: natural. So, you don’t have to worry about extra toxins or chemicals used in the production process. Natural fiber rugs also tend to be easier to clean, making them great for high-traffic areas.

Meg’s Top Pick: Wool

Wool is a favorite material of Meg’s. She loves this material for how long it lasts and how easy it is to clean. It’s also naturally antimicrobial—so, essentially, it’s naturally self-cleaning when it comes to airborne spores! “You’re paying more for wool, but you’re getting more for your money,” says Meg. “Wool rugs are more durable than other materials. A wool rug can last more than 50 years if you treat it well!” While wool does tend to shed a lot at first (it comes from a sheep, after all, which sheds just like most other animals), this lessens over time. And a hand-knotted wool rug sheds less than a power-loomed wool rug. Because wool rugs are so easy to clean—they’re virtually stain resistant—a low-pile wool rug is also Meg’s top pick for high-traffic areas in your home, as they can handle a bit more wear and tear than other materials.

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Synthetic Fiber Rugs

“You can get a lot of look for a low price with a synthetic fiber rug,” Meg says. But, similar to fast fashion, that can come at a cost. Synthetic rugs tend to not last as long as their natural fiber counterparts. Why, you ask? These materials are man-made and are usually petroleum-based. Because of this, they tend to reject water and hold onto dirt. Translation: this makes cleaning a challenge. But if you’re on a tight budget or have kids or pets you know will give your rug a run for its money, synthetic may be the way to go. Just know that you’ll likely have to replace it sooner than you would a natural fiber rug.

Meg’s Top Pick: PET

If you do go for a synthetic fiber rug, Meg says that PET is your best bet. (This is what indoor outdoor rugs are typically made of.) This material is made from recycled plastic—hello, eco-friendly!—and the threads are woven in such a way that they have a look and feel that’s actually very similar to wool. This is because the way the material is woven mimics the way you can weave a natural fiber. And this is the easiest synthetic fiber to clean, too. All you need is some diluted bleach, and you can clean most stains and spills from a PET rug. This makes it a great material for households with kids and pets, while being a material that still feels soft underfoot!

Other Rug Considerations

Once you’ve landed on a rug size, the material you want, and what your budget is, there are just a few other things to consider when choosing a rug! First, what’s the foot traffic like in the area where this rug will land? Second, how cushioned do you want the rug to feel underfoot? Finally, what style do you want?? Read on for a few more details.

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High and Low-Traffic Areas

When choosing a rug, it’s worth considering how much foot traffic it will get on a daily basis (think, is your rug a 4-lane highway, or a less-traveled side street). We generally consider the living room, entryway, and hallway to be high-traffic areas. In contrast, a bedroom or dining room might be lower-traffic, since there will be fewer people walking there and your rug won’t experience as much wear and tear.

Learn more about how to choose a rug for your dining room in our dining room rug guide!

High-pile rugs are great for low-traffic areas, and lower pile rugs are better for high-traffic areas. But Meg notes that this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Low-pile rugs simply tend to be easier to clean, which is good for a high-traffic area. But you can also do something different if you’re prioritizing aesthetic over sheer practicality.

How to Choose a Rug – A Complete Guide

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The Cozy Factor

A big benefit of rugs is the coziness they add underfoot. So, this is another factor you want to consider when choosing a high or low pile rug. Meg says this is ultimately a matter of personal preference—so think about your lifestyle, how much of a “cozy factor” you want in your space, and what aesthetic you’re going for. But also consider how often you want to vacuum. Rugs with a high pile need to be vacuumed more often!

Rugs that have a high pile are more warm and give you that cozier feeling. Meg recommends going high pile in colder climates and anywhere you might be walking around in bare feet, like a bedroom. However, in a standard room you’ll probably want to go for a medium or low pile. And then there’s flatweave rugs! Meg says this is another great way to get a lot of look for less money, and these rugs tend to be lower maintenance. They give a room a streamlined look, but they don’t offer any plushness.

Rug Pads

However, coziness isn’t’ just about the rug pile. Rug pads are a great way to give an area rug a little bit of extra cushion and comfort. Instead of getting a rubberized non-slip rug pad—which can damage your floor and doesn’t offer any extra cushion—opt for one made of recycled materials. This style is sold in different thicknesses and can be cut to the exact size you need—so you can add a little extra loft to your rug and can help it stay put and not slide around! Plus, rug pads can help a rug last longer.

How to Choose a Rug – A Complete Guide

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Rug Style

Finally, consider the rug style you want. There are so many different styles out there, so this might seem a bit overwhelming. But once you’ve nailed down your personal interior design style, you can more easily figure out what style to look at. Some people prefer brightly colored rugs and others want something more neutral. Some want patterned rugs and others go for a solid color or simple neutral. What you choose is up to you and your personal preference! This is where you really get to have fun and let your personality shine!

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how do i choose the right rug size

How to Choose the Right Rug Size for Any Room

“What size rug should I get?” It’s one of the most common design questions we get and it can be difficult finding the right one. It’s understandable since rugs can be expensive, so it’s natural to want to go with a smaller rug to spend less and figure out how to make it fit into a room.

However, one of the most common design mistakes is buying a rug that’s too small for your room. A rug that’s too small (or too large) can completely undermine a great room design, so it’s important to consider size first and foremost in relation to your space.

For guidance, here’s our guide to the most common rug sizes for your home. Plus, get our tips for how to choose the right rug size for different rooms along the way!

Need inspiration for rug designs and colors? Check our gallery for interior design ideas!

Best Uses for 3’ x 5’ Rugs

This is a standard rug size and a great jumping-off point. It’s on the smaller side, and you can scale up or down from this size for a rug that’s proportional to your space.

Best For: Hallways, kitchens, entryways, and smaller rooms or areas

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You can layer one in the bedroom

3’ x 5’ rugs are great accent rugs for smaller areas. So they’re perfect rugs to layer at end of the bed. Here, the blue-and-white striped rug is just the right size for accentuating the leather stools.

 

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You can anchor hallways with one

3’ x 5’ rugs are small and rectangular in size, which means they’re often perfectly scaled for hallways. Use one to anchor your entryway, making sure to leave enough room on all sides (6” minimum from the wall) for a stylish and durable landing.

Best Uses for 5’ x 7’ Rugs

Slightly larger and more rectangular in size, a 5’ x7’ foot rug is great for filling out a boxier space or a small room with a square or rectangular shape.

Best For: Offices, smaller bedrooms, large entryways

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Use one to fill out an entryway

5’ x 7’ rugs are ideal foundations in spacious entryways and mudrooms. Whereas an 8’ x 10’ rug is often too big and a 3’ x 5’ rug is too tiny, a 5’ x 7’ rug offers perfect-size coverage here.

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Use one to accent a work area

A 5’ x 7’ rug is also great for delineating zones in open spaces. Here, a 5’ x 7’ accent rug under the floating desk adds visual contrast and color but also anchors the workspace. It works because the rug is proportional to the desk size and the chair is able to fully sit on top of the rug.

Best Uses for 5’ x 8’ Rugs

This is a slightly larger, in-between rug size. It’s sometimes too small to use alone in a large living room, but they’re perfect when layered over larger rugs, like an 8’ x 10’ one.

Best For: Offices, kids bedrooms, and dens or studio apartments

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Center one in a small kids bedroom

5’ x 8’ rugs are made for tighter quarters, like a small kid’s bedroom. It works best when it’s centered in a space, with furniture lining the walls. In a bedroom, you can get away with more pattern on a 5’ x 8’ rug because it’s still smaller in size and won’t overwhelm the room.

 

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Pair one with an 8’ x 10’ rug

5’ x 8’ rugs are ideal for layering with an 8’ x 10’ rug. The two are perfectly proportional in size. Here, the 5’ x 8’ rug alone would be dwarfed by the bed and stools. But placed over an 8’ x 10’ jute rug, they fill out the space beautifully, adding depth and contrasting colors from the floor up.

Best Uses for 8’ x 10’ Rugs

Think of these as standard large size rugs. If you’re looking to fill a large room or an open-concept space, this is a good size to start with and scale up from.

Best For: Living rooms, dining rooms, and primary bedrooms

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Ground your living room with one

An 8’ x 10’ layered over an even larger  9’ x 12’ rug is a foolproof combo for any large living room. They can unify furniture pieces by visually pulling all the pieces together on top. With a very large room, an 8’ x 10’ rug would likely not be big enough alone, so it’s good to layer it on top of a larger rug to extend its reach and coverage so that furniture legs can all sit on top.

Read This Next: The Best Living Room Rug Placements

 

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Use one to frame a dining room

Just like in a living room, an 8’ x 10’ rug will fit underneath most standard size dining tables. You want to make sure the dining chair legs fit entirely on top of the rug, and that it extends all around so as to accommodate end chairs when they’re added as well.

Best Uses for 9’ x 12’ Rugs

These large rugs are meant to be statement pieces that fill out spacious rooms. Think of them as artworks for your floors, because they’re captivating focal points all on their own.

Best For: Living rooms and primary bedrooms

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Connect floating living room furniture with one

A bold 9’ x 12’ rug alone can be a stylish foundation that brings together floating furniture in a living room. Here, the furniture is still spaced out enough without feeling cramped together because the rug covers a large area the reaches the front legs of all the pieces. This is one of our favorite rug sizes for living rooms.

 

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Bring symmetry to a large dining space with one

With a large 9’ x 12’ rug, it’s good to take advantage of its size to bring balance and symmetry to a larger dining room set. A large dining table, especially one with glass, will appear more anchored over a large rug. Choose a rug pattern that plays up lines to add instant symmetry.

 

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Cozy up a whole bedroom with one

A 9’ x 12’ rug will ground a large kind bed beautifully in a spacious bedroom. The large rug will feel proportional, providing space on all sides and the end of the bed for wide nightstands and a long bench. At the same time, the rug still feels cozy because it fills out the room. With a bedroom, it’s better to keep to a solid rug versus one that has busy patterns and colors.

Best Uses for 12’ x 15’ Rugs

Simply put, these grand rugs are made for the grandest of spaces. So if you’re working with an open floor plan, this is a great rug size option.

Best For: Grand living rooms and bedrooms

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Warm-up a cavernous living space

A 12’ x 15’ rug is reserved for large and open living rooms that can feel cold and cavernous without it. Here, the rug helps zone the seating area while anchoring the whole room with a sense of warmth, color, and texture.

 

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Use one in place of carpet in a bedroom

A 12’ x 15’ rug is large enough that, in a bedroom, it can look and feel almost like a carpet that runs wall-to-wall. A solid color one, like jute, makes for a cozy and neutral foundation that offers amazing coverage with wood floors, and it’s great for layering underneath a patterned rug.

Read This Next: Our Guide to Bedroom Rug Sizes

Best Uses for Runner Rugs

Long and narrow, runners are chic and versatile rug options if you’re looking to add a bit of color, texture, and padding to smaller areas.

Best For: Hallways, entryways, kitchens, and in front of fireplaces

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Roll one out in your foyer

Try 2.5’ x 7.5’ runners, which are perfect for entry halls, especially narrow foyers. A 2.5’ x 7.5’ is the perfect size to add a bit of color and softness to define the zone in the front door area. It’s also a great practical choice for catching dirt before people enter your home.

 

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Add one in front of a fireplace

A colorful or textured runner is a great way to bring focus to your fireplace. Lay one down so that it runs horizontally in front of the fireplace to set off the area and bring a bit of texture and softness to your mantel spot.

 

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best rugs

Designers’ Picks – 5 Rugs We’re Loving Right Now

best rugsRugs are one of the most important elements in designing a room – they get rid of echoes, they keep your room warm, and they tie a look together. But with so many options finding the best rugs for your home can be a challenge.

To help, our designers picked their top 5 favorites and rounded them up in one place. Check out their picks and shop the looks!

Shop all featured rugs!

best rugsThe Skye Rug

Playful geometric patterns meet cheery colors in this ready-for-spring rug! Introduce it into any room in need of a bit of fun and watch your space instantly come to life.

Its 100% polyester construction makes the Skye highly stain resistant. Not to mention, you get the look of a high-end rug without the crazy price tag.

best rugsThe Sherpa Rug

Its bold geometric pattern and tassel border make this boho rug an instant designer favorite. Its plush, shaggy texture may make you think winter, but pair it with natural materials and bright colors for a spring-approved look.

best rugsReign Diamond Rug

Your high-traffic rooms won’t stand a chance against this elegant hand-woven rug. The perfect way to add a note of casual character to your space, we love the Reign Diamond rug for it’s subtle style.

A jute-wool blend, this rug is highly durable and is a great addition to busy homes that want to show off their (albeit low-maintenance) style.

The Peregrine Rug

Add a pop of texture to your space with this hand-tufted, 100% wool, and oh-so-soft rug from our friends at Loloi. We love the swirling, variegated pattern that adds depth and texture while still feeling neutral.

Since it’s 100% wool, the Peregrine is a tad pricier but is also more resilient than your average rug, and will look new for longer and stand up to more wear and tear than its synthetic counterparts.

The Barcelona Rug

Sustainably sourced jute is behind this rug’s natural look! A summertime styling essential, there are so many reasons to love natural fiber rugs. We love the subtle blue stripes on this number, which adds a pop of beach house elegance to any interior.

Need help finding the best rugs for your space?