How do you choose from the many rug materials?

Shopping for a rug is fun. It can change the whole look of your room! There are a wide variety of rug fibers on the market. They all have unique characteristics and make for a different look. The material you choose will depend on your lifestyle and look you are going for.

You have to keep in mind what room you are buying for. If you are buying for a bathroom or bedroom, you will want something soft on your feet. For a laundry room or mudroom, you want something more heavy duty.

Be sure to keep in mind the traffic levels when selecting the perfect rug. This means darker colors and more durable fibers for areas such as an entryway/hallway.

How do you choose from the many rug materials?

Rugs come in either natural or synthetic/man-made materials.

Material/Fiber Type Characteristics Advantages
Acrylic Synthetic Polymer like other synthetic fibers and has served as a substitute for wool since the 1950s. Similar in appearance and feel to wool. Takes color well. Generally hypoallergenic. Fast drying. Stands up to medium traffic.
Chenille Natural or Synthetic Velvety, thick yarn-like material that produces a soft rug ideal for bathrooms and bedrooms. Offers a wide range of colors and styles, such as shag and braided. Many are reversible. Stands up to low to medium traffic.
Cotton Natural Strong, durable fiber from the cotton plant that is soft to the touch. Highly absorbent and can be dyed in a wide variety of rich colors. Sometimes combined with wool and used as a backing with other fibers like wool. Machine washable. Comes in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and patterns. Good for low to medium traffic areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms. Wears out faster than wool.
Nylon Synthetic Highly resilient, flexible material that is used to create a wide variety of textures and is available in many. Resists wear and tear, staining and molding. Holds up to high traffic and can be used under heavy furniture. Retains color well and is easy to clean.
Olefin/Polypropylene Synthetic A lightweight petroleum byproduct that is dyed to the desired color when in the liquid state. Used indoors and outdoors. Highly durable and stain resistant. Easy to clean. Color wona't fade and experiences no shedding or pilling. Good for heavy traffic areas. Soft to the touch.
Polyester Synthetic Manmade product featuring a wide variety of colorations. Resembles wool in look and feel. Used for indoor and outdoor use. Fade, stain and mildew resistant. Soft to the touch. Resists pilling and fuzzing. Non-allergenic. Withstands heavy foot traffic, but not heavy furniture. Easy to clean.
Viscose Semi-Synthetic Made with wood pulp using chemical processes, this material is silky in appearance and to the touch. It breathes like cotton. Sometimes used in combination with other materials and in place of more expensive silk. Gives a luxurious look and feel to rugs. Soft to the touch. Takes moderate to high foot traffic. Susceptible to matting, unless blended with other material. Melts when exposed to open flame.
Wool Natural Considered the highest quality natural rug fiber, with some well-made rugs lasting for generations. Produced from sheep fleece. Known for its long-lasting strength and durability, as well as its soft plushness. Also spill and fire resistant. Perfect for high traffic areas and can withstand heavy furniture. May shed or fade. Best cleaned with professional dry cleaning methods. Has a strong odor when wet.

Should I buy a rug pad for under my rug?

It depends. Rug pads are necessary on rugs that don't contain nonskid backing. The pads not only keep rugs in place and prevent them from creating a potential hazard. Some rugs comes with a backing and you will not need a rug pad unless you want the rug to feel thicker under your feet. Rug pads will extend the life of the rug by providing cushioning and insulation. It is important to know that rug pads also prevent moisture from leaking below to the floor and causing staining. This is important in mudrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms. Memory foam rugs do not need a pad. You can purchase rug gripper tape also for keeping rugs in place.