The A-Z Of Rugs: Everything You Need To Know About Buying a Rug
So how much is there to know about rugs? A lot. Who would have thought that a flat piece of material on the floor would lead me to write over 1,600 words? Well, coming from a rug expert such as myself, writing so many words about the different types of rugs you can buy to furnish and decorate your home, really, it wasn’t that difficult at all.
Most of us have an area rug in our home but what does an area rug even mean exactly? Are we even calling it by the right name, are we looking to buy a rug but we are searching online to buy the right or wrong rug?
Below you will read everything you’ve ever wanted to know about rugs and things you didn’t even know but you want to know, about rugs.
Whether you are interested in buying a wool rug, sheep skin rug, natural rug or any other rug for that matter, scroll down the page to find more information for the rug of your choice.
Rug Cleaning Products
If you are regular reader of this blog, you would already be aware that I was a professional rug cleaner. If you are new to this blog, my background has been, 9 years in a rug cleaning business. If you want to know more about me, head over to my ‘Who’s The RugCritic’ page. The reason why I am saying this is because for 9+ years I have specialized in rug and carpet cleaning. Over 9+ years, the #1 question or ‘Christine please help’ that I get is, “What are the best rug and carpet cleaning products around?”.
If I was negligent and didn’t care, I could refer you to your local store to buy any old commercially available rug cleaner, because some do actually work. But, I’ve been in rug cleaning for way to many years and I know what rug cleaning products are made from and they aren’t very healthy for you to use nor are they healthy for your children and pets to be sitting on the rugs/carpets that have had harsh chemicals on them.
I am a mother and I have a family with pets and also a husband that fell ill. I ONLY recommend products that I have personally used and that are 100% safe to use around your family (including babies) and pets.
These products are non-toxic, non-harsh, easy to use, work a breeze and are made from organic materials and are used by health conscious rug cleaning professionals (like I am).
This is the only brand of rug and carpet cleaning products I use and recommend (especially if you have kids/pets around your home).
This is where you can purchase the products: Official Website
These are the only products you need (I advise 1 Gallon quantity of each)
- For a Rug/Carpet Protector (to avoid stains penetrating deep into your rug or carpet) *Highly Recommended - Carpet Armour (1 Gallon) (White Label)
- To remove tough stains (such as pet stains etc) and odors *Highly Recommended - Spoterizer (1 Gallon) (Brown Label)
- For regular (monthly or quarterly) rug or carpet maintenance, cleaning and stain removing *Highly Recommend – Extract Attack (1 Gallon/5 Gallon) (Purple Label)
- So at a minimum, you will need, Carpet Armour, Spoterizer and Extract Attack
- To view all products, click here
- For more information, you can read my Rug Cleaning and Care article
Types of Rugs
There are many different types of rugs but most will fall into the categories of area rugs, kitchen rugs, bedroom rugs, living room rugs, indoor/outdoor rugs, stair runners, and bathroom rugs.
Area rugs are defined as being a rug that covers only part of a floor. In the category of area rugs there are several types to look at. There are handmade rugs and machine made rugs, natural fibers and materials and synthetic rugs and they all have characteristics that will make them stand out in a crowd.
Hand Made v Machine Made Rugs
As far as handmade and machine made rugs go, they are pretty self-explanatory. Handmade rugs are made by a person while a machine made rug is made by a machine and are more widely produced.
A handmade rug that has recently caught my eye lately is this handmade felt ball rug. You can use it just about anywhere in the house and it also comes in colorful versions for kids. A beautiful hand made rug that is different and super comfy for the house.
As you can see above, handmade rugs are more unique and known to be more of a custom made rug, since it’s nearly impossible for you to make something completely identical by hand and every person will make their rug in a different manner than another.
You will more often than not find that handmade rugs are made from more organic, safer materials compared to machine made rugs as they are produced at greater quantities.
Natural Fiber Rugs
Now, we can discuss natural fibers in rugs. What do you think of when you think of natural rugs? Sheepskin? Bamboo? Okay, what about Cow Skin?
The possibilities are astonishing when you think of how many choices you have in a rug before even having to consider buying an artificial synthetic fiber rug. Sea grass rugs are also a popular choice.
Below I will list the natural fibers most commonly used to make rugs.
Wool rugs are a popular choice for areas of high traffic because they are fairly resistant to stains and repel water well. A wool living room rug is pretty soft and feel nice under your feet but should not be used in an area of high humidity as they absorb it up and essentially break down because of it. Wool rugs are great for any room of the house, they are a light weight rug without being too heavy but still a nice fluffy rug for your toes.
Many people choose a wool rug for the nursery, hallways or living room, where durability and stain resistance are of the most importance. Got a pet? Wool is also a great pet friendly rug. Read more of other things to look out for when buying a rug suitable for households with pets here.
Sea Grass Rugs, Jute Rugs and Sisal Rugs
The great thing about these rugs are that they are made of natural plant fibers and are overall pretty strong rugs to buy and are a pretty light rug too. The new fashion trend this year is to layer any seagrass rug, jute rug or sisal rugs with other rugs around the home, they are modern and affordable and add that little extra detail. People often buy seagrass rugs to make a room look more vintage style.
These rugs also shouldn’t be used in a humid area but work great for those with homes by the beach. Sea grass is one of the more appealing of the three as it is more pliable and feels better on the feet as it’s not very scratchy. Seagrass rugs are also one of the go to rugs to buy if you have a pet (read more on pet friendly rugs).
Sea grass rugs are also pretty easy to clean. Jute rugs are more firm and rough, not very comfortable and wouldn’t be ideal as a rug for a child or anywhere that you will be barefoot often. Sisal rugs are soft, durable and easy to dye and is a good choice for a bedroom.
Coir is made from coconut husks and is rather coarse and not as comfortable to walk on. It does give a nice rustic feel when used in decorating. Coir rugs are traditionally used as outdoor rugs and doormats but with the growing trend to bring the outdoor rugs inside, coir rugs are having the space in many people’s living rooms.
Coir rugs are durable enough to use in high traffic areas such as hallways and living rooms. Coir needs to be kept dry as it can fall apart and be destroyed easily by excessive moisture and can be discolored easily by spills.
Sheep Skin Rugs
Sheep skin rugs are very soft and plush. They also make wonderful decorations both on and off the floor. It is very common to find a sheep skin rug in a nursery or child’s bedroom, in fact if you were to ask my opinion, a sheepskin rug is one of the safest, most non-toxic and organic as a nursery or kids room rug (not to mention the most appealing and fashionable to finish off the look of the nursery room). Read more about nursery or kids rugs here.
They not only have their place in baby rooms, nursery and kids rooms, many adults use sheepskin rugs to place beside their beds or layer them in the living room areas aswell.
Sheepskin rugs are durable and don’t stain too easily. Sheep skin rugs are also a great rug for people who have allergies as they don’t build up dust as much as some other fibers (best rug for allergy sufferers).
Bamboo rugs aren’t like most rugs. In fact, they’re very different, and that is why I have bought an affordable bamboo rug myself. Just like the Seagrass and Jute rugs, Bamboo rugs are a new rug fashion trend that provide a clean and uncluttered look.
They won’t offer softness or cushiony plush under your toes but a bamboo rug is basically a wooden mat placed over an area, layered with other rugs to make your house look modern and clean cut. Bamboo rugs are also another must buy rug for anyone that has allergies. Lots of people like the way bamboo rugs look over tile, giving a more hardwood floor look. These rugs are also very durable and can last a long time even in higher traffic areas; and of course they are easy to clean. Sweep and wipe clean.
You’ve seen them but probably haven’t noticed that the rug is made out of cotton. Cotton rugs are most often that flat pile rugs that are in a lot of kitchens. Above all, cotton rugs can sure take a beating. They’re durable and inexpensive with one of the only major downsides being that they are dirt magnets. Taking them outside and beating them can help with that, or using the vacuum on them. Cotton rugs are also pretty soft and can be cut in whatever shape and size desired.
Cow skin rugs, deer pelt rugs, bear skin rugs, if you can skin it there’s probably been a rug made from it at some point. These leather type rugs are very unique and offer a rustic feel to any area.
Some even use the skin rugs as a blanket as they are pretty warm. Depending on the animal, your rug could potentially be very soft. Sometimes, the strips of leather can be strung together to mimic the look of a shag rug. Leather rugs shouldn’t be kept in humid areas as this can damage the preservation of the skin or hide.
A Silk rug is a beautiful and luxurious option of natural fibered rugs. They are tear resistant and feel great on the skin. Silk rugs make excellent additions to bedrooms, however, they aren’t going to last as long as a wool rug since they lack durability and are very sensitive to moisture. Silk rugs are expensive and would be recommended for the bedroom of an adult so it can be properly cared for and has less chance of being destroyed, however if you buy your silk rug online you may be able to find more affordable options.
A Chenille rug is a thick and heavy twisted yarn into a super soft and plush pile. These rugs are made to imitate the look and softness of silk and are great to use as a baby rug who will need a cozy spot to play and be on their bellies. With its softness, a chenille rug wouldn’t be recommended for an area of high traffic, but rather as a nice soft place to sit and enjoy how soft and plush it is.
Synthetic or manmade fiber rugs are commonly used to make rugs. While they aren’t for the naturalist, but they are still a very affordable rug to buy for the home, often one of the cheapest rugs to buy online. These rugs can be made to be stain resistant, waterproof, soft, rough, and even for as indoor and outdoor rug. The most common synthetic fibers used to make rugs are listed below.
Nylon, Olefin, Polyester, Acrylic Yarn Rugs
Nylon, Polyester, Acrylic and Olefin rugs are made to have a similar look to wool rugs. They are also rugs that are easy to clean and care for aswell as being very durable. They can also resist stains and handle heavy traffic areas. Synthetic rugs are cheaper imitations of natural fiber rugs and are easy to replace and change style in a room.
However, since they are not the real deal, you can’t expect the same feel as natural fiber rugs. You wouldn’t be needing to worry about taking these rugs to the dry cleaner for a simple clean up or even a major clean up, if something happens it’s much simpler to just replace. Synthetic fiber rugs are versatile and can be used in just about every room of the house without any issue.
If you’ve never heard the name, you’ve heard the use. Polypropylene is the material that indoor/outdoor rugs are made of. These rugs are, as you can expect, very durable and able to take what life throws their way.
Rugs made our of Polypropylene are less bulky than nylon and can be crushed down over time but are an excellent choice for dining rooms, living rooms or general area rugs, as they are easy to clean, and are the most stain resistant and fade resistant rugs out there. These rugs aren’t just great for the dining room, but also for the children’s play room, where their strength can really be appreciated.
Most bathroom rugs are made entirely out of synthetic fibers so that they can withstand the humidity and moisture they will be subjected to. Kitchen rugs are commonly bathroom rugs but they don’t have to be!
Those expensive oriental rugs, are rugs that are made in the eastern part of the world. They are very delicate and are most commonly woven by hand, some with and without pile. These rugs require special care and are not suggested for rooms where people will be walking all over them as this can damage them and make them lose their value and beauty.
Gabbeh rugs are expensive hand woven rugs made of natural fibers found in the area they are from. Although a little pricier, they are becoming a huge trend in many countries.
These rugs are also commonly known as Persian rugs. There are many cheap imitations of these rugs dyed with chemicals and are usually made of cotton.
Runner Rugs (Hallway Rugs)
The rugs that you see on stairs or going down a hallway are runners. These rugs can vary in the materials they are made from and are made to high light an area and give a softer feel and traction as well.
Faux Fur Rugs
Faux fur rugs are made to look like the natural fibered rugs that are from animal hides, however, these rugs are made from synthetic materials, often dyed and are much less expensive and much less unique than actual fur rugs.
Rug Critic Final Word
With all the information about how many different rugs there are, it’s time to get decorating. Find the best household rug for you, this means finding the rug materials and type of rug you are looking for in your space, buy it and get started. There’s no rules outside of the basic rug cleaning and care instructions.
Do you want a wood themed bathroom? Then you go ahead and put that bamboo rug in there! Do you like the look and feel of cotton for the laundry room? Go ahead and put that in there then.
Rugs can be found in most any shape, size and color or pattern so you’re sure to find one that suits your personal style and tastes.