Which area rugs are best?
Whether you have hardwood, vinyl, stone or concrete flooring, an area rug adds warmth and can be a visual focal point. Easier to place than wall-to-wall carpeting, area rugs are designed to enhance an existing space. Depending on the type and style you choose, an area rug can draw attention and tie the room together in a unique way.
The material, design, size, edging and backing are all key aspects of any great rug. For a great area rug that’s durable, aesthetically pleasing and works in any large space, check out the modern and chic Artistic Weaver’s Chester Area Rug.
What to know before you buy an area rug
Space and size
The most common sizes for an area rug, in feet, are:
Some area rugs come in larger sizes while others are customizable.
While it may be tempting to go for the largest size or choose a rug based solely on appearance and not its measurements, consider the space you have. What may work for one room won’t necessarily work for another, even if the style is uniform or the floor is the same.
When picking out your rug’s size, here’s a general rule of thumb:
Bedroom: If the bed is the focal point of the room, as is usually the case, the rug should fit underneath it and extend from there by 2 or 2.5 feet. In a smaller room, consider a 6×9 or 8×10 rug. If you have a queen- or king-size bed, you may need an area rug that’s at least 8×10.
Living or dining area: If you want your rug to be the base for all the main furniture, you need a larger option. Measure the existing space with furniture and add 6 to 12 inches on all sides for the rug. Alternatively, if you only want the rug to fit between pieces of furniture, such as the sofa and TV stand, you may want a 5×8 or 6×9 rug.
Hallway: Unless your hallway is extremely wide, opt for a carpet runner that fits the length of the hallway. Leave approximately 6 inches on all sides so the floor still is visible.
When in doubt, choose an area rug one size bigger than what you think you need. This will pull the room together without leaving more open space than you wanted.
Indoor vs. outdoor
Most area rugs are made for indoor use. These rugs usually are softer than outdoor rugs, may have more intricate designs or patterns and have a padded, nonslip backing. Outdoor rugs may have similar characteristics, especially when it comes to the backing. However, manufacturers typically make outdoor rugs with durability and functionality in mind. Some people do use outdoor rugs as indoor rugs, so it’s up to you which you prefer.
If you have luxury vinyl, tile or hardwood floors, you need an area rug with a backing that won’t scuff up the floor. Choose a rug with a nonabrasive, nonslip backing or get a separate pad for it. If you have a concrete or stone floor, make sure your rug has a great grip on the back.
What to look for in a quality area rug
From color to pattern, the best area rugs are the ones that complement your existing space.
Some area rugs are more neutral while others are bold. If your furniture or walls are bright and busy, a subtle, tone-on-tone rug is best for improving the space’s look. If your space already is neutral or monochromatic, a brightly colored rug with a geometric or other unique pattern can brighten it up.
Avoid getting an area rug that matches the same colors already in the room. A matching rug can either overwhelm the space or make it less lively.
Synthetic fibers: Popular synthetic rug materials include nylon, polypropylene and acrylic. These rugs usually are less expensive than those made from natural materials, but they are less durable and may fade more easily.
Natural fibers: Common natural fibers include wool, jute and cotton. These generally are strong, durable and hold up well against traffic and time. They may fade or become damaged when exposed to direct sunlight, excessive heat or moisture. Natural materials usually are more expensive than synthetic ones.
The pile height of a rug refers to its overall thickness from the backing to the surface. The pile itself is the density of the rug’s fibers. Rugs with high pile usually are softer, thicker and nice to walk on barefoot. Low-pile rugs are flatter and ideal for common areas with a lot of foot traffic because they hide footprints and typically shed less.
Area rugs have several types of edging. Fringed edges are the most traditional option and make shorter rugs seem longer. Rugs with serging or overlocked stitching give machine-made rugs a more authentic, handwoven look. Other rugs, especially low-pile rugs, use a binding finish that blends in with the rest of the rug.
The most common backing for an area rug usually is rubber, mesh latex or jute. Rubber-backed rugs have the best grip but may leave unwanted marks on certain floors. Mesh latex and jute are more likely to slide on the floor but usually won’t leave a mark. Some rugs have a double backing for more stability.
If your rug doesn’t have a solid backing, you can get a separate pad to secure it in place.
Depending on the type of area rug you get, you may need to get a few accessories. Things to consider include rug pads for extra grip or padding, and carpet tape to keep rugs that curl flush with the floor.
How much you can expect to spend on an area rug
A small, synthetic area rug or runner costs around $20-$40 while a larger synthetic rug measuring at least 4×6 feet costs from $40-$150. Rugs made from natural materials and larger options range from around $100 to several hundred dollars.
Area rug FAQ
How do you make the rug lie flat?
A. Apply a strip of carpet tape to each corner to help flatten it and keep it in place. If you don’t have that, use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to vacuum the ends of the rug. You also could weigh down the edges of the rug with weights such as furniture or books.
How do you prevent the area rug from shedding?
A. Some shedding is normal, especially in a new or wool rug. If your rug is shedding, gently vacuum it once or twice to pick up any excess fibers, then vacuum it once a week. If it continues to shed, move it to an area with less foot traffic.
What’s the best area rug to buy?
Top area rug
What you need to know: This light-colored rug is made from synthetic materials, which makes it perfect for areas with heavy traffic and dark furniture or floors.
What you’ll love: Neutral and large enough for the kitchen, dining area or living room, this area rug is stylish and has a country-western vibe. It’s highly durable and has tightly woven edges to keep it from fraying. It’s easy to clean, which makes it ideal for households with pets or kids. It’s a medium-pile rug, so it doesn’t get in the way of furniture.
What you should consider: It’s not as lush as other rugs. It also may bubble or flip up at the corners upon arrival.
Top area rug for the money
What you need to know: This shag rug comes in small sizes up to 11×15 and is soft and cozy enough to work well in the living room or bedroom.
What you’ll love: Versatile, high-quality and stylish, this area rug looks and feels luxurious. It’s non-shedding, durable with regular foot traffic and easy to maintain.
What you should consider: It may become a little worn out over multiple months of heavy use, but it still holds up.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a vibrant area rug with an eye-catching geometric pattern great for hardwood floors.
What you’ll love: With several geometric patterns to choose from, this low-pile rug complements rooms with a darker or neutral aesthetic. It’s thin and flat enough to fit anywhere without flipping or being a tripping hazard. Despite this, it’s still soft enough to walk on without shoes.
What you should consider: This is an all-around great rug, but the colors fade with continuous exposure to direct sunlight.
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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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