The material a rug is made from determines its durability and softness, making it essential to determine what rug material is best for your home or space before shopping. Giant area rugs and rugs of all types not only help to complete the look of a room, but how you feel in it.
Wool is the most common material used for rugs, prized for its softness and durability. Most wool rugs exported to the U.S. come from India, including handmade options created using age-old techniques by master weavers. While those can be costly, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg, as you’ll find quality wool rugs from mid-range to high-cost investment pieces.
Wool is strong, durable and offers excellent water and stain repellency. It’s cozy underfoot with good insulating properties too. It’s not the best for damp areas as it tends to absorb humidity. Typically, wool rugs work well for high-traffic areas as the resilient fibers can stand up to all the action. They’re ideal for dining rooms, living rooms and bedrooms. Handmade wool rugs are considered the gold standard.
Cotton isn’t intended to be an investment or heirloom piece, but it’s very easy to clean, durable and often machine washable. This material is frequently used to make flat-weave rugs like kilims and dhurries, providing a sleek touch without breaking the bank. It can be used in multiple ways from children’s rooms and kitchens to bathroom floors, entryways and dens. While they don’t always wear well for long periods of time, they’re inexpensive, making it fairly easy to change things up every season with new colors and patterns.
Natural fiber rugs like sisal, jute and other renewable fibers are remarkably versatile in style and use. They can add an organic look with natural textures in a flat weave, creating a relaxed feel. The fibers are typically durable, more coarse to the touch and often braided or woven. They’re better for dry areas, and as they stain easily aren’t ideal for dining rooms or kitchens, but usually work well in a casual-style living or family room.
Rugs made out of synthetic manmade materials are some of the most affordable. They can mimic the look of wool and natural fiber rugs and are naturally resistant to stains as well as wear and tear. They’re extremely durable, colorfast and perfect for high-traffic areas. As they are so low priced, you can easily update your rooms with new seasonal textures and colors. A synthetic rug is able to handle moisture and sun exposure, making them a great choice for many rooms, from patios and mud rooms to basements, laundry rooms and kitchens.
Animal skin rugs may be complete hides, woven strips of tanned leather or stitched panels. These are often unique pieces that can be picked up at a mid-range price. They can be luxuriously soft, durable and easy to clean, though they aren’t great for humid or damp areas. Think den, office, bedroom or other low-traffic areas.