Trying to understand what area rug material is best for your space is critical. It’s usually best to consider how a space will be used, what kind of traffic it will receive, and how much coziness you desire. Here is a quick guide to the most commonly used materials for area rugs and the pros and cons of each.

WOOL AREA RUGS

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The most commonly used material for rugs is wool which is known for its durability and softness.

Pros: Strong; great stain and water repellency; excellent insulating properties; comfortable underfoot on the rug

Some things to consider: Not that great for damp places as it absorbs humidity; and subject to fading.

Best in: Living rooms, dining rooms, high-traffic areas

SILK AREA RUGS

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Luxurious, shiny and lustrous, silk area rugs are adored for their softness and subtle sheen.

PRO’s: Very soft and sumptuous feel; finer details than wool.

Things to consider: Requires good professional rug cleaning; can sometimes show footprints.

Best for: Bedrooms, low-traffic areas in your home.

COTTON AREA RUGS

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It is most often used to make flat-weave rugs such as dhurries and kilims.

PRO’s: Typically more affordable than wool or silk; easy to clean.

Things to consider: Does not always wear well over long periods of time.

Best for: Kitchens, children’s rooms, casual spaces.

SISAL, JUTE, SEA GRASS AREA RUGS

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Durable, natural grasses and other fibers combine neutral, earthy palettes and rich textures, making them the ultimate design chameleons.

PRO’s: Very strong; renewable; typically free from chemical processing

Things to consider: Some varieties can be coarse and difficult to clean

Best for: Living rooms, high-traffic and sunny areas

SYNTHETIC AREA RUGS

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Man-made fibers including viscose, nylon, and polypropylene. They have been improved over the years to mimic the characteristics of natural fibers.

Why we love it: Easy to clean; family-friendly; can be used in damp environments; many types can be used outdoors

PRO’s: Doesn’t always feel luxurious

Best for: Hallways, outdoors (note: not all synthetic rugs are suitable for outdoor use), high-traffic and sunny areas