How to Choose a Dining Room Rug

Light colored patterned rug underneath dining room table

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Placing a rug in your dining room protects the floor and enhances the aesthetic of your space. However not all rugs are well-suited for the rigors of the dining room, with constantly moving chairs, heavy furniture, and the potential for spills and frequent cleaning. Common questions about choosing a dining room rug center around sizing, materials, and pile height. 

This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about dining room rugs so you can choose the perfect rug for your room and lifestyle.  

Before Replacing Your Dining Room Rug

When deciding whether you need to replace an existing dining room rug, consider the wear, ease of cleaning, and size of your current rug. If the rug has become torn or threadbare in places, it’s a clear indicator that it’s ready to be replaced. 

If the rug isn’t worn out, it still may be time to make a change to a new dining room rug. When you consider the size of the rug, is it easy to pull dining chairs in and out or do they catch on the edge of the rug? If your rug size is making comfortable seating a struggle or creating a trip hazard, it might be time to replace it. 

Another key factor to consider is the material and how easy it is to clean. Is the rug easy to wipe clean or are stains hard to get out? Replacing it with a rug that is easy to clean may be just the thing to make your dinner parties a little less stressful. 

Buying Considerations for Dining Room Rugs

Size

Choosing the right size rug for your dining room is a key buying decision. If the rug is too small, it can create tripping hazards and make moving chairs difficult. If it is too large, it can overwhelm the room or run into nearby furniture pieces. 

For the best fit, size the rug to the dining room table, making sure the dimensions of the rug accommodates all the chairs when they are pulled out. A good rule of thumb is to add 24 inches to all sides of the dining table. The resulting measurements make the ideal rug size. 

Light colored patterned rug under corner of dining room table

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Cleaning

Because the rug is going to be placed in the dining room, messes and spills are unavoidable. Therefore, it is imperative that you choose a rug that is easy to clean. This not only makes spills less of a tragedy, but it also makes cleaning up a lot less tedious.

Pile Length

Pile length is important to consider when thinking about potential spills as well. Long pile rugs may feel soft underfoot, but trying to extract spilled food or drink from the fibers of a shag rug is no easy task. Long pile rugs trap food bits, making them hard to clean and remove stains from. For a dining room rug, it is best to choose low pile or flat weave rugs. 

Color and Pattern

Not only does the color and pattern of the rug greatly change the appearance of the space, but it also affects how visible stains are. Light-colored rugs are much harder to get stains out of, making the remnants of a stain more visible. With that in mind, choosing a dark-colored rug is ideal for dining rooms. Another option is to choose a patterned rug. Because of the presence of the pattern, spills and spots do not stand out as prominently as they may on a solid rug.

Shape

Like colors and patterns, the shape of the rug can greatly influence how the room feels. For a flowing, harmonious space, match the rug shape to the shape of the dining room table. For example, a rectangular table looks good with a rectangular rug, while a round table pairs well with a round rug. However, if you favor a more eclectic look, try mixing and matching shapes. A round rug with a square table will create a bolder visual impact.

Types of Rugs

Wool Rug

Wool rugs offer durability, ease of cleaning, and a soft, luxurious feel all in one. These natural fiber rugs are water and dirt-repellent, making them a great choice for dining rooms. Wool rugs are the perfect choice for those looking to incorporate a plush rug without compromising on durability. However, wool rugs are on the expensive side.  

Cotton Rug

Cotton rugs are another natural fiber rug type that offer both softness and easy maintenance. Oftentimes, the entire rug can be washed. However, cotton rugs are not as durable as other kinds of rugs, so you may need to replace these rugs more often. They are ideal for dining rooms that may not be used frequently. 

Polypropylene Rug

Also known as olefin, polypropylene rugs are synthetic fiber rugs that offer stain resistance as well as a soft feel and short pile height. Because of the durability and synthetic nature of polypropylene, these rugs are washable—making them a great choice for dining rooms. 

Nylon Rug

Similar to polypropylene, nylon rugs also offer durability. These synthetic rugs tend to feel even softer underfoot than polypropylene options and make a popular, durable indoor rug choice. Nylon is not as stain-resistant as polypropylene, but many rugs are treated to repel staining. Nylon rugs are washable, which is a great feature when working to remove food spills.  

Indoor/Outdoor Rug

Indoor/outdoor rugs are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. These rugs are often made from a blend of materials, including natural and synthetic fibers. These rugs are designed to withstand heavy use and can be easily cleaned. With that in mind, they are ideal for high-traffic dining rooms and homes with children or pets.  

Cost

The size and material of the rug you choose will greatly affect the price. For example, a large wool rug will be much more expensive than a medium or small synthetic rug. On average, for a dining room rug, you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 to $500.

When shopping for rugs, try to shop during the holiday season or near the end of the year. Many retailers run sales during these times, and it is common to find rugs for cheaper prices.  

How to Choose a Dining Room Rug

With all this knowledge, how do you go about choosing the right rug for your space? Here we will look at a few key questions you need to ask yourself to help you decide what kind of rug would suit your dining room.

How Often is the Dining Room Used?

Considering how often the dining room is used will help you determine how durable the rug needs to be. If it is used every day, it is best to choose a durable rug that is easily cleaned, such as an indoor/outdoor or wool rug. If it isn’t used often, a cotton rug may be just fine. You may also be more open to choosing lighter colors since the chances of spills or stains are reduced when the frequency of use is less. 

How Big is the Room?

Another important factor to consider is the size of the room. Is the dining room large with lots of open space? Then a sprawling rug may be the perfect addition to add warmth. However, if your dining room is a squeeze, you will want to carefully consider how the rug will affect the function of the room. The rug must be able to accommodate all the chairs when pulled out to avoid causing a tripping hazard. If fitting a rug that size into the room will complicate movement, you may not want to include a rug at all.  

Light colored rug under dining room table with dining chairs pulled out

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Do You Have Pets or Children?

Pets and children add another layer of wear and tear to a rug, including the unavoidable spill or stain. If you have children, pets, or both, you will want to get a rug that is both durable and easy to clean, such as an indoor/outdoor rug. On the other hand, if you don’t have children or pets, you may be able to choose a rug with more delicate, soft fibers. 

Where to Shop

You can shop for dining room rugs online and in stores. Your shopping preferences and habits, along with retailer sales and policies, will determine which option is best for you when buying a rug. 

Buying in-Store

Buying a rug in-store is a great way for you to see the rug first-hand, evaluating features like its material, feel, and pile height. When shopping in-store, be sure to take note of the material the rug is made out of and its measurements. Ask the salesperson whether or not the rug comes with any warranties and what the return policy is. 

Buying Online

Buying online does not allow you to personally feel the rug before purchasing it. However, online shopping provides you with a much larger selection of rugs than in-store options. When shopping online, check details regarding the rug’s measurements, material, and pile length. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of shipping the rug, if the retailer doesn’t offer free shipping. 

Where to Buy a Dining Room Rug

Dining room rugs can be found in many home improvement stores and rug retailers. In-store options include Home Depot, Home Goods, World Market, Pottery Barn, and IKEA. Online retailers include Ruggable, Wayfair, Amazon, and Overstock, along with many others. 

FAQ
  • Is it a good idea to put a rug under a dining room table?

    Yes, a rug can be a great addition to your dining room. The important thing is that you choose a rug made from materials that are durable and easy to clean. Adding a rug under a dining room table can improve the aesthetics of a space, making it cozier, more inviting, and visually pleasing. 

  • How far should a rug go past the dining table?

    A good rule of thumb is for the rug to extend past the dining table 24 inches on all sides. This should allow the chairs to extend out from the table without catching the edge of the rug, which can topple the chair and create a trip hazard.  

  • Can a dining room rug be too big?

    Although erring on the side of larger versus smaller is beneficial for avoiding trip hazards or snagging chairs on rug edges, selecting a rug that is oversized can be a problem too. This approach can overpower the room and make the space feel unbalanced. If the rug is so large that it must be put underneath neighboring furniture pieces like a sideboard or buffet, it is too big.