How to Pick the Best Rug Material

Still life of wool Tibetan blankets, pillows, and pelt rugs on wood table
Chris Gramly/Vetta/Getty Images

Rugs come in many different fibers, such as nylon, wool, acrylic, cotton or polyester. Less common are silk, and leather, but they are definitely worth looking into if you want a rich look. With so many options available it can be confusing, but the fibers used in a rug do play an important role in how it looks, how long it will last and how stain resistant it proves to be.

Generally speaking natural fibers, especially wool, may be a better choice, as far as longevity and quality are concerned. However, synthetic fibers have the advantage of being easily affordable and now offer a wide range of choices. Which material should you choose for a rug? There is no single answer as it depends on many factors.

Where Will You Place Your Rug?

Your selection may have a lot to do where you will be placing the rug. Will the rug be placed in an entry, or will it be placed in a corner of the living room? Will it be displayed on a wall? Where you place your rug will determine how much use in terms of foot traffic it is going to get.

Placing very expensive wool or delicate silk rug in the entry might not be a good idea, however, these will add a very luxurious look to a protected part of the living room or the bedroom. Bamboo rugs, while they don't offer a very soft feel underfoot will last a long time in high traffic areas such as entries.

Have You Determined How the Rug Will be Used?

What kind of use will your rug be subjected to? Is it a heavy traffic area, or is the purpose mainly display in an area that does not get much use? Will pets and children also be using it? If it is going to be subjected to rough use, consider a synthetic fiber with durability like nylon or polypropylene. If your rug will be used in an area that gets subjected to moisture, you might want to look into a mildew resistant synthetic material such as acrylic. Wool, which absorbs moisture is not a good choice in this situation.

Have You Decided on the Look and Feel You Desire?

What kind of a look are you striving for? What kind of texture do you need? This should determine how and where you want to use your rug. Although synthetic fibers, especially nylon, do offer a lot of variety in color and texture, the look and feel of a natural fiber rug will be different.

Even within natural fibers, a sisal rug would offer a very different look from a silk rug. And chenille, which is a synthetic material offers you a silk-like look and texture but may be more suitable for an area that gets a reasonable amount of traffic.

Select Rug Quality

And very importantly, what kind of quality are you looking for? Do you want the rug to retain its value over a period of time? If so, you might be better off with a wool or silk rug. If high quality and long life is not a consideration, you could buy rugs in less costly natural fibers such as cotton or jute, or go for an endless variety of choices in synthetic fibers like nylon, acrylic or polypropylene.

Decide on a Budget

Consider your budget. Are you willing to invest in a quality rug? A natural fiber rug such as wool or silk could cost you considerably more than a synthetic rug. If you just need an attractive floor covering and are not going after very high quality at the moment a synthetic fiber would be a better choice. Less costly options in natural fibers such as cotton, sisal or jute are also available depending on the look you desire.

Watch Now: How to Select an Area Rug