7 Types of Rugs to Know Before Buying One

Illustration showing the different types of rugs

The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

A rug is a key component of any room, anchoring furniture, providing warmth and comfort, protecting floors, and adding a decorative element. Choosing the right one can be overwhelming because there are so many options when it comes to style, types, and materials, so we have created a guide to help you learn about each to make your decision-making process easier.

  • 01 of 07

    Area Rug

    Area rug in a living room under a sectional and two round coffee tables

    Creativa Studio / Getty Images

    Best for: living room, bedrooms

    An area rug is any rug that's smaller than the size of the room. Unlike wall-to-wall carpet, it can be picked up and moved because it's not permanently attached to the floor. Area rugs typically come in standard sizes and are generally rectangular, square, or round in shape. They are a great way to incorporate a textural layer into a room that creates warmth and coziness, carries a color theme, and adds softness under your feet. If you have hardwood floors, it's a good way to protect them and keep them from getting scratched. Use a rug pad under the area rug for extra comfort and to keep it in place.

    Common Styles of Area Rugs

    There are countless options when it comes to area rugs, from fluffy shag and distressed vintage to Dhurrie and Kilim rugs.

  • 02 of 07

    Outdoor Rug

    Blue outdoor rug on a patio with two outdoor chairs and table

    Mohammad Aasif Raza / Getty Images

    Best for: outdoor patios and decks

    Create a warm and inviting seating area on your patio or deck using an outdoor rug. It serves the same function as an indoor area rug, but it's weatherproof and able to withstand the elements. Outdoor rugs are most commonly made from synthetic fibers and are highly durable and UV resistant. A rug pad underneath will help protect the outdoor rug and to clean it, simply vacuum and treat stains as you would on an indoor rug. Once winter hits, store the rug inside to keep it safe for the following season. An outdoor rug can also be used indoors, particularly in high-traffic areas thanks to its durability.

    Common Styles of Outdoor Rugs

    Bring color and pattern to your patio or deck with an outdoor area rug. It'll really pull a seating arrangement together and create a welcoming outdoor scene.

  • 03 of 07

    Runner Rug

    Green, yellow and cream medallion runner rug

    Mohammad Aasif Raza / Getty Images

    Best for: hallways, kitchens, and narrow spaces

    A runner rug is a long, narrow rug that's best suited for a narrow space such as hallways or a kitchen. It's usually rectangular or oval in shape. This type of rug is a good way to protect floors in high-traffic areas and to add a pop of color or pattern to a small space. Runners come in standard sizes and can be up to 12 feet long, as well as in various styles and materials, adorned with tassels or a fringe for added detail.

    Common Styles of Runner Rugs

    Cotton, jute, and sisal are some of the most commonly used materials when it comes to runner rugs. All three are durable and cotton is an especially fitting choice for a kitchen runner since it can easily be thrown in the washer to get rid of any stains and dirt.

  • 04 of 07

    Layering Rug

    Sheepskin rug on a hardwood floor

    bradleyhebdon / Getty Images

    Best for: layering as an accent rug, next to the side of the bed

    For a cozy hygge feel, you can't go wrong with a layering rug such as a sheepskin rug. There are real and synthetic ones available on the market and they come in various shapes and sizes, including different colors of synthetic ones. The organic shape and thick texture make it a great layering piece that looks beautiful over a jute or sisal area rug if you're going for a neutral color palette. It's a timeless decorative accent and also the coziest surface to step onto first thing in the morning if you place it by the side of your bed.

    Common Styles of Layering Rugs

    Sheepskin and cowhide rugs are two of the most popular choices when it comes to layering rugs. Their irregular, organic shape is a great juxtaposition to a straight-lined rectangular rug and their softness introduces a contrasting feel and texture that adds comfort and visual interest.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Door Mat

    "Welcome" door mat on tiled floor with red front door

    Image Source / Getty Images

    Best for: doorways

    A door mat's main purpose is to provide a spot to wipe your feet before entering inside, but it's also a fun way to add a decorative touch to your front door. They come in standard sizes and various materials, but coir is one of the most classic and commonly used materials. Change up your door mat seasonally or use one with a cute saying for a whimsical welcome to greet guests—it's an inexpensive accessory that adds warmth, curb appeal, and helps keep your home clean all in one.

    Common Styles of Door Mats

    Door mats are often made from coir, rubber, and cotton—they also feature a family monogram, welcoming greeting, seasonal colors, images, or whimsical sayings. For an extra decorative touch, layer a coir mat over a larger cotton one for a beautifully inviting doorway.

  • 06 of 07

    Wall to Wall Carpet

    Tan wall to wall carpeting in a room with beige walls

    Andersen Ross / Getty Images

    Best for: bedrooms, finished basements

    Wall-to-wall carpet used to be the standard choice for every single room in a home, but that has changed dramatically in the past few decades as exposing hardwood floors and using visually appealing tile has become popular. Wall-to-wall carpet is still an excellent choice for some spaces in your home, particularly bedrooms and finished basements. It adds warmth and comfort thanks to its signature plushness, but do keep in mind that it is also the most expensive of all the rug options as it generally requires professional installation and removal.

    Common Styles of Wall to Wall Carpet

    Wall-to-wall carpet comes in natural fibers such as wool as well as synthetic ones like nylon that both deliver softness and comfort. Berber is a traditional and commonly used style of carpet that's thick and durable, which makes it perfect for high-traffic areas.

  • 07 of 07

    Stair Runner

    Carpet runner on staircase

    Yin Yang / Getty Images

    Best for: wooden staircase

    A stair runner is a timeless design statement that both protects your staircase and makes walking up and down more comfortable. It has the power to completely transform your stairs, dress them up, and even make them safer for your family and pets. Depending on the color, style, and comfort level you are looking for, stair runners are available in various materials—from sisal and synthetic polyester to vintage-style Moroccan runners that bring in vibrant color and pattern. Go a step further and install decorative metal rods on each step where the tread and riser meet. This isn't an essential component, but it adds a sophisticated finishing touch for a classic look.

    Common Styles of Stair Runners

    A natural sisal stair runner with a beige, black, or navy band is a timeless choice, especially when paired with brass decorative rods. Whether it's installed on light or dark stained wood stairs or painted black and white steps, you can't go wrong with this look.

Choosing a Rug

Don't underestimate how much a well-chosen rug can change a room, both in terms of visual appearance and your personal comfort and quality of life in your home. Before purchasing one, consider the space and its primary purpose, whether it's a high-traffic area, who mostly uses the room, and how large it is. Take your budget into account as well, and think about how long you want to keep the rug, whether it's a seasonal purchase you'll likely replace next year or more of an investment you're hoping to have for years to come.