Top 10 Questions About Area Rugs

OCTOBER 7, 2016

by Melissa Ford

Rug Specialist

Area rugs add a stylish, functional element to your home. Whether you have been eyeing the perfect rug or are caring for an existing one, we've got the answers to all your burning questions. Check out our list of top 10 questions about area rugs to help you choose and care for your rug.

Mid-century modern living room with a close up on chair and hand knotted wool rug in grey and brown

1. What are the best rugs for high traffic areas?

Wool and bamboo are two of the best rug materials for areas with high foot traffic. Wool is a durable, stain-resistant material that repels water, making it ideal for spill-prone areas. Bamboo is a long-lasting rug material that is especially great for entryways. This resilient material can sustain years of wear and tear, so it's an exceptional choice for areas with a lot of foot traffic.

Grey and white geometric patterned hand tufted rug in living room shown with sofa, accent chair, and side table

2. What is a hand-tufted area rug?

Hand-tufting is a rug-making technique where hand-held tools are used to punch individual strands of yarn through a piece of stretched canvas to create a looped pile. Once the rug is tufted, the pile is either left intact or sheered. This technique is much less time-consuming than hand-knotting, which makes hand-tufted rugs less costly.

Traditional wool rug in red, black, and beige. Shown with sofa, side table, and table lamp

3. Why is my wool rug shedding?

It's common for wool rugs to shed during the first six months of use. You can maintain your rug by using a brush or special rake to groom it regularly. Trim any tufts of wool that may emerge to keep the rug from pilling. You can also work the pile of the rug with a vacuum to keep shedding under control. Avoid vacuums with a beater bar or heavy-duty suction as these can damage the rug's construction. Consult the care instructions included with the rug to clean and care for it properly. Keep in mind that lower quality rugs are more prone to shedding, so if you're considering a wool rug look for a higher end brand.

Area rug pulled back to feature an non-slip beige rug pad

4. Do I need a rug pad?

Yes, we recommend that you always use a rug pad with an area rug. A rug pad is essential to caring for a carpet because it helps to keep the rug in place and provides more cushion underfoot. Rug pads also help extend the life of your floor covering by protecting the rug fibers from excessive wear, dirt, and moisture. They can also protect your floors from scratchy debris that can accumulate underneath and from dyes that may leach from the rug.

Distressed grey and black area rug with accent tables, chair, and decorative accessories

5. What is a machine-made rug?

A machine-made or power-loomed rug is made by an automated machine as opposed to being handcrafted. Automated machines are capable of producing large quantities of rugs in short periods of time. Because they require less manual labor, machine-made rugs tend to be more cost effective for consumers. Machined rugs are typically constructed with wool or synthetic fibers such as polypropylene, nylon, polyester, acrylic, and art silk.

Flatweave orange geometric patterened rug shown with accent chair and accent table

6. What is a flatweave rug?

A flatweave rug has no pile and can be made from plant, animal, and synthetic materials. Flatweave refers to the construction of a rug where threads are woven vertically and horizontally on a loom. These rugs can either be hand-woven or machine-made and are typically reversible. Popular flatweave rugs include Kilim, Soumak, Venetian damask, tapestry, and ingrain rugs.

Modern carpeted living room shown with sectional, love seat, and an area rug

7. Can I put an area rug on top of carpet?

Yes! Area rugs can be placed on top of wall-to-wall carpeting. Whether you're covering stained carpet or simply want to add a pop of color to a room, an area rug can be a simple way to infuse your carpeted space with style. A general rule for layering rugs over carpet is to vary the texture. If your broadloom carpeting has a short or looped pile, use a thicker rug like shag to vary the textures and add a luxurious touch. For plush carpeting, layer on flatwoven or Berber rugs to break up the look. Another key to placing a rug over carpet is size. Follow the same rules for placing a rug over hard flooring in order to get the right look in your space. Use a carpet-friendly rug pad to help keep the area rug in place and protect the carpeting and rug fibers from friction.

Close up of a vacuum cleaning a rug

8. Can I vacuum an area rug?

Yes. Regular vacuuming will extend the life of your rug by keeping dirt and grit from building up. Wool rugs are especially sensitive to vacuuming so consult your rug's care instructions before cleaning. If you're cleaning a wool rug, avoid using vacuums with a beater bar or heavy-duty suction. Avoid vacuuming hide, fur, and sheepskin rugs. Instead, sprinkle these types of rugs with unscented talcum powder, let sit, and then brush or shake the powder out. It is good practice to have high-end and heirloom rugs professionally cleaned once a year.

Close up of a woman cleaning a rug using a spounge and wearing rubber gloves

9. What is the best way to clean an area rug?

If your rug is in need of a complete cleaning, it's important to start by familiarizing yourself with the care instructions that came with it. For general rug cleaning, you can follow these easy steps:

  • Vacuum the rug on both sides to remove any loose dirt and dust.
  • Use a rug shampoo or a mild detergent and gently scrub the rug with a brush or sponge. Before washing, test a small corner of the rug for colorfastness to make sure the colors won't bleed.
  • Allow the solution to sit on the rug for a few minutes before rinsing.
  • Rinse thoroughly with a hose or bucket until the water runs clean and free of suds.
  • Squeeze out as much water as you can from the rug and lay it flat to dry. When the top is dry, flip the rug so the bottom can dry out.
  • Loosen the fibers of the rug with a brush or a vacuum.

For higher end rugs, consult a professional rug cleaner. Only deep clean your rug if it's visibly dingy, has an odor, or gives off dust when a corner is picked up and dropped. For spot-cleaning rugs, refer to our Complete Rug Buying Guide for tips on cleaning and removing stains.

Close up of a vacuum cleaning a rug

10. How do I store an area rug?

Whether you're rolling up your rug for spring cleaning or packing it for a move, it's important to know how best to store your area rug. If you're rug has seen a lot of traffic, give it a once over (or twice over) with a vacuum to remove dust, dirt, and grime that may have collected over time. Keep the following tips in mind when storing your area rug:

  • Clean the rug before storing. Follow your rug's care instructions for safe cleaning.
  • Roll the rug with the pile on the inside.
  • Wrap with kraft paper or a breathable, water-resistant paper like Tyvek. DO NOT wrap in plastic as plastic can encourage mold growth.
  • Elevate the rug off the floor while storing to allow for air circulation.
  • Store in a climate-controlled space.

Melissa Ford

by Melissa Ford

Rug Specialist

Melissa enjoys decking out her apartment with unique finds and funky accent pieces. When she's not searching for the perfect area rug or decor piece, she spends her time writing and exploring her beloved city of Salt Lake.