Which rug material is best?
When choosing a rug, a key factor to consider is which material will be most suitable for your space. It’s important to think about how a space will be used, the level of traffic it will receive, and whether cosiness is a priority. We explain each different fibre below, including its characteristics, things to consider before buying, and what placement is best suited for each material.
Given their traditionally handmade finish making for a more extensive process, wool rugs are often on the pricier side, but almost always incredibly high quality. It’s no wonder that wool is the most common material used to make rugs – it is heavily prized for its durability and softness.
Why go for wool? It absorbs odours, is a durable fibre (perfect for frequent foot traffic), has great stain and water repellence, boasts superb insulating properties, and is cosy underfoot.
Things to keep in mind: Wool absorbs humidity so is often not recommended for damp spaces, and it has a tendency to fade. Shedding can often occur too, but will lessen with time.
Where to put a wool rug: Living rooms, dining rooms and other high traffic areas.
Shop wool & wool blend rugs.
A huge variety of rugs available today are made from man-made materials like polypropylene, PET, viscose silk, nylon, acrylic chenille and polyester. These have steadily gained popularity due to their soft feel underfoot and easy maintenance.
Why go for a synthetic fibre rug? Most are easy to clean, family friendly, unlikely to fade quickly and can be used in damp environments – with some even made specifically for indoor and outdoor use. Viscose silk rugs are particularly soft and hold dyed patterns well, being such a thin fibre.
Things to keep in mind: While often soft and fluffy (apart from acrylic chenille rugs, which are usually a flat weave), some synthetic rugs don’t feel as luxurious as other fibres.
Where to put a synthetic fibre rug: Hallways, outdoors (if the rug’s label states that it can be used outside), high-traffic and sunny areas.
Shop PET, polyester, acrylic chenille, polypropylene and viscose silk rugs.
Cotton is most frequently used to make flat weave rugs such as dhurries and kilims, and is perfect for those who are after a cooler and less fluffy alternative to popular, longer pile rugs.
Why go for cotton? It’s often more affordable than wool or silk, and is easy to clean.
Things to keep in mind: Cotton doesn’t always wear well over long periods of time as it’s not as durable as other materials.
Where to put a cotton rug: Kitchens, children’s rooms, casual spaces.
Shop cotton rugs.
Hemp, Jute, Seagrass & Sisal
These natural rug fibres are durable, neutral and textured, allowing them to effortlessly integrate into an extensive range of different space designs. Place one of these rugs underneath a smaller, more decorative rug for an eye-catching layered look.
Why go for hemp, jute, seagrass or sisal? All are super strong, renewable fibres that are generally free from chemical processing.
Things to keep in mind: Some varieties can be coarse and feel rougher than others, and stains can be more difficult to clean.
Where to put a hemp, jute, seagrass or sisal rug: Living rooms, high-traffic and sunny areas, as fading is rare, and these rugs can handle lots of trampling.
Shop hemp, jute and jute blend rugs.
Sheepskins and cowhides are the most common rugs available in this space, with the latter offered as complete hides, stitched panels, or woven strips of tanned leather.
Why go for an animal skin rug? They’re soft, durable and a bit of a statement piece! Most are also easy to clean, and unlikely to fade.
Things to keep in mind: Animal skins aren’t always ideal for damp or humid areas, and can be prone to curling up at the edges (thankfully though, this curling can be easily fixed by flipping the rug over and ironing the edges flat again with low heat).
Where to put an animal skin rug: Bedrooms, offices and low-traffic areas.
Shop cowhide rugs.