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Area Rug Buying Guide

Area Rug Buying Guide

In addition to being a great way to accent your décor, area rugs add warmth to a room, not only taking the chill off of cold floors but also creating a feeling of intimacy. They can also reduce the noise level in a room. Whatever your motivation, Lowe's can help you find an area rug to suit your needs.

Choose an Area Rug to Match Your Style

Choose an Area Rug to Match Your Style


Area rugs are versatile. They can create cozy conversation areas, provide a splash of color or be a unifying element that ties the room together. Plus, they can quickly and easily give your house character.

With all the styles and colors available, choosing an area rug that integrates with your décor isn't hard. Consider the following factors before you buy a rug:

  • Choose a rug with a central medallion if you want it to serve as the focal point of the room. However, if there's another obvious central point, such as a fireplace, use a rug with a more repetitive pattern and no medallion.
  • Take into account the patterns on the upholstery and walls in the room, so they don't compete with the rug. If you have upholstery or wallpaper with an ornate pattern, choose a subtler pattern for the area rug. If the walls and upholstery are fairly subdued, you can try a busier pattern to add more interest to the room.
  • Notice how much traffic the area receives. In high-traffic areas, selecting a rug with a detailed pattern may be more practical. The more pattern, the lower the maintenance.
  • Select a rug with colors that coordinate with your decor. The colors in the rug don't have to match the colors in the room, but at least one color should coordinate. Take swatches of wallpaper, paint or upholstery fabric with you when you shop.
  • Remember that lighter-colored rugs make a room seem more spacious. Darker colors in the rug bring a cozy atmosphere to a room.
  • Keep in mind that texture is also an important element in your décor. Several different fibers within a rug or carved areas can add more pizzazz to an area rug's texture. Rugs made of sisal or jute can add an interesting texture to smooth hardwood or tile floors.
  • Don't feel limited to rectangles. Octagonal or circular rugs add a unique touch to a room.

You may need to coordinate multiple rugs in the same room. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Use rugs of different patterns within the same room as long as the colors coordinate.
  • Select rugs of different sizes to create more interest and contrast. Using two rugs of the same size may divide the room in half.
  • Incorporate rugs of different sizes that are designed to coordinate with each other.

Choosing the Size for Your Area Rug

Choosing the Size for Your Area Rug

Under the coffee table:

  • Typically 4' x 6' or 6' x 9' area rugs work well under coffee tables. The size you should choose depends on the size of your coffee table and surrounding furnishings.
  • The area rug should be large enough to accommodate all four legs of the table and approximately the same length and width of the furnishings in the space.
  • To accent the furnishings most effectively, leave some flooring between the area rug and the furniture exposed.

Under a dining room table:

  • Measure the length and width of the table, and add at least 4 feet to each measurement.
  • Most dining room tables need an 8-foot wide area rug.
  • The chair legs shouldn't fall off the rug when people are seated at the table or pulling the chairs away from the table to seat themselves.

For an entire room:

  • Leave an equal amount of flooring exposed as a border on all sides. If that isn't possible, try to ensure the borders on parallel sides of the rug are equal.
  • Place furniture coasters under the back legs to raise them to the height of the rug. It's  okay if the front legs of the furniture are on the rug and the back legs are off the rug, as long as the piece is stable and balanced.
For many rooms, an 8' x 11' rug works well.

Selecting a Rug Pad

Rug pads keep the rug properly positioned, preventing it from sliding and wrinkling. Rug pads also:

  • Reduce wear and tear on the rug
  • Help to absorb the impact of feet and noise
  • Make vacuuming easier
  • Protect smooth-surface flooring, like hardwood or laminate, from being scratched by the back of the rug

For rugs placed over carpet, choose a pad of thin polyester fabric coated with adhesive. This type of pad prevents a dark rug color from bleeding through on a light carpet. A pad made from slightly heavier polyester scrim coated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) holds a rug firmly on wood or other smooth-surfaced floors.

Knowing Your Fibers

Knowing Your Fibers

Originally, area rugs were made from wool or cotton. Today, there are several natural or synthetic fibers available. What's the best choice? It all depends on how much traffic the area receives, how easy the rug is to maintain and, of course, how much you're willing to spend.

Synthetic Fibers

  • Acrylic: Highly resistant to sunlight, stains and mildew. You'll mostly find acrylic fibers in bath mats and rugs.
  • Polypropylene / Olefin: The most stain-resistant synthetic fiber on the market today. Polypropylene repels water and is impervious to most stains. It's usually less expensive than other fibers.
  • Nylon: Versatile, durable, easy to maintain and clean. Nylon withstands heavy foot traffic.

Natural Fibers

  • Wool: Known for its dyeability, durability, and softness. Wool is also very easy to clean. It's the standard by which all other carpet fibers are measured.
  • Cotton: Softer than wool but less durable, cotton is available in a variety of colors.
  • Jute: The softest of all natural fibers. When exposed to direct sunlight, jute may fade or darken in color. With prolonged exposure to moisture, the fiber disintegrates.
  • Sisal: Stronger and more durable than any natural rug fiber. Since sisal is static-free and colorfast, it's perfect for just about any area.
  • Blends: Two or more of these fibers combined in one rug.

Identifying Weaving Methods

The following definitions will give you a better grasp of how rugs get from the weaver's hand or loom to your home.

Hand-Hooked: The weaver pushes a hooking tool through the foundation cloth to the front of the rug, then pulls the yarn to the back, leaving a loop on the surface.

Hand-Knotted: Each knot is individually tied by hand. These knots are single strands of yarn that have been looped around two adjacent warp threads.

Hand-Tufted: An inked-on foundation cloth is stretched over a loom. Then a manually operated hand-tufting gun pushes the yarn through the back of the cloth. When the rug is taken off the loom, a scrim and layer of latex is placed on the back. A backcloth is then sewed on to the latex and scrim to protect your floors.

Jacquard: A mechanized loom that has an endless belt of punched cards is used. The holes in the card are arranged to produce the weave of the rug.

Wilton Loom: These rugs bear a close resemblance to hand-knotted rugs but are machine made. The pile is woven between two backings and then split down the middle so you get two separate rugs.

Learning the Lingo

Here are some terms every rug shopper should know.

  • Hand-Carved: Using hand shears, the weaver cuts a design into the rug. The carving and sculpturing give the rug a distinctive and unique look.
  • Heat Set: This is a process polypropylene goes through to put a twist in the yarn. When the yarn is set with heat, it has a wool-like appearance.
  • Line Count: One indicator of rug quality is the number of knots or stitches per square inch. When comparing the line count number of different rugs, it's important to remember that this number may be calculated differently, depending on how and where the rug was made.
  • Pile: This is the surface yarn that makes up the face of the rug.
  • Stitches / Needle Count: The number of loops of yarn is known as the stitch or needle count. The higher the stitch or needle count, the denser the rug. Higher-density rugs last longer and wear better than more loosely woven constructions.
  • Warp and Wefts: The warp yarn is the stationary thread on the loom. These fibers are the strongest part of the rug. They're intersected with wefts — the filling yarn that's woven though the warps.
  • Border: The border is composed of decorative designs repeated in one direction around the outside of the rug.
  • Field: The field is the background of the rug inside the border. It may be a solid color or patterned.
  • Medallion: The medallion is a round or oval design in the center of the rug.