Types of Rugs

Pick out the right types of rugs to display your personal style in every room

A large area rug in the middle of a living room

Area rugs bring comfort and style to your home and can alter the entire appearance of a room. Whether a colorful runner rug or a more subdued rug to anchor a bedroom, this guide will help you learn how to buy a rug and sort through the different types of area rugs available so you can make the best choice for each room.

Rug Styles

Area rugs of different sizes

True Oriental rugs are woven or knotted by hand using wool or silk fibers and feature ornate patterns. Traditional rugs, which are sometimes mistaken for true Oriental rugs, are most often rectangular but can be found in other shapes, such as ovals or octagons. Persian rugs usually have a central medallion framed by an intricate border. Both Oriental and Persian rugs are ideal for formal areas such as dining rooms, living rooms and sitting areas.

American rugs feature patterns based on colonial styles and work well with traditional, country and casual decor.

Dhurrie rugs are economical and available in a wide range of colors, particularly pastels. They can work well in children's rooms and playrooms since they are easy to replace. They can also be used as transitional rugs in areas like sun porches or garages as a smaller, more inexpensive alternative to an outdoor rug.

Bathroom rugs and kitchen rugs are often overlooked in planning decor, but a correctly-sized rug in either of those areas can add interest to the space and make it more comfortable. When picking a rug for a room with floors that are frequently wet, make sure to get one that is very durable, and don't forget to use rug anchors.

A door mat is a type of rug that serves to keep your floors cleaner and more protected, as it keeps much of the outside dirt from making its way inside on the shoes of your family and guests. The right one can increase curb appeal and set a welcoming tone with visitors as the door mat is a part of the first impressions they get of your home and style.

Animal Print Rugs

An all-over pattern, or parts of a pattern, resembling animal fur or hide.

Border Rugs

Features a design on the perimeter of the rug surrounding the field. The border can also be inset.

Chevron Rugs

A rug with a design of connected V shapes, creating a zig-zag stripe pattern.

Coastal Rugs

Print pattern features elements of the ocean, sea or beach.

Distressed Rugs

The look of a rug that has been worn down after many years and becomes aged and faded. Parts of the pattern are missing from wear and tear.

Floral Rugs

A rug with a pattern of flowers, or elements of flowers.

Geometric Rugs

Any pattern created with geometric shapes.

High-low Rugs

Uses low pile and high pile tufts to make a pattern or design.

Ikat Rugs

Resembles blurriness in repeated Aztec/global design, with multiple colors and complicated patterns.

Lodge Rugs

A rug with elements of the mountains, country or woods.

Medallion Rugs

An all-over design that resembles stamped shapes that have circular, organic elements. The pattern can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.

Novelty Rugs

A themed rug featuring maps, clocks, sports references and other imagery. Kids versions feature maps, cars, dinosaurs and more.

Oriental Rugs

A traditional ornate hand-knotted rug composed of several decorative borders, a field pattern, and a central ornate medallion.

Overdyed Rugs

The look of a traditional handmade wool rug that has been dyed a new color, leaving the light and dark shapes of the original design to show a faded pattern.

Plaid Rugs

Pattern of transparent perpendicular lines at different widths that overlap each other to form uneven squares.

Shag Rugs

Long pile tufts of yarn to create an overall texture.

Solid Rugs

Gradient, or ombre, is an increase and decrease of the colors creating a fading effect on a rug. A solid rug appears to be one color but can also have different tones of one color creating a “heathered” feel.

Southwestern Rugs

A rug with elements resembling Navajo weaving and Native American motifs.

Striped Rugs

A pattern made of stripes or bands different in color or texture.

Trellis Rugs

Displays connected lines in geometric, uniform shapes.  

Watercolor Rugs

Has elements that resemble an artist’s brushstrokes, or the movement of water mixed with ink or paint.

Construction & Materials

Rugs are available in a wide range of materials, from soft cotton to synthetic polyester or nylon. Rug cost is largely determined by the materials used, how the rug was constructed and its size. Rugs made of synthetic materials are normally less expensive than those constructed of natural fibers.

Choosing either a natural or synthetic fiber depends on the style of the rug and how much traffic you expect to have in the area. Fibers may be either staple fibers, which use short lengths of fiber and may shed initially, or bulk continuous filament, which uses continuous strands of fiber and does not shed or fuzz.

Many synthetic rugs are also durable enough to be used outdoors.

Resilience measures how well fibers bounce back from crushing and the weight of heavy furniture. Look for rugs with high resilience if you plan to place them underneath furniture or in high-traffic areas.

If you have children or pets in the house or intend to place the rug in a high-traffic area, look for rugs labeled stain-resistant to make cleanup easier.

Natural Materials

Cotton Rugs

  • Durable
  • Soft feel
  • Wide range of colors
  • Ideal for high-traffic areas

Jute Rugs

  • Beautiful natural coloring
  • Suited for low-traffic areas
  • Soft feel
  • Should not be placed under furniture

Sea Grass Rugs

  • Easy to clean
  • Should not be placed under furniture
  • Natural coloring provides a rustic look
  • Well-suited to high-traffic areas

Silk & Silk Blend Rugs

  • May provide highlights in wool rugs
  • High luster
  • Soft feel
  • Best for low-traffic areas

Sisal Rugs

  • Strong
  • Ideal for high-traffic areas
  • Best for indoor use
  • Coarse texture

Wool & Wool Blend Rugs

  • Soft, thick and luxurious feel
  • Static-resistant
  • Perfect for high-traffic areas
  • May shed when new

Synthetic Materials

Nylon Rugs

  • Strong and resilient
  • Ideal for high-traffic areas & placement under heavy furniture
  • Conceals and resists stains and soil
  • Available in many colors

Polyester Rugs

  • Retains color clarity
  • Easy to clean
  • Provides a plush feel
  • Ideal for living areas

Polypropylene (Olefin) Rugs

  • Easy to clean
  • Resists moisture and mildew
  • Best for low-traffic areas
  • May be used outdoors

For more information on rug materials, check out our guide on How to Choose the Softest Rugs.

Rug Sizes

Large rugs can dominate your room, so it's important that the rest of the room coordinate. When purchasing a large, room-sized rug, select the rug first and then the furniture, drapes and other features. Smaller rugs, however, should be selected to complement your existing decor as much as possible.

Check out our Rug Sizes Buying guide for an expanded look at rug sizes and how to select the right size and shape in any room.

Care & Considerations

In considering colors, think about the overall effect you want for the room. Darker hues help create a cozy, more intimate feel while lighter colors complement open spaces and make small rooms feel spacious.

Always care for your rugs according to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid damage. It is usually safe to clean most rugs with water or steam clean them once or twice a year, but double-check the tag for instructions, particularly regarding chemical cleaners. Vacuum high-traffic areas frequently and always clean spills quickly by blotting rather than scrubbing.

Rotate your rugs every six to 12 months to prevent uneven wear, and check the back of your rugs periodically to monitor potential damage from moths or carpet beetles.

Use a rug pad underneath, especially on hard floors. This will help prevent slipping as well as provide greater comfort underfoot. Pads, just like carpet padding, help extend the life of your rug by keeping it in place while providing extra cushion and insulation. They also prevent spills or dyes from seeping through the carpet to the surface below and staining the floor.

If you don't use a pad, be sure that rug corners are out of the way in high-traffic areas. Many scatter rugs feature nonskid backing, which prevents them from sliding out from underneath you when you step on them, even if the floor beneath them is smooth.

Get more information on rug care from our How to Clean a Rug guide.

Tip: If you have a very expensive rug or are dealing with a particularly tricky stain, contact a professional rug cleaner for assistance.