Whether you have wall-to-wall carpeting or genuine hardwood floors, nothing adds warmth and character to a home like an area rug. Rugs—distinguished from carpeting as smaller, portable, and easy to roll up and store away—offer cushioning, provide visual interest, and protect floors.
The best area rugs are usually durable, functional, and can be stylish additions to a home. But shopping for rugs can take a surprising amount of time since there are many materials, sizes, and patterns to consider. To help you choose the best area rug for your living space, we’ve tested a variety of popular options for quality and comfort. Read on to learn about our favorites.
- BEST OVERALL: West Elm Flourish Rug
- BEST STATEMENT RUG: nuLOOM Marisela Tribal Area Rug
- BEST FOR THE KITCHEN: Maples Rugs Distressed Tapestry Vintage Kitchen Rug
- BEST FOR BEDROOMS: Safavieh Milan Shag Collection SG180-1212 Area Rug
- BEST FOR LIVING ROOMS: nuLOOM Moroccan Blythe Area Rug
- BEST FOR OUTDOORS: Nicole Miller New York Patio Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug
- BEST FOR HALLWAYS: ReaLife Machine Washable Rug
- BEST WASHABLE: Ruggable Kamran Coral Rug
- BEST IN COTTON: Dash and Albert Herringbone Cotton Area Rug
- BEST IN WOOL: Safavieh Antiquity Collection AT822A Handmade Wool
What to Consider When Buying Area Rugs
A good rug should be safe, durable, and stylish. It is also usually both non-toxic and eco-friendly. If you have allergies or other respiratory concerns, choosing the right material will be key. Pile and weave are important considerations when assessing a rug’s functionality and safety, especially if it will be placed in a high-traffic area. You also might consider purchasing a rug pad to prevent slipping and tripping.
Pile and Weave
Pile refers to the density of rug fibers and the height of these fibers. A thick, dense pile can add comfort and padding underfoot. Thinner piles are great under furniture, as well as in high-traffic areas like kitchens, hallways, and bathrooms. Pile height comes in three basic categories: low (less than ¼-inch); medium (between ¼- and ½-inch); and high (½- to ¾-inch).
A rug can be woven in two ways: looped or cut. Cut pile is commonly used in wall-to-wall carpeting, and also can be found in area rugs. Looped pile has a woven look and can be manufactured or handmade. Looped pile often is easier to clean than cut pile, but the cut is preferable for those who have pets as their claws could get caught in the loops.
Natural vs. Synthetic Fibers
Made of 100 percent cotton, wool, silk, or fibrous plants like sisal or jute, natural fiber rugs have many benefits. They typically are better for the environment than synthetic fibers, especially if they are grown and manufactured using certified organic, sustainable, and fair trade methods. They can also be beautiful and unique, especially if handwoven. A drawback of natural fiber rugs is often cost; they might be more expensive than synthetic rugs of the same size and style. Wool, in particular, can shed, making it necessary to vacuum more often.
Rug makers typically craft synthetic fiber rugs from nylon, polyester, or polypropylene. Some synthetic rugs are made of recycled plastics and other manmade materials, boosting their eco-friendliness. Though synthetic fiber rugs can be ultradurable, long-lasting, affordable, and easy to clean, they also might come treated with flame retardants, glues, and artificial dyes that raise health and environmental concerns. Therefore, it is important to assess any health risks before buying any rug. Then make a choice of natural or synthetic fiber based on the family’s needs and awareness of more sustainable options.
Rugs are typically measured in feet and can be as small as 3 feet by 5 feet or as large as 12 feet by 15 feet or more. For kitchens, bathrooms, and hallways, narrower rugs and mats are also useful, and come in sizes of 1.5 feet by 2 feet or longer.
A good rule of thumb for choosing the right size area rug for a room is to subtract 2 feet on each side after measuring the space. For example, if a room is 10 feet by 12 feet, consider purchasing a central rug that is 8 feet by 10 feet.
Rugs can save hardwood floors from damage. They also can cushion feet and keep people warmer in winter. Dense, high-pile rugs—including plush and shag styles—are ideal for bedrooms and where comfort is the key factor. Low- to medium-pile rugs, including Persian and woven styles, are better suited for heavily-trafficked areas like living rooms, dining rooms, entryways, and hallways.
Lower pile rugs don’t collect dirt and dander as readily and are easier to keep clean than higher pile rugs. One risk with rugs is slipping. If rugs are very thin (like some woven cotton rugs) they can bunch up and cause accidents, so be sure to keep them secured with gripper rug pads underneath.
Color and Pattern
One of the fun aspects of choosing a rug is how it works with a color scheme and decor. Solid neutrals and subtle patterns are the most versatile, and can also be hard-wearing choices, especially in grays, taupes, beiges, and blues. Lighter solids such as pure white or ivory rugs are elegant, but can more readily show spots and stains.
For maximum camouflaging powers and longevity, a dependable choice is heathered rugs (multiple-hued fibers in the same color family). Another option is to choose a neutral rug with a bold texture (like shag), which works especially well in tone-on-tone settings.
Highly patterned rugs, like those featuring traditional Persian, Oriental, and Afghan designs, bring instant warmth and character to a room. Patterned rugs also can be extremely durable, hide spots and dust, and last a lifetime if made from high-quality materials with a low to medium pile. When selecting a boldly colored rug, be sure that both the background (primary) color and contrasting (secondary) colors suit the room’s paint color and upholstery.
Our Top Picks
We recently put the best area rugs to the test to see which have the durability to hold up to foot traffic, support health and sustainability, and have a top-notch design. We also tested each rug’s design, material, and level of care to test the following recommendations.
The Flourish rug features muted colors with light distressing for a modern take on traditional Persian-style florals. Muted blues combine with pops of blush and copper to create a subtle design. We tested it in a few locations and it made every room feel cozy. It was softer to the touch and more comfortable underfoot than expected with such a low pile. We also love that the Flourish rug is handcrafted with sustainable materials such as recycled cotton backing.
This rug had a good weight and laid flat right away out of the packaging. After a week, we noticed very minimal shedding. It stayed in place for vacuuming and we were able to lift crushed tortilla chips easily after a couple of passes over the area. Our spill test required only a bit of scrubbing with a mild detergent; however, the company recommends professional cleaning for deeper stains.
- Rug thickness: 0.8-inch
- Materials: Wool and viscose
- Sizes available: 5 feet by 8 feet, 3 feet by 5 feet, 6 feet by 9 feet, 8 feet by 10 feet, 9 feet by 12 feet, 10 feet by 14 feet, and 2.5 feet by 9 feet
- Sustainable materials
- Laid flat right away
- Unique design
- Some shedding
- Requires professional cleaning
Get the Flourish rug at WestElm.com.
A rug should be durable enough to look good while standing up to daily foot traffic. Made of 100 percent polypropylene fibers and no added chemicals, nuLoom’s Marisela area rug is designed with comfort and resilience in mind. The deep navy background is offset with multicolored geometric patterns, which create a design statement while also distracting the eye from dust. The pattern was attractive in person, accurately reflecting the online photos. The pink popped just enough without being overwhelming or detracting from the rest of the room.
We found it soft to the touch and comfortable underfoot with a medium pile. Our dog was happy to cozy up on it, yet it withstood light playing as well. It curled up a little in the corners when we first laid it out, but it settled after a few days of use.
The rug was weighty enough to stay in place, but we recommend an accompanying rug pad. Sturdy, medium-pile fibers are made to resist staining and are easy to clean. We found vacuuming it a breeze and were able to lift chocolate easily with a bit of carpet cleaner, as recommended by the brand.
- Rug thickness: 0.37-inch
- Materials: Polypropylene
- Sizes available: 2 feet by 3 feet, 2 feet by 6 feet, 2.5 feet by 10 feet, 2.5 feet by 14 feet, 2.75 feet by 8 feet, 2.75 feet by 12 feet, 2.75 feet by 20 feet, 3 feet by 5 feet, 4-foot round, 4 feet by 6 feet, 5 feet by 7 feet, 5 inches, 8 feet by 10 feet, 8 feet-10 inches by 12 feet, 9 feet-10 inches by 14 feet, and 12 feet by 16 feet
- Attractive pattern and rich colors
- Soft underfoot
- Plenty of size options
- Made from synthetic materials
- Needs time to lay flat
Get the nuLoom Marisela Tribal rug on Amazon, on nuLoom.com, or at The Home Depot.
Kitchen rugs need to wear well and provide nonslip cushioning, like the Maples Rugs’ Distressed Tapestry Vintage Kitchen Rug. With a faded design in earthy tones of blue, cream, and taupe, it can suit various kitchen decor styles, from country to contemporary. The small rug is prettier in person than in pictures. The cream color appears less yellow and the pops of blue add a subdued elegance.
Made of 100 percent nylon, with a medium pile and a skid-resistant latex backing, this rug stayed in place without an additional rug pad. It was easy to vacuum and spot clean with a mild cleaner. We threw it in the washing machine for cleaning and it came out looking fresh and without any fading.
- Rug thickness: 0.44-inch
- Materials: Nylon with latex backing
- Sizes available: 1.75 feet by 2 feet, 10 inches, 2 feet by 6 feet, 2.5 feet by 3 feet-10 inches, 2.5 feet by 10 feet, 5 feet by 7 feet, and 7 feet by 10 feet
- Skid-resistant backing
- Machine washable
Get the Maples Rugs distressed tapestry vintage kitchen rug on Amazon and at Wayfair.
A shag area rug might just change someone’s mind about rugs. The 2-inch pile on this shag rug offers so much softness underfoot that we were tempted to curl up on it for a nap. Our dog certainly did. We tested it in the bedroom, where we could enjoy the plush feeling when stepping out of bed.
Upon arrival, the weave was flattened from being rolled up, but we could easily fluff it with our feet. It laid flat right away with plenty of weight to hold it in place. A slight accompanying odor dissipated after a couple of days.
This rug is made of 100 percent, high-density polypropylene fibers, so there is no need to worry about shedding. Vacuuming it was easy, and we were able to blot out chocolate with a bit of carpet cleaner after digging into the fibers a bit. Choose from eight colors, from jewel tones to neutrals like beige, gray, and ivory.
- Rug thickness: 2 inches
- Material: Polypropylene
- Sizes available: 2 feet by 4 feet, 2 feet by 6 feet, 2 feet by 8 feet, 2 feet by 10 feet, 2 feet by 12 feet, 2 feet by 14 feet, 2 feet by 16 feet, 2 feet by 18 feet, 2 feet by 20 feet, 2 feet by 22 feet, 3 feet by 3 feet, 3 feet by 5 feet, 4 feet by 6 feet, 5 feet-1-inch by 8 feet, 6 feet by 9 feet, 7 feet by 7 feet, 8.5 feet by 12 feet, 8 feet by 10 feet, 10 feet by 14 feet, 11 feet by 16 feet, 3-foot round, 4-foot round, 5 feet-1-inch round, 7-foot round, 8-foot round, 10-foot round, and 11-foot round
- Plush underfoot
- Plenty of size options
- No shedding
- Made of synthetic material
- Slight odor at first
Get the Safavieh Milan shag collection area rug on Amazon, on Overstock.com, or at The Home Depot.
This popular rug has a lot of things going for it, including durability, a stylish design, and plenty of size and color options to suit many rooms. We tried it in the gray and off-white, which was neutral enough to match our existing furnishings. The purposefully distressed, Moroccan-inspired design lends a modern feel without stealing from the rest of the décor. It felt plenty soft underfoot with its .37-inch pile.
The corners curled at first but settled over time. Though its ample weight held it in place, we recommend pairing the rug with a gripper pad, which makes vacuuming a breeze. Spot cleaning was easy with a mild detergent, which was a relief with the light color scheme. If the preference is to skip light colors, there are 11 other hues available and the many sizes include options for round, oval, square, and rectangle.
- Rug thickness: 0.37-inch
- Material: Polypropylene
- Sizes available: 2 feet by 3 feet, 2 feet by 6 feet, 2.5 feet by 6 feet, 2.5 feet by 10 feet, 2.5 feet by 12 feet, 2.5 feet by 14 feet, 2.5 feet by 16 feet, 2.5 feet by 18 feet, 2.5 by 20 feet, 2 feet by 8 feet, 2.75 feet by 8 feet, 2.75 feet by 12 feet, 2.75 feet by 20 feet, 3 feet by 5 feet, 4-foot round, 4 feet by 6 feet, 5-foot round, 5 feet by 7 feet-5 inches, 5 feet by 8 feet, 6-foot round, 6 feet, 7 inches by 9 feet, 6 feet by 9 feet, 8-foot round, 8 feet by 10 feet, 8 feet-10 inches by 12 feet, 8 feet by 11 feet, 9 feet, 10 inches by 14 feet, 9 feet by 12 feet, 10-foot round, 10 feet by 13 feet, 10 feet by 14 feet, 12 feet by 15 feet, and 12 feet by 18 feet
- Modern styling
- Multiple size options
- Comfortable underfoot
- Made of synthetic material
- Curled at edges
Get the nuLOOM Moroccan Blythe area rug on Amazon, at The Home Depot, or at Walmart.
We left this rug out for a couple of weeks in various weather conditions—rain, snow, and sleet—and it proved very durable during our testing. The lightweight, easy-to-clean polypropylene dried well and didn’t hold on to moisture. The material won’t scratch deck and patio surfaces (though nonskid padding is recommended and sold separately). We tested it with an outdoor rug pad, and it laid mostly flat, with just a couple of ripples when wet.
Designed by fashion icon Nicole Miller, this indoor/outdoor rug has a modern geometric design that is attractive in person and well suited for differently styled spaces. We were able to easily sweep off outdoor debris and wash off dirty spots with a hose.
- Rug thickness: 0.27-inch
- Materials: Polypropylene
- Sizes available: 1-foot, 9-inch by 2 feet, 11-inch, 1-foot, 9-inch by 7 feet, 2-inch, 3 feet-11-inch by 5 feet-2-inch, 5 feet-2-inch by 7 feet-2-inch, 6.5 feet by 9 feet-2-inch, 7 feet-9-inch by 10 feet-2-inch, and 9 feet-2-inch by 12 feet-5-inch
- UV-fade resistant
- Available in 9 colorways
Get the Nicole Miller New York Patio Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug at Amazon, Wayfair, or Walmart.
Our first impression of the Kamran rug was that it was attractive and sturdy. It came with a grippy, Velcro-style pad that detaches for washing. The pad kept the rug in place, even with busy kids and a large dog running around. It was easy to vacuum and spot clean as well with a polyurethane water-resistant barrier.
The corners curled a little at first and after washing, but settled over time. This pick isn’t the best choice for shoppers looking for a plush rug underfoot. It’s pretty flat; however, it still feels soft to the touch.
We tried our Ruggable in a playroom setting, and it stood up to little feet and paws, leaving no noticeable signs of wear. The washability factor makes it an excellent choice for people with kids or pets, common culprits of spills and accidents. And yes, it really is washable. We had no problem fitting the 5×7 rug in our standard top-loading washing machine. However, reattaching the rug to the included pad can be a pain to do solo, especially with larger sizes. The effort wasn’t a deal-breaker for us, but something to keep in mind if living alone.
- Rug thickness: 0.3-inch
- Material: Polyester
- Sizes available: 2 feet by 3 feet, 3 feet by 5 feet, 4 feet by 6 feet, 5 feet by 7 feet, 6 feet by 9 feet, 8 feet by 10 feet, 9 feet by 12 feet, 2.5 feet by 7 feet, 2.5 feet by 10 feet, 6-foot round, 8-foot round
- Machine washable
- Attractive designs
- Edges curled up
- Not much cushioning
Get the Ruggable Kamran Coral rug on Ruggable.
Rugs made from recycled fibers, like the ReaLife Machine Washable Vintage Bohemian Rug, add the benefit of keeping manufactured materials out of landfills. This rug is perfect for hallways and other highly-trafficked areas and is easy to clean, making it kid- and pet-friendly.
We used this rug in an entrance hallway during testing to catch debris upon entering the house. It stayed in place while vacuuming, and the dirt came up easily. It was simple to spot-clean, and we tossed it in the washing machine for a quick wash, then air-dried it, and it came out looking new. The design has the appearance of being printed on rather than woven into fibers.
This runner comes with a built-in, nonskid backing to prevent accidental slips and falls. Tripping wasn’t an issue, but it did move around a bit in our high-trafficked area. The rug is soft but offers little cushioning with its low-pile makeup. The printed design comes in 13 colors, all distressed and pre-faded to match many decor styles.
- Rug thickness: Flat woven without pile
- Materials: Recycled polyester
- Sizes available: 2.5 feet by 6 feet, 2.5 feet by 8 feet, 3 feet by 5 feet, 4 feet by 6 feet, 5 feet by 7 feet, and 7.5 feet by 9.5 feet
- Machine washable
- Made with recycled materials
- Nonskid backing
Get the RealLife machine washable rug on Amazon or at Walmart.
Made of 100 percent cotton, this rug is both earth-friendly and attractive. We loved the Swedish Blue color, which would be well suited for a beach house and other modern spaces. However, Dash and Albert make this rug in 15 colors to match just about any decor.
Cotton area rugs can slide around, and this one is no exception, so be sure to purchase a companion gripper pad. Adding a pad underneath also added a bit of cushion to the flat cotton weave and made it much easier to vacuum.
Once unrolled, the rug laid mostly flat, curling at the ends a little the first couple days of use. The company recommends regular vacuuming with the occasional hand-washing in cold water. It stood up to our stain test, however only after we added a bit of mild soap.
- Rug thickness: 0.25-inch
- Materials: Cotton
- Sizes available: 2 feet by 3 feet, 3 feet by 5 feet, 4 feet by 6 feet, 5 feet by 8 feet, 6 feet by 9 feet, 8 feet by 10 feet, and 9 feet by 12 feet
- Attractive herringbone pattern
- Moves around without a rug pad
- Not machine washable
Get the Dash and Albert Herringbone cotton area rug at Wayfair, at AnnieSelke, or on Perigold.com.
For those looking for a high-quality rug with a timeless style, this one from Safavieh may fit the bill. This rug is built to last, made of 100 percent pure wool with a latex backing for added stability. It had a nice weight out of the bag and laid flat right away. It stayed put without the use of a rug pad and was simple to vacuum.
Inspired by 19th-century antique Persian rugs, the design is perfect for traditional spaces. We loved the colors and found the blue a bit more subdued in person than when viewed as online pictures. We noticed some light shedding of fibers after a couple of days, which vacuumed up easily. It passed our stain test with the use of a mild cleaner. However, professional cleaning is recommended for larger, deeper spots.
- Rug thickness: 0.5-inch
- Materials: Wool with latex backing
- Sizes available: 2 feet by 3 feet, 2 feet, 3 inches by 4 feet, 2 feet, 3 inches by 6 feet, 3 feet by 8 feet, 2 feet-3 inches by 10 feet, 2 feet, 3 inches by 12 feet, 2 feet, 3 inches by 14 feet, 2 feet, 3 inches by 16 feet, 2 feet, 3 inches by 18 feet, 2 feet, 3 inches by 20 feet, 2 feet, 3 inches by 22 feet, 3 feet by 5 feet, 3.5 feet by 3.5 feet, 4 feet by 4 feet, 4 feet by 6 feet, 4.5 feet by 6.5 feet, 5 feet by 8 feet, 6 feet by 6 feet, 6 feet 9 feet, 7.5 feet by 9.5 feet, 8 feet-3 inches by 11 feet, 8 feet by 8 feet, 8 feet by 10 feet, 9.5 feet by 13.5 feet, 9 feet by 12 feet, 10 feet by 10 feet, 11 feet by 15 feet, 11 feet by 16 feet, 11 feet by 17 feet, and 12 feet by 15 inch
- Made of 100 percent wool
- Perfect for traditional spaces
- Multiple size options
Get the Safavieh Antiquity Collection wool rug on Amazon, on Overstock.com, or at The Home Depot.
We chose West Elm’s Flourish Rug as our best overall pick because of its attractive design and sustainably-sourced material makeup. Another great option is Ruggable Kamran’s Coral Rug for its stylish look and simple washability.
How We Tested the Best Area Rugs
We placed each rug in the room we felt it was best suited for, including the hallway, kitchen, living room, bedroom, and playroom. Then, we noted how attractive it looked overall and if it was accurately reflected in the online photos and descriptions, observing the design, thickness, and colors.
After laying it down, we checked to see whether it laid flat or if it had any kinks of curling corners. We then left it in place for several days, noticing how comfortable it was to walk on and how well it stayed in place.
To test the ease of care, we put crumbs and flour on the rug before vacuuming to see how easily the debris came up. We squeezed some chocolate sauce on each for our stain test and let it sit for five minutes. Then, according to manufacturer directions, we cleaned the spot, taking note of the length of time and difficulty level. Finally, we let our dog and children play on the rugs to see how well they stood up to running, playing, and scratching.
Purchasing the right rug and placing it correctly is important for many reasons. A well-positioned rug can make any room look bigger, but if improperly placed it can interfere with foot traffic and furniture. Here are some answers to some popular pressing rug-related questions.
Q. What is the correct placement of an area rug?
Most often, an area rug should be placed in the middle of a room, with 1 foot of space on each side of the rug.
Q. How do you place an area rug on hardwood floors?
Make sure you purchase a rug with a natural fiber backing (as opposed to latex). This allows airflow and won’t trap moisture, which can damage wood floors. Then use a felt or rubber pad underneath the rug to keep it firmly in place.
Q. How far should a rug go under a couch?
Ideally, an area rug should extend under the front and back couch legs. If that is not possible it’s fine to place a rug so it reaches under the front legs, but not the back legs, of the couch.
Q. How long does an area rug last?
A high-quality area rug can last a lifetime, especially if it is made of natural fiber with handwoven construction.