Area Rugs Buying Guide

Want to redecorate but don't know where to start? Work from the ground up by adding a new area rug to your room. Whether you're looking for a traditional Persian rug or a modern carpet runner, we've got you covered. We'll even remind you to buy the rug pad.

Lifestyle image of a living room with a grey patterned area rug on the floor
Vibrantly patterned area rug with a circle motif resting on a dark coloured hardwood floor surrounded by white furniture.
A printed jute area rug with a blue background and white and lime green flowers resting beneath some patio furniture on a backyard deck.

Area Rugs

Redecorating a room doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition. Try adding a new area rug to your space for an easy update. Whether you're looking to tie everything together with a subtle pattern or add a jolt of colour to liven things up, we've got your floor covered from carpet pad to shag.

How Much Rug Do You Need?

Measure the space where your rug will be. This will help you avoid buying an area rug that's too big or too small. Most rugs come in multiple sizes, but it's no use falling in love with one only to find out it doesn't come in the size you need.

Tip: A good rule of thumb is to leave at least 8 inches of floor exposed around the perimeter of your area rug.

Area Rug Sizes

Area Rug Size

To determine the size of the area rug you need, try laying out a bed sheet to get an idea of the amount of floor space you want your rug to cover. Measure the area covered by the sheet and use those measurements as a rough estimate for your area rug. 

Decorating with Area Rugs 

  • Use rugs of different patterns within the same room as long as the colours coordinate.
  • Select rugs of different shapes and sizes to create more interest and contrast. Using two rugs of the same size may divide the room in half. Octagonal or circular rugs add a unique touch to a room, and runners are great for hallways and other narrow and/or high traffic areas.

What Is Pile Height & Why is it Important?

A rug can have a variety of pile heights. Pile heights can vary, anywhere from 1/4-inch for flat woven area rugs, to 1/2-in. for medium pile rugs. High pile or shag area rugs tend to be ¾ in. or longer. Whether it's a short pile or high, it all refers to the thickness of a rug measured in length from the backing to the surface.

A key rule to follow is that high traffic areas in your home can benefit from a rug with some density. Short-pile rugs, on the other hand, are easier to maintain and will generally last longer. If you use a rug underneath your furniture, be aware that high-pile rugs can be vulnerable to indentations and marks from table legs or chairs.

Note: Be careful in cleaning your rug, especially ones with a higher pile height such as shag rugs. The fibres may get caught in your vacuum's rotating barrel, so it is best to either turn that off or use an attachment without one.

A flat pile rug made of jute and cotton resting on a hardwood floor.
Close up of a flat pile jute rug, that shows a braided construction.

Flat Area Rugs

Pile height up to 1/4-in.

Low Pile Area Rugs

Pile height between 1/4-in. to 3/4-inch.

A low pile area rug with a green and gold motif resting upon a hardwood floor
Close up of a low pile area rug with a green and white motif
A white high pile area rug resting on a dark hardwood floor
A hand pushed deep within the grey and white pile of a shag area rug

High Pile Area Rugs

Pile height of 3/4-in. or more.

How To Decorate With Area Rugs

Decorating with area rugs is fun and easy. Just follow a few simple rules and your decor will be the envy of the neighbourhood. 

Rule 1

  • Colours in your area rug don't have to match the colours in the room but at least one shade should coordinate.
  • Lighter-coloured rugs make a room seem more spacious.
  • Darker colours in the rug bring a cozy atmosphere to a room.


Rule 2

Take into account patterns on the furniture and walls in your room, so they don't compete with the rug. If you have furniture 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.

Rule 3

If your area rug will serve as the visual focal point of the room, choose one designed with a central medallion. The motif will catch the eye and draw it to that part of the room. However, if there's another obvious central point, for example a fireplace, go with a more repetitive pattern.

Know Your Area Rug Fibre

Area rugs are constructed from a variety of different fibres that can affect how you clean them and their longevity. Discover which ones are best for you and your lifestyle.

Polyester Area Rugs

  • Synthetic fibre.
  • Non-allergenic.
  • Resistant to stains and mildew.


Cotton Area Rugs

  • Natural fibre.
  • Versatile, durable and soft.
  • Easy to clean, with many being machine washable.


Nylon Area Rugs

  • Synthetic fibre.
  • Durable and versatile.
  • Easy to clean and great for areas with heavy foot traffic.


Polypropylene Area Rugs

  • Most stain-resistant synthetic fibre available.
  • Less expensive than other fibres.
  • Repels water and is impervious to most stains.


Wool Area Rugs

  • Natural, durable, soft, and repels water.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Prone to shedding and colour fading, so take the amount of sunlight and foot traffic of the room into account when making this choice.


Why Do I Need a Rug Pad For My Area Rug?

Rug pads keep your area rug properly positioned, preventing it from slipping and sliding. Rug pads also:

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

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

How to Place an Area Rug in a Room

Area Rugs for the Entryway

Entrances are a high traffic area, so you want a rug that's durable and easy to clean. Consider purchasing one made of wool, cotton, or nylon that is slightly wider than your front door. This way, more than one person can stand upon it as they enter or leave the house. A 2 by 4 ft. to 3 by 5 ft. area rug will work perfectly for an entryway; but carpet runners work equally well.

Most entryway rugs have non-skid backing, so you don't have to worry about slipping and sliding when you walk in after a cold, wet walk.

Area Rugs for Living Room Areas

Area rugs for the living room are typically 4 by 6 ft. or 5 by 7 ft. Rugs of this size work well under coffee tables 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 that space. In order to accent the furniture effectively, leave some flooring exposed between the area rug and the furnishings.

Area Rugs for the Dining Room

Measure the length and width of your table, then add at least 4 ft. to each to get the dimensions of the area rug you need. Most dining room areas require at least an 8 ft. wide area rug.

When people are seated at the table, the chair legs shouldn't fall off the edge of the rug, or when they are pulling the chairs away from the table to seat themselves. This could cause undo wear and tear on the area rug, create snags that people could trip over, or an uncomfortably unbalanced chair.

Area Rugs for an Entire Room

When placing a room-sized area rug, make sure to 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 to keep everything balanced. It's OK if the the front legs of the furniture are on the rug and the back legs are off, so long as the piece is stable.

Learning the Lingo

Here are some terms to eliminate confusion from your shopping trip, so you can focus on what's pretty:

  • 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.
  • Hand-hooked: The weaver pushes a hooking tool through the foundation cloth to the front of the rug and 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

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