Area Rug Shopping: The Ultimate Guide

Few things are more exciting than shopping for an area rug.

Well, maybe that's only true if you're The Dude from The Big Lebowski. As he'd tell it, a rug really has the power to pull a room together.

It's true.

A well-chosen area rug can serve as a beautiful, functional accent by highlighting a section of your household. Rugs can also bring a note of warmth, decrease wear in traffic-heavy areas and even enhance the design of a room. For those whose children or fur-babies sound like a thundering horde when they move across the floor, rugs offer a desirable muffling quality. Some of us simply want to disguise ugly flooring. For one reason or another, rugs often become the defining statement of a space.

Are you now tingling with anticipation at the thought of rug shopping? Excellent. Here's what you ought to consider:

The Lay of the Land

Location, size, color schemes and atmosphere all play a role in area rug shopping. Consider the existing environment to determine the best rug for a space.

Steer Clear of Rug Island

Especially when it comes to area rugs, it's better to go too big than too small. Avoid a lonely rug floating in the center of your floor. A bit of ruggy wisdom decrees that if it doesn't extend beyond the furniture of the room, an illusion of shrinking space is created. Choose a big rug that encompasses all the surrounding furniture for an anchored, inviting look.

Just the Right Size

In fact, you may want an area rug that covers the floor of the room. If that's the case, choose a size that is no shorter than two feet from the perimeter. This will give the room a large, open appearance.

Size should vary depending on the placement of the rug. For example, in a hallway, you want a rug that has at least half a foot of space on either side

On the other hand, if placed under a dining room table, you want a rug that extends at least a foot and a half beyond the perimeter of the table. That way, when you scoot your chair out all four legs will stay on the same surface, and you don't have to worry about wobble.

Don't Forget a Rug Pad!

A good quality pad does more than just add body to your area rug. It also keeps the rug from sliding under your feet and protect the underlying floor. Pads keep the rug from effacing hard wood, meaning it will maintain its original color longer than it otherwise would. A pad also offers another layer of protection against spills and stains and can actually extend the lifespan of your rug. If you're not sure what kind of pad is needed, or have specific size requirements, Zerorez offers pads for every surface as well as a custom cutting service that delivers the perfect fit for your rug.

Consider Color

In designing a room, choosing an area rug first can give you a major style advantage. Not only does an area rug draw the boundaries of a space, but it also creates a cohesive design by pulling all the other design elements together. If, however, your room is already set and ready, consider the color scheme.

In monochrome rooms, or those with muted colors, sometimes a bright, punchy rug can be just the right amount of zest. On the other hand, distinctly colored rooms pair best with something neutral or of the same palette.

Work the Room

Friends and family. Conversation and laughter. Trivia and board games. That's your living room, the communal heart of most homes.

Rooms have purpose. A kitchen is for cooking; a bathroom is for personal maintenance; a dining room is for meals. To be true to the spirit of a room, it's important to consider its function.

A bedroom, for instance, is for rest. If you want to create a sleep-conducive environment, consider the cool colors associated with relaxation. The rug you choose should follow suit. A light-colored, wall-to-wall rug is ideal for creating a tranquil, soft appearance. The texture of the fabric is yet another consideration. It's nice to wake up to something silky underfoot.


Remember those shag rugs from the seventies that only came in hideous colors? Most people aren't looking to have a shaved Muppet sprawled on their floors. However, texture is often overlooked when it comes shopping for an area rug. Don't miss out on the vast selection of fibers and styles available to you!


Timeless and traditional, wool is a favorite for its warmth and durability. It cleans well, comes in a range of colors and is fairly resilient when it comes to stains.

Regarding general wear, lower quality wool can be prone to balding. And while the Jean-Luc Picards and Mr. Cleans of the world prove that bald can be sexy, it's generally not a desired attribute in an area rug. Wool is generally expensive—running at least twice as much as a yard of nylon. Consider a good quality wool rug as an investment, one that is excellent for high-traffic areas.

Wool fibers also hold a lot of moisture so you wouldn't, for instance, use it in a bathroom or a kitchen. The delightful warmth and softness of a wool rug makes it ideal for a bedroom or living room.


Cotton is less expensive than wool, although it won't last as long. The best quality of a cotton rug is the ease with which it can be cleaned; it's as simple as tossing it in the washer. That makes cotton rugs ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, kid's rooms, entryways or any other place prone to spills and messes. Keep them indoors, though, because they fade in direct sunlight.


Not for the good vegetarian; but good for your inner Tarzan. Animal skins are a truly unique accent when thrown under an office desk or layered in your bedroom. They range from full hides, strips of tanned leather or hair-on-hide varieties. They're not particularly durable, but they're cozy.


Lustrous and lovely, silk is best in bedrooms or low-traffic areas. This fiber is easily damaged and requires professional cleaning, so it's often blended with other fibers to make it slightly more resilient.

Natural Fibers

Other natural fibers include sisal, jute, sea grass and even bamboo. These create rich, earthy colors and tantalizing textures. They're rarely treated with chemicals and do well in outdoor environments. However, the coarseness of some natural fiber rugs can make them challenging to clean.


A blend of man-made materials, a blend of durability and affordability. Synthetics are the ultimate family-friendly fiber. Rugs of this kind might be made from viscose, nylon or polypropylene and are resistant to moisture, sunshine and stains of all kinds. They lack the organic texture of a natural fiber, but synthetic rugs are pleasantly smooth to the touch. These area rugs do well just about anywhere, including outdoors because they are resistant to fading.


Pile Rugs

Pile refers to the height of the fiber. There are two features to consider when looking at pile rugs: length and density. Long pile (think shag carpets) has a luxuriousness to it, but short pile is easier to clean. You can still have a softness with your short pile if you're willing to invest in a decent pad. You can determine the quality of the pile by assessing the density. Grip the rug between your fingers to create a fold. In a good quality rug, you won't be able to see the base to which the fibers are attached.

Flat Weaves

When you think of carpets decorated with swirling vines, vibrant paisley, elaborate borders and bold, rich colors, you're likely thinking of a flat weave. These have a traditional appearance, and many of them are handmade. Woven carpets have no pile, and most are reversible with the pattern being visible on either side. Kilims and dhurries are two of the most common flatweave rugs. Both are ancient and traditional arts, often featuring tribal or geometric patterns.

Tip: Flat weaves are excellent for layering. Try pairing your flatweave with a neutral, natural fiber rug for striking contrast.


One of the best assets of a machine-made rug is the binding around the edges; it won't shed. They're affordable and diverse, with countless colors and designs being offered.


To keep your area rugs happy, vacuum them regularly. This varies depending on the fabric and the location, but a general rule of thumb is once per week. In rooms where pets reign, or where there's a lot of traffic, it's ideal to vacuum daily. Remember: rugs and carpets are dirty long before they look it.

Every 12-18 months, it's a good idea to have your flooring professionally serviced. Not only does this keep your home clean, it also protects your warranty. Choosing a quality company like Zerorez® ensures the longevity of your rugs. We offer effective cleaning services ranging from in-home rug and carpet cleaning all the way to in-plant full immersion washes with pick-up and delivery. For more information, or to schedule a service, call us at 818-881-5744 or visit us online at You can also visit us at 7242 Reseda Boulevard in Reseda, CA.


Book a Cleaning with Zerorez Today!