Understanding Area Rugs: Materials and Construction

To be able to choose the right rug, it helps to be familiar with the different kinds of materials and weaves.  Here we break it down for you.

The most common materials for rugs are wool, cotton, acrylic, nylon, polypropylene, and hemp.  There’s also silk and cashmere, but those are rare.

Wool is the finest and priciest.  It keeps its shape and resists dirt better than any other fiber, so it holds up better under traffic and is more easily cleaned once soiled.

Cotton is a good choice because it is natural and lightweight (great if you move furniture often).

Acrylic fibers resemble wool, but they don’t hold their shape as well over the long run.  They are less expensive than wool and they are a great alternative for those who are allergic to wool.

Nylon is one of the most popular, well-priced fibers used for carpeting today.  It wears well and holds up under lots of traffic.

Polypropylyne (olefin) and Polyethylene (PET) are stain and water resistant, so they’re frequently used to make outdoor area rugs.

Sisal, sea grass, coir, and jute all come from the fiber of the hemp plant.  They’re beloved by designers because they’re neutral and add texture without competing with anything else in the room.  If you choose one of these, clean up spills as soon as they happen.

Now that you’ve chosen your material, let’s turn over to our friends at Dash & Albert to give us a primer on the different weaves available.


Woven cotton rugs are durable enough to stand up to the heavy traffic of a kitchen or hallway, but also soft enough for the bedroom, nursery, or family room.  They are reversible, affordable and lightweight, so they’re great if you like to rearrange furniture often.


Fair Isle Red/Ivory Woven Cotton Rug

Woven chenille rugs are made from a combination of cotton and cotton chenille for plushness and softness. Like woven cotton rugs, they’re lightweight and reversible.  Woven chenille rugs are great for low- to medium-traffic areas where you want a little more cushion underfoot, such as guest rooms, hallways, and home offices.

Ikat Blue Woven Chenille Rug

Ikat Blue Woven Chenille Rug

Hooked cotton rugs are hand hooked by skilled artisans from scrap jersey fabric or yarn, giving them a springy, looped construction that feels bouncy underfoot.


Kaledo Green Hooked Cotton Rug

With hooked cotton rugs, the size of the hook and fabric loops is important in determining where to place your rug. Chindi large and medium hooked rugs are high-profile and very plush, so they’re well-suited for living rooms, bedrooms, and family spaces.  If you’re looking for that same cushy feel with a lower profile and a more detailed pattern, go with chindi micro-hooked and yarn hooked rugs. These are great in offices, dining rooms, and even stairs!


Woven Wool Rugs

With a rougher hand and a dense, durable construction, woven wool rugs have a natural earthen charm and rustic texture. Woven by hand from 100 percent wool yarns, these rugs work best in low-traffic areas like guest rooms, home offices, and sitting areas.  They are lightweight and reversible.


Lenox Charcoal Wool Woven Rug

Soumak Woven Wool Rugs

Sophisticated and unusual, soumak wool rugs are crafted by braiding the weft yarn around an additional warp, so they have a more textured surface than their wool woven counterparts, and feature a dynamic pattern with lots of visual movement. Soumak woven wool rugs are for indoor use only, and work well in living rooms, bedrooms, and home offices.


Joya Soumak Wool Ven Rug

Hooked wool rugs require little maintenance and get better with age.  The size of the hook and the yarns will help determine where to use your rug. Micro-hooked wool rugs are made with smaller wool yarns in tight hooks that create a low-profile rug, so they are perfect for high-traffic areas, including hallways, entryways, stairs, kitchens and mudrooms.  Medium-hooked wool rugs, crafted from four to five plies of thick wool yarn in large hooks, feature a higher profile, making them ideal for bedrooms and living rooms.


Skylar Hooked Wool Rug

Tufted & Carved Wool Rugs

Full and lush, tufted and carved wool rugs are a true treat for the feet! Thick wool yarns are hand hooked in intricate designs, and then sheared to create a lush pile. The pile is then hand carved along the design, creating an area rug with a truly luxurious feel. The wool rug weave with the highest, cushiest profile, tufted and carved wool rugs are at home in living rooms, dining rooms, and master bedrooms.


Essex Indigo Tufted/Carved Wool Rug

Hand-Knotted Wool Rugs

Crafted by only the most skilled artisans, hand-knotted wool rugs are timeless investment pieces. Because of their unusual weave, hand-knotted rugs can appear lighter from one angle than the other—an optical illusion that’s part of their appeal. Plush and sumptuous, these area rugs are perfect for rooms where the rug is the star: living rooms, bedrooms, nurseries, and playrooms.

Massena Indigo Hand-Knotted Rug

Massena Indigo Hand-Knotted Rug

Kilim woven wool rugs feature weft-created, geometric patterns; knotting creates an open weave that gives more definition and dimension to the pattern, while interweaving creates a softer pattern with intermingled colors. Durable, bold, and low-profile, these showstopping kilim rugs are natural for any room that could use some pattern, including bedrooms, dining rooms, and family spaces.


Canyon Kilim Wool Woven Rug


Woven Indoor/Outdoor Rugs

Made of nearly indestructible, UV-treated polypropylene, indoor/outdoor rugs are terrific for high-traffic areas: kids’ rooms, sunrooms, decks, and porches; and any floor that gets wet—like the bathroom, the kitchen, or the basement. And of course, indoor/outdoor rugs are ideal for homes with pets.

Small indoor/outdoor rugs are great for shoes, play mats, cargo-area covers in the car, and even  food bowl mats for pets.

There are three types of woven indoor/outdoor rugs: flat weave, diamond, and dhurrie.

Classic flat weave indoor/outdoor rugs are hand-woven, with extruded poly yarns making up the warp and weft. The technique results in an array of patterns and happy stripes that make fun additions to frequent-cleanup areas like playrooms and crafting spaces.


Lighthouse Denim Indoor/Outdoor Rug

Diamond woven indoor/outdoor rugs are very similar to their flat-weave companions, except that they’re hand-woven on a jacquard loom, with the weft skipping specific warps to create their distinct diamond pattern. The eye-catching geometric is a star performer in areas where you want visual interest but still need durability, such as the entryway, the hallway, or the man cave. Bonus: geometric patterns can help camouflage everyday dirt, so if you haven’t quite gotten around to vacuuming, they’ll still look handsome for a few more days.


Diamond Light Blue Indoor/Outdoor Rug

 With a tighter, smaller weave, dhurrie woven indoor/outdoor rugs have the lowest profile of all the woven indoor/outdoors. In a variety of preppy stripes and chevron patterns, their ultralight weight make them ideal for spaces where you may want a durable floor covering with minimal height, such as the basement or the stairs.

Chevron Denim Indoor/Outdoor Rug

Woven Rope Indoor/Outdoor Rugs

The thickest of the indoor/outdoor weaves, woven rope indoor/outdoor rugs are the superheroes of high-traffic areas, fighting mud, food, and crimes of spillage at every corner. Poly yarns are knit into sturdy rope that is then hand constructed into a high-profile rug that’s lightweight and flexible, so rolling it up and transporting it is no problem. Their sturdiness and braided texture make rope indoor/outdoor rugs ideal for entryways or mudrooms. Or place one outside your front door as a welcoming doormat. Colorful rope rugs can also brighten up outdoor spaces, such as the patio, deck, porch, gazebogarage, and even the boat, without having to worry about weather or sun damage.

Rope What Woven Indoor/Outdoor Rug


PET (Polyethylene) Indoor/Outdoor Rugs

With their soft, pliable texture that is often mistaken for wool, PET indoor/outdoor rugs are just right for high-traffic areas that require a more sophisticated look. Made of recycled polyester, these area rugs are durable, washable, eco-friendly décor pieces that come in a variety of beautiful patterns and versatile hues. They’re lovely additions to the porch or patio (no need to worry about the sun, they’re UV-treated for fade resistance!), but also blend right in to more formal spaces like the living room, dining room, or bedroom.

Max PET Indoor/Outdoor Rug

Max PET Indoor/Outdoor Rug

Visit us to see our entire selection of solid, striped, geometric, patterned and indoor/outdoor rugs.  Also, don’t forget to pick up a rug pad.

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