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Rugs Buying Guide

The right rug can make a world of difference to how a room looks and feels. Adding colour and texture to the floor, whether patterned or plain, rugs can transform a space and bring a whole new dimension to your décor.

Types of rug

The fabric or materials used to make a rug will play a big part in how suited it is to your needs. Finding a rug that not only looks great, but is also highly practical for the space it will occupy, is really important. We’ve explored some of the most common materials used for rugs so that you can make an informed choice on the type that you want to buy.

Wool rugs – Wool is a natural fibre and this means it makes very strong and durable rugs. Wool naturally repels moisture and is very soft underfoot. These qualities mean that woollen rugs can work really well for families, as the resilience of the fabric is essential in this type of busy environment. The wool for these rugs usually comes from sheep, but it isn’t unheard of for them to be made with alpaca wool instead. When this type of rug is new, they do tend to shed a little, but the fibres will soon settle.

Polyester/Acrylic rugs – These materials are highly versatile, so can create both long and short pile rugs. Depending on the blend of fibres, the texture of this type of rug can vary between dense and short to long and silky, and the possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to colours and patterns. These materials are very durable, so this type of rug is suited to even high traffic areas of the home.

Viscose rugs – This type of rug offers a silky texture, as the synthetic fibres have a very fine structure. Often well-suited to those with allergies to other materials, such as wool, viscose rugs have a beautiful sheen that reflects light and are generally easy to vacuum or brush clean. They are known to shed a little, but this should reduce over time.

Cotton rugs – Another natural and environmentally friendly fibre, cotton creates a tight pile when woven into rugs, which can make them look slimmer than some other fabrics, but they do offer a surface that is very soft to the touch. Cotton is a material that takes dye very well, so a huge range of shades are possible when it comes to colour. As with most rugs, they may shed a little when new, but cotton rugs generally have a lighter shed rate than many other fabrics.

Natural fibre & Jute rugs – Rugs made with jute, sisal, seagrass or kenaf are known to be highly durable and strong, which makes them perfect for high-traffic areas such as kitchens or hallways. They are easy to vacuum or brush but if you’re after a rug that is soft underfoot, this isn’t the type for you, as they have a much firmer texture than most other types of rug.

Chenille rugs – This type of rug can be made from cotton or synthetic fibres. It’s all about the luxury style and texture with this kind of rug, offering a silky and incredibly soft feeling underfoot. Chenille rugs can be quite delicate and are not generally well suited to areas of high traffic within the home.

Choosing the best colour or design of rug for your room

The rug you choose, whether it’s for a bedroom, living or dining space, should complement the colour scheme of the room, but not overwhelm it.

For example, if you have a room with strong patterns already on the walls or furniture, a plain or block-coloured rug may suit the room best.

If your room is decorated in fairly neutral shades, a rug in a brighter hue can really lift the whole space, and everything can be tied together with complementary accessories, such as cushions, throws and curtains. Alternatively, your rug doesn’t necessarily need to have bright colours to make a real style statement; a rug with a bold monochrome look can make a great focal point for the room.

Long pile and extra fluffy rugs may look luxurious and feel fantastically warm, soft and cosy, but aren’t always the most practical choice of rug for higher traffic areas. Shorter pile rugs, made of durable materials, should stay looking great for longer in these types of settings, and are often easier to clean and care for.

Other considerations when buying a new rug

Size – As rugs can be used for a number of different purposes, from a feature piece, to linking two rooms together, or zoning a space, the size that you choose, as well as where you position it, can be really important.

Large rugs, that reach up to (or close to) the walls, can actually make rooms appear smaller than they are, but rugs that are too small can look a little lost in a room with chunky furniture.

Rugs generally come in a wide range of sizes, from small (usually around 120x180cm) to extra-large (up to around 200x300cm) and you can also get runners (usually approx. 75x250cm) for long, narrow spaces, such as hallways, or for sectioning off larger rooms into zones.

Ease of cleaning and care – Due to their placement on the floor and the hustle and bustle of busy households, rugs sometimes are subject to spills and trapping dirt or dust in the fibres. Therefore, whatever your rug type or the materials it is made of, you’ll need to be aware of the best way to clean and care for it, so it looks its best for longer. Always check the care instructions provided with your rug.

Rug care tips include:

  • Vacuum new rugs regularly to minimise shedding and fluffing
  • Deal with spills or stains as quickly as possible to minimise the chances of them taking hold in the fabric. Blotting spillages rather than rubbing is best. Apply gentle cleaning agents to the cloth and not the rug directly.
  • If you have pets, use rubber gloves to help remove pet hairs from your rug, along with vacuuming using a pet-hair attachment (if available)
  • Don’t place the rug in an area where it will be hit by direct sunlight, as this will usually cause fading and uneven discolouration
  • If using the rug underneath furniture, use cups under the legs or castors to prevent damage

Non-slip precautions – If your rug is sitting on hard flooring, you will need to ensure that it doesn’t become a slip hazard. This can be a real issue in households with young children, the elderly or pets. You can purchase non-slip backing for rugs which will minimise their movement and help to make them safer for everyone.

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