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The Ultimate Area Rug Shopping, Sizing and Styling Guide

The Ultimate Area Rug Shopping, Sizing and Styling Guide

Everything about a rug can influence the design of your home. You need some new area rugs, but how do you know it will fit in your room? It’s easy to fall for a beautiful rug, only to discover that the material or pattern just isn’t right for the room. Plus, there are tons of other questions to address when adding a rug to your home. Does the furniture go on top of the rug or around it? What color or material should you look for? How can a rug be washable – and just how big of a washable area rug can you squeeze into a washing machine? Whether you’re looking for options that are easy to clean, stain-resistant or waterproof, or you want a stylish pattern or color you love, we’re here to help you with all your questions about rug sizes, materials, patterns and more.

Common Rug Sizes

Size matters. It can be difficult to choose the right size rug, especially because rugs can be made in all shapes and sizes, not just standard sizes. When you start looking for a rug, the first thing you should decide is the size. The most popular rug sizes are 5′ x 7′, 8′ x 10’ and 3′ x 5′ but, of course, you will want to find the rug that fits your space and needs. Which size you choose depends on the look you’re going for and the function of the room.

While rugs are made in all sizes, you’ll most commonly find rugs in these standard dimensions:

  • 9′ x 12′
  • 8′ x 10′
  • 6′ x 9′
  • 5′ x 7′
  • 4′ x 6′
  • 3′ x 5′ (also known as a scatter rug)
  • 3′ x 12′ (runner)

Rug Shapes

The next thing to consider when shopping for a rug is the shape that would go best in your room. The most common shape is rectangular, but rugs can be found in square, oval, round, runner and hide (natural) shapes.

Rectangular rugs: Most area rugs on the market will be rectangles. The most common rectangular rug sizes are 5′ x 7’, 8′ x 10′ and 9′ x 12′.

Square rugs: The sizes of square area rugs can vary from 3′ x 3′ to 10′ x 10′. The boxy shape of a square rug can end up creating a unique statement look in your room.

Circle or oval rugs: Round or oval rugs are often used under round tables or in spaces where you want to be able to see the floor, such as in entryways. A circular rug is also helpful to break up straight lines in your space or in irregularly shaped rooms.

Scatter rugs: Sometimes called a throw rug or an accent rug, these 3′ x 5′ rugs can be used in small areas to provide extra comfort.

Runners: Runners come in a variety of sizes, typically between 1′ 8″ to 2′ wide and approximately 2x or 3x longer than they are wide. They can be found in a variety of sizes like 2′ x 7′ or 3′ x 12′. There isn’t a standard size for runners, so be sure to measure your space and compare with the product details. These long and thin rugs are placed in hallways, kitchens, or other areas of the home where space is narrow.

Unconventional shapes: There are also fun, irregular-shaped accent rugs that can add an undeniable personality to your room. For example, look for a semi-circle rug in rainbow colors to go in kid’s room or choose a wavy, pastel rug in your office for a funky vibe.

How To Determine What Size Area Rug You Need

  1. Use painter’s tape to outline the area you’d like to cover.
  2. Measure.
  3. Pick the rug size closest to your measurement.

Zulily Shopping Tip: Round Up to the Closest Size

It’s important to note that the actual size of rugs may vary by up to three or four inches on either side by manufacturer, despite their listed size, due to differences in printing and cutting.

We want you to know exactly what you’ll get so there are no surprises. You’ll notice when you’re shopping for rugs on Zulily that the exact measurements of the rugs are published on the product detail pages. Simply round up to the nearest size above to determine the standard size. For example, a rug that measures 4′ 10″ x 7′ 6″ is essentially a 5′ x 8′ rug.

Bedroom Rug

Rug Styling Tips

5 Ways Area Rugs Can Change a Room

  • Define your space: A rug can help define areas, such as the dining room, living room or a play area.
  • Make a room feel larger: The larger the rug, the larger the room can feel. Use this optical illusion to make your room feel bigger.
  • Unify your décor: If a room just doesn’t feel complete, an area rug might be the missing piece. Choose a rug that mixes well with your décor with similar colors or patterns.
  • Keep the room fresh: If you like to change up the décor of your room every so often, a new rug is a great way to get a new look. Keep your larger pieces of furniture the same and add an area rug to quickly make an old space feel new again.
  • Insulation: Rugs will help keep your space warm by absorbing sound and heat.

Rug Layout And Positioning Guide

A rug that’s too small or too big for a room is one of the most common decorating mistakes. Follow these quick tips to position your area rug (and furniture) comfortably and correctly:

  • In bedrooms, allow 30″ of rug on each side of the bed.
  • Allow at least 4″ between the rug and wall (ideally between 10″ to 20″).
  • Allow 36″ between furniture for walkways.
  • Allow 18″ between a seat and coffee table.
  • Allow at least 12″ of rug under your sofa.
  • In a dining area, allow enough rug space to move chairs in and out and still have them on the rug.
  • If layering rugs, try layering two different size rugs in complementary colors and the same thickness.
  • Think beyond the rectangle: look for irregularly shaped rugs like a cowhide, faux fur, oval, or round.

Where To Put the Furniture: On the Rug or Surrounding It?

While you’re planning your room with your new area rug, figuring out where to put your furniture can be one of the most difficult tasks. The good news is there are no rules. It’s your space so do what you want. In your dining room, for example, make sure the rug extends beyond the chairs so it’s easier to move them in and out from the table.

Rug Sizes Chart

To help you better envision your space as you shop for area rugs, we created this rug layout guide to show you the many ways you can lay out your room with a new rug.

Bedroom Rug Layout Infographic by Zulily

Download the Rug Layout Guide

What To Look For When Buying Rugs Online

An area rug can define a space, but how do you figure out exactly what you’re looking for? When shopping for area rugs, the terminology can be overwhelming and confusing. While browsing, keep placement, usage, and look and feel in mind. To help you get exactly what you want, we’ve supplied you with information to decode and understand the rug-buying terms:

  1. Which rug materials work best according to foot traffic, usage, construction and maintenance
  2. What “pile” and height means
  3. Which shapes of area rugs you’re most likely to find
  4. How styles, colors and patterns can enhance your spaces
  5. Exact measurements of the rug

Consider Foot Traffic

High-traffic areas include hallways, family rooms, entryways and the kitchen. Durable and stain-resistant rugs are best for these spaces.

Medium-traffic rooms get regular use, but aren’t main walkways in your home, such as dining rooms and offices.

Low-traffic spaces include bedrooms, formal living or dining rooms and guest bedrooms. Rugs in these rooms will get the least wear and tear, so don’t be afraid to go with more luxurious or softer materials and lighter colors.

Consider How the Rug is Made

There are a variety of terms related to the construction of rugs. Construction refers to how a rug is made, which will determine the look, texture, quality and longevity of your rug. Here’s what they mean.

Hand-tufted: Hand-tufted area rugs are the most expensive type of rug because each rug is handmade with a tool called a tufting gun.

Hand-knotted: Hand-knotted rugs are made with a specially designed loom using natural fiber like wool or silk and by meticulously tying every single knot by hand.

Flat-woven: Flat woven rugs are woven on a rug loom by weaving vertical yarns through the horizontal yarns. Because they are not woven onto a backing, the rugs are reversible and do not have a pile. Soumak, Dhurrie, kilim and braided are all types of flat weave rugs.

Machine-made: Machine-made rugs are a cheaper alternative to the hand-tufted style, made on large machines called power looms. A power loom is electrically automated and controlled by computers to quickly manufacture rugs with materials like synthetic fibers such as polypropylene, nylon, polyester and acrylic.

Different Rug Sizes

Get Floored By Zulily’s Rug Selection

Types of Rug Materials

It’s important to consider rug material as you’re shopping for your new rug. Think about where you’re putting the rug, how your space is used, how much foot traffic the rug will get, and what vibe you’re going for. Are you interested in a natural fiber rug like wool, cotton, or jute?  A cozy, plush rug, or a durable rug for high-traffic areas? Or are you more interested in a budget-friendly synthetic rug made from nylon or polypropylene that can take spills and muddy paw prints? Your lifestyle and maintenance should be the two most important factors in choosing a rug that’s right for you.

Wool Rugs

Durable, soft and insulating: Wool is a natural, luxurious, long-lasting material for area rugs. As the most common material for rugs, wool is durable, resilient, stain and water repellent. It also provides excellent insulation and a soft feel on your feet. They will be more of an investment, but they will last longer if cared for correctly.

Eco-friendly: Pure wool carpet is made with no chemicals or additives, which makes it an excellent choice for those with allergies or sensitivities to chemicals. It also doesn’t harbor dust mites or encourage bacterial growth.

High-maintenance care and cleaning: As a natural material, wool can be prone to damage from mold and mildew. Wool rugs do require more maintenance compared to synthetic fiber rugs. Wool rugs must be professionally cleaned by cleaners who have experience in working with wool carpets. And keep in mind that wool rugs will shed for the first few months. Vacuum wool rugs once or twice a week with gentle suction along the pile (not against it). Trim any tufts of wool that emerge (do not pull!).

Best for: High-traffic areas like living rooms and dining rooms.

Cotton Rugs

Versatile: Cotton rugs are great for high-traffic areas because they are flat-woven and are low to the ground. These rugs are a popular choice because of their versatility: with so many sizes, colors, patterns and pile heights, the options are endless. Woven cotton rugs generally do well in just about any room.

Easy care: Cotton rugs are super easy to care for. A good shake and regular vacuuming are all that’s needed to keep them looking great. For a deeper clean, hand wash with cold water or opt for professional cleaning if the rug is larger. 100% cotton rugs can be thrown in the washing machine, washed on cold, then air-dried to minimize shrinking.

Best for: High-traffic rooms like a kitchen or hallway, but also soft enough underfoot for the bedroom, nursery, or family room

Natural Fiber Rugs

Textural: Rugs made of natural fiber like jute, sisal, hemp, or sea grass are eco-friendly. The fibers are spun together into weaves or braids that are durable and provide textured comfort.

Stylish: Because of their neutral color, natural fiber rugs are extremely versatile in style; they look great in coastal-style homes but still look amazing in contemporary and traditional homes. They also add incredible texture to your room and can be layered beautifully with other rugs.

The downside: Some natural fiber rugs, like sisal, are rougher on bare feet. Jute, sea grass and hemp are soft underfoot and a lot more durable than sisal.

Best for: Kitchens, bathrooms, or living rooms

Polypropylene Rugs

Easy care and indestructible: For an almost indestructible material, look for rugs made of polypropylene. Polypropylene fibers are made to look exactly like wool or other common rug fibers. The fiber is machine-woven into rugs that look the same but come with the added benefit of being more affordable. Polypropylene repels water, holds its color well and won’t fade in the sun. If you have pets, a polypropylene rug is a smart choice. Indoor/outdoor polypropylene can be washed with soap and water or hosed down outside, then hung to dry.

Best for: High-traffic areas, inside or outside. These rugs are also ideal for damp environments such as basements, waterfront homes, etc.

Nylon Rugs

Soft, durable and resistant to stains. Nylon is the strongest synthetic fiber, and it is the most popular of carpet fibers — about two-thirds of all synthetic carpets are made of nylon. If you’re looking for a rug with bright colors and patterns, nylon would be a good option for you. It’s resistant to dirt and spills, making it ideal if you have pets or little ones running around.

Cost-effective: Nylon rugs are soft to the touch like wool, perfect if you’re looking for a cost-effective rug with a similar feel.

Best for: High-traffic areas

Faux Hide Rugs

Cowhides and leather have been used as floor coverings for centuries. You can find a faux hide rug in a natural shape, popular for its style and durability. Faux-sheepskin rugs have a soft, shaggy feel on your feet.

Best for: Low- to medium-traffic areas

Low Pile Living Room Rug

A low-pile rug in a pattern can help hide spills and dirt in a high-traffic living space

Beige High Pile Living Room Rug

A high-pile rug in a light color can add a cozy, spacious feel to brighten your space.

Rug Height and Pile

A rug’s pile indicates the density of fibers, or the thickness of the rug. It goes in hand with pile height, which is the length the rug fibers measured from the surface of a rug to its backing. For example, a flat rug has a low or short pile; a shaggy rug has a high pile height. Plush, shaggy rugs with a thick, high pile will feel cozy on your feet while a low pile will be flat and better in areas with more foot traffic.

When deciding on rug pile height, consider where you want your rug to go, how much foot traffic that area has, if you have children and/or pets, and if any furniture will sit on the rug.

Zulily Shopping Tip: Height = Thickness

When shopping on Zulily for rugs, you’ll see a measurement for rug thickness; this is the same as rug pile height. For example, one of the common bullet points on the product page could look like “.5″ thick” which means the rug is .5″ high.

Low-pile area rugs

  • Less than 1/4″ high
  • Easy to maintain and vacuum; great for kids and pets
  • Best for high-traffic areas and lots of wear and tear
  • Great for dining rooms to easily move chairs in and out

Medium-pile area rugs

  • 1/4″ to 1/2″ high
  • Add warmth and insulation
  • Easy to maintain
  • Cozier than low-pile rug
  • Easier to vacuum with less dirt getting trapped in it than high-pile carpet

High-pile area rugs

  • 1/2″ and higher
  • Cozy and luxurious on your feet
  • Create an ambiance of comfort
  • Best for low-traffic areas, like a bedroom or home office
  • Can flatten over time and trap dirt easily

Rug Styles, Colors and Patterns

An area rug helps anchor and establish the mood of a room along with wall color, art and furniture. While aesthetic preferences should lead the way, there are a few tips to help guide you as you shop for a new rug. You can pick a rug that stands out or blends in, depending on your personal style.

Rug Styles

Not only do area rugs provide warmth, absorb sound, and protect your floors, they are also an important design element to show off your style. If your furniture features a print, don’t be afraid to add a print on your rug, too. Look for a pattern that is a different size than the pattern on your furniture and pick at least one unifying color.

  • Traditional (Persian, Oriental, dhurries, kilims, etc.)
  • Modern
  • Moroccan
  • Animal print
  • Geometric
  • Floral
  • Natural (jute, sisal, etc.)
  • Tufted

Rug Colors

The color of your area rug can influence the feeling of your space. For example, yellow, orange or red hues add warmth while cool colors like blues and greens create calm. A rug in a pop of color is a great way to add personality to your room.

Dark colors make your room feel smaller or more intimate. In addition to absorbing light, dark area rugs also absorb more heat and can be helpful for keeping your room warm, if you’re in a cool climate.

Light colors help make a smaller room appear larger, brighter, and more spacious. Think pastels, neutrals and off-white. Another tip that designers love: a lighter color on a dark floor will really lighten up your space.

Rug Patterns

A vibrant print rug will hide dirt and messes that accumulate every day. The right print might even mean you can go a little longer before vacuuming. Perfect for high-traffic areas, or for families with pets and kids.

Consider the types of furniture you have in your home. If you have bulky furniture, consider a rug with an all-over pattern that can still be viewed when the furniture covers it. If you have furniture with exposed legs, choose a rug with a statement design element on it to show off the full pattern of the rug.

When mixing and matching colors, use colors that have the same hue and intensity. If you live in a small space, consider a tone-on-tone pattern or a solid color, because patterns can clutter a small room. If you have a large room, you can put the same pattern in different sizes in the same room.

Best Area Rugs For Every Room of Your House

Figuring out the best rug for any room can be a very personal decision. It really depends on the size of your room and your needs. Use these tips to give your room an instant makeover with a new rug. You can also define separate spaces by layering area rugs.

Rug Sizes for Living Room/Family Room

Living room rugs can be any dimension that fits your space, but the most common sizes are 5′ × 7′, 8′ × 10′ or 9′ × 12′.

  • If your living room gets a lot of use, opt for an area rug in a durable material like wool or cotton, with a low pile.
  • Depending on the size and layout of your living room, you can go with a rectangular, square, or circular area rug. A patterned rug or darker rug will help mask any stains or dirt.
  • You can place furniture all the way on the rug, partially on the rug, or off the rug completely.
Living Room Rug Layout Infographic by Zulily

Bedroom Area Rugs

Area rugs in bedrooms provide a cozy ambiance, absorb sounds, and frame the bed.

  • Allow at least 30” of rug on each side of the bed for a border to set your feet on when you get in and out of bed.
  • Pick a shag or high pile for a comfortable foot feel when you get out of bed.

Rug sizes FOR BEDROOMS, based on bed size

Bed Size Rug Size
Twin

4′ x 6′

5′ x 7′

8′ x 10′

2 runners

Queen/Full

8′ x 10′

9′ x 12′

6′ x 9′

2 runners

King

8′ x 10′

9′ x 12′

 

Bedroom Rug Layout Infographic by Zulily

Dining Room

For a dining room that gets a lot of foot traffic, look for a low-pile rug in a pattern or dark color to hide spills.

  • For chairs to slide in and out comfortably on the rug, make sure it’s at least one foot (12 inches) bigger than each side of the table.
  • Most dining rooms can accommodate an 8′ x 10′ or 9′ x 12′ rug.
Dining Room Rug Layout Infographic by Zulily

Kitchen

A low- to medium-pile height of ¼ inch or less is more practical in the kitchen because it can be cleaned easily.

  • Look for a patterned rug or something in a dark color to hide stains. Sizing will depend on the size of your kitchen.
  • A scatter rug (3′ x 5′) or runner in the kitchen will help create a comfortable space to stand while cooking or doing dishes.

Bathroom

Many people use area rugs in their bathroom, especially in front of the sink. Materials should be absorbent and easy to care for. Bathmats are oftened used as area rugs in bathrooms, and just like area rugs, come in textiles that can make a difference in your home.

  • Bathmats come in a variety of sizes, but the most common is 2′ x 3′.
  • Look for a microfiber bathmat that’s soft and absorbent, has a good grippy backing, and is washable.

Nursery

In a nursery, look for an area rug that’s comfortable enough for baby to crawl and play on and is also easy to clean.

  • Go for natural fibers like cotton or wool for baby’s sensitive skin.
  • A low-pile rug will be easy to vacuum.
  • Round-shaped rugs with cute patterns can be sweet and cozy for this space.

Entryways and hallways

  • Look for a low-pile in dark patterns or neutrals to hide dirt for high-traffic entries and hallways.
  • Most runners are about 2′ x 7′ – but these can also come in a variety of sizes.
My Magic Carpet Runner Rug

Outdoor Area Rug Guide

For patios and outdoor spaces:

  • Look for woven recycled plastic rugs and rugs that specify outdoor fabrics. They are also easy to care for because they can be hosed down as needed.
  • Many indoor/outdoor area rugs have a low pile (1/4″ thick or less).
  • Rug sizes will depend on the size of your deck, materials and what sort of weather protection or covering you have over the rug.

Rug Care and Cleaning

Be honest with yourself about how much work you are willing to put into the care, cleaning, and maintenance of your area rugs. Rugs should be vacuumed one to two times a week and rotated every few months to ensure they are wearing evenly. Additionally, area rugs should be deep cleaned once or twice per year. The average lifespan of an area rug is approximately 3 to 10 years, depending on the material and how well you care for it. As mentioned above, patterned rugs, especially, can be more forgiving if you’re not likely to be vacuuming as frequently.

Washable Rug Options

With a rug that’s completely washable, you have an excellent choice for decorating high-traffic areas and keeping your floors clean. They make excellent options for those with kids or pets because they can be washed in many at-home washing machines, in large commercial washers, or even hosed down outside.

Most washable rugs are made of synthetic materials like polyester and polypropylene (some are even made from recycled plastic bottles). The advantage of washable rugs is more than just decorative; they can be used over and over, plus they also help reduce waste that ends up in landfills and cost less money in the long run. The cost of professionally cleaning a rug can be hundreds of dollars – sometimes the price of a new rug! Instead, go for a piece that you can wash yourself and reuse again and again.

My Magic Carpet Rug Back

My Magic Carpet rugs have an inner waterproof lining and an anti-slip webbed backing that lasts up to 30 or more washes.

My Magic Carpet Rug in Washing Machine
What’s so magical about My Magic Carpet? You can wash them! Yep, just throw them in your washing machine to clean.

How to Clean Your Washable Rugs

Always read care instructions very carefully. To wash, put your rug in the washing machine and set to cold water on a delicate cycle, using mild detergent. You can also add your favorite fabric softener to remove wrinkles, if needed. Do not use bleach. Machine dry separately on low heat or air-dry. Avoid high heat settings and remove promptly to avoid creases. Lay carpet out as soon as possible to prevent wrinkles, and do not use an iron.

Washable rugs are good to include anywhere in your house, especially kitchen, bath, and entryways that get a lot of foot traffic.

Rug Pads

Most area rugs have the same material on both sides, so if you’re putting your rug on wood or laminate flooring, it will likely slip. This is where a rug grip pad comes in. Rug pads help to protect the floor, keep the rug from slipping, and provide more padding.

You can also extend the life of your rug with a rug pad. Most rugs don’t wear out from the top, but rather from the bottom where they rub against the floor. A pad works as a shock absorber and helps to hold the rug in place.

Many rug manufacturers make their own rug pads to go with the rug you buy, but they can also be purchased separately. There are several varieties of grip rug pads, including ones made of felt and rubber. Rubber rug pads can be placed on any indoor floor surface, while felt rug pads are typically meant to be place on carpet.

What size rug pad do you need under an area rug?

To prepare your rug pad, first you’ll need to cut it to size with sturdy household scissors. Measure your rug, then subtract two inches from all sides. Mark your rug pad with that measurement, then cut. Once the pad is properly trimmed, place it where you want the rug to lie on the floor, position the rolled-up rug then unroll. If the corners of your rug are curled and don’t lay flat, try to weigh them down with a heavy object or add double-sided rug tape.

Find Your Rug Now

Decorate your space with an area rug in the size, material and pattern you’re looking for.

About The Author

Becca Luna

Becca Risa Luna is a senior creative copywriter, designer and content strategist for Zulily's blog, The Find. With over a decade working in ecommerce, Becca is passionate about the intersection of technology and storytelling. She spends her free time traveling, advocating for mental health awareness, and writing about her favorite things: content marketing and designer handbags. An alumni of California State University at Chico, Becca currently lives in Seattle, Wash., with her partner and their rescued mini schnauzer, Huxley.

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