How to Choose The Right Rug Material For Your Room

HERO

No one wants to admit it, but the mercury is heading south. It’s time to start thinking about rugging up to beat the winter blues… And insulating your space with soft throws, cable-knit cushions and super-chic rugs is the way to go.

But wool, acrylic, jute and sisal, hand-tufted or hand-knotted… it’s enough to make your head spin. So we’ve put together a guide for identifying the right type of rug for your room!

We’re talking the pros and pro tips for cosying up your flooring.

A Breakdown of Rug Materials

Heat-set polypropylene

It may not have the sexiest name, but this is one of the most popular materials used in modern rugs. And here’s why!

Pros:

  • Eco-friendly and versatile
  • Durable and stain-resistant
  • Easy-care and non-shed
  • Soft and pleasant underfoot

What to look for:

  • Density is the test of quality – the higher the density of the fibre, the better the quality

Finish:

  • Can be matte, luminous or wool-like

Great for:

Pro tip:

  • The backing is usually made of jute, which can scratch floors, so always use a rug pad with heat-set polypropylene rugs

rug material zanui
Handwoven cotton and Lurex rug,  Trails Rug, Indigo from Amigos De Hoy. Shop all rugs on Zanui.

Heat set polypropylene – Indoor/Outdoor

Pros:

  • Suitable for outdoors since they’re waterproof (their backing is fully heat-set polypropylene as well)
  • Choose from flat-woven or pile for diverse looks

Great for:

Pro tip:

  • Pile HSP rugs look and feel like a plush indoor rug, making for a more seamless indoor/outdoor transition

rug material zanui
Emerita Cotton Rug from Bambury. Shop all rugs on Zanui.

Acrylic

Pros:

  • Super-soft and plush to touch
  • Bold and beautiful – acrylic readily absorbs dye for bright saturated colours

What to look for:

  • Density that is hand-tufted – this equates to high quality
  • Japanese acrylic also indicates high quality. These rugs often feature hand-carved designs for a 3D look

Great for:

Pro tips:

  • Acrylic has a tendency to shed, especially in the first few weeks, making it better suited to lower-traffic areas
  • Hate the shed? Short pile acrylic rugs are very low-shed
  • Vacuum gently and regularly to minimise the effect

rug materials zanui
Polyester in a thin/thick pile of the Oslo Shag Rug from Rug Culture. Shop all rugs on Zanui.

Sisal

Pros:

  • Ruggedly good looking and strong (!)
  • Eco-friendly – produced with minimal (if any pesticides) + fully biodegradable
  • Non-toxic, sound-absorbent and anti-static
  • Resists dirt particles and contains natural tannins (also found in tea + red wine) that control the growth of bacteria, fungi and dust mites

Great for:

  • Families with allergy concerns
  • High-traffic areas, bedrooms, lounge rooms, hallways

Pro tip:

  • Tends to absorb moisture, making it unsuitable for bathrooms or moist areas

rug materials zanui
Hand-braided Baskin Jute Rug from Rug Culture. Shop all rugs on Zanui.

Jute

Uber-chic and in high demand. Here’s why!

Pros:

  • Deliciously soft and competitive in price
  • Lustrous fibre looks beautiful natural or dyed
  • Traditional craft techniques – woven by skilled craftspeople with a keen eye for detail

Great for:

  • Hallways, lounge rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms

Pro tips:

  • Vacuum your jute rug 1-2 x per week to maintain its beauty and prolong its lifespan.
  • Jute is highly absorbent so, avoid placing your rug in areas prone to moisture or spills
  • For more tips – read our blog on jute here.

rug materials zanui
Blended jute and cotton Heather rugs from FAB Rugs. Shop all rugs on Zanui.

Wool

This natural fibre makes a classic choice.

Pros:

  • Eco-friendly, versatile and fire-resistant
  • Enhances comfort and warmth

What to look for:

  • The feel of wool is generally an indicator of quality – softer wool usually means a higher price

Great for:

  • Bedrooms, lounge rooms, living rooms, hallways, kids’ rooms

Pro tip:

  • Wool sheds lightly – this keeps your rug looking fresh and new for longer.
  • To minimise this, vacuum regularly in the first few months, or choose a high quality hand-knotted rug which will have minimal-to-no shedding.

rug material zanui
Felted wool in the Amalia Chunky Rug, Black from Rug Culture. Shop all rugs on Zanui.

Wool rugs explained…

Hand-tufted wool rugs are:

  • Made using a tufting gun, their fibres shot through the criss-crossed backing material by hand to form a pile
  • Usually have a cotton backing
  • Dense and plush

Hand-woven wool rugs are:

  • More labour and time intensive than hand-tufted rugs, which affects their price point
  • Flat weave – they do not have a pile
  • More lightweight and can be reversible
  • Fine quality, exuding artisan craftsmanship

rug material zanui
Verdaccio Hand Tufted Designer Wool Rug, Pewter from Harlequin. Shop all rugs on Zanui.

Hand-knotted woollen rugs are:

  • The finest in quality and craftsmanship of any rug
  • Superior in durability and often very dense
  • Made from the highest quality wool so little-to-no shedding
  • Can be paired with silk or art-silk highlights for a luminous glow and soft touch.
  • Double as bespoke artworks

Axminster loom wool rugs are:

  • Superior in quality and rare
  • Short pile and low-shed
  • Often printed with modern digital methods – can feature complex photographic designs

That’s it! Ha! Phew. We need to lie down.

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.