What Rug Material is Best for You?

Brosa Nottage Armchair styled in classic traditional sitting room

Rugs are a decor choice that can suit any home – whether you’re repping modern, cool style or something traditional and classy, there’s a rug that’ll fit right in with your existing decor. Not only do rugs add some flair to the space, diversifying the colours and textures on your floor, but they can also provide warmth and comfort if you’ve got tiles, linoleum or wooden flooring.

An often-overlooked consideration when purchasing a new rug to spruce up your space is the material it’s made out of. The wrong choice could affect a whole number of variables, including the way it looks, how it wears and its suitability for that particular room. After all, could you imagine spilling red wine on your new purchase just to find it’s impossible to clean?

Of course, that particularly disastrous scenario (as is any with spilled wine) is avoidable by selecting a rug in the correct material for your needs. Keep on reading to learn more about the most common materials for rugs and which one might work best in your home.

Rug materials – natural vs. synthetic

Area rugs can be made from both natural fibres or synthetic materials, which presents you with an important decision. They each have their unique pros and cons, and ultimately, the type of rug you opt for should reflect your needs and what your family gets up to on the day-to-day.

Here are a few initial things to consider throughout the rug selection process (other than what it looks like in the room – which is, of course, a huge factor!):

  • Durability
  • Texture
  • Sustainability
  • The location of the rug
  • How often the rug will be cleaned or need to be cleaned
  • Any family characteristics that need to be taken into account (e.g. pets, babies, allergies)

Natural rugs

Brosa Frank Queen Slim Size Bed Frame styled in mid century modern bedroom

Let’s start by unpacking natural rugs (well, the concept, that is – we’ll leave the physical unpacking to you). Natural rugs can be made from a huge variety of materials, but some of the most popular are wool, cotton, jute, sisal, hemp and bamboo. Each of these materials have their own quirks and specificities, but there are some similarities that span the full range of natural rug fibres.

For starters, the majority of these fibres are sustainable, as they come from renewable sources. Fewer negative effects on the environment and a pretty rug to boot? Check! Natural rugs are also good for your own personal environment, as they can absorb both humidity and dust particles, which in turn, can prevent static and reduce allergies.

On the flip side, natural rugs can be a little tougher to clean than their synthetic counterparts. Usually, they’ll require careful spot cleaning – especially in the case of wool or silk, which can stain easily. Because most natural fabrics are very absorbent, getting them wet is a no-no, and can lead to mould or an irreversible impact on your rug’s appearance. Try to keep them clean as best you can, and whip out the eco-friendly or natural cleaning products and zero in on the stain when the inevitable happens.

As a rule, natural rugs are a must-have for indoors, as they’ll improve the overall environment of the room as well as adding to its ambience and aesthetic. Just be sure that you’re careful with any spills, and select your material carefully – a little more on our favourite natural fibres for rugs later.

Synthetic rugs

Where natural rugs present a sustainable option, synthetic rugs unfortunately do not – however, they still have their upsides. Don’t be fazed by their name; although ‘synthetic’ can have negative connotations, it really does come down to what suits you and your home best.

Synthetic area rugs are constructed from man-made materials, which means they’re tough and durable compared to naturally-derived fabrics. As a result, they’re perfect for outdoors in particular, or in any high-traffic area that’s constantly getting walked on and used, such as the kitchen. Unlike natural rugs, they’re easy to clean, and damaging the material beyond the point of no return is very difficult. It’s likely you’ll be able to wash your synthetic rug either by hand or in the washing machine, supported by spot cleaning where necessary.

However, synthetic rugs are prone to damage from friction, as the materials they’re made of are usually tightly packed and don’t handle abrasions well. Plus, although you’ll be able to find synthetic rugs in some beautiful styles, they might not be as luxe under your feet or as suited to placement indoors.

The best materials for rugs

Now that we’ve brought you up to speed on natural vs synthetic rug materials, let’s dive into our favourite fibres for a gorgeous and long-lasting area rug.

Wool

Brosa Olsen Dining Table 185cm styled in mid century modern dining room

Wool is perhaps one of the best materials out there for a rug. Wool rugs are durable, making them a go-to for high traffic areas, and they feel super soft under the feet – making them the perfect choice for those of us who refuse to buy slippers! Although wool is a natural fibre, spot cleaning should be relatively painless. Wool rugs come in a huge variety of styles and colours as one of the most popular materials on offer.

Wool rugs are suitable for most rooms in the house if taken care of properly. Just be careful in the kitchen, and ensure to mop up spills before they soak in ​​– it’s not advised you place your wool rug in an area where the floor gets wet often, such as by the sink or dishwasher.

Cotton

Just like your favourite t-shirt, cotton rugs are soft, affordable and stack up in terms of durability. Although they might not last as long as a wool rug, they’re still very long-lasting, and overall, present very few challenges in terms of cleaning and care if paid a little attention. Just like the rest of the natural fibre rug gang, ensure you spot clean your cotton rug as soon as you spill something or scuff it. Check the tag or care guide first, but many cotton rugs can even be thrown in the washing machine on a cold rinse if things are looking a bit dire.

Cotton rugs come in a massive range of colours and styles – perhaps the most of any material – which means it’ll be super simple to find the right fit for any room in your home. From the dining room to the kitchen to the kids’ bedroom, a cotton rug will never go astray!

Rough fibres including bamboo, jute and hemp

Brosa Mila 3 Seater Sofa styled in modern living room with natural rug

Textured fibres are ever-growing in popularity, perhaps because they fit perfectly with the neutral, earthy trend that’s sweeping the design world at the moment. Often found in shades of brown and other warm tones, these materials are as natural as it comes! They’re usually woven, which creates texture and visual interest, however this type of finish isn’t always kind on bare feet. On the upside, though, they’re incredibly durable and can often be shaken out rather than requiring any intense cleaning. Rough texture rugs are ideal for high-traffic areas – as long as you’re wearing shoes, that is!

These rough natural fibres can suit most rooms, but look incredible in the kitchen and in entryways in particular. They’re a go-to if your style is on the rustic, minimal or coastal side.

Silk

Brosa Mila Armchair styled in modern contemporary sitting room

Finally, although the idea of a silk rug might sound insane, they’re actually quite common. Silk is ultra soft and delicate, so in rug form, it requires careful looking after and should be immediately spot cleaned when stained or scuffed. As a result, we’d recommend putting these rugs in lower traffic areas to avoid them being trampled on.

Silk isn’t ideal for rooms where wet spillage can happen often, like the kitchen or dining room, as silk absorbs liquid very quickly – leading straight to mould and other undesirable consequences. Instead, put your gorgeous silk rug in a place of pride where it’ll look gorgeous and be less prone to the risks of busy family life. Silk rugs are physically very beautiful, with a sheen and a luxe feel that’ll suit certain styles more than others. They’re the perfect choice for a modern or classic traditional home.

By now, you’ll have a much better idea of which material to select for your new rug. Keep in mind the differences between natural fibres and synthetic materials, and choose accordingly – after all, there are no right or wrong answers here. Consider durability, placement, style, colour and your family’s unique needs before you pick out your new rug. And, when it’s finally time to make that decision, you can revel in the knowledge that you’ve selected the perfect one for your space! Now, all there’s left to do is relax and enjoy that soft, plush feeling under your feet…

Shop our curated range of homewares and furniture and find the perfect pieces to suit you and your home. We offer Australia-wide delivery and a range of virtual styling services to make your shopping process as breezy and blissful as possible.