How to Choose a Tough Rug for High-Traffic Areas

In the battle to preserve your floors, entryways and hallways are the frontlines. The space in front of the appliances in the kitchen and near the furniture in the living room take a beating, as well. How do you decorate an area that sees daily use? This guide will help you choose the type of rug, weave, and material for any high-traffic area in your home.

Identify your areas


There are some heavy traffic areas that are common to all households. Your own home may have other areas that receive a lot of wear and tear.

  • Inside doorways leading outside
  • Stairs
  • Hallways
  • In front of common appliances, like the sink or washing machine
  • In front of furniture in living rooms or dens
  • Kids’ rooms

All of these spaces have different shapes and uses. Be sure to measure your space so you can accurately choose your rug size. Don’t forget about the small areas too – those dishes will get clean a lot faster with the addition of even a tiny 2 x 3 rug.

Does color matter?

busy abstract colorful

While you may want rugs for your heavy traffic areas that are more subdued, that is not what the experts recommend. Obviously, white, off-white or cream-colored rugs are not a good choice. Interestingly enough, dark solid colors show dirt and stains readily also. A rug with an organic or abstract pattern and specks of other colors like orange will show fewer spills, debris, pet hair and dirt than solid colors.

What’s the best pile height for high traffic areas?


Low-pile rugs wear better than higher piles in well-traveled areas. There are fewer hiding spaces for dust, dirt, debris, and other things that can be tracked into your home. They are also easier to spot clean in between regular deep cleanings when there are spills. Area rugs in entryways need to be especially low-pile so the door does not get stuck on them every time it is opened. A lower pile is also great for hallways where people usually move a little faster. The higher the pile, the higher the chance of tripping. Low-pile rugs can be made more comfortable with the addition of a rug pad.

What are durable rugs made of?

  • Polypropylene and nylon fibers are both water-resistant and do not discolor easily with UV-light. They both are fairly low cost and good at hiding dirt. Nylon will last longer than polypropylene and it holds color longer, whereas polypropylene fibers often mimic the cushy feeling of wool fiber rugs.
  • Well-made wool rugs are a great choice for your heavily trafficked areas because of wool’s natural stain-resistant quality. Wool fibers are naturally curly and do not flatten easily so the rug will preserve its shape. Designers work in the wool medium frequently, so it’s easy to find many different styles.
  • Natural bamboo is also a great choice for heavily traveled areas, especially in front of entryways. For people who are interested in green living, a bonus to using bamboo is that it comes from a renewable source and it is biodegradable. Bamboo does not have the warm cushiony feeling of fabric rugs, but it more than makes up for this lack by the fact that it will (with good care) last for years. Bamboo rugs usually come with a non-slip backing, another plus for entryways. The tan, brown, black and rust bamboo colors have slight natural variations in coloring that easily mask dirt and debris that accumulate in between vacuuming.

What rugs are not good for heavy traffic areas?

Seagrass Blue Rug

  • Sisal and seagrass
    • Sisal and seagrass are natural materials that tend to absorb any liquid that is spilled on them, and they deteriorate rather quickly.
  • Silk
    • Silk is too fragile for a high-traffic area and is much better suited to an accent piece.
  • Shag
    • Shaggy rugs wear out more quickly because you are walking on the side of the pile rather than on the top of it.

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