Rug vs Carpet: Which Should You Choose

FW-03 from Folklore by Loloi

When decorating your home, there are a lot of different choices you have to make. Should you go for a modernist look or a more traditional one? Should you choose bright paint colors or neutral ones? Should you place the sofa on the left side of the room or the right side of the room?

But, out of all the choices you have to make, perhaps the biggest one comes down to flooring. Namely: should you choose to carpet your floors or should you place a rug?

The debate between rug vs carpet can be a tricky one for many to solve, as there are pros and cons for each option. So, how are you supposed to know which option is for your home?

Check out this guide to learn how to decide between rug vs carpet.

What’s the Difference?

OW-07 from Owen by Loloi

There are many people who use the words rug and carpet interchangeably when in fact, they are very different things.

Both terms are used to describe a thick piece of cloth. The term rug, however, is actually of Scandinavian origin. The word rug was used for the first time somewhere in the 15th century, and it was used to describe carpet materials that were smaller (typically no longer than 6 and a half feet).

The biggest indicator of a rug is that it has a bound edge. In other words, they can be moved freely around the floor, making them easy for both transportation and maintenance.

The word carpet, on the other hand, has a Latin origin and wasn’t used in English until around the 13th-century. At this time, however, the word meant “tablecloth” or “coarse cloth”. Around the 15th-century the term shifted to mean what we know it as today- a covering for your floor. The distinguishing characteristic of carpet is that it is bound in one place and that it typically stretches from wall to wall.

Pros and Cons of Rugs

Hand Woven Rigo Jute Rug from Natura Jute by NuLoom

So, now that you know the official difference between rugs and carpets, it’s time to dive into the advantages and disadvantages that each option provides.

Pros of Rugs

One of the biggest advantages of rugs is how easy they are to maintain. We’re not saying a red wine stain on a white rug will be a walk in the park to remove, but it will be a lot easier than if you were trying to remove it from carpet.

The great thing about rugs is that many of them are machine washable. That’s right- many rug materials are durable enough to be popped into the laundry for a quick wash and dry.

This isn’t just great for those times when you need to get out tough stains, it’s also great for when your rug really needs a deep clean to get out all the dirt, grime, and mildew. For anyone who has dust allergies, the fact that rugs are so easy to clean is a major plus.

Another major benefit of rugs is the number of styles, colors, and patterns they come in and the number of different ways you can use them.

Sure, carpets come in different colors and patterns as well, but a whole room full of a bright-colored pattern can often be too much. The great thing about rugs is that you can pick unique styles, colors, and patterns and place them in a room without it being too overwhelming.

Rugs do a great job of helping define a space. In fact, many people choose to make their rug the focal point of a room.

Another major advantage of rugs is that they’re easy to transport. When moving, you can’t tear your carpet out and take it with you, but you can easily pack up your favorite rug and move it. This way, you can bring the style of your old home into your new home.

This makes rugs a great option for those who like to change their design style a lot. Removing your carpet is a huge undertaking that takes a lot of money and time. Switching out a rug takes hardly any effort at all and doing so can totally change up the feel of a room.

Cons of Rugs

While rugs are obviously a great option for any home, there are still a couple of disadvantages you’ll want to be aware of before you choose to buy one. Let’s take a look at what these are.

The first major disadvantage is that they don’t always create the same unified look that a carpet can. While this isn’t a problem for many, some people really like the clean, simple look that carpet provides.

Another issue with rugs is that people are much more prone to slipping and falling on them. If you’re elderly or are shopping for someone who is, this is something you’ll want to keep in mind. However, if you anchor the rug under a table or you purchase a rug pad, this usually isn’t a problem.

Lastly, and this isn’t so much an issue with rugs themselves, for those with sensitive feet who enjoy going barefoot, going from a warm, soft rug to a cold hard floor can be an annoying transition. However, if you want the best of both worlds, no one is stopping you from putting a rug on top of your carpet for extra cushioning and warmth.

Pros and Cons of Carpets

FW-03 from Folklore by Loloi

Now that we’ve covered rugs, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of carpet. Here’s what you need to know.

Pros of Carpet

As we said earlier, the big distinguishing characteristic of carpet is that it’s secured to the floor. This means that it’s a great solution for the elderly, as well as anyone else who doesn’t want to have to worry about tripping and falling.

Also, carpet does an excellent job of creating unity throughout an entire room. If your home has multiple small rooms, this can be especially great.

Another big bonus of carpet is that while rugs are found in a lot of bright and unique patterns, carpet is found in a large range of neutral colors. This means you’ll have a wide range of color schemes to use in conjunction with your carpet.

Lastly, wall to wall carpeting means your floors are covered in their entirety. This means you never have to worry about icy cold feet.

Cons of Carpet

Why do people say no to carpet? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons.

A huge issue with carpet is that it is known for having high levels of off-gassing. Off-gassing is the process in which a material releases chemicals into the air as a byproduct. For carpet, this period can last for several months.

Also, carpet can be very difficult to clean. You can’t just tear it up and throw it in the washing machine. While there are carpet-cleaning solutions, many just get out surface stains and not the months of dirt and grime that have built up. Of course, you can hire carpet cleaners, but this is usually quite expensive. This is definitely something to keep in mind if you have pets or kids.

This is why rugs are almost always the better option for rooms that are highly trafficked.

If you live in an extremely humid area, carpet is usually not a good idea. This is because in humid weather, moisture will get trapped in the fibers of the carpet. This moisture will then turn into mold that releases harmful toxins into the air.

Lastly, keep in mind that any investments you make with your wall to wall carpeting won’t be able to come with you when you move. This can be a tough pill to swallow for many.

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