A Simple Guide to Area Rug Material Types

When you’re looking at buying different area rug types, the material should be the first thing that you zero in on. Affecting everything from looks to durability to softness, the material you choose is largely going to dictate how your area rug performs, so it’s important to consider your options.


Wool is typically seen as a high-end material for area rugs. Hand-woven, wool rugs are often naturally stain-resistant and feature a very dense fiber structure. That helps provide a soft feeling underfoot, and it keep your area rug from looking tired and beaten down when used in high-traffic areas.

On the downside, wool area rugs are also quite expensive, and they aren’t available in such vibrant colors as synthetic rugs.


Cotton is very strong, completely natural, and generally quite inexpensive. Better yet, it’s an extremely easy material to clean — you can also pop a small cotton area rug in your washing machine.

That said, cotton isn’t a particularly soft material. Most area rugs made using cotton have a very flat weave that offers little in the way of insulation or softness, so you’ll often find them in bathrooms or kitchens where such issues aren’t as important.

Natural Plant Fibers

Exotic and cost-effective, area rugs made from natural plant fibers include jute, sisal, and seagrass. These relatively coarse fibers can be wonderful for creating a more rustic appearance, and they don’t fade as easily under direct sunlight.

The main issue with natural plant fibers is that they are not very easy to clean since moisture will typically cause them to warp, and stains can be very hard to remove.


Synthetic fibers, including nylon, polyester, and acrylic, are relatively inexpensive and can be made in almost any design or color you desire. Synthetic materials are extremely durable and highly resistant to staining and fading, making cleaning very straightforward.

Of course, it’s important to remember that synthetic materials still struggle to replicate the exact look and feel of a natural material like wool.

Learn More With Russell Martin Carpet and Rugs

For answers to any area rug selection questions, our team is ready and waiting to help. We’ve been supplying carpets and rugs to households across Naperville, Lisle, and Wheaton since 1957, so don’t hesitate to contact us today if you need some trustworthy advice.

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