Which type of rug is best for a busy household?

The type of rug you need for busy households depends on where you are planning to place the rug and how much traffic there will be.

Elsdon 44006 Linden Hand-Tufted Wool Rug by Sanderson

In a bedroom, you can get away with using a soft and fluffy rug because it won't be used as much as a hallway rug. It'll have limited wear and tear due to the decreased foot traffic. In high traffic areas, such as hallways or living rooms, short, dense and robust piles are better as they are easier to clean. In total, you should avoid using soft, fluffy rugs in high traffic areas as they are high maintenance despite being comforting and aesthetically pleasing.

If you want the softness of a pile rug but want it to be low maintenance as well, you can put the rug on top of some underlay. A basic, thin underlay – one that isn't prominent at all – can be put underneath the rug. It creates the same softness without the pile flattening into a dense rug.

In high traffic areas, you shouldn't use a high pile rug. It will flatten down quite a lot; very quickly under heavy traffic. Once it flattens down and reduces in height, the rug will reflect light differently. It will give off a watermark effect that will make the rug look disorientated. The middle will be worn out and look flattened while the sides of the rug will be untouched and appear brand-new. As the pile flattens, it will lose some of its softness and you will have to brush it continuously for it to regain its volume and height.

Wool rugs and rugs made from natural fibres can display shedding and shed even more in high traffic areas. This increased shedding can lead to the rug losing weight from the worn-out areas. On the areas where it is used the least, like the edges for a runner rug or the middle sections of an oriental or bedroom rug, it will maintain its weight and height whereas, on the high traffic areas, it will be thinner and lighter – causing an uneven look to the rug. It will lead to the rug needing to be replaced a lot earlier than intended.

In living rooms, you can go for smaller rugs than extra-large rugs, as they are more likely to act as bolder focal points. There is a higher chance that you will instantly walk around it rather than over it since it becomes a focal point and the flooring around the edges of the rug can act as a walking path. You cannot avoid this with large living room rugs, leading to foot traffic over it.

Bazaar Jute 24875 Natural Rug by Think Rugs

Synthetics are better than natural fibre rugs as they can withstand the effects of household cleaning, so their appearance won't be affected after cleaning stains or spillages. Unlike cotton or wool rugs, they can withstand the effects of bleaching and are resistant to stains and spillages, so they retain their colour and appearance. It means that they are lower maintenance in comparison to natural fibre rugs and would theoretically last longer in high traffic areas as they won't be affected by dirt and dust.

In addition, synthetics are made from longer threads than natural fibres. They are less likely to show as much shedding as wool or cotton and so can withstand high traffic areas. Unlike natural fibres, they won't lose their weight and will maintain equal dispersion across the rug. Synthetics have a higher tensile strength which means they are much stronger and more durable than natural fibres.

Synthetics also maintain their colour better than natural fibres. All rugs are affected by UV rays from sunlight, so they will show slight discolouration. It can't be avoided unless the rug is placed in a shaded area, away from sunlight.

With hallway runners, you tend to walk through the middle and avoid the edges. Over time, dust and dirt can wear their way into the rug and can cause discolouration or cast a shadow over the rug. It will be more visible with lighter colour shades. In these cases, it will be best to get a darker shade so the discolouration doesn't affect the appearance of the rug as much. If not a darker shade, you can get a patterned rug, like a Turkish or Persian rug, that will camouflage the discolouration and blend in with the pattern.

Milano 20687 Grey Beige Striped Rug by Think rugs

Woven rugs are dimensionally stronger and have a very short height. These rugs won't be flattened or condensed from high traffic or continuous usage so they will maintain their shape very well. Usually, unless they are custom made, these rugs are not plain or simple and are commonly made using pattern or design.

It can be hard to estimate how long a rug will last – it depends on the number of people in the house; the usage and the traffic; the area it is placed in; any exposure to spillages or stains; etc… To ensure that a rug will last a decent number of years, look for short, pile rugs made from synthetic fibres – ideally, one that is a smaller area rug as well.

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