Introduction to Rugs

Made of many of the same materials as carpets, but likelier to be handmade, rugs are distinguished by being laid on the floor and having a finished edge (it may be bound, fringed, etc.), whereas carpets are usually wall-to-wall and are installed into the flooring. Rugs are used not only to warm or soften hard flooring and protect wall to wall carpeting, but also to serve a decorative purpose. Sometimes called area rugs, rugs are available in many materials, designs and colors to compliment nearly any decor.

There are many types of rugs, distinguished by use, origins, materials, and technique. Here are some of the most popular types.

Functional Rugs

  • Accent Rug—intended to create a focal point in a room, accent rugs are a type of area rug.

  • Area Rug or Throw Rug—designed to cover part of a floor, area rugs come in a variety of shapes (rectangular, round, hexagonal) and in some standard sizes such as 4’ x 6’ (1.21 x 1.82 m); 5’ x 7’ (1.52 x 2.13 m); 8’ x 10’(2.43 x 3.04 m).

  • Bathroom Rug—made to feel good to bare feet and deal well in the humid bathroom environment, bathroom rugs often come in sets with a lid cover, a rug to fit around the front of the toilet, and a bath mat.

  • Children’s Play or Educational Rugs—these printed rugs have hopscotch squares, board games, maps of the world, the American Sign Language finger alphabet, and many other useful and interesting topics to engage a child’s attention.

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  • Hearth Rug—A fire resistant hearth rug protects a home from any fire material that accidentally leaves the fireplace area: sparks, cinders, rolling logs, etc. The materials that offer the most protection are first fiberglass, and second wool.

Ethnic Rugs

  • Flokati Rug—a Greek traditional rug invented in the 5th century by the Vlachs, and first used by shepherds as a combination of clothing and bedding.

  • Navajo Rugs—beginning as clothing and blankets and used for trade with other tribes before the middle 1800’s, Navajo rugs have gained a wider market. The geometric and tree of life patterns are popular and well-known.

  • Oriental Rugs—a generic term used primarily for woven or knotted rugs made by hand in the Middle East or Far East, and sometimes used inclusively for machine-made rugs using Oriental rug designs.

  • Persian Rugs—dated back to the fifth century B.C., Persian rugs were made in the area now known as Iran. Antique as well as contemporary rugs are available, and there are many designs and motifs available.

Special Materials Rugs

Besides bamboo, jute, seagrass, and sisal, here are some special rugs:

  • Bearskin and Sheepskin Rugs—Although they most likely originated in the time when hunters had to use every bit of the animals they killed for food, bearskin and sheepskin rugs are still available for decorative purposes.

  • Rag Rug—a crocheted rug made from old fabric no longer used as clothing, the rag rug is an American folk art tradition from the 1700s.

Special Technique Rugs

  • Braided Rug—Made with from 3 to 12 strands, braided rugs can have standard, flat, square, round, or ladder braids, and are popular in country decor.

  • Hooked rug—Punch hooking and Latch Hooking are two techniques for making rugs. In punch hooking a single strand of yarn is threaded through the punch and used to create a pile that may be looped or cut. In Latch hooking, a single, small piece of yarn is used for each hole.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Oriental Rug Buying Guide
  • Introduction to Carpet Cleaners
  • Introduction to Carpets
  • Types of Flooring
  • Carpet Cleaner Buying Guide
  • Wall-to-Wall Carpeting Buying Guide
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Safety