Rugs give rooms a richness of character and they also help create a feeling of warmth and vibrancy. When it comes to choosing rugs for your home, the possibilities are practically endless. Indoor rugs cover living room floors, entryways and stairs. Outdoor rug doormats welcome visitors with charm. Patterns and colors range from traditional to contemporary to whimsical. This easy-to-read rug guide describes popular rug types and how to care for them.

Types of Rugs

Natural Fiber Rugs

Back in the days before there were rug-making machines, skilled artisans made rope out of natural fibers. Along the way, people discovered that grasses and plants such as jute and sisal are excellent for rugs. Natural fiber rugs continue to be a favorite choice for those who prefer eco-friendly rugs that have an appealing natural look. These rugs are often handwoven or loomed, just like they were in days of old. Jute rugs have the added benefit of being moth proof.

Rug care: Natural fiber rugs are generally safe to place in areas that get hot such as near a fireplace. However, avoid placing them in high-moisture environments. You can safely spot clean them with a few dabs of club soda or vacuum clean.

Rug Care

Synthetic Rugs

Synthetic rugs are a creation of human ingenuity. Man-made materials such as acrylic, nylon, olefin and polyester are used to produce fibers with the flexibility and appearance of nature-made fibers. Rugs made from synthetic fibers have excellent durability under normal wear and tear conditions. Often used for high-traffic areas, they can be machine loomed into any number of textures and styles. You can find synthetic rugs in classic braided styles, beautiful florals or fun geometric patterns.

Rug care: Although, they may have built-in stain-resistance, some effort is needed to keep synthetics in tip-top shape. Indoor rugs require regular vacuuming, and spot cleaning with a mild detergent is recommended. Periodic professional cleaning can extend an indoor rug's durability for years. Outdoor synthetic rug styles can be cleaned with a mild detergent and hosed off with water.

Cotton Rugs

Cotton rugs are appreciated for their soft texture and affordability. Many rugs made with cotton are designed to add visual appeal and color to specific areas. They often feature colorful stripes or intriguing patterns, and fringe or borders may highlight edges. Because cotton is very flexible, you can roll them up and move them anywhere in a jiffy. There's no limit to what you can do with a snazzy cotton rug. Traditional weaving looms are used to create handwoven designs in a wide assortment of colors and sizes.

Rug care: Small-sized rugs can be tossed in the washer for cleaning. Large rugs are cleaned with a rug-washing machine or they can be dry cleaned. Because they tend to fade in light, keep them out of direct sunlight. For stability and safety, a rug pad is highly recommended.

Wool Rugs

Wool rugs are soft, luxurious and come in an array of modern and traditional designs. On the practical side, wool fiber is incredibly durable, making it a good choice for areas with high-traffic. Also, wool has natural stain-resistant oils, which keeps dirt from seeping into rug fibers. These attributes make them a great choice for living rooms and bedrooms. As for construction, rugs can be hand-knotted, hand-tufted, hand-loomed or machine-loomed. Handcrafted styles are valued for their detail and intricacy. Machine-made looms create rugs featuring various rib patterns, cut piles and other weaves textures.

Rug care: Wool rugs require careful attention to maintenance. Gentle vacuuming on a regular basis removes surface dust and debris. Cleaners made specifically for wool rugs are highly recommended. Spills should be blotted away immediately with a clean, absorbent cloth. Keep rugs out of direct sunlight to avoid fading. Also, periodic rotation and professional cleaning can help keep them from wearing out too soon.

Hair-on-Hide Rugs

Hair-on-hide rugs are the perfect decorative accent for rustic or western theme interiors. Made from natural cowhide, these handcrafted rugs have a texture that feels soft and luxurious. Animal hair rugs with natural spots or zebra strips fall under this category. Some hair-on-hide rugs stitch pieces of hide together to create unique rug designs in a range of sophisticated colors and patterns. These plush rugs are conversation pieces and bring the beauty of nature into your home.

Rug care: Clean with a vacuum with the beater bar setting off and rotate every so often to avoid heavy wear on one end. A multi-surface rug pad prevents slippage.

Rug Pads

Rugs are often placed on hard-floor surfaces made of wood or other materials. While they look great, keeping rugs from moving can be difficult without a rug pad. Rug pads are often made of polyester and latex. However, there are latex-free natural rubber pads available for those who want to avoid symptoms of latex allergies. Double-sided construction means that one side of the pad firmly adheres to the rug, while the opposite side adheres to flooring. Because they provide a layer of cushioning, pads help prevent rug wear and tear. Tripping and slipping on rugs is also prevented.