A hardwood floor is an investment that deserves an attractive, well-made area rug. Not only should the rug provide you with the comfort you desire, but it should also complement the look of the wood without harming it. The right combination of an area rug and rug pad with your hardwood floor will accomplish all these things to give you many years of enjoyment.
Rugs made from plant fibers such as coir, jute, seagrass and sisal are often called natural-fiber rugs. They are tightly flat-woven to form a mat. Most are reversible, although coir and seagrass rugs usually have a latex backing. Synthetic latex, which may stick to or otherwise harm a hardwood floor, should not be placed directly on it. Natural latex rubber can be used, whether as a backing or as a rug pad under a natural fiber rug. Because these rugs offer no cushion underfoot, thick felt pads or natural rubber pads are advisable for comfort. It will also prevent slipping and reduce dirt or sand settling through the rug that may scratch the wood. Natural-fiber rugs made from plant fibers have a casual look that may be better suited for contemporary or Asian decor rather than a formal, traditional look.
A wool or wool-blend area rug is a common choice for a hardwood floor. Wool is comfortable, durable and easy to clean. Whether you choose a flat weave or a tufted wool rug, the back of the rug itself may scratch the floor. A rug pad of felt or natural rubber will prevent this, while prolonging the life of the rug by minimizing wear from the back side. It will also protect the floor against moisture damage from liquid spills. Wool rugs, and those blended with other fibers such as cotton, are available in a variety of styles and patterns to complement any type or color of hardwood floor and any type of decor.
A silk rug is perhaps the most expensive type of rug and is usually bought for its beauty rather than durability or practicality. Even silk accents on a wool rug will increase the price dramatically. However, a silk rug or silk-blend rug makes an attractive accent for a hardwood floor. As with other types of rugs, a thick rug pad of felt or natural rubber should be used to help protect both the rug and the floor beneath it from wear and damage. Silk fades more easily than other fibers and is more fragile under abrasion.
Although made from a natural plant fiber, cotton rugs are a category of their own. Cotton rugs lend a casual, comfortable look and feel to a room. A cotton rug is often a good choice for a hardwood floor that has a rustic look, but a variety of styles and patterns are available that would be suitable for many types of wood. Choose a rug pad based on the thickness and texture of the rug. A braided cotton rug may require only a thin pad to secure the rug, prevent slipping and protect the wood floor from dirt and spills.
Today's synthetic rugs manufactured from viscose, rayon, nylon, acrylic or polypropylene achieve looks similar to some made from natural materials. Synthetic rugs are durable, and they are available in flat weaves, shags, short-tufted pile and other styles that can complement a hardwood floor. There are patterned and solid-color synthetic rugs to suit any decor. Some synthetics can display a shiny nap, while others may have a matte look. Their thicknesses can vary a great deal, so choose a rug pad accordingly to protect your hardwood floor.