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If you have hardwood floors, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep them safe and in the best condition. So if you’re considering adding a rug to decorate an area of your home, you’ll need to consider which fabrics are best for hardwood floors.
Any hand-knotted rug made of high-quality materials will be safe for hardwood floors. The rug shouldn’t scratch the floor if it’s well-knotted and made of natural materials. Cotton and wool rugs are also excellent options because they’re raw materials and generally easy to clean.
There are many kinds of rugs to choose from, so it can be challenging to know which type is best for your hardwood floor. This article will discuss the 7 best kinds of rugs that are safe for hardwood floors and which rugs to avoid.
1. Hand-Knotted Rugs
Hand-knotted rugs are excellent for hardwood floors if they’re not cheaply made. You want to avoid a hand-knotted rug that will scratch your wood flooring, so opting for one made of natural materials (like wool and silk) is best.
When hand-knotted rugs are made of natural, high-quality materials and made by professionals, the result is a durable finished product that won’t slide or scratch the wood flooring.
If you’re considering a hand-knotted rug, make sure you don’t choose one that’s highly cheap. In most cases, a cheap rug is likely made poorly and consists of synthetic materials. Examples of such materials include synthetic fiber or synthetic rubber.
Synthetic fibers are easier and cheaper to produce than authentic ones, which is why rugs made of these materials will be cheaper. Rugs made of synthetic materials are more likely to damage hardwood flooring because they contain chemicals and glues that can seep into the floor.
Hand-knotted rugs made of natural materials are great for hardwood floors, but there is one catch–they can be costly! Therefore, they’re not always the best choice, especially if you’re on a tight budget. You may need to spend upwards of $1,000 on a decent hand-knotted rug.
2. Cotton Rugs
Cotton rugs are one of the best choices for hardwood floors because they come in a wide variety of designs and colors and are affordable. So if you’re on a tight budget, you should consider a cotton rug.
Thankfully, cotton won’t damage your hardwood floors, and it’ll remain relatively durable. However, it isn’t the most durable rug fabric. But for the price, you’re still getting a good deal.
As you may already know, cotton comes from the cotton plant. So, it’s an excellent choice if you want a rug that doesn’t use animal fur or skin.
An example of a beautiful cotton rug is the SAFAVIEH Cotton Rag Rug, available on Amazon.com. This rug comes in different colors and patterns. Plus, you can choose from various sizes. Not only that, but it’s also super affordable (more so than many other rugs made of natural materials).
If you opt for a smaller cotton rug, you can even wash it in a machine. It might be necessary to clean it now and then, especially if there’s a lot of footfall in the rug area. Just ensure you wash it on a cold, delicate setting because you don’t want to cause damage or shrinkage.
3. Wool Rugs
Wool is an excellent rug fabric and won’t cause any damage to your hardwood floors. Wool is also a natural material, but it comes from sheep rather than plants. So if you’re looking for a vegan rug safe for hardwood floors, you’ll want to consider a different fabric (like cotton).
Although wool rugs are more expensive than cotton, the quality is generally higher, so you’re certainly getting value for money. Wool rugs can handle a lot of stress, and you can clean them easily. That’s why they’re popular choices for most people looking for rugs safe for hardwood.
If you choose a rug made of wool, you should ensure it doesn’t have any added synthetic materials because they could damage your floor.
An example of a durable, high-quality wool rug (that’s safe for hardwood) is the SAFAVIEH Aspen Collection Rug, available on Amazon.com. This rug is handcrafted and doesn’t contain any synthetic materials that could damage your wooden floors. Plus, it comes in different sizes, so it’s perfect for any room in your home.
4. Fiber Rugs
A rug made of natural fibers is also a good choice for hardwood floors. However, it’s best to avoid synthetic fibers because they may contain chemicals and other things that are damaging to the floor underneath.
Some examples of natural fibers include:
I’ll go into more detail on these natural fibers in the following sections.
Sisal rugs are safe for hardwood floors because they don’t cause any scratches, and there are no chemicals that seep into the floor from them. On top of that, sisal is a strong material that doesn’t get damaged easily, so you can expect a sisal rug to last years.
An example of a sisal rug is the SAFAVIEH Marble/Dark Grey Rug, available on Amazon.com. This rug comes in different colors, but the marble/dark gray shade is made of pure sisal. The price may seem steep, but it’s worth it for the quality you get from the high-quality sisal.
Seagrass is another common rug material that’s a natural fiber and safe for hardwood floors. These rugs also last a long time and can handle much stress and footfall, so they’re worth the price tag. Seagrass comes from seagrass plants that live in shallow seas, so it’s vegan-friendly.
However, be aware that some seagrass rugs come with rubber backings. Ensure the backing on your rug is natural rather than synthetic (for example, synthetic rubber) because this could stick to your hardwood floor and cause damage.
An example of a seagrass rug is the SAFAVIEH Natural Fiber Round Rug, available on Amazon.com. This rug is made of seagrass and jute, another natural fiber that doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals. It also comes in different sizes, so it’s perfect for big and small homes. There is no synthetic backing on the rug, so it won’t cause damage to your hardwood floor.
You likely know what bamboo is, but you may not know that it can be made into a perfectly safe rug for hardwood floors! However, a bamboo rug won’t give you the soft feeling that a wool or cotton rug will, so keep that in mind before making a decision.
A bamboo rug might work well at the entrance of your home or in the dining area because it’ll be easy to clean.
An example of a basic but durable bamboo rug is the ZPirates Bamboo Rug, available on Amazon.com. It’s completely natural and can grip onto your hardwood floor without causing damage. Although it’s marketed as a bathroom rug, you can use it in other parts of your home!
5. Silk Rugs
Silk is a material that might not come to mind when choosing a rug for a hardwood floor, mostly because silk is costly and challenging to maintain. But it’s super soft and won’t damage your floor, so you should consider it if you have the money and plan on putting it somewhere that won’t get dirty.
Silk is harvested from silkworms, so it’s not man-made. As you might have guessed, this also means no synthetic, harmful materials are present. So, you don’t have to worry about anything harmful seeping into your floor.
The main downside of silk rugs is the price tag. You’ll need to spend thousands of dollars if you want to purchase a high-quality silk rug, so it’s not a viable option for many.
But it’s undoubtedly an excellent option if you have the money and want something soft for your hardwood floor.
6. Natural Rubber Rugs
Some rugs might contain natural rubber, particularly on the backs. This should be safe for your hardwood floor, but you should avoid using mats that contain synthetic rubber.
Natural rubber can grip onto the floor, meaning the rug doesn’t slide out of place. And because it’s natural, there aren’t any synthetic chemicals that could damage or stick to the floor.
Many cotton, wool, and other types of rugs may contain some natural rubber on the backs. Before purchasing a rug, ensure the backing is natural and safe for a hardwood floor because if it isn’t, it might stick to your floor, which can cause permanent damage!
You can also buy rugs that are made only of natural rubber. These rugs work best as door rugs.
7. Leather Rugs
Leather isn’t the most popular material choice for a rug, but it’s safe for hardwood floors and is of a high standard. Not only are leather rugs safe for hardwood floors, but they’re also highly durable and long-lasting.
An example of a leather rug is the SAFAVIEH Vintage Leather Collection Rug, available on Amazon.com. It comes in different colors and sizes, so it’s highly customizable. The rug is handmade with premium leather, so you know you’re getting a good quality product.
Rugs That Are Bad for Hardwood Floors
While this article has discussed types of rugs safe for hardwood floors, I would like to briefly discuss some rugs that aren’t as safe. That way, you can avoid these materials when you’re looking for a rug to buy.
Below are the 3 main types of rugs you should avoid if you have hardwood floors.
1. Plastic-Backed Rugs
Any rug made of plastic (entirely or plastic-backed) should be avoided. While these rugs tend to be cheap, they can cause irreversible damage to your flooring.
Unfortunately, plastic-backed rugs can stick to the floor and cause scratches. Some chemicals can also get onto the hardwood floor, causing permanent damage. Although it may be tempting to buy a plastic-backed rug for your hardwood floor due to the low price, it’s certainly not worth it in the long run.
2. Synthetic Rubber Rugs
I mentioned that natural rubber is safe for hardwood floors because it doesn’t contain harsh chemicals that can seep into and scratch the floor. However, synthetic rubber is best avoided because it can cause damage.
If you’re purchasing a rug containing rubber, make sure it’s completely natural rather than synthetic.
3. Cheap, Synthetic Rugs
I’ve mentioned the importance of avoiding synthetic rubber, but in general, it’s good to avoid most synthetic materials.
It’s also good to avoid any rug that seems too cheap because there’s likely a reason why it’s so cheap. Additionally, avoid rugs that contain PVC because they can discolor your flooring.
Most cheap rugs are made of low-quality materials that could scratch your hardwood floor. Plus, the added chemicals could react badly with the hardwood. So it’s worth spending a little more on a good quality rug that will last a long time and not cause any damage.
Use Rug Pads To Protect Your Hardwood Floor
While choosing a good quality rug that won’t damage your hardwood floor is essential, it also helps to invest in a rug pad. A rug pad goes between your rug and the floor, acting as an extra layer of protection for your floor.
Like with rugs, there are certain materials to avoid in rug pads. The materials to avoid are the same ones you should avoid when buying a rug, including:
- Synthetic rubber and other materials
A common material for rug pads is natural rubber, which is safe for hardwood floors. An example is the RUGPADUSA pad, available on Amazon.com. It comes in many different sizes, so you can choose one to match the size of your rug. And since it’s made of natural rubber, it contains no plastics or harmful substances.
Is a Faux Fur Rug Safe for Hardwood Floors?
A faux fur rug is safe for hardwood floors, as long as it doesn’t contain a backing that’ll damage the wood, like plastic or synthetic rubber.
Since faux fur is generally soft and non-abrasive, you shouldn’t have to worry about any scratches or damage to your wooden floor. Faux fur rugs work well in many home rooms with hardwood flooring, including bedrooms and living rooms.
- The Rug Warehouse: A Guide to Traditional Hand Knotted Rugs
- MasterClass: Natural vs. Synthetic Fibers: What’s the Difference?
- University of Utah: What is Cotton
- The Campaign for Wool: ABOUT WOOL
- ScienceDirect: Sisal Fibre – an overview
- SpringerOpen: Prospect of bamboo as a renewable textile fiber, historical overview, labeling, controversies and regulation
- Frontiers: Secret Gardens Under the Sea: What are Seagrass Meadows and Why are They Important?
- FAO: Future Fibres: Jute
- MIT: Looking beyond luxury: MIT researchers eye silk as a powerful tool in the fight against climate change and global food sustainability
- RugPadUSA: Are Rubber-Backed Rug Pads Right for Your Floors?
- Urban Floor: Chuck Talk: The Best Rug Pads for Hardwood Floors
- Homesteady: Do Rubber-Backed Area Rugs Cause Discolorization to Wood Floors?
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.