Guide to Choosing a Rug that Matches Your Floor Type

Guide to Choosing a Rug that Matches Your Floor Type

Buying an area rug may sound as simple as picking out your favorite option from a catalog or a brick-and-mortar store, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that. Even though you may think you’ve decided on the right design style for your interior or the colors and patterns you want to work with, you may be neglecting a part of room design that many people overlook: the existing flooring. The type of flooring you have already in your home may make a big difference when it comes to picking the area rug you want to use. Check out our tips and tricks below to help you better understand how to decorate with area rugs no matter what type of flooring you’re working with.


Many people often wonder what type of area rug is right for use over carpeting. While it’s true that you may not need an area rug over a carpet, many people prefer to go this route for a wide variety of different reasons. For example, if you rent your home and are unable to change the carpet when it gets old and worn out in appearance, putting down an area rug may be a good solution. Families who don’t have the budget to totally replace their carpeting may prefer to go this route, too. And, in some instances, individuals just like the way area rugs look over carpeting.

No matter what has led you to choose decorating with a rug over a carpet, there are a few tips you can keep in mind:

  • Vary your textures. Choose a texture in your rug that isn’t already represented by your carpeting. For example, if you have a medium-pile carpet, you may want to go with a shag rug over the top—or go with something even shorter instead. As long as you’re varying the way it looks and feels, your area rug is sure to make the statement you want in your carpeted room.
  • Choose complementary or matching colors. Don’t pick a color that comes out of nowhere in your room when you’re using an area rug over a carpet. Many people prefer to try to match the carpet’s color, but choosing a complementary color can be just as effective, depending on the type of room you’re decorating.
  • Try unique fibers. The more unique the better, since your rug is going to be serving as a statement piece in a room that already has carpeting. Some people prefer to use fibers like jute or sisal for this purpose, while others may want to go with something even more unique, like woven recycled rubber.
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Hardwood or Laminate

When you have a hardwood or laminate floor, the choice you make for your area rug is a little bit more open to your interpretation. This type of flooring can typically look great with almost any style, fiber, and color of area rug over the top. However, you may want to stick to materials that can hold up well to dampness, since anything that gets spilled on the floor is going to be absorbed by the rug rather than by any carpeting or padding underneath. Don’t forget to use pops of color—even neutral color—whenever possible on your hardwood or laminate flooring! These types of floors are generally neutral in tone themselves, so they can handle a lot more color than some carpeting and other types of floor treatments can.

This type of flooring may also require a rug pad or an underlay depending on the material you choose to use in your area rug. For example, if you want to use a jute rug on a real hardwood floor, you’re risking the rug’s fibers scratching up the finish and maybe even permanently damaging the floor itself. This is fine if you don’t mind a distressed look on your wood floors, but many people prefer to protect their flooring with a rug pad. This can also be a good excuse to use two layered rugs for a unique look!


Tile is a unique type of flooring that may not be seen in all homes. Depending on where you live, however, you may have tile in your living room, hallways, or even bedrooms and not just in your kitchen and bathroom. Just like with a hardwood or laminate floor, you may want to choose a rug pad for anything you use on a tile floor as well. This is because many types of fibers will slide around on a tile floor and may become a tripping hazard. Depending on the way you plan to use your rug, you might want to anchor it under furniture or use sticky rug grips instead.

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Picking the right color to use with a tile floor is a little trickier than choosing one for a hardwood or laminate floor. Hardwood is usually brown or another neutral tone, but tile can be all sorts of different colors and shades. For this reason, you may want to refer back to the carpeting tips and try to find something that’s complementary or matching a bit more when you’re picking a rug for use on a tile floor.

Finally, since tile floors are slippery, you may be better of sticking to smaller throw rugs on tile than larger centerpieces. This decision is up to you, but it may be a matter of both safety and convenience.

In the end, the decision you make is entirely yours. If you choose to use a type of area rug over your flooring that isn’t commonly recommended, then that’s okay—interior design trends are just there as a guideline, and they don’t have to completely dictate what you do with your own home. However, if you’re looking for some suggestions about how to get started with decorating using area rugs and you find yourself a little bit stumped, the tips above can give you a great springboard to start shopping for your new rug. Keep them in mind when you’re looking for the best pick for the type of flooring you already have, and use these suggestions to help you narrow down your options when you’re having trouble deciding on which rug is the best choice among some of your favorites.