The Best Area Rugs of 2020
When it comes to performance, the Maples Pelham Vintage is everything we want in a rug. It's thin and stiff enough to keep the edges and corners firmly against the floor and fit under just about any door, while still thick and soft enough to feel pleasant under bare feet. Its nylon fibers are easy to clean even the worst messes off of (like a plate of marinara sauce), and the low pile and low edge height make it easy to vacuum. The felt backing is thick and sturdy and doesn't need an extra layer to protect your floors.
You may want the extra layer of a rug pad, though, to keep the Pelham Vintage in place on the floor. It's not the most slippery rug we tested, but in high traffic areas with no furniture weighing it down (like in the front hall), it does move a bit. Additionally, this rug comes in limited shapes and sizes, and all are the same pattern. That being said, we like the pattern and colors and find it easy to match them to pretty much every room in the house. Maples also offers a wide variety of other patterns and colors of rugs that — though we didn't test them — we're guessing offer the same solid construction as this one and are sure to be crowd-pleasers.
Options: 1 pattern of 4 neutral colors, 6 sizes, and a couple of shapes (rectangles and runners)
The Safavieh Madison is an ideal rug for concealing pet hair, dirt, and stains — and for a lower cost than you might expect. The distressed, modern design is comprised of colors that can fit into most decor in a pattern that disguises whatever you may drop on it. Made mostly of polypropylene, this rug is surprisingly easy to clean — we easily scrubbed out two-day-old marinara sauce from a late-night spaghetti mishap with just a wet rag. As a low pile option, when you do get around to vacuuming, it's easy and painless. The Madison also comes in several color combinations and an astonishing array of sizes and shapes that make it easy to find the perfect rug for every high traffic space in your home that you'd rather not have to clean so often.
We did have a bit of a struggle getting this rug to lay flat, though, and the corners are a little easier to kick up and catch on doors than we'd like. It also needs a rug pad to go under it, as we still found ourselves sliding a bit even with a sectional couch and glass coffee table pinning it down. It's fairly thin, though nearly on par with most other low pile rugs. If you're after a rug that can handle the kids, the pets, and the spouse's daily wear, all on a budget, the Madison is an excellent choice.
Options: 1 pattern, 6 color combinations, 30+ sizes, and many shapes (rectangles, squares, runners, and circles)
Testing the mainly white nuLOOM Moroccan Blythe in a house with a black lab and a messy partner, we fully expected this rug to get destroyed. In this case, we're happy to be wrong and report that this modern-looking rug is not only exceptionally easy to clean but also a chic look that works great in just about any space. Red wine and a large, shedding pup proved no match for the Moroccan Blythe. The low pile polypropylene fibers clean up easily with just a wet rag, and vacuuming is a breeze. And though we tested the largest version of this floor covering, it's also available in one of the largest ranges of sizes and shapes of any model we tested. From small mats and runners to ovals and giant squares, this upscale patterned rug is easy to purchase in exactly the size you need.
We did have a bit of trouble getting this rug to lay flat, and it took much longer than most others to train the wrinkles out of it. We also found ourselves continually folding the corners under after scuffing them up entering the room. For smaller versions, you'll likely want a rug pad to place underneath as well, though, with a dining room table on top of ours, it stayed put with ease. Aside from these minor complaints, we're big fans of the look and options of this rug, making it a great choice to effortlessly fit in with your existing decor.
Options: 2 patterns, 8 colors, 35+ sizes, and numerous shapes (rectangles, squares, runners, circles, and ovals)
In for a Persian area rug without the insane price tag? Check out this super-soft option from Feraghan/New City. We adore how this rug feels underfoot; like tall velvet, cradling our toes. Even the dog loved to take long naps sprawled out on this oversized carpet. It comes in numerous color patterns that are perfectly created to match just about any existing furniture in the room. The half wool, half polypropylene is easy to make messy spills disappear, simple to vacuum, and has a busy Persian pattern that helps hide debris between cleanings. And the price tag isn't too bad either.
We had more trouble getting this rug to lay flat than any other we tested, taking several weeks of setting furniture, books, and other various objects on it to train the ripples away. Ours also measured over half a foot larger in both directions than we'd expected, and we read many other reports of the same issue. It's also only available in this wild, classic Persian pattern, so if that's not your jam, check out another rug. But if that is your jam, the Feraghan/New City Isfahan Persian is a comfortable, classic choice.
Options: 11 color patterns, 9 sizes, and a few shapes (rectangles, runners, and circles)
If you're after the sumptuous feel of thick shag but want to avoid the outdated "60s-era in Grandma's living room" look, the Safavieh Milan Shag is what you're after. While all shag rugs are thicker than their low pile cousins, the Milan is proudly deserving of the descriptor luxurious. Setting this unassuming mat in your bedroom will give you a reason to get out of bed every morning. It's not only made of tall fibers, but they are thickly bound together to create a supple cushion for your feet. Made of polypropylene, these fibers are also impressively stain resistant. And you can get the Milan in a wide range of sizes and shapes to fit whatever room you need a little softness in.
As you'd expect, vacuuming this shag rug is no easy feat. It's so tall that you simply cannot run an average vacuum cleaner over it. A small hand vacuum will do the trick, though — if you have one of those. And unless your doors have 2-inch gaps under them, you won't be able to put the Milan anywhere in the door's path. But if you're ready to accept the challenges of owning and cleaning a shag rug, we can't get enough of the feeling of digging our toes deep into the Milan.
Options: 8 solid colors, 20+ sizes, and many shapes (rectangles, squares, runners, and circles)
Searching for a natural fiber rug that doesn't sacrifice feeling soft underfoot? The nuLOOM Rigo Hand Woven Jute is our favorite of the bunch. This braided beauty comes in four colors that are solid enough to keep your room looking clean and variable enough to disguise everyday debris. We love how unexpectedly soft this jute mat is, and how easily it lays flat on the floor like it's been there all along. We had some reservations testing an off-white rug in a messy household with pets and accident-prone humans, and though it's not the simplest to clean, we're actually impressed with how well it's held up. The Rigo Jute also comes in a huge variety of sizes and shapes to class up any part of your home.
As a natural fiber rug, the Rigo Jute just isn't as easy to clean as its synthetic cousins. It took a not-insignificant amount of time and carpet cleaner to remove a splotch of spaghetti sauce. The braided fibers are prone to breaking if rubbed when wet, and the stitching holds onto stains for even longer. And though it is possible to vacuum this rug, the edges aren't conducive to easily rolling over with your machine — we had to back up onto it, wheels first. Almost similar to a rag rug, the Rigo Jute can slide and bunch, and is most easily enjoyed on top of a rug pad. And though it's a bit on the expensive side, if you're after a great-looking, soft natural rug, it's hard to go wrong with this stunning jute model.
Options: 4 solid, neutral colors, 35+ sizes, and numerous shapes (rectangles, squares, runners, circles, and ovals)
The Safavieh Natural Fiber is a seagrass rug that transforms your space into feeling like a beach house — and it even smells faintly of drying grass (though that effect won't last forever). It's a thick, stiff woven rug that doesn't easily crush underfoot or under furniture. A felt-dotted polypropylene backing ensures it stays in place better than most rugs without the use of an additional pad. And despite having a shedding dog in the hot summer AND being located in a high traffic area, this rug stayed deceptively clean-looking. It somehow doesn't easily soak up stains, continuing to retain the same classic style even after you spill on it.
However, if you're after a soft rug that's comfortable to stand on, the Natural Fiber will likely disappoint. It's not unpleasant to stand on, but you can easily feel all the details in the texture of this stiffly woven rug. As a natural seagrass mat, it also only comes in one color: seagrass. It can also be a bit variable in its exact shade (because, you know, grass) and may even change slightly over the course of its lifetime. It's offered with a lot of different border colors, though, and a ton of different sizes and shapes — for less than you might expect. If you like the look, don't mind a less forgiving feel, and are hunting for a great value, this area rug fits the bill.
Options: 1 mat color, 15+ border colors, 35+ sizes, and many shapes (rectangles, squares, runners, and circles)
Do you miss the hippy vibe of the 60s and 70s? If you answered "yes," then you're sure to love the look and feel of the Unique Loom Solo Solid Shag. This polypropylene shag rug has a good height to it without being so thick you're likely to trip on it. Its less dense yarns make it easier to vacuum (without a beater bar), while the synthetic fibers are more naturally stain resistant. You may catch yourself having flashbacks to earlier times when you dig your toes into the slightly rough yarn. It also comes in over 20 colors that range from 70s psychedelic to modern neutral tones and a ton of sizes for wherever you need some high pile around your home.
That said, if you're after an updated feel, soft fibers, and a thick cushion, this simple shag is likely to disappoint. Compared to other modern shag rugs we tested, this one is much thinner and made of fewer fibers. When cleaning up stains and vacuuming the Solid Shag, we also noticed the ends of the yarns already starting to fray. Additionally, it's a rug begging for a pad to not only provide extra cushion but also keep it in place. However, if you're a fan of the classic style of shag carpet, you might like this one.
Options: 20+ solid colors, 25+ sizes, and a few shapes (rectangles, squares, and circles)
Sometimes you just need a classic rag rug to pull your space together. The Safavieh Rag Rug is exactly that. With nine different color combinations and over 25 sizes and shapes, it's easy to find the kitchen mat, playroom surface, or basement floor covering that you've been looking for. Depending on the size of your rug and the size of your washing machine, you can even launder it more easily than just about any other type of rug out there. This rag rug also has tassels on the end that we're big fans of becayse they give it a slightly more upgraded look.
And yet, it comes with all the expected downfalls of just about every rag rug. It slides, folds, flips, and bunches easily, necessitating a pad or several pieces of heavy furniture to hold it in place. Similarly, it's nearly impossible to vacuum, as all the little imperfections that give it such a unique, carefree look, easily get sucked up and pulled loose. It also stays wet after spot cleaning for quite a long time, which is less of a major flaw and more of a minor complaint that we found to be jarring every time we walked across the wet spot, hours after cleaning up spilled red wine. But for a classic rag rug, this one is a good choice.
Options: 9 color combinations, 25+ sizes, and many shapes (rectangles, squares, runners, and circles)
Have you ever thought to yourself, "I wish I could make this floor feel more like my favorite childhood stuffed animal"? If so, then prepare to fall in love with the Lochas Ultra Soft. This funky spin on a shag rug includes an inner sponge layer that creates a squishy feel often loved by floor-dwelling children. The long fibers are silky soft and almost a little bit slippery — just like that giant stuffed wolf you had when you were 8. It's lightweight, making it easy to take outside and shake off in the yard. It also comes in over a dozen colors that include a lot of vibrant hues sure to be on many kindergarteners' list of favorite colors.
As a floppy rug with thin, sparse fibers, the Ultra Soft isn't an ideal choice for high traffic areas. It's too floppy to run a standard vacuum cleaner over, and as soon as you have to get it wet and clean it just once, you'll see how few hair-like fibers actually make up this rug. Though it cleans fairly easily in a bathtub, it's quite clingy when it comes to daily debris. A dropped piece of soft cheese had to be peeled out of the stringy strands almost like chewing gum in hair. We also found the broken fibers all over the rest of the house and even on our clothes. It's an interesting accent rug for low usage, or possibly a comfortable option in a child's bedroom or the basement playroom — if you're willing to clean it in the tub regularly.
Options: 13 solid colors and 5 rectangular sizes
Why You Should Trust Us
Our main tester, Maggie Brandenburg, is a rug connoisseur. Growing up in a household of allergy sufferers vehemently opposed to carpeting, she quickly learned the high value of a quality area rug. Even now, decades later, Maggie still loves laying on the floor to watch a movie — on the right rug, of course! As a long-time pet owner (birds, snakes, rabbits, dogs, lizards, you name it!) and admitted clutz, she has spent hundreds of hours cleaning, scrubbing, vacuuming, beating, and shaking rugs to remove fur/wine/sauce/chocolate/mud and even a full burrito. She, her even messier partner, and their happy-to-shed labrador mix dog put these rugs to the test of surviving in their home.
We also spent hours researching the best area rugs out there before selecting the top 10 to purchase and test shoulder to shoulder. We stood, sat, and laid on them, tried to slide them around, stuffed them under furniture, and opened doors on top of them. We got them dirty. These rugs were covered in pet hair, high desert dust, tree sap, marinara sauce, and red wine. We did our best to vacuum them, scrub them, and otherwise clean each one. We also evaluated their aesthetic appeal and versatility across decor styles, taking note of how many options of colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes each can be purchased in. After all this wear and tear and intensive scrutiny, we bring the best qualities and biggest flaws of each one to help you find the right rug for your home.
Analysis and Test Results
We intensively tested and evaluated these rugs across several categories to see how well they withstand daily abuse and which has what it takes to earn a place in your house. We assessed their comfort and usability in various situations and different rooms. We got them dirty and cleaned them up to see how much of a pain they are to upkeep. We considered their versatility of appearance and fit in different spaces around the house and evaluated their durability in the face of daily use and abuse. Below, we discuss the top contenders across each of these four metrics.
Comfort and Usability
To test each rug's comfort and usability, we evaluated a number of different criteria. We stood on them without socks and laid on them in shorts to see how each felt against bare skin. We compared the thickness and amount of cushion each one has — on hardwood floors without the use of a rug pad. We "surfed" on each, to see how easily they move, both on their own and with furniture on one or more sides. And through regular use, we took note of which ones have corners that are easily kicked up and edges that are readily tripped on.
Though we tested these rugs on their own, many of them recommend using a rug pad underneath. By placing a pad under your rug, you'll add comfort and stability.
Two rugs stand out here for slightly different reasons. When it comes to softness and underfoot feel in a low pile rug, the Feraghan/New City Isfahan Persian takes the cake. This thick half wool rug is silken and velvety, lightly crushing under your feet for a very pleasant and comforting experience. The Maples Pelham Vintage isn't quite as soft, but is by far the best rug we tested at keeping the corners and edges firmly on the floor. Despite not being the thinnest area rug we tried, it's the only one that consistently remained flat under our front door, which has a particularly narrow distance from the base to the floor. For anyone who's sick of tripping on rug corners, the Pelham Vintage is a much-needed breath of fresh air.
The Safavieh Madison and nuLOOM Moroccan Blythe are also fairly soft and about on par with the underfoot feel of the Maples Pelham Vintage. Both the Madison and the Moroccan Blythe suffer a bit when it comes to staying put, though. While for the most part, they remain flat, we did find ourselves occasionally kicking up corners in the dark.
For the pure joy of standing upon, the Safavieh Milan Shag is hard to beat. It's the plushest, most luxurious shag rug we have ever had the privilege of setting foot on. It's an absolute joy to wriggle toes into while it hugs your digits. Its biggest downfalls are how easily it slides across hardwood floors, and its sheer thickness makes it an automatic tripping hazard. Also worth mentioning is the nuLOOM Rigo Hand Woven Jute, which exceeded our expectations of softness in a natural fiber area rug.
Ease of Cleaning
It's impossible to have an area rug (or pretty much anything in your home) without ever having to clean it. As something that not only collects general dust, you also step on it regularly and may even eat over it. So finding a rug that's conducive to cleaning is important. We tested each rug's ability to be vacuumed with a standard rolling vacuum, with or without the spinning beater brush. We spilled highly staining substances like spaghetti sauce, red wine, and warm chocolate on them to see if we could get it off again. And we evaluated how easily each collects dirt, hair, and other debris, and assessed if they look dirty easily or can go for weeks between cleanings.
In general, rugs made of synthetic fibers like polypropylene and nylon are easier to remove stains from, and natural fiber rugs (like jute) are more prone to staining. However, each has its tricks to make it as good as new. For any stain, first, try simply blotting with a warm wet rag. If your rug is synthetic, you may be able to rub the stain right out. If that doesn't work, a warm soapy rag will often do the trick. For really bad spills, you may need a cleaner from the store, like Resolve. However, not all fibers react well to this treatment. Be sure to test any cleaner on a hidden part of the rug FIRST, before using it on a large area. Otherwise, you may end up with a bleached or faded spot in the middle of your new carpet.
The Maples Pelham Vintage again stands out in this category. Not only are its synthetic fibers exceptionally easy to clean, with all the corners and edges securely against the floor, but it's also a cinch to roll a vacuum right onto this rug and clean it up. The Safavieh Madison is another exemplary area rug in this arena. Though its corners sometimes roll up under a vacuum, the rug itself is easy to clean. We also handily removed two-day-old marinara sauce with just a wet rag. The distressed, irregular pattern of the Madison lends itself very well to concealing any blemishes and debris it may acquire throughout its life.
The Feraghan/New City Isfahan Persian has a very busy, forgiving pattern that helps hide pet hair between cleanings and readily lifts stains away. We're also impressed by the stain resistance of the nuLOOM Moroccan Blythe, which, despite being a mainly off-white rug, easily repelled every stain we tried to give it. And though performing a deep clean of the Safavieh Natural Fiber, comprised of seagrass, is something best left to the professionals, we found it surprisingly easy to wipe messes right off the surface, with no lingering stain to the dried grass itself. Alone among the crowd, the Safavieh Rag Rug is the only one we tested that can literally be washed in a washing machine.
While each of us has our own particular style and desires for creating our personal spaces, there are still some basic criteria that every area rug we tested can be held up to. We first considered the colors and patterns offered and how well those patterns fit into people's existing furniture and decor. Wider ranges of colors to match more diverse palates also performed better in this metric. And because we all live in different homes with different arrangements, we also assessed the diversity of sizes and shapes each rug is offered in. From giant area rugs to hallway runners and kitchen sink mats to circular dining room coverings, the greater the diversity of offerings, the better each rug scored in this metric.
While much of choosing what look of area rug you like is dependent on your personal preference, there are a few tips that can help you decide. First, measure the space you're hoping to fill and order up a size. This lets you put the edges of the rug under your furniture, creating a more pulled-together appearance. Second, consider the feeling you're going for. Highly patterned rugs tend to make a room feel smaller, fuller, and perhaps cozier. Plain colored rugs, and especially lightly colored rugs, typically make your space feel more open, cleaner, and less cluttered. Consider the rest of your furniture and decor and choose a rug that matches its vibe — otherwise, you'll end up wanting a new couch too…
Two top contenders in this category make the cut for different reasons. The nuLOOM Moroccan Blythe features a pattern that's interesting and versatile across decorating styles without being too busy. It also comes in the most colors, sizes, and shapes of any rug we tested, allowing you to choose the absolute perfect fit for your personal space. The nuLOOM Rigo Jute also stands out in this category for a classic, clean handwoven style that, though it comes in just four colors, can easily be incorporated to upgrade the look of almost any arrangement style. And like the Moroccan Blythe, the Rigo Jute is offered in an astounding array of sizes and shapes that are sure to fit any space in your home.
The Safavieh Madison is another appealing rug, for a more modern look. While its irregular, distressed patterning might not be for everyone, it comes in numerous colors that give it wide appeal. It's also available in an exceptional amount of sizes and shapes. The Maples Pelham Vintage has fewer offerings of shapes, sizes, and colors, but is available in four neutrally appealing colors with a timeless pattern that doesn't overwhelm the space it's set in.
Though we didn't have years to test each of these area rugs, we did our best to simulate intensive use in a condensed amount of time. We went out of our way to scuff on them in shoes, roughhouse with a big dog, spill and clean them, and vacuum them repeatedly. We appraised the construction and materials of each rug and thoroughly examined them for flaws and weak points, particularly backings, edges, corners, and loose fibers. We also scoured the internet to dig up figurative dirt on each model and see if we could uncover similar issues.
By and large, low pile, synthetic rugs are better suited to withstand the daily abuse of high traffic areas. However, the lifetime of your rug is also dependent on how you treat it when it's in need. Not every rug can take daily vacuuming or being sprayed with chemical cleaners. Be sure to read the directions of your specific floor covering and follow the cleaning and care recommendations to elongate the lifespan of your investment.
Once again, the Maples Pelham Vintage shines brightly. This synthetic, nylon rug is an ideal combination of low pile fibers firmly secured to a solid felt backing, ringed with a stout border. It easily withstood everything we could throw at it with no hint of failing. From painlessly relaxing down flat after shipping to remaining unflappable even in the front hall of a busy home, the Pelham Vintage performed better than the rest and gave us no reason to doubt its continued impressive performance.
The Safavieh Madison also proved to be a durable area rug. Another synthetic model, the Madison heartily withstood life in the living room of a messy family with a large dog, looking no worse for the wear. It's not quite as impressive as the Pelham Vintage, as the edges and corners need a bit more coaxing to stay put, and too much tripping could shorten its life. It also doesn't have quite as impressive of backing on it and is better suited to life on top of a rug pad. But overall, it's a pretty durable rug made to withstand regular use.
The Feraghan/New City Isfahan Persian, nuLOOM Moroccan Blythe, and Safavieh Milan Shag also stand out as above-average when it comes to durability. All three of these rugs are solidly constructed with well-defined edges, quality materials, and minimal shedding. However, the Isfahan Persian and Moroccan Blythe both have some minor challenges laying flat, requiring more work than average, creating a tripping hazard in the meantime. The Unique Loom Solo Solid Shag is distinctive as well, with two thick ribbons of durable material running down each side to help keep it from getting beaten up by constant tripping.
While we don't typically like to highlight poor performers, sometimes one performs so poorly that we feel obligated to mention it. In this case, the Lochas Ultra Soft exceeded our expectations — in a bad way. This rug let us down in just about every category across the board. Its spongy interior provides no actual support, just squishing flat with even a small amount of weight on it. Its fuzzy top is synthetically smooth to the point of being almost slippery, it is extremely difficult to clean, and the thin, hair-like fibers shed uncommonly easily and quickly spread themselves throughout the entire house. As much as we wanted to like this fuzzy, floppy rug, we just… don't.
Finding the perfect area rug to fit your home isn't as simple as just picking a pretty pattern. We dove into the nitty-gritty of what makes a rug worth your money. No matter what vibe you're trying to bring or space you need to fill, we've done the work to find the ideal rug to suit your requirements.
— Maggie Brandenburg