Carpet vs Rug: What’s The Difference?

Alex Mcil author
Alex Mcil

Aren’t those two the same thing? That is usually the thought people have when deciding how to cover the floors in their home.

Even though some will refer to both carpet and a rug as the same floor coverings, they are actually quite different. In America, these terms have a clear distinction, being a carpet the permanent option and a rug a removable one.

Let’s look over some of the key facts you should know while choosing the perfect floor covering for your living space.

“People often use carpets and rugs interchangeably, but it’s crucial to know that they have distinct differences in terms of their manufacture, use, and cleaning. Having analyzed the textile industry for over twenty years, I can assure you that understanding these differences can play a significant role in choosing the right product and maintaining its longevity. My research on high-traffic textiles underscores the need for such discernment.”

Zane Quiver, Textile Analyst

Different Home Styles

The style you decorate your entire home in will definitely play the main role in choosing the right type of floor covering. It does not necessarily have to be the rule, but aesthetically you don’t want to put a wall to wall carpet in the industrial decorated home.

If your home, in fact, is decorated using the industrial style or even rustic, the choice of floor covering will probably be a rug made of thick heavy fabric.

carpet vs rug

If you decorate your living space more in a contemporary or modern style, you might want to consider using wall to wall carpeting. That will give your home space the warmth and coziness vibe. We will often see wall to wall carpeting in coastal designed homes too!

Your place will define whether you need a rug or a carpet, for example, if you have elderly people in your family, you’ll want a material that’s easier to walk on.

Minimalist interior designers will probably lean more into the rugs to cover the floor space. Same goes for bohemian and traditional styled homes.

Rugs come in all kinds of designs, a mat in the entryway, or a runner in the hallway can add both style and comfort to your home.

So when choosing between carpet vs rug, definitely have in mind what does the rest of your home is styled as, and that will help you with your decision! Along with other things we will mention below!

Quick answer

A rug is a woven fabric that lays on the floor and can be removed at will. A carpet is also a woven fabric but it is permanently installed on the floor and it covers the whole surface. These terms can be interchangeable in some countries.

Identifying the differences between a rug and a carpet. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each one?

When making any decision regarding your home, you have to consider all the benefits and disadvantages for your main choices. We created a list of pros and cons for carpet vs rug debate, that will make sure to give you the big picture while decorating your home.

Pros of Carpet Floor Coverings

The word carpet is derived from the Latin word “carpere” which means “to pluck”. While rug making has been around for centuries, the term “carpet” wasn’t used until the 15th century. Carpets are often made from a variety of materials including wool, cotton, nylon, and polyesterand are usually held together with some form of glue. The main thing you need to do in order to keep your clothes looking their best is to practice proper maintenance, which includes things like regularly washing and ironing them, and avoiding things that can damage the fabric.

When we talk about carpets, we usually think of wall to wall carpeting which seems so convenient, especially when you don’t have the time to sweep your hardwood floor all the time. It provides the cover for the full floor space, which is ideal for homes that have multiple small rooms.

Wall to wall carpeting is glued or even cemented to your floor. It is also very soft, because of the cushion padding that is created for this sole purpose. The fact that they cover the entire room, makes them slip resistant and trip resistant, therefore it makes them ideal for homes of elderly. It is a good solution if you have babies too!

wall to wall home carpet

Carpets are usually made in neutral colors. That is a huge advantage for people who like to experiment with different colors in the rest of their home deco.

Carpets are great for insulation, the can prevent up to 50% of heat loss in cold environments. Carpets are good protection against cold. They will make your home look more luxurious and inviting, and they can also help to keep your feet warm in the winter. 

The installation of the wall to wall carpet can be a bit pricy, but if you choose the right materials it can be very durable. Carpets made of wool or nylon are the most durable, and with proper care they can last for over 15 years!

Cons of Carpet Floor Coverings

Even though carpet floor coverings have many advantages to it, they also have a few downsides we need to consider.

First of all, before choosing wall to wall carpeting, you need to think about weather you and your family have any allergies. Dust and dust mites can easily pile up in the fabric, which can spike up your allergy symptoms. Dust allergies are very common, especially if you live in an area with a dry climate, so make sure you have this aspect in mind when you choose carpets!

allergies caused by carpets

The installation of carpets itself can be pricy, and carpet cleaners are not very affordable to everyone.

You can expect to be paying at least $3 per square foot from a professional. As for the carpet cleaners, they usually come above the $300 tag price.

After installation of wall to wall carpets, your home can easily become full from off gassing. Wall to wall carpets can release chemical by-products into the air for months!

Because it is attached to your flooring, it can potentially damage it if you ever decided to go back to your previous floor covering style.

All that aside, probably the biggest disadvantage of having carpets in your house, is the fact you can’t take them with you if you move!

Pros of Rugs

Some people would consider rugs as the work of art, which some of them truly are! They are definitely the most traditional way to cover your floors, and can be a perfect solution to cover a specific area in your home.

A rug is a piece of fabric or cloth with fibers. the size can vary, but usually, it is big enough to cover a large area of floor space. Sometimes they can be made by hand.

No one can deny the fact that rugs are very easily cleaned. Cleaning can be a crucial factor when making a decision on what floor covers to use, and rugs are winning in this race.

If you are an indecisive person, or you just get bored easily, rugs are the choice for you. You can replace them whenever you’d like, and if you want to – you can even match them with your furniture!

Rugs come in different materials, some of the most popular are wool, nylon, polyester and cotton. You can purchase a quality rug for just $180 dollars.

Some people like to switch different rugs based on seasons. So they would use thick, wool rugs during the winter, and during the summer they would take out lighter fabric rugs.

If you have small children or pets, you’ll want to choose a durable and easy-to-clean textile. Rugs can add beauty and luxury if you choose the right one. Even if they are more expensive, they will bring more elegance and work as decoration.

Having a traditional thick rug in your living room can create a visually bigger space, and also bring back the old-fashioned warmth to the picture. Surely you can find a rug with the perfect pattern and design. You can also consider other factors such as softness, durability, texture and color. 

Cons of Rugs

Hard to believe, but having area rugs in your house has a few disadvantages.

If you leave with the elderly, you should probably reconsider having a rug because people are more likely to slip on it, even if it is slip resistant. Either way, make sure to use padding to make it attached to the floor. Rugs are among the top 10 causes of accidents for elderly people.

Unlike the wall to wall carpets, area rugs do not provide your rooms with the same unified look. So choosing the right patterns, colors and fabric can be challenging.

Rugs do not help much in cold environments, but they can create a barrier between your feet and the cold floor.

Area rug cannot cover your full floor space, therefore make sure you are ready to have a cold hard floor areas. For some people, especially the ones who are used to the warmth, this can be a deal-breaker!

Can You Settle The Debate?

Partial floor covering or Full floor space covering?

After looking at the difference between a rug and carpet, we can see that two main factors you need to consider:

What style you are looking for
If you have any health issues

People tend to think that it is for some reason forbidden to mix different styles and different materials while decorating their living space. But we think the opposite! If all the health reasons are out of question, you can definitely use different materials, patterns and even different styles in different rooms. You can combine both a rug and a carpet to add a different layer. There are a lot of reasons why you can use both at the same time.

Even though the words rug and carpet are interchangeable in some cultures, this information should put it clear that a difference can be understood.

Play with color schemes, explore many styles and form your own opinion on what is the difference between a rug and a carpet. Obviously think about your budget and you will come up with a great option for floor coverings in your house!

We are sure that no matter if you choose a rug or a carpet for your room, the living space you create in each room will definitely be covered in beautiful pieces of thick, soft fabric. One thing we can all agree on is that both flooring and carpeting are important for your home deco.


7 thoughts on “Carpet vs Rug: What’s The Difference?”

  1. While the difference in permanency between rugs and carpets is apparent, one should also consider aesthetics and functionality. From my professional experience, rugs provide versatility and can bring an exciting dynamic to the room, whereas carpets ensure warmth and create a uniform design palette.

  2. Picking between a carpet and a rug is akin to choosing between a carefully tailored suit and an off-the-shelf one; the former gives you a richer, finer experience, while the latter allows for more flexibility and spontaneity.

  3. Having spent countless hours working in homes with varying styles and needs, I can confidently tell you that whether you choose a carpet or a rug significantly impacts the overall vibe of the space. In larger, busy homes, I’d generally advise for a rug for its versatile and easy-to-clean nature, whilst for cozier spaces, a warm carpet can add elements of comfort and grandeur.

  4. As a carpenter who loves to play around with different home layouts, I completely get the rug vs. carpet conundrum. It’s like choosing between stationary furniture and movable ones, both serve their purpose and create distinct atmospheres. For instance, in my own farmhouse, a carpet in the study provides a warmer, more enclosed feel, whereas a rug in our vast living room allows me to play around with different settings. So, I’d say it’s less about one being better than the other, and more about them serving different needs and moods.

  5. Dear Dorian, as an interior designer by profession for more than forty years, I absolutely agree with your perspective that both rugs and carpets have their unique places depending on the mood and functionality of the room it intends to serve.

  6. Avatar
    Theodora Quillsworth

    In my last venture of refurbishing my 19th-century sitting room, I chose a large ornate Turkish rug over carpeting. It not only allowed me to frequently change the mood depending on seasons or occasions but also became a conversation starter during house parties.

  7. Avatar
    Quincy Gullington

    I second Theodora’s opinion on Turkish rugs as I have placed them repeatedly in the projects I’ve handled. However, it’s essential to remember that their grandeur does not suit all space styles; they shine in classic or eclectic settings but can easily overwhelm minimalist or contemporary rooms.

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