What’s the Difference Between a Rug and a Carpet?

Posted On March 23, 2023

Chic floor coverings like rugs and carpets add a bit of luxury and warmth to any space, making them a go-to for anyone looking to spruce up their home’s aesthetic.

But it may surprise some that rugs and carpets aren’t synonymous. There’s a huge difference between the two, and each one gives any room a completely different ambiance.

Knowing the difference between a rug and a carpet is essential when decorating your home with floor coverings. Today, we’ll be taking you through what a rug and a carpet are and what makes each one unique.

Definitions: Area Rug vs. Carpet

What is a Rug?

First, let’s define each floor covering, starting with rugs.

A rug is a woven piece of fabric—usually hand-knotted and with ornate patterns—used to cover or decorate one specific area of a room

They’re relatively smaller than carpets, usually ranging from less than 5 feet to about 12 feet in length. Many rugs are made of luxurious materials, like wool and silk, which inject a bit of grandeur into any space.

Rugs allow you to express your creativity when decorating. Because it isn’t a permanent fixture, you can place it anywhere, whether as a centerpiece in your children’s cozy nursery or right under your coffee table in the living room. 

Since it’s easier to pick it up and relocate, it’s perfect for people who want to change how their home looks now and then.

What is a Carpet?

Now that we’ve covered what a rug is, the next question is: what is a carpet?

The biggest difference between an area rug vs. a carpet is that while a rug is small and covers just one area, a carpet takes up the entirety of a room’s flooring. It’s professionally installed from one wall to another. 

Because of that, it’s relatively permanent—it’s not something you can pick up and replace like a rug. So, the materials used to make them are thicker, like heavy-duty cotton and jute wool.

Interior Design: Rug vs. Carpet

Choosing between area rugs vs. carpets also has different interior design implications. 

For example, a carpet’s design and color are a huge basis for decorating the rest of the room. These elements set the room’s overall ambiance and are the foundation for its interior design. Everything you add to the space—from couches to tables—will have to match the carpet.

Meanwhile, since rugs have more intricate patterns and come in bold color palettes, they’re better suited to being accent decor or a statement piece. A rug elevates the look of your room and adds more character and personality to it.

There’s more you can do with a rug than a carpet, at least interior design-wise. You can use your handwoven rug to divide your space into smaller areas or add extra pizzazz by styling one rug on top of another. You can even hang up your most intricately woven rug as wall art to be admired by your guests.

Maintenance and Upkeep: Area Rug vs. Carpet

Another difference between rugs and carpets is how they should be cleaned and maintained. 

Of the two, it is much easier to wash and maintain a rug. It’s as simple as vacuuming your rug daily to eliminate surface dust and dirt. Don’t forget to lift your rug off the floor and get the dust underneath it. 

Then, once a year, wash them with a gently formulated detergent. Don’t just throw it in the washing machine, either. Use a soft-bristle brush to wash the rug, rinse, and then hang it up to dry.

Note that you should be very gentle when handling your rug so as not to ruin its expensive material and fibers.

On the other hand, carpets are a lot harder to clean than rugs because you can’t lift them from the floor and toss them in the laundry. The only way to clean carpeted floors is by vacuuming them and calling a professional service to get them cleaned.

Which is Better: a Rug or a Carpet?

You now have a better idea of the difference between a rug and a carpet. So the big question is, which is better for you and your space—a rug or a carpet? The answer depends on your interior design preferences and how you want to decorate your home.

A handmade, intricately woven rug with a gorgeous rustic pattern is better for your home if you’re going for an indie, bohemian vibe. But if you’re looking for something sleek and straightforward, a good old carpeting job is more suitable.

For more home décor tips and chic artisan rugs for your space, check out our collection of luxurious, handwoven rugs here.