Do area rugs damage hardwood floors?

an area rug being made at Y's Way
Custom area rugs are manufactured by Y’s Way.

Nothing can dress up a room quite like the right area rug. These significant décor pieces can add interest to any room, separate spaces in a main common area, and even make a room appear larger or incredibly cozy. Area rugs can also protect floors in high-traffic areas and spaces from damage due to daily wear and tear. Nothing can protect a hardwood in a hallway constantly used by people and pets like a runner, or a large area rug in a main living space.

Area rugs do come with a certain amount of frequently asked questions—questions we hear from customers who come in for these attractive floors and the area rugs that protect them.

Do area rugs damage hardwood floors?

Whether an area rug is going to damage a wood floor depends on the fiber of the rug. Be cautious about buying any rug without considering the risk to the floor. Certain kind of rug fibers can scratch or damage wood flooring. When purchasing a wood floor, ask about what kind of area rugs can be added to a space and if any kind of protection (such as mat) should be used. Sometimes a waiting period is recommended after floor installation before an area rug should be added to the space.

How do I clean my area rug?

Cleaning an area rug is the same for carpet and an area rug.

  • Spills should be absorbed with paper toweling or another soft cloth before cleaning with a stain remover.
  • Stain remover should always be tested in an area that is not visible to lessen the chance of discoloration or fading. (Contact a local flooring store to get the best carpet stain cleaner for the area rug.)
  • Do not use too much elbow grease when scrubbing, which can damage the area rug fibers. Instead blot at the stain to remove it.
  • A deep cleaning is recommended on a periodic basis to keep an area rug looking new.

However, these area rug cleaning tips come with a word of caution. Be careful when cleaning an area rug over a wood floor; moisture can damage a wood floor and permanently stain a floor. When deep cleaning a rug, trust the job to the professionals or move the area rug to an area where the rug can be cleaned without damaging the floor underneath.

What is the best area rug for my space?

Choosing the right area rug is different for every homeowner and space, but there are several factors that can be used in the decision:

  • Size. There are several different theories on the size of an area rug in proportion to a room. In general, decide on the size of the rug after looking at the space. Will furniture be covering the rug (like in a dining room)? Is the area rug an anchor for a room, and is only going to be under a coffee table and couch? Should the area rug be sized to fit under and around a bed as a comfortable (and warm) feel under feet?
  • Color & Pattern. An area rug can serve one of two purposes with room décor: as an item of interest or as a neutral coordinating piece of décor. A brightly colored or strongly patterned area rug can pop in a room, while a rug with colors similar to other items in the room plays a neutral role in the décor. Either way, try to find or custom order a rug that has coordinating colors that pull out the color of the furniture or wall.
  • Shape. The most common area rug shape is a rectangle. However, when centering room decor around the rug, feel free to think out the box. Would a round rug complement existing furniture, such as a round coffee table? Would a long narrow runner be more appropriate?
  • Traffic. Before choosing a rug, consider the amount of traffic (both foot and paw) in a space. Is the rug in a main hallway? A living room? Or in a bedroom? A high pile rug, or “shag” rug, may fare better in low traffic areas, while a low pile rug can handle a high amount of foot traffic.