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Carpet vs Rug: What's the Difference and How to Choose the Right One for Your Home

Carpet vs Rug: What's the Difference and How to Choose the Right One for Your Home - Rug the Rock

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a carpet and a rug? Or how to choose the best one for your space and style? If so, you are not alone. Many people are confused by these terms and their implications. In this post, we will explore the definitions, histories, and characteristics of carpets and rugs, and give you some tips on how to select the right one for your home.

Defining Rugs vs Carpets

A rug and a carpet are both types of floor coverings, but they have some differences in their definitions, according to different dictionaries. Here is a summary of how they are defined by various sources:

Rug Definition:

A rug is a piece of thick heavy cloth smaller than a carpet, used for covering the floor or for decoration (Oxford Languages, n.d.; Cambridge Dictionary, n.d.). It can also be a thick woolen coverlet or wrap, used especially when traveling (Oxford Languages, n.d.) or a toupee or wig (Oxford Languages, n.d.; Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

Carpet Definition:

A carpet is a floor or stair covering made from thick woven fabric, typically shaped to fit a particular room (Oxford Languages, n.d.). It can also be a large rug, especially one of a type traditionally made in parts of the Middle East and Asia (Oxford Languages, n.d.; Britannica, n.d.), a type of artificial playing surface on a tennis court or an athletic field (Oxford Languages, n.d.), or a thick or soft expanse or layer of something (Oxford Languages, n.d.; Collins, n.d.).


What is the Difference Between a Rug and a Carpet?

The difference between a rug and a carpet is mainly based on their size, installation, and usage. A carpet is a large floor covering that usually covers the entire floor of a room and is fixed to the floor with nails, glue, or tape. A rug is a smaller floor covering that can be moved from place to place and is often used to decorate or warm up a specific area of a room.

Some other features of a carpet vs a rug:

Feature Carpet Rug
Size Large Small
Installation Fixed Movable
Usage Covering Decorating
Material Thick and heavy Light and Fine
Suitability Sound insulation, comfort, warmth Style, color, texture
Cleaning Difficult Easy
Cost Expensive Depends

Why Are Some Rugs Called Carpets?

The terms rug and carpet are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings depending on the context and usage. Here are some possible reasons why some rugs are called carpets:


The history of the words:

The word carpet comes from Latin and means “to pluck or tear out”. The word rug comes from Scandinavian and means “a coarse woolen coverlet or wrap”. These words show how people made different kinds of floor coverings in the past.

The geography of the words:

The word carpet is more popular in Britain, while the word rug is more popular in America. In Britain, a carpet usually covers the whole room, while a rug covers a part of it. In America, a carpet can also cover a part of the room, while a rug can also cover the whole room.

The culture of the words:

The word carpet is often used for Persian and Oriental styles of weaving, which are very detailed and beautiful. The word rug is often used for tribal and nomadic styles of weaving, which are more simple and natural. But sometimes, rugs can also be called carpets, especially if they are big, expensive, or old. For example, the Ardabil Carpet is actually a pair of big rugs that were made in Iran in the 16th century.


Both terms have acquired different meanings and connotations over time, depending on the culture, context, and style of the carpets and rugs. For example, in some places, a carpet is considered a luxury item, while a rug is a common household object. In other places, a rug is a valuable piece of art, while a carpet is a cheap and mass-produced product. Some people use the terms to distinguish between different types of floor coverings, such as oriental rugs, Persian carpets, or area rugs. However, there is no clear or universal distinction between the terms, and they are often used synonymously in everyday speech.


How to Choose the Right Rug or Carpet for Your Home?

Now that you know the difference between a rug and a carpet, how do you choose the right one for your home? Here are some factors to consider:


  • The size of your room: A carpet can make a small room look bigger and cozier, while a rug can make a large room look more defined and interesting. A carpet can also hide any imperfections or damages on your floor, while a rug can highlight them. A carpet can also protect your floor from scratches and stains, while a rug can be easily removed and cleaned.
  • The style of your room: A carpet can create a uniform and harmonious look for your room, while a rug can add some contrast and personality. A carpet can also match any style of furniture and decor, while a rug can create some focal points and accents. A carpet can also blend in with your wall color and theme, while a rug can stand out and make a statement.
  • The function of your room: A carpet can provide more comfort and warmth for your room, especially if you have children or pets who like to play on the floor. A carpet can also reduce the noise and echo in your room, making it more peaceful and relaxing. A rug can provide more style and texture for your room, especially if you have hardwood or tile floors that need some softness and coziness. A rug can also define different zones and purposes in your room, such as a dining area, a seating area, or a reading area.

Check out our Authentic Hand-knotted Rugs


What are the Pros and Cons of Carpets and Rugs?

Carpet vs. rugs is a common dilemma for many homeowners who want to enhance their floors with a cozy and stylish covering. Both options have their pros and cons, depending on your needs, preferences, and budget. Here are some of them:


Carpets Pros:

  • It is more affordable than rugs when covering large spaces.
  • It provides more insulation and noise reduction than rugs, which can be beneficial for bedrooms, playrooms, and stairs.

Carpets Cons:

  • It is more difficult to maintain than rugs, as it can trap dust, allergens, and odors, and it can be stained or damaged by spills, pets, or furniture.
  • It tends to fade and wear out over time, requiring replacement or professional cleaning.
  • It can make a room look dated or boring, as it does not offer much variety or personality.

Rugs Pros:

  • They are easier to clean and replace than carpet, as some rugs are machine washable, and they can be moved and rearranged as needed.
  • They add more visual interest and texture to a space, allowing you to change the look and feel of your room with different colors and styles.
  • They can protect your floors from scratches, stains, and wear and tear.

Rugs Cons:

  • They are generally more expensive than carpet when covering large spaces, as rugs can be quite expensive, especially if they are hand-knotted, made of natural fibers, or have intricate patterns.



 Watch this fun video explaining the difference between rug, carpet and mat


We hope you have found this information helpful and interesting. If you have any questions or comments on rug vs carpet, please feel free to leave them below. And if you are looking for more tips and info on area rugs, please check out our Magazine.

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