Rugs for hardwood floors: pros and cons, materials, and colors

Hardwood floors are a real feast for both the eyes and the feet. Natural and surprisingly beautiful texture, unique ability to retain heat, unprecedented environmental friendliness – all this inspires us to order hardwood flooring, again and again, even today, when the range of flooring is expanding more and more.

One of the undoubted advantages of such a floor is its self-sufficiency. Ordinary wood and hardwood are so good on their own that this flooring does not require any additional decor at all. However, it should be noted that in most cases, the owners of houses and apartments do not miss the opportunity to complement the interior with flooring of this type with a large or luxurious carpet or, on the contrary, with a compact and laconic rug. Is this decision justified? In this case, the designers are unanimous: it is not just justified – it is logical and natural.

If you plan to decorate your living room, bedroom, dining room, or hall with wooden floors with some pretty rug for a long time, then do not think that you can act spontaneously and generally at random in this case. For all its friendliness, wood texture is quite demanding on all elements that come into close contact with it, be it furniture, decor, or textiles. That is why you should take a closer look at the rules and features of choosing a rug that can make a harmonious pair with the hardwood floor.

Why use a rug on a wood floor?

As we said earlier, wood floors delight both with a beautiful and noble appearance and a fantastic feeling of warmth that wood can maintain even in prolonged cold weather. Modern trends in interior design more and more often make it possible to abandon floor textiles and leave hardwood as open as possible for viewing – and most often, this does not harm the interior in the least. So why add a rug to the decor? Designers make pretty compelling arguments:

  • Accent. Area rugs can become an excellent color and texture spot and visually unite any furniture group if the size allows it. So, an accent rug on the wood floor often denotes the boundaries of a recreation area, where armchairs, a sofa, or a coffee table are located around it or on it; fireplace with a hanging chair; dining room with the obligatory arrangement of chairs; or organically complements the furniture of the bedroom, subject to the competent method of placement.
  • Tactile comfort. Soft and cozy textiles are still more pleasant to the touch than bare, albeit wooden floors. If you like to walk around the house barefoot, then you still cannot do without a rug, no matter what your flooring is made of.
  • Additional floor protection. Although hardwood and other types of wood flooring are renowned for their durability, there are many circumstances in which severe or minor damage can be caused to them – from an accidentally spilled hot tea to being hit by a stiletto heel or even an ordinary shoe. We will not even talk about the ability of wood floors to attract and make visible wool, dust, and small debris – first of all, this concerns dark coatings. In any case, the larger your carpet, the less hassle your wood floor will give you, and the less you will worry about it.

Rooms where you can place a rug on a hardwood floor

So, you are a happy owner of an apartment, a house, or even just one room with a floor made of wood, and you liked the rug in the store. Another situation is also possible: you have decided that carpets will make the room more comfortable, stylish and balanced, and now you are going in search of a suitable product. In any case, it’s time to decide now how your rug will be arranged on the wooden floor – especially since there are really more than enough options:

  • In recreation areas. We have already written above that the rug often becomes an opportunity to make the rest area even cozier. That is why carpets are often put in living rooms, equipping a composition of upholstered furniture and a coffee table, in the area of fireplaces, creating an opportunity to sit down with pleasure by the fire in a hanging chair or right on the floor, as well as in the bedroom, where the rug adds not only visual warmth but also provides physical comfort.
  • In functional areas. In this case, we are talking primarily about dining rooms, where the rug perfectly copes with the task of creating a harmonious and elegant interior, skillfully combining the dining table and chairs into a cozy island. Equally important is its ability to protect a wood floor from accidentally toppled or dropped food and spilled liquids: this may sound amazing, but hot soup and your favorite wine can be highly aggressive towards wooden floors, and these are just a couple of examples. For the same reason, a small rug on a wood floor in the working area in the kitchen is also very appropriate, where it will save you from unnecessary worries about the safety of the flooring during culinary battles.
  • In areas of high traffic. We have already mentioned that, although hardwood can withstand sufficient shock loads, and when coated with high-quality varnish, it is also resistant to abrasion, with prolonged exposure, it can come into a rather deplorable state and require, in the best case, the renewal of the coating, and at worst – replacement of individual boards. That is why placing a rug or walkway in areas such as a corridor, living room, or hallway can significantly extend the life of a wood floor.
  • In plain sight – in accent areas. In some cases, the combination of rugs and wood flooring is used alone. In this case, the carpet plays the role of an expressive color spot, drawing attention to itself and adding volume, texture, and unique energy to the design. A similar technique is often used in spacious living rooms to fill empty spaces and offices, where sometimes there is not enough reason to rest the eyes.

Rug materials: a variety of solutions

Having solved all the pressing issues with the feasibility of buying and the location of rugs, it’s time to move on to the materials from which it will be made. Today, designers offer many solutions – all that remains is to choose what seems the most harmonious and suitable for a hardwood floor.


Natural and at the same time quite expensive materials, rugs from which have been woven for more than one century. A wool carpet on a wood floor is a unity of two natural elements, harmonious, consonant, and relevant in any interior style, including classic, loft, Scandinavian, and even minimalism. In addition, both wool and wood are very friendly materials to each other, and therefore there are usually no problems when placing such a rug on the floor.


Cotton rugs, charming in their modesty, remain one of the most striking trends today. The thinness and absence of lint combined with natural weaving make them a real find both for modern and ethnic interiors and design in “rustic” styles – country, farmhouse, and French country.


A silk rug on a hardwood floor is a real rarity, valuable, and exclusive. As a rule, such accessories are used only in expensive interiors and mainly as an independent accent since no furniture is placed on them. However, it looks really great, and the natural wood background only enhances its sophistication.

Natural plant fiber

Another wonderful union of a floor accessory and a natural wood covering – and not only harmonious but also highly relevant. Today, rugs made of coconut, jute, bamboo, and sisal decorate interiors in various styles – from eco to eclecticism. However, when choosing such a model, make sure that the substrate for the hardwood floor is safe. However, more on that below.


The combination of fur rugs and wood floors is especially welcome in chalet style, and this is not surprising: the more the interior warms, literally and figuratively, the better. A soft, fluffy, and bliss-promising sheepskin rug will suit you if you live in northern latitudes or are often cold – and at the same time prefer interiors with an apparent ethnic influence.


Carpets made of synthetic materials are practical, durable, and presented in various options, both in shape and texture. A quality product can complement hardwood flooring but ensure that the underlay is harmless to the floor surface.

Rug and wood: color schemes

And now, let’s move on to the most interesting: selecting carpet colors for wood floors. As you know, there are quite a few of them, but to reduce the time to choose from, we suggest focusing on the shade of the wood flooring. For your convenience, we will divide them into three groups.

Natural wood shades

This palette includes the familiar woody tones in a reasonably wide range – from brown and light brown to honey, amber, and deep yellow. Such floors require warm or deep and rich colors – you can try:

  • All shades of brown;
  • Beige or cream;
  • Terracotta and ocher;
  • Sea blue;
  • Emerald;
  • Coral.

Light wood floors

Light wood floors can make a room more spacious, airy, and at the same time naturally cheerful. As a rule, colder, gray tones of wood are related to this palette. Therefore, when choosing a carpet for such a floor, pay attention to the following shades:

  • Light and dark gray – pearl, smoky, graphite;
  • White;
  • Light orange;
  • Pale blue;
  • Burgundy;
  • Red and scarlet;
  • Dark brown.

Dark wood floors

Dark wood floors look noble and mysterious, but at the same time, dark shades can create a somewhat overwhelming feeling. A lighter rug in the following tones will help to avoid this:

  • Pale gray;
  • Smoky white;
  • Beige or pastel yellow;
  • Light blue;
  • Red and white.

As for the patterns on carpets, experts recommend being especially careful with them. So, if the texture of the wood is very pronounced, then textiles with a pattern can create a solid visual disturbance. In this case, try a quieter geometric pattern or put the rug perpendicular to the wood structure for a clear and crisp contrast.

Dangers: how to protect hardwood flooring when placing a carpet

At first glance, it may seem that there is nothing criminal in the combination of a wood floor and a rug. However, this is a very dangerous misconception: carelessness in placing the rug can cost your surface appearance. To avoid this, use the following tips:

  • Make sure the dye is stable. If the carpet sheds when moisture gets on it, you risk getting stains that cannot be removed – and for hardwood, this is a severe damage. That is why carefully read the information about the product on the label, and you can also test the dyes for strength yourself, lightly rubbing the edge of the carpet with a light handkerchief.
  • Try to choose “breathable” rugs. Good ventilation guarantees a long service life of the hardwood under the carpet and effective removal of heat, moisture, and gases (we hope you remember that wood breathes). Wool, cotton, and plant fibers do the best for this.
  • Be sure to pay attention to the backing. Remember right away: the seamy sides of a carpet made of PVC, rubber, latex, and plastic are an absolute taboo for use on wood floors unless, of course, you want to get the result in the form of scratches and swelling of the varnish and even the boards themselves. However, you have an alternative – natural rubber heels at the rug’s corners or a felt base.

Another small remark: be sure to specify the type of varnish that covers the floor. So, some varnishes strongly fade in the sun; therefore, putting a carpet on such a floor, after 2-3 years, you will receive a coating with a dark spot in place of the carpet. Before treating the wood with one or another composition during repairs, ensure that it is durable under ultraviolet rays.

A rug on a hardwood floor is a classically consistent and, in most cases, a sensible solution. By choosing the right color, material, and size, you will get an interior that combines tradition and modernity in the most beneficial way.

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