Do You Need Area Rugs On Hardwood Floors?

If your house has hardwood floors, then you're currently facing a dilemma, whether to cover up the beautiful wood with an area rug or leave the bare floor on display? Of course, there are never specific rules for interior decorating. But, just so you know, a few of the most common options for area rugs on hardwood floors, we've put together several examples for you. 

In short, no, you don't need to place area rugs on hardwood floors. However, certain benefits come with positioning rugs over wood flooring, such as:

  • Visual cohesion
  • Add warmth
  • Increase comfort
  • Prevent scuffing
  • Redirect attention 

Now, if you want to incorporate an area rug into a room with a hardwood floor, keep reading. We'll delve into how to coordinate colors and patterns for any room and how to protect your hardwood beneath an area rug.

Bright hallway with hardwood floor and carved wood entrance door. - Do You Need Area Rugs On Hardwood Floors

Visual Cohesion

One of the most useful features of the area rug is the ability to unite an entire room without drawing attention to just the rug itself. Whether you need to pick up accent colors that otherwise get lost in your color palette or want to emphasize a visual motif, area rugs provide the perfect answer.

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Sunlight coming through a large window into a white and beige living room interior with fruit bowls on a wooden table.

Take the room pictured below, for example.

Not only does the blue of the rug perfectly match the sofa, but it also picks up the accents in the blankets on the armchairs. Additionally, the orange highlights in the rug harmonize with orange throw pillows. When viewed as a whole room, the area rug unites all the chairs together. You feel compelled to gather around the coffee table to converse.

Now consider the living room featured below.

Here, the area rug complements the patterns on all the accent pillows. It's less about picking up color and more about uniting the subtle theme. Note also how the shape of the lamp even ties into the pattern for complete visual cohesion.

Achieving A Cohesive Look

If you want to use an area rug to pull a whole room together, you'll likely need the rug to cover a large area. Consider something like this if you aim to highlight various accent colors.

Learn more on Amazon.

Instead, if you hope to unite a grouping of chairs together visually, without a busy pattern, you can go with something like this.

Get it on Amazon.

Add Warmth

Fabric retains more heat than hardwood. For a better understanding, read more about the energy efficiency of standard building materials here. Heat might not seem like a big deal initially, but the ability to heat your home efficiently saves money throughout the years. As for feeling warm, stay comfortable in your home by adding an area rug to keep your toes warm on chilly days.

Increase Comfort

MOdern luxury living room with nice cherry hardwood floor in Seattle

Speaking of comfort, area rugs are great for adding a cozy feel. Area rugs provide padding beneath your feet or seat, to soften an otherwise solid, hardwood floor. Placing a rug over hardwood will also reduce any white noise in the room, acting as an insulator, so that walking, shuffling seats, and talking in a room with a hardwood floor becomes more enjoyable.

Prevent Scuffing

Area rugs' ability to protect hardwood floors from scrapes and scuffs comes in handy, particularly in dining rooms and home offices, where there are high traffic and frequent movement of chairs along the floor.

Of course, you can also install fabric furniture pads onto the bottom of your furniture legs to achieve the same effect. Why not add fabric furniture pads and an area rug for double protection!

Available here on Amazon.

Redirect Attention

Since the eye is drawn to the textural contrast between hardwood and the rug, you can use smaller area rugs to highlight particular features of a room. For example, emphasize an accent table in your foyer by placing a rectangular rug in the space to compliment it, as we see below. Notice the way both the rug and the wall decor draw your attention to the table in this entryway.

This trick also works for an office or library. Consider placing a circular area rug underneath a cozy armchair, as we see here, to create a reading nook. Notice the way this rug ties the armchair and ottoman together, while also producing visual cohesion within the space. All the textures work together to draw the eye toward a comfortable seat.

Make Your Room Into An Attention Getter

To achieve this look in your own home, you'll want an area rug that fits neatly into one corner or under one feature instead of enveloping the entire room. Consider something like this model to highlight a chaise lounge or to draw attention to your living room sofa.

Check it out on Amazon.

Make your workspace luxurious by placing this rug under your desk.

Learn more on Amazon.

If you love the previous example of a reading nook idea, consider getting a rug like this for a bedroom, library, or office.

Available on Amazon.

Where Do You Put Rugs On Hardwood Floors?

Large Living room with hardwood floor, red rug and beige walls.

Placing area rugs throughout the house depends on your goal for the finished look of each room or hallway; as we've discussed, you can use the rug to tie-in the room, accentuate features, or transform it into a more comfortable space.

Living Room

If you want to tie your living room together, get an area rug that fits under your coffee table, and can at least partially rest under your sofas and chairs. For additional guidance, check out our exploration of whether your area rug should be wider than your couch.


If you want to add a rug to your bedroom, consider placing it under the bed, like seen here.

You can even use an area rug to unite an accent bench with your headboard, as seen in the bedroom pictured below.

Foyer Or Hallway

When it comes to your entryway, you'll either want an area rug to draw attention to a feature or be the main feature itself. For more information on how to get this look, check out our guide on hallway rug sizes.

Home Office

Finally, if you're going to put an area rug in your office, it should emphasize either your workspace or a cozy reading corner.

What Rug Is Best For Hardwood Floors?

If you're debating on the kind of material you should look for in your rug, rest assured that nearly every type works well with wood. Everything from wool to synthetic fibers will complement the look of the hardwood. It all depends on what appeals to your style.

What Kind Of Rug Pad Is Safe For Hardwood Floors?

area rug felt under pad on hardwood floor

Rug pads keep rugs from sliding off-center, a useful tool to keep the rug exactly where you've placed it. Pads are safe to use on your hardwood floors, so long as you avoid products with foam backing because this type of backing potentially discolors the wood.

If you're in the market for a rug pad, consider this one because the material is safe for hardwood floors and affordable. Additionally, it comes in several standard rug sizes to make finding the right fit easier.

Available on Amazon.

Does Carpet Tape Damage Hardwood Floors?

If you prefer tape to a pad, then we have some bad news for you. While you can get brands that work well, using carpet tape on wood flooring is always a gamble. You run the risk of damaging the finish when you try to remove the tape, in addition to leaving behind a residue that is not easily removed.

How Long Should You Wait Before Putting Area Rugs On New (or Refinished) Hardwood Floors?

So you've decided you do want to add an area rug to your floor, but you're not sure if you've let enough time pass. The standard bit of shared wisdom is to wait three full weeks before putting rugs on either a new or newly refinished hardwood floor. If you care to test out your floor before you put your rugs down, you can place a towel or spare cloth down for a day. If the towel comes up stained, wait longer before placing the rug.

Final Thoughts

Area rugs are not just great accent pieces, but also provide warmth and comfort within a room. Adding rugs to hardwood floors can enhance the room's aesthetic appeal while proving a functional piece of decor. Take care of your hardwood by selecting appropriate rug pads and applying fabric furniture pads to prevent scratches and scuffed finish.

Modern living room with white light gray painted walls, hardwood flooring, and a light blue couch with an area rug underneath, Do You Need Area Rugs On Hardwood Floors?

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  1. Rugs definitely adds value to your hardwood floors, but choosing the right kind and right color is the most difficult part, which everyone should take care of. Great blog!

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