Understanding Rug Labels – What do they really mean?

all-purpose rug

Labels on many everyday rugs can be very confusing.  What are the features of this or that type?  Will it serve my purposes?  How will I clean it?  Perhaps you’ve looked through the rugs at a local rug store.  Were you completely baffled by the description and have no idea what any of it means? Then, the pushy salesperson talked too fast, you didn’t quite understand what was said, so you just nodded your head.  In the end, you walked out empty-handed.

Well, we hope this article will help you avoid the store.  You could even buy online with the assurance that you’re getting what you want and what you are paying for.

Polypropylene  (BCF) Rugs

rug at patio entrance

These are the least expensive rugs, generally under $100.  They are perfect for an easy cover-up for a rental, or at the entrance to a tool shed or a garage.

Heat-Set Polypropylene Rugs

colourful patio rug

In a heat-set polypropylene rug the yarn is processed to produce soft fibers that are resistant to wear and repel stains. These rugs are anti-static, which makes vacuuming easier as animal hairs and lint don’t easily adhere to the fibres. Generally speaking, the higher the points, the higher the quality.

Hand-Tufted Acrylic, also Hand-Tufted Acrylic Polyester Rugs

acrylic rug

This term means that the acrylic fibre has been glued to the backing after tufting (which means looping without tying knots). Production of a hand-tufted area rug takes a fraction of the time to make, which greatly reduces the cost.  Some are 100% and some have added polyester, but their properties and care are identical.

Modern Wool Rugs

wool rug

There is a wide range of qualities and prices of wool rugs.  The less expensive ones often (but not always) come from India, and many of the more expensive ones are made with New Zealand wool. The latter tend to be softer underfoot.  However Indian wools are often a great lower-priced alternative.

Shag and Shag Pile Rugs

shag rug

The popularity of shag pile rugs has generally lessened over the last few years. Originally, they really took the rug world by storm, and they are still quite desirable in certain decors.  Often they are put in children’s areas as they are comfortable to sit on and tend not to show marks or wear.

Somewhat more popular is a short shag that is still comfortable but has a shorter pile.  Owners enjoy that they are easier to vacuum and don’t hide the bits of spilled snacks.

Jute and Natural Fibre Rugs

Jute rug

Sisal and Jute are becoming increasingly popular.  They are hand-made, and can be created in many different shapes, even round.  Cleaning jute can is a little more involved and they are not particularly suitable for outdoor use over of time.

Outdoor Rugs

outdoor patio rug

Outdoor rugs are limited only by the imagination of the manufacturer.  Several types are made from recycled plastic straws and other similar materials.  They are very useful for brightening up an outdoor area and giving it a bit of glamour.


This describes most types of everyday rugs.  We have not yet spoken about the more beautiful (and expensive) Oriental, traditional silk and other types of hand-made knotted rugs from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other sources.  These locations are the ancient homes of a wide range of ultra-high quality rugs, with prices to match.  Many of these wonderful creations are filled with meaning and are truly works of art.

But that’s a blog for another day….