Rug Pile 101

Some weekends, I intently think about how to make a blog post that will make the topic of rug pile exciting {yes, not all weekends are exciting}. But hey, although rug shopping is mostly fun — thinking about color, size, shape & patterns, form and function is important. Thus, please consider the rug pile height when you’re selecting the right rug for your room.

What is rug pile?

Rug pile is essentially the density of a rug’s fibers. Longer pile usually equals a softer feel, while a shorter pile generally equates to a more rugged, durable texture. The height of the pile is the actual height of a rug measured from the rug backing to the top of the rug surface. These pieces of information can be helpful when you are buying a rug online since you don’t have the opportunity to get up close and personal until you buy the rug.

The best way to visually understand rug pile and pile height is to see the two ends of the pile spectrum. On one end is low pile, think flatweave rug. These fibers are tightly woven and kept short causing them to look and feel flat. On the other end is high pile, think of a super plush shag rug. High-pile rugs are made of longer, looser threads, hence the soft plush feel.

Ok, now you know WHAT pile and pile height are, but what does this all mean for the interior design of your home? How does this help you in your hunt for the perfect rug? In some rooms or areas of your home, understanding the pros and cons of the different pile heights can come in handy! Here are some tips from for helping you pick the right rug and pile height for every room.


Flat, Low less than 1/4″ (low); 1/4″ to 1/2″ (medium); 1/2″ to 3/4″ (plush)

Dining Room

For a dining room we recommend a low pile rug. The reasoning here is simple, you need it to be easy and smooth to pull out a chair. A low pile rug will also hopefully cut back on the amount of spilling that happens from tripping over the rug.


For bedrooms, it is completely personal preference. If the room is for a young child or if there is a pet and you often find yourself on the floor, it might make sense to have a higher pile but not too high (meaning steer clear of shag rugs). You want something that is soft and cushiony but not so high that it makes it difficult to clean should your little one have an accident.


Living Rooms & Dens

This rug choice depends partially on personal preference and partially on how the room will be used. If your living room is more of a formal sitting area, any pile height could work. If the room is set up for movie watching and laid back family time, a pile similar to the bedroom choice makes the most sense.



Whether the rug is for under a kitchen table or in a high traffic area you most likely want a shorter, denser pile. This will help with sliding chairs again, as well as with the annoying problem of pile crushing. This is what happens when either heavy furniture weighs down on a rug, or constant traffic stepping on the rug flattens it out. There are many tips for helping to battle pile crushing, but that is for another day.


So, the next time you are rug shopping — don’t forget that oh-so-important {and exciting} criteria of rug pile height.