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High Pile Rugs vs. Low Pile Rugs – and Why It Matters

Rug pile height and density can make a dramatic difference in the look and feel of your home. Here’s how to choose the best rug pile height for your space! 

What Is Rug Pile?

If you look closely, you can see that the fibers on an area rug are actually tiny loops woven into the rug’s backing. These loops are known as rug pile, and rug pile height is the distance from the top surface of the loops to the backing of the rug.

High Pile Rug

Best for: Rooms with low traffic (guest room, office, reading nook)

High pile rugs feature longer fibers and loops and are often called shag rugs. Because of their height, high pile rugs allow for more give and tend to look and feel softer than mid and low pile rugs – but they also tend to be a bit more difficult to vacuum. To keep a high pile rug in new condition for as long as possible, refrain from placing it in areas that see high foot traffic.

How to Style It: The tall loops of a high pile rug bring a uniquely cozy aesthetic, so show it off by placing it under furniture pieces with opposing elements. For example, a dark wood coffee table on a white high pile rug will create sharp contrast and bring out the rug’s soft texture.

high rug pile

Low Pile Rug

low rug pile

Best for: Rooms with high traffic (living room, dining room)

Because they tend to feel softer and make for easier vacuuming, low pile rugs are best for kids rooms – or any room in a household with children, for that matter. Plus, because the fibers are tighter and lower to the ground, there’s almost no risk of tripping over any loose ends.

How to Style It: The fibers of a low pile rug are tight and low to the ground and serve by function more than aesthetic, so choose a low pile rug in a fun or unique pattern to prevent it from blending in with the rest of the flooring.

Mid Rug Pile

Best for: Rooms with medium traffic (bedroom, nursery, laundry room)

If you want the luxurious look of a high pile rug and the tight feel of a low pile rug, consider splitting the difference with a mid pile rug. As its name suggests, a mid pile rug is a rug with a pile height in between high and low. One of the most popular rug options on the market, a mid pile rug carries just enough height to deliver a shag appearance – and just enough density to make it easy to clean.

How to Style It: Mid pile rugs are versatile, in both use and style, and you can’t go wrong with location, pattern or color. However, to make a mid pile rug truly shine, consider cozy layers; placing a small mid pile rug over a larger low pile rug offers unexpected flair – in the comfiest way possible.

mid rug pile

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