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high traffic area rugs

Heavy Duty Rugs For High Traffic Areas

Certain areas in a home or a commercial setting endure constant foot traffic, like entryways, hallways, kitchens, or gathering spaces like family rooms or lobbies.

These are also areas where an area rug can brighten the space, provide a much needed sound absorber, or add a layer of comfort.

But how do you choose the right heavy duty rug?

Choice paralysis is real, so we are here to help you select the right heavy duty rug.

Synthesis Midnight woven vinyl kitchen area rug

How to Choose the Right Rug for High Traffic Areas

In this guide, we cover how to choose and care for a high traffic area rug:

Are wool rugs good for high traffic areas?

Yes, usually. Wool is a durable fiber with natural stain resistance, beloved for its cozy feel. Depending on the weave construction, a wool rug can be rated for heavy residential use or contract grade. A tight, flat wool weave will be more durable and lasting than a loose shag wool rug. If you opt for a wool rug in a busy area, consider darker colors that will hide stains (should they occur). Also, wool rugs tend to be expensive, but if it is well taken care of, a wool rug will last for years.

Are jute or other natural fiber rugs good for high traffic areas?

Maybe. In general, we do not recommend jute rugs for heavy traffic areas. Jute is a soft fiber that breaks down with constant, heavy traffic. If you crave the enduring style of a natural look, a stain-resistant SISALplus rug is great for heavy traffic areas. Sisal is a tough fiber, and with the additional stain-resistant treatment, rugs from the SISALplus collection carry a heavy contract rating.

If you are intent on jute or seagrass, look for a tight weave like our Martinque (jute) or Magellan (seagrass), and protect the weave with a topical treatment like SisalGuard.

Are polypropylene or other synthetic rugs good for high traffic areas?

Yes. Synthetic rugs are manufactured with heavy traffic areas in mind. The yarns are usually solution dyed and UV-resistant, meaning your high traffic rug’s color will stay vibrant after heavy use.

For a comparison of synthetic fibers like nylon and polypropylene, head over to our blog post Nylon, Polyester, & Polypropylene Rugs: Everything You Need To Know.

Today’s nylon, recycled PET, polypropylene, and poly silk rugs are soft underfoot and available in an array of patterns and colors, making them great candidates for a living room or family room rug. If the idea of hosing off your heavy duty rug appeals to you, then look at woven vinyl: this modern material is sleek, highly durable, and a cinch to clean.


Hallways are the perfect locale for a high traffic runner. A hallway runner adds a design element, softens the sound of footfalls, and directs the flow of traffic. A runner crafted from wool or poly silk performs well in halls that lead to bedrooms. A hall that flows from the center of a home to a garage, back door, or the family room is a great candidate for an easy to clean polypropylene or a stain-resistant sisal runner. If the hallway encounters constant heavy traffic or is a corridor in a commercial space, a contract grade nylon like SynSisal® makes a stunning and long-lasting runner. 

In all these cases, be sure to use a rug pad that will hug the rug to the floor. Also, consider the corners: a thick border or an upturned corner can be a tripping hazard. Use Curl Stops to hold the corners down and pick a minimalist border, like a serged edge, if tripping is a concern.


The entryway needs a durable rug. In addition to a walk-off mat that captures dirt before it enters the house, an entryway rug is a second line of dirt defense. A heavy duty rug crafted from a stain-resistant material like polypropylene or woven vinyl is easy to clean and maintain.

If you crave the cozy welcome of a wool rug, consider opting for a darker color. Although wool has inherent stain-resistance, an entryway’s high traffic might be too much for it to fully resist staining.

Living Room or Family Room

Gathering spaces like living rooms and family rooms need a rug that is comfortable, cleans up easily, and complements the overall interior designs. A wool like Napier or Willingdon, or a poly silk like Indio, which all have contract ratings, is a plush yet durable choice. The classic look of a bouclé or herringbone rug is another solid design choice for family gathering spaces—look for a synthetic sisal from the SynSisal® collection that is easy to clean, withstands high traffic, and evokes timeless style.

Kitchen, Bathroom, or Outdoor

High traffic areas are often areas that get wet and need a rug that is easy to clean and won’t mold. The best materials for a heavy duty rug that can also get wet include recycled PET polyester, polypropylene or woven vinyls. Not all woven vinyls have a cushioned layer, so if standing at the stove is a regular occurrence, find a weave like Wave or Beaufort that is cushioned or use a rug pad.

For polypropylene, it is important to consider the backing—an unbacked polypropylene rug is not appropriate for heavy traffic areas. The lack of a backing makes the weave less stable and not as durable. Instead, specify a contract grade polypropylene rug from the Terasa collection that can go outside or inside, is mold and mildew resistant, has a durable backing plus soft, solution-dyed yarns.


Hospitality environments must balance comfort and aesthetics with durability and cleanability. Nylon and polypropylene carpet are preferred in these settings because they are soft, easy to clean, tough, and available in an array of styles. A large rug crafted from nylon or SynSisal® is ideal for a hotel lobby and a hotel room that sees less traffic is a good match for a polypropylene rug from our Terasa collection.

Restaurants & Healthcare

There should be no doubt about a restaurant’s or a doctor’s office cleanliness, which is why these types of commercial settings often have hard flooring. But with woven vinyl flooring, you can add a design element to your floors that is super easy to clean and slip resistant. Most woven vinyls have inherent antimicrobial protection that inhibits the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria, mold, and mildew. 

Office & Retail

Commercial spaces with less foot traffic, like an office or a retail store, can be more flexible with their commercial flooring. These settings are perfect candidates for contract grade wool, stain-resistant sisal, recycled PET, or polypropylene rug. These floor coverings are durable and add a design detail while buffering sound.

Coastal or Nautical

To keep with the breezy vibe, look for flat weave wools with sea-inspired colors, stain-resistant sisals in soothing earth tones, or woven vinyls with subtle stripes like Eclipse or Seaboard. For sea-inspired colors, look no further than tretford® Roll—multiple blue hues and sandy neutrals make up its color palette. If you need an indoor-outdoor option, the Rols collection from Spain is a beautiful starting point.

Minimalist, Modern or Mid Century Modern

The clean and sleek look of a synthetic sisal rug blends beautifully with these three “M” styles, which are loved for their understated yet sophisticated aesthetic. Both SynSisal® (nylon) and Terasa (polypropylene) rugs are ready for heavy traffic, display gorgeous patterns in soothing colorways, and are easy to clean. A wool or woven vinyl rug is a solid option as well.

Traditional or Transitional

Classics like wool and sisal work well with these two design styles. A wool rug in a lively living room or a stain-resistant sisal hallway runner can withstand a spilled drink, pets, and regular foot traffic. Synthetic sisals like Astoria and Paddington are at home anywhere in the house.

Farmhouse or Cottage 

Rustic or chic, stain-resistant sisals and synthetic sisals create a neutral foundation for farmhouse or cottage styles. SISALplus weaves like Lopez or Orcas have the benefit of stain-resistance and a natural beauty that effortlessly blends with multiple decors.

  1. Prevent dirt and soil from entering your home in the first place: consider a sturdy walk-off doormat at all entrances and a no-shoes-in-the-house policy.

  2. Dirt, crumbs, pet hair, and dust bunnies still happen, so vacuum regularly. All rugs benefit from weekly vacuuming, but if your rug is in a high traffic area, vacuuming twice a week will go a long way toward preventing soiling and staining.

  3. Take care of spills as soon as possible. The longer something sits, the more difficult it becomes to remove. 

  4. Routine maintenance in accordance with the rug’s specifications or manufacturer recommendations is a must. Professional cleaning should be done on a regular basis. Whether it’s every three months or six depends on the level of traffic. Be sure to read any care information that comes with your rug—there are various professional cleaning processes, each one suited to a rug’s particular fiber or construction method.

  5. All our rugs come with Care Guides to help you take care of your purchase. Our Care & Cleaning Guides page offers lots of cleaning information, stain treatment tips, and more.


Samples of our heavy traffic and contract grade weaves are available. Find the right look, feel, and fit for your project.

synthetic fiber group
synthetic fiber group