Do Rugs Make A Room Warmer Or Cooler? (Explained)

It is a common misconception that rugs or carpets absorb heat from the room. This is not true.

Certain materials, like wool, are better insulators than others like cotton. Wool rugs are thick, with dense fibers, and are amazing insulators. It also helps wool in its insulating properties and its spring-like ability to resist flattening even after a long time.

Wool retains its thickness even after years, still enabling it to trap heat effectively. Since rugs are insulators, the heat from your floors cannot travel through the rug fibers and escape.

If you’re not on a budget, wool is your best bet. They’re known to be able to keep your feet and floors warm–resulting in a cozier room.

Here’s How Rugs Make a Room Warmer:

Rugs are great insulators. They make a room warmer by preventing the heat from your house from escaping out through your floors. When made of thick, dense fibers, rugs are great insulators but bad heat conductors, so your feet will stay warm without losing heat to the rug.

How Do Rugs Affect the Heat in a Room?

Rugs affect the heat in a room by keeping cold air between it and the flooring. In simpler terms, it ‘traps’ the heat in your floors. Rugs are insulators, so they don’t absorb, move, or transfer heat around.

The opposite is true for thermally conductive floor materials. Stone floors, for example, promote the transfer of heat. When you step on them, the heat from the soles of your feet transfers, leaving you cold. 

Rugs don’t have a direct effect on the temperature of a room. However, since it traps heat, the bare flooring doesn’t absorb the heat from your feet with every step you take. 

You might think it’s a minor thing, but by keeping your feet toasty warm, your blood vessels dilate, allowing better blood circulation throughout the body. This leads to an overall warmer feeling, despite no significant temperature change in the room.

Of course, a larger area rug would also better insulate your room than a small one would. When you have a large area rug, you’re covering more of your flooring and thereby retaining more heat. 

Do Rugs Have an Insulating Effect on the Floor?

When battling the bitter cold, adding rugs to your flooring does provide an extra layer of insulation to your floors. However, this effect is also dependent on the type of rug, its material, and its size. 

Rugs aren’t a heat source, but they are incredibly poor heat conductors. So when you add a thick rug above your floors, the heat present in your floor is contained because it cannot travel through the rug material. 

Put simply, good heat conductors allow easy heat transfer, whereas insulators don’t. Bare floors would naturally release heat, making them feel cold. A good insulating rug can prevent this, giving you a warmer area to step on. 

In other words, when you lay out a wide rug in a room, you’re putting a barrier of protection between your feet and the bare floors. 

What Type of Rug is Warmest?

Naturally, larger and thicker rugs have better insulating than thinner ones. However, the type of material also plays a big role.

Here are some of the most common rug materials:


When it comes to heat retention, wool rugs are unparalleled.

Wool rugs or carpets are effective insulators as they have a notably low thermal conductivity. Because of the spring-like quality of its fibers, wool is also incredibly thick and resistant to flattening, adding another factor to its heat-insulating capabilities. 

One measure of a material’s resistance to heat conduction is through the R-value. High R-values indicate high insulation capability, and natural sheep’s wool has an approximate rating of 3.5 to 3.8 per square inch. 

That’s one of the highest R-values ever noted, higher even than cellulose and mineral wool. Large, thick wool rugs ensure minimal heat loss in your home, necessary in the colder seasons.

However, if there is one downside, it would be that wool rugs often come with a steep price tag.


Apart from wool, cotton rugs might be the next most popular rug material out there.

Cotton rugs are pretty good insulators, able to keep the heat within their fibers. They’re also soft, easy to clean, and affordable! 

Cotton rugs won’t have the same insulating capabilities as wool. Its R-value is estimated at around 3 per inch, so that isn’t bad, but cotton rugs are also known to degrade quicker than wool, making them thinner sooner.


Apart from its natural, hempy look, Jute fibers have the added benefit of having thermal insulation properties.

There are even clothes made from jute fibers because of heat retention. However, jute rugs are often thin, minimizing their insulation capabilities.

Despite not being as good as wool when it comes to insulation, jute’s significant pros are its sustainability, alternative look, easy cleanup, and affordable price. 

Important note: If you don’t have the budget for a high-quality rug or your rug at home has just gotten thinner over the years, don’t worry; you can purchase an insulated rug pad instead.

Will a Rug Absorb Heat in a Room?

Rugs don’t absorb the heat present in a room. Rugs (especially wool rugs) are bad heat conductors, so heat doesn’t transfer throughout the material. Rugs do not absorb heat but keep the heat on your floors. 

Since they’re insulators, rugs stop the heat present in your floors from escaping. Naturally, since the heat cannot escape through the rug, your floors remain warm.

Is a Rug Warmer than a Wooden Floor?

Wooden flooring has low thermal conductivity, and much like rugs, they are also insulators.

Generally, wood is a bad conductor, so it won’t absorb much heat from your feet. Of course, this makes it an ideal flooring option if you’re concerned with heat loss during winter.

That being said, without any underfloor heating, wooden flooring can get pretty cold during the winter months. Its insulating capabilities won’t be enough to keep the heat on your floors, which brings us to the addition of rugs.

As mentioned previously, rugs (when made from thick, dense fibers) are fantastic insulators. As opposed to just leaving a wooden floor bare, adding a wool rug can maximize heat retention. 

This practically means that they prevent heat from moving around. Because of this, adding a rug to your floors can give an extra layer of warmth during the colder months. 

So, to answer, rugs atop your flooring will retain heat better than bare wooden floors will. Think of it as adding that extra measure of protection from the biting cold. 

Important note: putting a thick and heavy thermal rug on already heated floors can sometimes cause warping in the wood. 

Final Thoughts

Cold months can put a strain on not only you and your family’s comfort but also on your bills. Insulating your entire home becomes a priority to get those bills under control.

So if you’re looking to maximize the heat in your home without cranking up the energy bill, try adding a thick area rug to your floors.

This measure might be a tad underrated, but you just might be surprised how much of a difference it can make in your home. 


Steve McNeil-The Thermal Properties of Wool Carpets- AgResearch Limited

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