What To Know Before Adding An Outdoor Rug To Your Patio

Outdoor rugs are a way to add a splash of color to your patio space. They're a popular accessory to pull together your whole patio and are built to last. Still, it's possible that adding a rug may not be the best idea for your patio. Aside from the wear and tear of being outdoors, it can do more harm than good — especially if your patio is made from concrete or tile. You're not going to find a rug for your outdoor space that's totally safe from the effects of nature, though you can invest in one that is built to last, even in harsh conditions. 

"No rug is weatherproof, but a rug can use UV-treated polypropylene yarns to resist fading," Carmen Barbee, merchandise buyer for Ballard Designs and board member of the International Textile Alliance, told Consumer Reports. Barbee suggested that buyers choose rugs made of polypropylene or olefin, which are breathable, moisture-wicking, and good for outdoor use. Besides making a space look more cozy, outdoor rugs can also have practical purposes. 

No matter what kind of patio you have, these ground covers can protect the material from the scratches of patio furniture. But even if these rugs, especially polypropylene, are water-resistant, they need to be properly dried out after a lot of rain. Not allowing the rugs to dry out after getting soaked can harm your rug as well as the material on your patio. 

Be careful with concrete or tile patios

Outdoor rugs and patios are often built for the effects of the outdoors. They're rugged and ready to withstand what Mother Nature throws at them ... within reason. Even with moisture resistance, outdoor rugs can still cause mildew when left on patios for a long duration without time to dry off the surface, especially on unsealed concrete. Even sealed stone patio pavers can be penetrated by mildew when exposed long enough. Mildew can lead to unsightly stains, so clean it right away. You can do so with some outdoor bleach, a scrubber brush, gloves, and goggles to protect yourself. Scrub the affected area until you no longer see the mildew spots.

Meanwhile, tile patios can receive grout damage when exposed to trapped moisture from wet rugs left on too long. This can also be averted through sealing, though you should still be mindful of drying out outdoor rugs just in case. Owners of wooden patios should also double-check that their material is water-proofed and treated to be stain resistant. One effect of placing a rug on top of the wood is that it protects the material from sun fading. The downside is that if the rest of the patio gets faded but the area under the rug doesn't, you're left with a silly cookie-cutter shape in your patio. This can also happen with brick patios which are known to fade from the sun, too.

Other considerations for outdoor rugs

Choosing the best outdoor rug for your space isn't as simple as grabbing any old rug and putting it outside. Outdoor rugs are made to be exposed to the elements like rain. Getting a rug made of synthetic fibers is often recommended because they're easier to clean — a must when dealing with a rug exposed to dirt.  However, those synthetic materials can also lead to color dying on your patio if it's made of wood.

One way to avoid various types of damage to your patio is to simply put the rugs away when you aren't using them. If your rug is not always out in the elements, it can help elongate its life — that's why it's important to clean and store outdoor rugs for winter. If you're working with a natural fiber rug, those are still pretty easy to clean since they're often machine washable. Always be sure your rugs are clean before tucking them away in the off-season. 

A rug can really tie an outdoor area together just as it can inside the home. Yet, just like outdoor furniture, rugs come with their own sets of cleaning tasks. It's best to know how to clean and maintain your outdoor rug so it doesn't cause permanent damage to your patio. Those brilliant blues might look fabulous patterned on your rug, but not so much if it's permanently embedded in your patio.