Making a patio or deck area even more appealing includes adding the right furniture and finishing off with a rug. Area rugs for outdoor spaces and sun rooms have an added burden of needing some resistance to fading from harsh UV rays and damage from moisture. While rugs designed for outdoors can always come inside, those labeled for interior use will never last as long when subjected to the elements. Synthetic and natural materials are available that can stand up to extra stress that includes rain, blowing dust and heavy foot traffic. Each type presents benefits and drawbacks to consider before purchasing.
Natural Rugs for Outdoors
Natural fiber rugs are hard to beat in style and texture. Wear ability varies depending on the type of fiber, quality of construction and any specialty treatments the rug has received. Bamboo is a top choice in style but comes with a higher price. Smooth surfaces, typically in strips, form a beautiful expanse that will complement any decor. Easy to clean, bamboo reduces allergens and is highly resistant to insect damage. Rugs roll up easily, dry quickly and are lightweight.
Seagrass is another all-natural fiber that can stand up to outdoor use. Available in a low weave, it does tend to fray in heavy traffic areas. Resistant to moisture damage, seagrass also traps dirt that is easy to shake out.
Jute rugs offer deeper texturing and tend to be thicker. They are workhorses in hiding stains and require minimal maintenance. Over time, disintegrating fibers tend to cast off dust underneath.
When placing natural rugs outdoors, choose styles with bound edges to prevent fraying. Adding a non-skid mat underneath aids airflow which reduces moisture retention and increases safety.
Synthetics for Outdoor Spaces
Many of today’s outdoor rugs are constructed from olefin, or polypropylene plastic. These are budget-friendly choices that come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They repel water and typically feature non-skid backings that are ideal for areas that become slippery when wet. They are tougher than other synthetics but are susceptible to fading in direct sun. Surfaces also tend to crush or wear down over time. While often recommended for high-traffic areas, polypropylene is typically not as attractive as other synthetics. Basic maintenance involves shaking out or hosing down to whisk away grit buildup. Drying time is fast as well.
Other synthetic options include polyester, nylon and acrylic. Each of these factory-produced materials can be woven or tufted by machine or by hand. Chemicals are often used in the dying process, but they may also receive treatment to resist fading.
Polyester leads the style challenge with its ability to accept a wide range of dyes while retaining a softer feel. The downside is a tendency to release its longer fibers and produce pilling. Polyester rugs made from recycled plastic bottles are also on the rise.
Artificial turf rugs are certainly not as attractive, but when style is not an issue, they work well in high traffic areas. Their low cost easily justifies replacement as needed.
Synthetic rugs offer high mold and mildew resistance. However, in a dark corner exposed to rain, they can develop unsightly staining that may be permanent. As opposed to natural fibers, man made fibers are not an Eco-friendly design choice unless they come from recycled products.
Both natural and synthetic outdoor rugs will last longer with some protection. Place them in covered areas when possible and bring them inside if heavy rains are expected. During the off-season, clean them well, roll them up and store to maximize life.