Choosing the best area rug for a patio, deck or other outdoor decor can be exciting or even a little overwhelming. Area rugs can make or break the decor of a space. Shopping for an outdoor patio rug is similar to choosing one for an interior space -- with a few differences. An outdoor rug must be able to withstand variables in climate and weather as well as complement the aesthetic feel of an open space. Practical considerations aside, shopping for the perfect rug should be fun, and many great options are available.
Material is one of the first components to consider when shopping for patio carpets. Synthetic versus natural fibers are treated and maintained differently, and the geographical location and climate of the patio space play a big role. Weather resilience is an important aspect of how the rug endures over time.
Natural fibers such as jute, sisal, cotton, hemp and seagrass are are generally strong, textural and sustainable if properly maintained and cared for. Conversely, synthetic fibers don't stain, fade, absorb water and are mold- and mildew-resistant. Polypropylene rugs are most common and durable among synthetic outdoor area mats. Polyester, acrylic and recycled materials are common alternative synthetics.
Similar to an indoor area rug, the size and shape of the carpet should accentuate the outdoor decor of the space it's filling. It's critical to accurately measure the dimensions of the patio area or outdoor space. If tables and chairs are placed on the mat, they should stand evenly and firmly. Place either all four legs on the carpet or only the front two.
The best shape for the rug may be determined by the type of space it's used for. Choose from standard rectangles, round, oval, square and even outdoor runners. Smaller rugs fit neatly in central spaces with furniture placed just adjacent to the edge of the mat. Round or oval area rugs often work well in this type of configuration, creating a natural conversational gathering space. Larger rectangular mats are best for furniture that is setting directly on top. Runners are typically used in narrow passages.
Outdoor area rugs come in a wide variety of styles to choose from, including geometric, solids, stripes, traditional, contemporary and floral. Outdoor braided rugs are also a popular option. The style of rug should complement the patio furniture and the size and shape of the external space. When choosing a pattern, consider how much of the carpet will be seen. If furniture is placed on the mat, think about how the furniture look against a geometric pattern versus a bold solid color.
Regular cleaning and maintenance of outdoor patio mats increases the lifetime of the rug. How an outdoor patio rug is cleaned depends on what it's made from. Synthetic materials are generally easier to clean. Regular vacuuming keeps dirt from settling in the fibers, and spot cleaning with a soft, dry cloth with water is effective for minor spills. One benefit of synthetic rugs is that you can hose them down easily and leave them to dry outside. Larger mounted rugs can be maintained with natural detergent, water and a soft brush.
Natural materials such as jute require more ongoing maintenance and tend to work better in lower traffic areas. Excess moisture can damage the rug, and drying it out quickly after a cleaning helps with longevity.
Depending on the type of surface the outdoor rug is placed on, a non-slip component may be a consideration. If the rug is multi-purpose and might be used in an interior space through part of the year, non-slip backings made from latex are good for foyers and other high-traffic areas. Latex backings are not suitable for hardwood floors because they can accumulate moisture, stifle ventilation and cause damage to the finish.
Non-latex backing made from cotton, jute, sisal, or wool are more appropriate for hardwoods. They allow the rug to breathe and get adequate ventilation for the wood beneath. Natural fibers are not as durable or mildew-resistant and require more regular care and upkeep.