Buyer’s Guide: Outdoor Rugs
Preparing to spend a lot more time outside this season? Add color and indoor comfort beneath your feet on your deck, porch, or patio with a rug that will weather the elements.
The line between indoors and out continues to blur as Americans take full advantage of longer days and warmer temperatures by dining al fresco and moving leisure-time activities onto porches, decks, sunrooms, patios, and lawns. As more and more hours are spent out of the house, it’s only natural to embrace this outdoor space as a bonus living room. After all, more likely than not it’s already populated with furniture for lounging and dining.
One of the fastest ways to add color, style, and a little bit of indoor comfort is through an outdoor rug. Much as it does in interior design, a rug can tie together a collection of open-air furnishings and repeat colors present in a neighboring room’s palette to establish a sense of flow. Outdoor rugs visually integrate the outdoor entertaining areas—your deck, porch, or patio—with the indoor ones, thus expanding your home’s livable square footage. It can punch up a space with personality, warm up layouts that are limited to rod iron furnishings, and soften hard surfaces like decking. And, if you’re lucky enough to have a wide-open backyard, a rectangular patch of color and pattern can help designate an entertaining area from an outdoor kitchen from a grassy tag-playing arena.
To succeed at any or all of these tasks, a rug needs to withstand the rigors of the natural environment. Thanks to modern advances in fabrication, outdoor rugs have never featured such range in durability or design. You only need to know what qualities to look for in these textiles. When shopping for the best outdoor rug, keep these key considerations in mind to help narrow the vast marketplace of options. Ahead, we even have a handful of top picks to start your shopping trip!
When shopping for any rug, you’ll see the marketplace categorized into two types of materials: synthetic and natural fibers.
Synthetic fibers are favored for their combination of vibrant color; durability; and resistance to fading, mildew, and mold. The majority of these outdoor rugs are manufactured using polypropylene, but nylon, polyester, and acrylic varieties are also available, each with its own set of pros and cons.
• One of the most common synthetic options, polypropylene, is an extruded, solution-dyed fiber that doesn’t absorb any liquid or stains. At Oriental Weavers, one of the largest makers of outdoor rugs and carpets, indoor-outdoor options are constructed of 100 percent polypropylene, which is naturally stain-resistant, mold-resistant, and mildew-resistant, and then UV-treated to prevent fading after exposure to sunlight. “You can wash them off with a hose and even apply bleach without damaging the color or design,” explains Jonathan Witt, the company’s president. Though it’s not a natural fiber, it can be eco-friendly: Some polypropylene rugs are made either partially or entirely from recycled plastic bottles!
• Nylon is another very resilient fiber, so it doesn’t mat down in high-traffic areas. Nylon is also durable, easy to clean, colorfast, and stain-resistant. On the downside, nylon can become very hot when exposed to direct sunlight and is prone to a buildup of static electricity.
• Polyester offers a number of positive attributes, including vivid coloration that is resistant to fading and many stains. Polyester is susceptible to oil-based stains, however, and also can shed, pill or mat down in high-traffic areas.
• Acrylic is the most similar in appearance to natural fibers, featuring a soft finish that feels cushiony underfoot. Acrylic absorbs and releases moisture readily, which makes it resistant to mold and mildew. The product also dyes well and is fairly colorfast and stain-resistant. Acrylic is, however, prone to crushing and pilling.
Bamboo, sisal, hemp, jute, and seagrass rugs all are made from natural fibers and inherently eco-friendly for these sustainable materials. Natural rugs feel soft and luxurious underfoot and, though they dye well, often are used to bring in hues and textures that complement the outdoor space. That said, they do have a few cons worth noting: Rugs made with natural fibers are prone to fading in direct sunlight, generally less durable than their synthetic counterparts, and likely to absorb water, which makes them more susceptible to mold and mildew growth. Additionally, these rugs tend to cost more than synthetic options.
Indoor/outdoor rugs are offered in a wide range of constructions, so it’s good to know the terminology before you begin shopping. The three labels you’ll see most often are hand-hooked, machine-made, and braided styles.
• Hand-hooked rugs, which feature a short handmade pile, are the most expensive options due to the higher-quality materials and the additional time that goes into manufacturing these types of rugs. These come in the most color and design options and range from $200 to $1,000 for a 5-by-7-foot size.
• Naturally, machine-made rugs are manufactured more quickly and efficiently via power looms that simultaneously weave several different colors. A variety of designs come out of this manufacturing process, costing between $40 and $750 for a 5-by-7-foot rug. To keep the price point affordable for consumers, these machine-made floor coverings tend to have less detailing and more basic materials than comparable hand-hooked rugs.
• Flatweave rugs—including the familiar flat-braided, cable-braided, corded-and-stitched, and kilim style rugs—have no pile. Instead of tufting, these outdoor rugs are made by either knotting or weaving polypropylene yarns together into a textile with less cushion. Prices are similar to those of machine-made rugs.
Most outdoor rugs are constructed with a backing material of either polypropylene or another synthetic fiber; rugs backed in jute, a natural fiber, will not be as durable or mildew-resistant and will deteriorate over time. Flatweave rugs, though, typically have no backing and are therefore reversible.
COLORS AND COLORFASTNESS
Both synthetic and natural fiber outdoor rugs are offered in a veritable rainbow of colors and patterns. Geometrics, stripes, and medallions are among the most popular styles, but there are also bold florals, tropical looks, and novelty designs available.
Woven patterns being the most prevalent due to the designs’ superior colorfastness and durability. Indeed, the best outdoor rugs are those labeled “solution-dyed,” meaning the color was actually added to the chemicals used to create the fiber rather than having the yarns dyed after they were made. This method ensures that the rug is resistant to fading—a special concern for outdoor rugs, which often have very little shade from the sun. This superior colorfastness also helps solution-dyed rugs resist stains hold up better to cleaning than rugs colored through other methods of dying, like yarn-dying and piece-dying.
Some printed patterns do exist, especially in natural fiber rugs; bear in mind that these surface designs are more likely to fade over time.
When choosing an area rug, keep in mind that darker colorations create a more intimate environment, while lighter shades make a small area seem more spacious. No matter the design and colors you select, you can certainly count on area rugs to make your outdoor living spaces more stylish!
5 FAVORITES, ACCORDING TO THE CONSUMERS
The wide variety of outdoor rug styles available means that you can customize your floor décor to match virtually any decorating scheme. To show you exactly what we mean, we’ve rounded up five of the best outdoor rugs that meet our standards of durability and design as well as won over Home Depot and Amazon consumers.
Nourison Aloha 7’10”-by-10’6″ Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug ($125.45)
Home Depot shoppers gave this vibrant floral design 4.8 out of 5 stars, calling it a “blast of color”—and, indeed, it is, in either warm tones (“Green,” pictured) or cool tones (“Multicolor”) styles. Constructed of durable polypropylene and water-resistant, you can count on the vibrancy staying put in rain or shine. If dirt begins to dull it, simply rinse off with a hose! Plus, a latex/polyester backing helps the rug stay in place underfoot. Available at Home Depot.
Home Decorators Collection Round Persimmon 8’6″ Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug ($249)
This Home Decorators Collection Persimmon rug, which is rated 4.6 out of 5 stars by Home Depot shoppers, features an attractive but not overpowering design of leafy vines fit for any transitional space. Don’t worry if there’s no sky blue in your outdoor living room; you might still find one of its six other colors (including an earthy green and terracotta) more suitable. Constructed of durable Derclon synthetic fibers that are treated to resist stains and mildew, the product can handle the elements out on a patio or heavy foot traffic indoors. Available at Home Depot.
Mad Mats Oriental Turkish 6′-by-9′ Indoor/Outdoor Floor Mat ($114.99)
Hundreds of Amazon shoppers agree: This Mad Mats Oriental Turkish design earns 4.5 out of 5 stars with all of its beauty and vibrancy. Constructed of 100 percent polypropylene from recycled bottles, milk jugs, and other plastic packaging, the handmade Mad Mat is stain- and mildew-resistant as well as protected from UV rays so much so that it comes with a one-year color guarantee. Perhaps the smartest detail, though, is that your order comes with a set of handy Velcro tabs to help the lightweight Turkish-style rug stay in place, even during windy conditions. Now for the tough decision: Which of the four color combinations to choose? Available on Amazon.
Green Decore Nirvana 6′-by-9′ Outdoor Rug ($116)
To set the foundation for a modern—maybe even funky—style, consider the reversible two-tone design of the Green Decore outdoor rug. The 6-by-9-foot geometric rug is woven from recycled plastic straws and still soft enough for bare feet. Unsurprisingly, then, the durable, fade-proof, mildew-resistant, and low-maintenance surface is a crowd-pleaser, boasting a 4.5-out-of-5 star rating on Amazon. Available on Amazon.
Ottomanson Jardin Collection Moroccan Trellis 5’3″-by-7’3″ Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug ($53.71)
This classic quatrefoil trellis pattern received 4.2 out of 5 stars from Amazon shoppers who loved the “quality,” “beauty” and “elegance” it brought to their indoor-outdoor areas. Thanks to a power-loomed construction, this rug blends premium quality polypropylene synthetic fibers with a low-pile jute rug for the best of both worlds: stain- and fade-resistance with natural softness. With this sophisticated design available in five neutrals color schemes, you might find yourself tempted to pick up a couple for use indoors and out. Available on Amazon.