Do Outdoor Rugs Ruin Wood Decks?

Zsolt Balla

Zsolt Balla

Wooden decks take outdoor spaces to the next level. And rugs take wooden decks to the next level. The only question is whether one will damage the other or not. Based on our experience these are the things to consider when you want to enjoy the style and comfort of an outdoor rug, but you also want to see your wooden deck safe and unharmed.

rug on deck

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Why is putting a rug on your wooden deck a good idea?

If you already have a wooden deck, then you don’t need to be convinced how important outdoor spaces are to your home: you’re already a fan. Which is exactly why you will not (and should not) stop before your deck reaches its full potential.

Enters the outdoor rug.

The moment you install an outdoor rug on your wooden deck, something interesting will happen. That magical moment when your wooden deck will turn into an “outdoor living room”.

The Pros of putting an outdoor rug on a wooden deck

There are a number of the benefits of rolling out a nice rug on your wooden deck.

Added style

If a wooden deck is beautiful and cozy in itself, then a rug on a wooden deck is really something next level. Stylish and luxe without even trying too hard.

Added comfort

Rugs on a wooden deck beg to be walked on barefoot. And this is exactly what you want to do when you use your outdoor space on a sunny day. Not to mention the softness and the ability to absorb the sound of footsteps, which can be a weak point of a wood deck in general.

Added versatility

A wooden deck is the equivalent of a nice terrace, that can be enjoyed with friends or family (even alone) when the weather is nice. An outdoor living room is on the other hand literally the extension of your home without the need to build additional walls. Want to lie down to play Lego with your kids? Sure! Sit down and read a book? Why not! Get comfy and sit next to your dog? Go wild!

There are just infinitely more options when you add the ultimate ingredient: the rug.

Is it safe to install rugs on a wooden deck?

So yes, outdoor rugs and wooden decks are a great match, but like always, it’s not as easy as it seems. It never is.

Because in order to be happy even years after you first rolled out your rug, you have to be mindful not to damage your deck with the rug. After all, a wooden deck is a way more delicate structure than, say, vinyl plank flooring, or even hardwood. And the devil is, as usual, in the details.

How can a rug damage your wooden deck (and what to do to avoid it)?

There are a few ways a rug can damage a wooden deck. The good news is that if you pay attention, you can prevent and avoid all these.

Moisture

As with all outdoor things, humidity is the single biggest threat. If you choose a rug that absorbs water (like most natural fiber rugs), it will only be a matter of time before the additional humidity coming from the rain and morning dew will start to damage your wooden deck.

And that is even true if your deck is treated with chemicals to resist water. It might last longer, but it will still happen. And you definitely want to avoid that.

Mold

Closely related to humidity, rugs that are used outdoors are particularly prone to developing mold and mildew. This is extremely harmful not only to your health but also to your wooden deck beneath the rug.

Pests

The same water that gets trapped in your rug or between the deck and the rug, and that helps develop mold and mildew, will also create a cozy environment for the pests that then eat into your wooden deck.

Scratches

This one is not related to humidity, but to the dust and dirt that will go into, and ultimately under your outdoor rug. If this dirt gets out of hand, its micro-movements and the rug’s movements will cause scratches on the surface of the deck. Sure, these are tiny particles. But anyone who has ever emptied the bin of a vacuum cleaner will confirm that they add up quickly.

Direct sunlight

Finally a word on direct sunlight. While the UV radiation coming from the sunlight might seem more dangerous to the rug than the deck itself, it is worth mentioning that the surfaces next to the rug, and under the rug will be unevenly exposed to UV light. If you leave the rug in place for a long time period, chances are that the color tone of the deck under the rug will become somewhat different from the tone of the deck where it was uncovered.

What to look for in a rug, when you want to place it on a wooden deck?

So now you know what kind of damage you want to avoid. But how?

Buy indoor/outdoor rugs!

Rugs designed for outdoor use (often referred to as indoor/outdoor rugs, as they will work in indoor settings as well) are usually the best to avoid most of the problems above. While they can’t prevent being wet when it rains, they will not absorb water, will dry quickly, and (just as important), completely when the weather becomes dry again.

They will also allow the wooden deck to “breathe”, which will then help steer clear of mold, mildew, and pests in and underneath the rug.

Polypropylene is best

When it comes to outdoor use, particularly on a wooden deck, it’s best to opt for a polypropylene rug (hint: most indoor/outdoor rugs are made of 100% polypropylene, anyway).

I know, many people prefer natural fibers, like wool, cotton, and jute rugs are great too, no question about that! But if your rug is for outdoor use, synthetic trumps natural. Its fibers, unlike wool, won’t absorb water and even when they get wet, they will dry much easier and faster.

Polyester (a synthetic material) is also known to be durable and to keep its color for a long time even in the face of being exposed to direct sunlight and other weather conditions. This is particularly true if you choose a piece by one of the highly reputed rug brands out there.

Avoid latex and rubber backing

This final piece of advice is a bit counterintuitive. After all, latex and rubber backing is fully waterproof. Which is a good thing, right?

Well, not quite. It’s more of a two-edged sword.

Because while it’s nice to have our wooden desk safe from the water that touches the rug, the insulation goes both ways. More precisely it goes neither way. And this means that the water that gets below the rug is also there to stay. Which, again, leads to the well-known problems of mold, mildew, and pests.Thanks, but no thanks.

Finally: how to avoid scratches?

No silver bullet here, only common sense. No matter which rug you end up choosing, one thing is for sure: your outdoor rug will require frequent and thorough cleaning, especially if you want to avoid scratches on your wooden deck.

This is especially true for composite decking. A deck made with composite material can be prone to scratching. Few composite deck manufacturers (such as Trex decking) have lines that are promoted as scratch-resistant.

If you have a composite deck and you’re fearful of scratching, we’d suggest purchasing a rug pad. A rug pad will sit underneath your area rug, acting as a protective force between the composite deck and the area rug.

Vacuuming your outdoor rug often will save you from the dust and dirt getting into and under the rug. And this, in turn, will save you from the scratches, too.

As you see by now, it is perfectly safe to install an outdoor rug on your wooden deck, without losing sleep over the rug damaging the deck. You just need to pay attention to a few basic things, and keep this in mind: indoor/outdoor rugs are called that for a reason. They were designed to be used outdoors while keeping both the rug, both the wooden deck they’re on safe. If you keep this in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy your stylish outdoor living room for many years to come.

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