Will an Outdoor Rug Damage a Wood Deck?

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Although an outdoor carpet can spruce up your whole deck, the last thing you want is to leave the surface with unsightly stains. Since repairs cost a fortune, it’s only natural to wonder if an outdoor rug will damage a wood deck.  

To save you from unnecessary guesswork, I’ll dive into this topic with tips on how to protect decks from damage!

Do Outdoor Rugs Cause Damage to Wooden Decks?

If the deck surface and outdoor carpets aren’t properly maintained, the chances of damage are very high. You can choose natural fiber rugs to absorb water from wooden decks to prevent wood rot. 

However, if you let the moisture from excess water remain in its rug fibers, expect the material to become a breeding ground for mildew and mold growth.

Meanwhile, most outdoor rugs from synthetic materials won’t damage a wood deck. Since they have tightly woven designs, these outdoor carpets can act as another proactive layer for your deck. 

backyard deck

Overall, the only thing that can make outdoor rugs damage wood is when you let it happen. It also depends on what type of rug pad you’re using. As I mentioned, the right rug must withstand harsh weather conditions.

Different Kinds of Outdoor Rugs You Can Use for Your Deck

Polypropylene Outdoor Rug

As a material made from synthetic fibers, you can count on polypropylene rugs to repel water and other elements in an outdoor space. Many homeowners also prefer these synthetic rugs because it’s fadeproof and stain-resistant. 

Because of these attributes, polypropylene rugs can retain their colors and patterns. You won’t have any hassle maintaining this outdoor carpet since it features a soft texture. 

Natural Fiber Rug

True to their name, these outdoor rugs are made from natural fibers and other organic materials. They provide excellent texture to wood decks, giving the surface a “home-style” aesthetic.

Moreover, these rugs are crafted using fibers like jute, sisal, seagrass, hemp, wool, or cotton. Also, it is known for its eco-friendly qualities, durability, and often have a textured or woven appearance.

colorful deck rug

However, the only problem is they’re not the best outdoor rugs for wood decks in high humidity settings.

Olefin Rug

I recommend olefin rug as outdoor carpeting because of its capability to resist stain and mildew growth. Plus, with its soft fibers, I’m confident you’ll find it cozy underfoot, especially during those relaxed summer evenings in the front yard.

Recycled Plastic Rug

Besides being an eco-friendly option, recycled plastic mats work well as outdoor carpets for wood decks because they’re not susceptible to fading or shedding. 

Thanks to these features, you can protect the bare wood decks from the potential damage heavy outdoor furniture can cause. 

What Outdoor Rugs to Use and Not to Use for Wood Decks

Overall, polypropylene is the most suitable for a wood deck among the outdoor rugs I discussed above. This cloth boasts a robust construction that’s designed to endure heavy foot traffic throughout the seasons.

blue and grey rug

It’s not an outdoor carpet that retains moisture, so it can resist fading when directly exposed to humid and rainy weather conditions. 

Meanwhile, I’d strongly advise steering clear of rugs with jute backing and sisal. They tend to trap and retain water beneath them, leading to unwanted moisture accumulation. 

This can result in mildew and mold growth on your wood deck. And trust me, once that starts, you’ll be looking at the tedious task of mold removal to prevent more significant damage. 

An outdoor rug with rubber backings can also damage your wood deck. Since it retains more moisture, extensive exposure to this damp carpet can lead to rotting.

You should also eliminate cotton and wool outdoor rugs from your list as they’re not water-resistant. It also takes a lot of time before their fibers are completely dry. 

Effective Tips to Maintain and Avoid Rug Damages on Your Deck

Tip #1: Immediately Clean Spills

How can outdoor rugs damage your deck? The most common answer is leaving food and liquid spills too long on their surface. If you want your patio and carpet to last longer, cleaning them is the best solution. 

lady cleaning deck

Letting the carpets soak with spillage will expose the outdoor deck to organic enzymes [1] that can cause insect attack or molding. 

Tip #2: Clean Your Rug on a Regular Basis

Even if you buy the right outdoor rug for your deck, you can’t stop it from damaging the wood if it’s always damp with water and other harmful elements. If you can, clean the carpets once or twice annually. 

Tip #3: Let the Rug Dry When it Gets Wet

After cleaning the spill, chances are the rug is still wet. Flipping the carpet is the best method to ensure the material is dry from top to bottom. It would help if you squeezed excess moisture out of the rug to prevent wood rot. 

Tip #4: Avoid Putting it Back When the Deck is Still Wet

Another important tip is not to place outdoor rugs when the deck is soaking wet. It will make the carpet damp again and cause unpredictable accidents. You can use rug pads to prevent slipping and scraping on the patio. 

moist deck

Tip #5: Avoid Using the Rug to Cover Spots or Damages

No matter how difficult it is to find a material to cover a large deck, never consider using an outdoor rug to hide flaws like wood splinters and loose nails. You must repair them if you don’t want unprecedented accidents to catch you off guard. 

Tip #6: Keep the Rug Away From Bad Weather

As rough as it sounds, even the best outdoor rugs won’t last with frequent exposure to bad weather. It will expose the carpet to mud, water, and heat, so flaunting it during harsh climates isn’t the best idea.    

Tip #7: Seal Your Deck

Besides the rug’s material, choosing to seal your deck is another way to protect the wood surface from potential damage. Besides preserving the patio, it also increases the home’s overall value. 

Why Should I Add an Outdoor Rug to My Deck?


If your chosen rug is durable enough, you can count on it against harsh weather elements like snow and dirt residues without risking its aesthetics. Besides wooden surfaces, these carpets also work well with composite decking. 

See also: Can You Paint Trex or Composite Decking?


Since your wood deck is often exposed to sunlight and other outdoor elements, adding an extra layer of protection won’t hurt.

couch and brown rug

Even with a composite deck, an outdoor rug can protect its surface from accidental wood staining or weather-related damage. 


If you’re not keen on painting your wood or composite decks for additional aesthetics, you can play it safe with outdoor carpets. These materials are readily available in every local home improvement store. They also come in various sizes, styles, and colors. 

Not Hard to Maintain

It’s a no-brainer that you must clean your wood deck regularly. However, you can minimize the frequency of this task if you add a durable carpet to its surface. You don’t need to worry about outdoor rug damage if you maintain it properly.

Drawbacks of Using an Outdoor Rug on a Wood Deck

Uneven Discoloration

One of the signs that will make the rug damage a wood deck is its lack of coverage. If the carpet is small for the surface, the uncovered area will develop discoloration. 

Over time, you’ll notice the difference in color for both spaces. If you plan to recoat your deck, here are my top choices for deck paint colors and combinations for a polished looking deck. 

white rug

Can Attract Pests

Unfortunately, pests can manifest underneath any rug, especially when it’s often left damp. The gathering of these insects can lead to wood damage and cost a lot in repairs. 

Things to Consider Before Buying an Outdoor Rug for Decks

Color and Size

Lighter colors may seem inviting, but I still recommend dull or darker ones for a cozier feel. And if you’re using smaller rugs, tucking furniture legs under them can help achieve a more cohesive and balanced aesthetic.

Material and Thickness

The rug material should require less maintenance, so choose ones that are not too thick to avoid shedding and are resistant enough to stand against pests and other substances.  

cozy deck


The price range for outdoor rugs depends on their material type, size, and design. They can range between $20 to $500 or more. 

Spacing of Your Board

If there’s no space between boards, it’s likely to trap heat and moisture. Because of this, avoid using rags on decks with this design. 


Are indoor rugs completely safe for my wooden deck?

No, interior rugs aren’t safe for wooden decks. These materials include wool, cotton, or silk, which cannot withstand outdoor conditions.

Can I leave the rug on my deck for a year?

Leaving the rug on the deck for a year is not advisable. You must clean it regularly and place it in storage during bad weather conditions to avoid dirt build-up.

How durable is a wood deck?

The durability of your deck depends on the wood material, maintenance frequency, proper installation, and climate. It can be durable as long as these factors are considered. 


Now, will an outdoor rug damage a wood deck? If you read my take on the matter, you’ll know it’s both yes and no. At the end of the day, the solution to this dilemma depends on the material you choose. 

You should also remember that proper maintenance will save you from expensive repairs and replacements in the long run. 

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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