What type of rug is best for outdoor use? Our expert finds the best outdoors rugs in the UK

Our expert finds the best outdoors rugs in the UKOur expert finds the best outdoors rugs in the UK
Our expert finds the best outdoors rugs in the UK

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Our outdoor spaces have always been important to us, but in recent times, even more so.

Whether a deck, patio or balcony, one quick and affordable way to up the décor and comfort of that space is the addition of an outdoor rug. There are rugs to fit all shapes and sizes, and even more exciting, many of these rugs double up also to use indoors.

How do I chose an outdoor rug?

Outdoors rugs are made nearly always of polypropylene. This artificial material is water-resistant and capable of withstanding most weather conditions, and are durable yet can be processed to be soft and even mimic a short pile rug.

Unlike a wool carpet, they are stain-resistant to most spills except oil, will not go mouldy, and are fade-resistant. However, they do not like direct heat as they have a low ignition point and melt, so for safety is best kept away from outdoor fires and candles. And, if that’s not enough to please, they are affordable.

Choosing an outdoor rug is easy, what size, colour or pattern, and your budget. Cheaper rugs usually have a serged edge – made by wrapping yarn around the edge - which works very well but will make the rug lighter, and unless under a piece of furniture, can lift in windy conditions. More expensive rugs will be folded and stitched, which makes it heavier and helps the rug lay flat.

Outdoor rugs come mainly as flatwoven, which means it is – well - flat and textured, or with a short pile which is softer but if used in a heavy traffic area will flatten and, unlike wool, will not spring back.

How to care for your outdoor rug

The quickest and most effective way to clean it is with the vacuum cleaner, just as with an indoor rug.

Mop up spills as they happen if possible; otherwise, any proprietary floor cleaner or even a mild bleach solution should lift any stains.

Occasionally lift the rug and clean the floor underneath and the underside of the rug to prevent mould.

Size: 120 x 170 cm

This stylish, brightly coloured rug was one of the favourites on the test, not just for its good looks but also for underfoot; the rug is lovely and soft without looking or feeling artificial.

The rug is weighty enough to stay flat (except in a strong wind), light rain ran off quickly, and even in torrential rain, it didn’t become sodden, and once the sun came out again, it dried quickly. The long edges of the rug are glued rather than serged, the shorter folded with a lovely cotton fringe.

The Briella is a pretty rug that will suit most spaces both outdoors and in.

Size: 200 x 300 cm

This oversized rug from Ikea is the largest we tested and our favourite of the larger rugs. The size and quality of this rug for the price is astonishing. The tight flatweave is intricate, and it is hard to believe that it is made of polyurethane?

Spills and rain do show immediately in darkening the rug, which is alarming; however, as it dries as fast as it darkens, we soon got used to it. The rug is serged on the longer sides and folded at the shorter, and laid beautifully flat, and the wind struggled to move it.

Size: 120 x 170 cm

This flat woven outdoor rug from Joe Browns confused us; should we put it outside or keep it indoors, as it looked super-stylish in both. And, the muted black and beige leaf pattern will suit anyone who doesn’t like anything too bold but wants a bit of a pattern.

The rug has a lovely weight to it, and it laid beautifully flat but did lift a little in the wind. Rain went straight through it and was barely damp after a sharp shower, so drying was quick. If this rug were to be used inside, Joe Browns recommend a grip mat underneath as it will slide on some surfaces.

The quality of this rug at the price is exceptional especially given its versatility.

Size: 133 x 195cm

If you prefer your colours muted, then this stylish Scandinavian Standtorn rug will appeal. The soft blue and grey stripes will blend into most décors both in and outdoors. And the biggest surprise is the rug is reversible, narrow stripes on one side, flip it over, and the stripes are broad and bolder. Two looks in one.

The rug is serged on all four sides, which is necessary to make this rug reversible. It is also very light, and outdoors the wind whips it away, so it needs pinning down by pots or furniture.

However, rain goes nowhere near it; it stays almost dry, which we liked a lot.

Size: 160 x 220cm

The Movian was one of the larger rugs on the test, so better suited to bigger spaces. The rug has a short pile which makes it lovely to walk on if you want softness, though the pile in some light looks a little artificial, which we didn’t like too much. Shininess aside, this rug was the one that looked the closest to a wool rug and looked as good indoors as out.

We loved the bold statement of the rug with its intense blue and white geometric design. Despite having a pile, the rug shunned the rain, and any dampness dried quickly.

If you want a wool carpet look for your outdoor space, then this is the rug for you.

Size: 78 x 150cm

This flatweave and stone-coloured rug was the cheapest on the test, but though low-priced is a very effective outdoor rug – we wouldn’t recommend this for indoor use without a non-slip underlay.

The rug is serged on all sides, so it is very light and in wind flaps around; however, pin it down with furniture, and it is okay.

The rug darkens in the rain and becomes quite soggy and a little slow to dry, but once it does, the rug brightens up again. However, the manufacturers advise that the rug will fade over time, so it is best out of direct sunlight.

All-round, this is more than a serviceable rug for the price, and you will certainly not be anxious about muddy shoes or pets on it.

Size: 160 x 230 cm

There is nothing shy or retiring about this flatwoven rug; it is bold, bright and lovely and will certainly brighten up any space.

The rug is very well made and has an excellent weightiness to it, the long edges are serged, but the ends have a decent fold and stitching, which helps keep it flat.

The weave is tight and feels very smooth underfoot, and even in the heaviest weather, it is non-absorbent, so, wet or dry, the colour stays the same, and drying was the quickest on the test, we felt because of its smoothness.