The Best Outdoor Rugs to Make Your Patio Just as Cozy as Your Living Room
They’re also balcony- and porch-approved.
Updated May 17, 2023 2:30 PM
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Sculptural planters, graphic patio umbrellas, and firepits may get the most attention when it comes to outdoor design, but don’t overlook a backyard or balcony’s most hardworking player: a rug. Adding a durable floor covering can make your alfresco escape feel as cozy as your living room and hide all sorts of eyesores—from chipped tiles to stained wood decking—and is a quick fix for rentals if you can’t (or just don’t have the budget to) tackle a complete reno overhaul.
To find a perfect match, it’s essential to consider the climate first. Will it be left out in the rain and in full sunlight or under the shade of a canopy or covered roof? Natural-fiber options like jute and sisal are a bit more sensitive to the elements and need regular cleaning. Synthetics—polypropylene, nylon, polyester, and acrylic—on the other hand are a bit hardier.
When selecting a style, outdoor rugs can be categorized as either a neutral or something a bit more colorful, whether it be a bright or moody hue. To decide on yours, Kevin Isbell of Kevin Isbell Interiors recommends being consistent. “Your outdoor space should feel like an extension of your home and not as if you just stepped into Margaritaville,” he says. In other words, if your house is teeming with earthy tones, aim to continue that theme beyond your back door. Once you’ve narrowed down the material and aesthetic, shop our guide to the very best outdoor rugs on the market, below.
Our Favorite Colorful Outdoor Rugs
Brighten up your balcony, porch, or deck with something flashy. Our favorite colorful rug options don punchy solids, playful stripes, and contrasting graphics for outdoor vibes that lean more summer soiree than desert spa to double down on the fun. For instance, we love the vibrant ombré of Revival’s horseshoes pattern and the trendy green checks on Amazon’s tonal number.
Our Favorite Neutral Outdoor Rugs
A neutral rug doesn’t have to be snoozy. These go-with-anything anchors can also include subtle, earthy patterns or natural variations of speckled, braided yarns. While we tried to steer clear of particularly light combinations (a white or beige rug will show dirt and crumbs more than, say, gray and green or charcoal), there are plenty of taupe-y recommendations, below, that use pattern to mask your typical outdoor debris.
Doormats We Also Love
A 2-by-3-foot mat at your front door—or in your itty-bitty amount of space—can bring in just enough personality via pattern or color. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to experiment with something bold or outside of your typical comfort zone. Our favorite brands include Shore Rugs, Heymat, Schoolhouse, and Slash Objects (the latter also makes for a great kitchen mat).
How We Chose These Products
Outdoor area rugs tend to skew toward Cheeseburger in Paradise–inspired palm trees and parrots, but we chose options that would look just as good indoors as a hallway runner, entryway mat, or living room carpet. From a range of patterns and styles to our favorite finds based on fabric use, these are the best outdoor rugs designers love to use or are currently eyeing, and the ones Domino editors wouldn’t mind having in their own homes.
Our Shopping Checklist
Types of Fiber
For all-weather outdoor use, we recommend sticking to synthetics—namely polyester (PET) and polypropylene—as they’re durable enough to hold their own against Mother Nature. “It’s one of my favorite materials because it’s very soft underfoot but also very durable,” explains designer Michelle Lisac, who adds that Dash & Albert’s outdoor rugs are a cut above the rest. Isbell also suggests checking out performance rug brand Perennials. “For the best color saturations and near indestructibility, I prefer 100% solution-dyed acrylic rugs,” he says.
These manmade materials earn bonus points for being far less likely to fade in the sun or harbor mold and mildew compared to their natural counterparts. Better yet, they’re also far easier to keep clean; most rugs on this list can simply be hosed down with water or are lightweight enough to be given a good shake and dusting.
However, there are a few cotton-blend options here that require a bit more maintenance. And rugs featuring jute or sisal should be reserved to covered spaces only—Cyrus Loloi, principal and CMO of rug and textile brand Loloi, stresses they’ll fade in direct sunlight and absorb water, “which makes them susceptible to mold and mildew.” You’ll definitely want to store them indoors by summer’s end and skip vacuuming, which can cause snags and unraveling; use a broom instead.
Unlike an indoor area rug, outdoor rugs are more likely than not to feature a low pile or flat-weave, which are less susceptible to matting. For extra cushion underfoot, add on a rug pad.
Size and Design
Unsurprisingly, determining the right size rug depends on your space. Are you working with a Juliette balcony or an expansive concrete patio? A bistro set can be situated just fine on a medium-size mat, say around 5-to-8 feet. Placement under a sectional sofa or six-person dining table will likely require something 8-by-10 feet or larger.
Superlight colors and chunky textures would make us think twice. “This advice goes against all the things that I appreciate when thinking about interior design, but functionality takes priority when it comes to exteriors,” explains Terry Lin, cofounder and chief design officer of outdoor lifestyle brand Outer, one of our favorite places to buy patio furniture. “Your rug will inevitably get dirty. Light shades will get dingy. Textures in the weave will become a catchall for grime.”
Q: Should I expect to spend as much on an outdoor rug as I would on an indoor area rug?
We always recommend investing in the highest quality you can afford. Whatever your budget, whether it’s under $300 or four figures, Isbell says the best outdoor rugs are a category you shouldn’t skimp on: “They take a beating far more than any indoor carpet, so the old saying ‘It only hurts once’ applies here.”
Q: How often should I clean my outdoor rug?
In general, be sure to regularly vacuum or shake out your rug to free it from dirt and debris, and spot-treat any spills to prevent stains. And since most of the best outdoor rugs are made with extra-durable materials, it’s likely all you may have to do is hose them down every now and then, but be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions first.
Q: Any tips on how to style my outdoor space with a rug?
Contrast is key. “If the furniture is really eclectic, I would choose a rug in a solid shade,” says Caitlin Murray, founder and creative director of Black Lacquer Design. But if the patio is quite neutral, consider a patterned rug to make things feel more textured and layered. Essentially, no matter your choice, try to avoid monotony. “You never want it to blend in with the flooring,” she adds.
The Last Word
An outdoor oasis isn’t complete without a cozy, underfoot detail. Feel free to embrace bold, intricate designs with smaller mats, but try to stick with simpler patterns and styles like stripes and natural fibers when it comes to extra-large floor coverings. The best outdoor area rugs are those you can enjoy for more than one season, so it’s best to go with easy-to-clean, durable materials (think: natural flat-weaves, recycled plastic, polyester, and performance blends) if you explore beyond our list of designer-backed favorites.