Outdoor living is a big part of modern living. It’s so easy to have living, cooking, and dining spaces both inside and outside. That’s why decorating outside living spaces has become so popular.
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One must-have item for your outdoor space is an area rug. A rug helps define the space, provide a focal point, and bring the entire space together visually. When it comes time to choose a rug for your outdoor space, the choice of material is critical.
Let’s look at the different materials available in outdoor rugs and what you need to know about each one. It will help you choose the best material for an outdoor rug.
Synthetic fibers are actually the more durable, long-lasting choice among outdoor rugs. The rugs come in many textures, colors, and patterns. They are free from toxic fumes, while being fire retardant and stain retardant at the same time. These rugs are safe for kids and pets. They resist fading, while also keeping mold and mildew at bay.
Rugs made from synthetic fibers often cost less than their natural fiber brethren. This makes them affordable options for effortless decorating.
Here are five of the most common synthetic fiber options:
Polypropylene is an extruded fiber that’s dyed during its manufacturing process. This fiber resists staining, mold, mildew, and even UV fading. It will not absorb liquids and is even bleach resistant. You can hose down the rugs made from polypropylene and leave them outside to dry.
Some polypropylene rugs are even made from recycled plastic. That makes them an eco-friendly choice.
Nylon is another synthetic fiber that does well in high-traffic areas. It’s easy to keep clean. It’s durable. Nylon is even color fast. The biggest downside to nylon is that it can hold heat if it’s under the sun. It can also hold a static charge, which isn’t good if you want to use personal electronics near it.
Polyesteris a great choice if you want vibrant color. It resists fading and some stains. Unfortunately, oil-based spills can become a permanent stain. The material can also start to breakdown in high-traffic areas. It will pill, mat down, or shed fibers.
Acrylicis a synthetic fiber that actually looks a lot like natural fibers. It has a cushy feeling under the feet and has a soft finish that looks natural. It releases moisture without heat, which makes it mold and mildew resistant. Acrylic holds color quite well and resists many types of stains. It’s biggest flaw is that it’s easy to crush and will pill.
You would think that natural fibers would be a great choice for an outdoor rug. Unfortunately, many of them are not. These fibers will break down when exposed to sunlight and rain. This causes the rugs to deteriorate quickly. Plus many of them attract mold and mildew.
Natural fiber rugs also tend to be higher in cost, compared to synthetic fiber rugs. There’s a lot of manual labor involved with producing some of these fibers. Some are grown in other countries and must be imported for use.
Let’s look at five natural fibers you can find in outdoor rugs.
Bamboo is a sustainable fiber derived from a fast-growing grass. The fibers are soft and comfortable. One downside to bamboo outdoor rugs is that they can fade in direct sunlight. Also, most bamboo rugs have a jute backing. That means you need to bring the rug inside before any soaking rain, otherwise the backing can fall apart.
Sisal is a stiff fiber derived from a type of agave that originated in southern Mexico. The fibers are tough and strong, making it a durable choice. It’s beautiful in its natural color, but takes dye well. The problem is that sisal absorbs moisture. It will soak up spills and can start to rot if left wet for too long.
Hemp fibers were among the first humans used for textile production over 10,000 years ago. When first woven into a rug, it has a stiff texture. With time, it softens quite well. It’s durable and takes dye quite well. It resists mold and mildew. The biggest downside with hemp is the fact that it sheds. Regular vacuuming or sweeping will help with that.
Jute is a soft fiber that almost resembles wool. It’s the fiber used to make burlap. It comes in natural brown, but can take dye in many colors. Jute, unfortunately, doesn’t make a great outdoor rug. Its fibers break down when they get wet and can become home to mold and mildew.
Seagrass has a softer texture than sisal, making it a joy to walk on barefoot. The plant is grown in saltwater marshes and resists water quite well. The fibers don’t take dye well. They fade from a light green to a khaki in time. It doesn’t do well outside due to deterioration in direct sunlight.
If you look around a display of outdoor rugs, you will see a wide range of construction styles. It’s important to know what each one means and how it affects the rug and its price.
Hand-hooked rugs bring high-quality materials and hand craftsmanship to their owners. They have a short pile and take longer to make because they hand made. They offer the widest assortment of colors and designs. You can get a hand-hooked 5-by-7-foot rug starting at $200 and going well above $1000.
Machine-made rugs are easy to manufacturer. Power looms can weave many strands, all at once. This makes these rugs easy to manufacture. These rugs are available in a multitude of designs and color palettes. They don’t have the details and higher-quality materials of hand-hooked rugs. Machine-made 5-by-7-foot outdoor rugs start at $40 and can go up to $750 or more.
Flat-weaverugs have no pile. Instead, they have knotted or woven yarns made into a textile. You will see these rugs with cable braiding, flat braiding, and kilim style. These rugs are similar in price to machine-made options.
The foundation and backing of the rug makes a big difference in how long it will last. If the backing is synthetic, it will be durable and mildew resistant. Rugs with a backing of jute won’t fare as well. This natural fiber starts to breakdown once it gets wet. It’s also a material where mold and mildew grow if it gets wet.
Keeping the Colors Bright
You can get outdoor rugs in any number of colors, from natural to vibrant. If you want a rug with a lot of color, you need to understand how that color gets in the fiber. Also, you need to know how colorfast it is. Let’s look at the common options available:
Solution dyed.For outdoor rugs, the best option is a fiber that is solution dyed. That means, the manufacturer adds color to the chemicals that create the fiber. The color is part of the fiber’s inner construction.
Yarn dyed.This involves dyeing the fibers after it’s created. This is the best option for natural fiber rugs. It imparts the color into the fiber, but is not as thorough as solution dyeing. The final rug can have slight variations in color due to differences in dye lots.
Piece dyed.This involves dipping a woven rug into hot dye. This helps spread the color evenly across the piece. The dipping process helps get the dye around the entire fiber.
Printed.With printing, the manufacturer applies colors only to one side of the rug. The application of color is only at the surface level. A printed rug will fade faster than any of the dyed options.
So, what is the best material for outdoor rug? The choice is entirely up to you. Both synthetic and natural fibers bring so much style and elegance to any outdoor space. If you want a rug that will not fade or deteriorate quickly, synthetic is the way to go. If you want elegance and have a covered patio, natural fibers are an option.
Which one will you go with?