Will An Outdoor Rug Damage A Wood Deck? Yes, With Less Upkeep!

Although outdoor rugs can instantly enhance the aesthetics of your deck, they come with their own disadvantages. When it comes to wood decks, you must consider the related risks, such as mold growth, stains, and splinters.

This raises one crucial question: Will an outdoor rug damage a wood deck? Yes, outdoor rugs can damage wood decks if not maintained regularly and when made of natural fibers. Such rugs will hold moisture and attract moths and mildew. Besides, poorly maintained outdoor rugs might also invite woodlice, ants, and other wood-damaging insects.

Outdoor rugs are also a common cause of stains and discoloration of wooden decks. Read on to discover how outdoor rugs can damage wood decks and the ways to prevent it.

How Do Outdoor Rugs Damage Wood Decks?

Whether an outdoor rug will damage your wood deck or not largely depends on the rug’s material. Generally speaking, natural fiber-made outdoor rugs are more damaging than synthetic ones. In any case, here are the different ways an outdoor rug can damage your wooden deck:

How Do Outdoor Rugs Damage Wood Decks

Wood Rotting

If your rug is made of natural fiber such as jute, sisal, cotton, and wool, it will absorb moisture from the environment. Outdoor rugs with rubber or non-breathable backings will also trap water. 

As these materials take a long time to dry, the water stays trapped, blackens the wood, and eventually leads to rotting. 

Mold and Mildew Growth

Whenever your outdoor rug gets wet, you must allow it to dry completely before placing it on wood. Otherwise, the absorbed water will create a moist environment, which ensures moths, mold, and mildew growth.

If you don’t remove the mold and mildew, it can cause wood to deteriorate over time.

Outdoor Rugs Damage Wood Decks

Insect Infestations

Poorly maintained outdoor rugs accumulate dust, dirt, moisture, and debris. Such dirty rugs can attract insects like ants, woodlice, or termites.

These insects create their habitats in the wood and feed on it. When infested, they will make holes in your wooden deck and slowly damage its structure. 


Prolonged exposure to sunlight leads to fading and discoloration of the wood deck. As an outdoor rug blocks the sunlight, the color of the area beneath the rug stays intact. When you remove the rug, it will result in uneven discoloration, ruining the aesthetics of your precious deck.

Wood Stain

Colorful outdoor rugs can instantly stain wood when wet. This is particularly common for low-quality natural fiber rugs. Also, if there are any spills on the rug left for an extended period, they can seep through to the deck and leave permanent stains.

Wood Stain

Non-perforable rugs often absorb water, which later passes to the wood. As the rug prevents the deck from fully drying, it results in unpleasant water marks. 

Splinters and Warp

If your outdoor rug is made of abrasive materials, it will rub against the wood. Not moving the rug for a long time can eventually fray the edges and create sharp splinters.

Moreover, rugs with rubber or PVC backing adhere to the deck’s surface over time. When you try to remove the rug, it might peel off the finish or even splinter the wood. On top of that, dark outdoor rugs trap excessive heat, resulting in warps or cracks.

Scratching and Chemical Damage

When you place an outdoor rug in a particularly crowded area, debris such as sand and dirt can get trapped under the rug. As people walk on the rug, this debris acts like sandpaper, causing scratches and abrasion on the deck’s surface.

Besides, some rug materials or cleaning products used on them contain harsh chemicals. If not cleaned properly, the chemical substances react with the wood or the deck’s finish, causing discoloration or damage.

How to Prevent Outdoor Rugs from Damaging a Wooden Deck?

As mentioned, outdoor rugs will only damage wood if you select the wrong material and don’t maintain them properly. Here are some ways to prevent outdoor rug damage on your wood deck:

How to Prevent Outdoor Rugs from Damaging a Wooden Deck

Select the Right Material

While purchasing an outdoor rug, the most important factor you need to consider is the rug material. Avoid natural fiber rugs as they absorb moisture and take a long time to dry.

Go for synthetic materials such as polyester, polypropylene, or nylon. These rug materials are resistant to water damage and environmental wear. Hence, they don’t provide the breeding ground needed for mold and insect growth. 

In any case, test the rug for colorfastness to eliminate the chances of color bleeding. The outdoor rug should also not feature any non-perforable rubber or latex backing. Such materials don’t let the underlying wood to dry.

Clean the Rug Regularly

Regular maintenance is a must if you want to prevent wood damage. You should inspect the rug every day and give it a shake to remove the loose dirt.

Use a mild cleaner to wash the rug twice a month. The most important part here is to let the rug dry completely.

Clean the Rug Regularly

Remove Spills Immediately

You’d expect the outdoor rug to protect the underlying wood from accidental spills. Although the rug will block or absorb the spilled liquid or solid, not cleaning it for a long period will stain the wood. Hence, it’s best to clean spills immediately to prevent permanent stains.

Rotate and Dry As Needed

To prevent dirt and moisture from building up, rotate your outdoor rug regularly. This way, all the sides of the rug will get sufficient sunlight. 

Also, if you live in an area where rain and snowfall are common, make sure you let the rug fully dry after every downpour. 

Use Rug Pad

Placing a rug pad underneath helps promote air circulation and prevents friction damage to the deck. The pad firmly holds the rug in place so the trapped dirt can’t scratch your wood deck.

Also, rug pads are made to withstand damage by environmental elements. Therefore, they don’t soak up any excess moisture that promotes mold growth.

Use Rug Pad


Now, let’s take a look at some common queries homeowners often have regarding outdoor rugs and related damage.

Q. How do I remove mold from my outdoor rug?

To remove mold from your outdoor rug, mix equal parts of water and white vinegar. Soak the rug in the vinegar solution for an hour.

After the cleaner has penetrated the mold, wash it with dish soap and warm water. You can also use commercial mold-removing sprays suitable for your rug fabric.

Q. What rug chemicals damage wood?

The two main chemicals used to make rugs that can damage wood are Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and Phthalates. Both chemicals are typically used in synthetic rugs. They contain plasticizers and other chemicals that leach into the wood and damage the finish.

Also, rugs containing acid dyes promote the degradation of wooden fibers. Therefore, such outdoor rugs can weaken the wood structure.

Q. Will a sealant prevent outdoor rugs from damaging wood?

Yes, a protective sealant can prevent outdoor rugs from damaging wood. If you’re worried about an outdoor rug damaging your wooden deck, it’s best to apply a suitable water- and abrasion-resistant sealant. The sealant adds a protective layer that prevents rug-related wear and tear.

Wrapping Up!

While answering ‘Will an outdoor rug damage a wood deck,’ we’ve explored the different damaging aspects of outdoor rugs. Although rugs have the potential to damage your wood deck, you can easily avoid it by properly maintaining it. 

To minimize the risk of damage, you can choose outdoor rugs designed specifically for use on wood decks. Regularly remove and clean the rug, and use rug pads or supports to allow airflow under the rug. Finally, inspect your deck every day for any signs of damage and take prompt action to prevent further deterioration.