Chances are, most people will put an exterior rug or mat on their deck at some point. Decorative rugs can transform any deck into an inviting, fashionable space. Outdoor mats and grill mats are practical materials that protect the flooring of your deck and home entrances.

Rugs and Mats

(drvce1 / pixabay)

If you are looking to purchase a rug or mat for your composite deck, however, we caution you to hold off until you know what to look for, what to avoid, and how to care for decking and exterior rugs. Choosing the wrong materials, or neglecting the maintenance required for a recommended one, could result in unwanted staining, sticking, scratching, or discoloration.

What is Composite Wood?

For now, our focus will be on composite decking only. Composite wood is made up of natural wood fibers combined with resin. It resembles wood but with the added bonus of being resistant to rotting, warping, or cracking. Also, it comes in a variety of colors, eliminating the need to paint or stain.

Composite decking’s resistance to the elements and low maintenance make the material a popular choice here in the Colorado area. As a result, we want to make sure our clients and potential clients know how to properly care for their custom composite decks so that they can continue to enjoy the beauty and functionality for as long as possible.

Allow for Weathering

Our first bit of advice is to wait to cover your newly installed composite deck with a rug. Composite decking can naturally weather and lighten during the first three to six months after installation. This fading usually goes unnoticed when the entire deck is evenly exposed to the elements. Installing a rug or mat before a three-month exposure period will create a more noticeable color variation, so our advice is to wait at least three months, but six is even better.

Give it Room to Breathe

Secondly, just like other types of wood, custom composite decking requires spacing between boards to allow air to flow through. Adequate airflow provides water drainage and a natural expansion and contraction of the material. To maintain sufficient airflow, resist covering the entire deck in carpeting.

What Rugs and Mats to Look for, and What to Avoid

So, now that you know to give your deck time to weather evenly and to avoid covering the entire deck, what should you look for in a mat or rug? Go for colorfast, synthetic materials like polypropylene, recycled plastic, polyester, or vinyl-backed rugs only. Avoid anything with rubber or latex as they can leave marks and natural fibers, like jute that can scratch. Also, avoid metal accents as they can rust and stain.

Rugs and Mats

Buy Avoid
★ Colorfast material ❖ Rubber (leaves marks)
★ Synthetic fibers ❖ Latex (leaves marks)
○ Polypropylene ❖ Metal (rusts, stains, scratches)
○ Recycled plastic ❖ Jute (scratches)
○ Polyester
○ Vinyl backing

What if I’ve Already Purchased the Wrong Type?

If you have already purchased your rug or mats and they contain materials on our “avoid” list, we have a few tips for removing any marks or staining that may have already developed.

How to Remove Markings Left by Latex or Rubber-backed Rugs and Mats

  1. Sweep dirt and debris off the area with a brush or broom of medium stiffness.
  2. Rinse the area with warm water to prep the surface.
  3. Scrub the area with a brush or broom of medium stiffness and a soap and water mixture.
  4. Douse the area with water or use a garden hose to remove soapy mixture.

For rust stains, you may want to consider a specialized cleaner containing phosphoric acid and a commercial pressure washer.

Pressure Washing Tip: Exercise particular caution when pressure washing a composite deck. Too much pressure can strip away color. First, check the manufacturer’s recommended PSI for your type of composite wood, and use a fan nozzle.

Maintenance Required

Your rug or mats of choice will require a bit of maintenance to prevent mold and mildew. Periodically clear off all furniture, carpeting, and mats, and clean decking underneath to remove grime, mold, mildew, and dirt that could have accrued. Sweep and hose off decking and mats, allowing everything to air dry before putting them back in place.

Although composite decking resists mold and mildew, the materials covering the boards could easily become a breeding ground, transferring it to your deck. Sweeping and hosing off is usually all the maintenance needed, but circumstances with especially stubborn stains might require a composite deck cleaning formula.

Maintenance: Remember to…

  • Clear deck of all potted plants, furnishings, and carpeting regularly.
  • Sweep.
  • Hose off deck, rugs, and mats.
  • Allow deck, carpeting, and furnishing to air dry before resetting.

As leading Colorado residential deck installers, we love bringing joy to our clients after we’ve finished installing their custom composite decks. We want to help you continue to enjoy your outdoor space and keep it looking good for years to come.