Can You Waterproof an Outdoor Rug?

Last updated on September 28th, 2023

Outdoor rugs are a great way to add a quick and stylish makeover to your floors. They add comfort below to your outdoor furniture ensuring warmth and safety to your feet.

Although indoor and outdoor carpets may seem different, they share one thing in common; they usually get into contact with moisture. And as we already know, excessive exposure to moisture can spell a disaster to the life of your rugs, and this calls for ways you can make them water resistant and improve their durability.

In this write up, we are going to provide answers to this question, can you waterproof an outdoor rug? We’ll also outline the reasons you need to do this, how to go about it, and the best outdoor rugs in the market you can choose from.

F.S: Can you waterproof an outdoor rug?

Yes you can waterproof an outdoor rug. The best way to do this is by following these three steps. First, waterproof the top part of the rug by using a fabric seal spray. Second, place a rug pad below the carpet to waterproof the underside, and lastly test the whole rug for water resistance and make adjustment appropriately. 

Why waterproof outdoor rug

Besides preventing outdoor rugs against the elements and ensuring it remains appealing to the outdoor space, there are various reasons you need to waterproof your outdoor carpets. Below are three major reasons you need to consider waterproofing outdoor rugs.

  • Increased durability.

To begin with, waterproofing your outdoor rug significantly enhances its lifespan. Outdoor rugs are always exposed to elements, such as rain, sun, or occasional spills. 

When you waterproof outdoor rugs, you create a barrier that prevents water from seeping through, reducing the wear and tear caused by moisture. This means that the rug remains intact and vibrant for long. 

  • Easy Maintenance and Cleaning

The worry of constantly cleaning your outdoor rugs can destroy the joy of spending time outdoors. A waterproofed rug repels rain, moisture, and accidental spills, making those accidental drink tumbles or surprise rain showers easy to clean. 

Simply spray the rug with a waterproofing agent to help restore their water repelling qualities.  A water-repellant layer makes it easier to clean spills and prevent stains.  wipe off or hose down the rug and it will look as good as new. This ensures you take less time on cleaning and maintenance, leaving you with enough time to enjoy staying outdoors.

  1. Mold and Mildew Prevention 

When moisture gets trapped in the fibers of an outdoor rug, it creates a favorable breeding ground for mold and mildew. Not only do these elements give the rug an unpleasant smell, they also destroy the material and pose health risks. 

Waterproofing prevents moisture absorption, ensuring your rug stays mold and mildew-free, maintaining its aesthetic look and ensuring safety for people and pets.

How to waterproof an outdoor rug

So we have known that you can waterproof an outdoor rug, but how do you go about it? Learn how to waterproof your outdoor rug in the procedure below. 

  • Waterproof the rug’s upper part.

Since the water and other liquids will touch the top areas first, you will want to spray the top area using a fabric spray paint.

Just spray a thin layer of the chosen fabric seal spray paint on the upper part of the rug and leave it to dry completely. Remember to work in a well ventilated space to minimize the effects of toxic spray paint fumes.

After the first coat has dried completely, spray another coat and let it dry fully. While most rugs don’t change their color from fabric seal spray, it is still advisable to test it in a conspicuous place beforehand to be sure.

  • Waterproof the underside of the outdoor rug.

The bottom side of the rug is directly exposed to moisture from the floor and needs equal water protection like the top side. To do this, you have two options-use a waterproof rug pad or a waterproof fabric.

Let’s start with how how waterproof fabrics work;

Because the rug’s underside is not visible, you can use any color of waterproof fabrics. Cut the fabric into equal size as the rug and stick it below the carpet using a rug or double-sided tape. For maximum results, place the fabric’s waterproof side facing the rug. 

Fabrics don’t provide stable traction to the floor, so it is good to support it using grip pads to prevent slips and accidents.

For rug pads, you’ll need to consider a few things before you purchase one to waterproof your outdoor rug.

One, you need to consider the rug pad size, ideally smaller than the outdoor rug. Two, your floor type. This is essential as different floor types require a specific type of rug pads. Lastly, the rug pad should provide adequate traction and strong anti-slip abilities.

Once you have decided on these factors and purchased the ideal rug pad for your carpet, you can go ahead and lay it on the floor first then place the rug on the top of it.

Rug pads prevent water from seeping from the floor to your outdoor carpet and keeps the floor below the rug clean since dust and debris won’t get into contact with the carpet.

  • Test the rug to see if there are any flaws and fix them.

Once you have applied the procedure outlined above, it is time to test the rug for waterproof abilities. But first, you’ll have to wait for 24 hours to allow the fabric seal spray to dry before testing.

Pour little amounts of water on top of the rug. Observe if the liquid rolls off the rug indicating that it is waterproof. If it gets absorbed then it is not waterproofed and you’ll be required to add another layer of fabric seal spray for best results.

For the underside, you need to pour water on the floor and lay the rug on it. To know if it is waterproofed, you should be able to wipe the water easily leaving the underside dry without absorbing the liquid.

Can you waterproof an outdoor rug?  

You can waterproof an outdoor rug if you want to add a layer of protection against water and moisture to it. 

Waterproofing may also become necessary when your rug has started to weather and lose its water-repellent qualities. Usually, the carpet may begin to sustain more stubborn stains and hard-to-clean spots. 

It is crucial to notice that waterproofing is not essential for a standard outdoor rug. These mats usually have water-resistant and UV-stable properties, making them resilient to the damaging elements outside. 

Whether it is natural or synthetic, an outdoor carpet is designed to hold out against anything Mother Nature throws at it.

Because they can repel water and moisture, outdoor rugs usually do not experience mold and mildew. The mats are also typically densely woven or low-pile to help repel dirt and other spills that could cause stains.

However, outdoor mats made from natural fibers like sisal and seagrass are not as resilient and durable as their synthetic cousins. They could also experience mold. Such rugs may benefit from a generous layer of waterproofing spray. 

Both natural and synthetic outdoor carpets are usually loop-pile. This design, coupled with the weatherproof material, means the low-pile carpet will handle the wear and tear of foot traffic and harsh weather better than deep-pile rugs. 

You can use clear acrylic spray paint for this purpose. Polyurethane paint or lacquer spray paint can also help make your natural outdoor carpet hold out better against water and moisture. 

Any of these coatings are harmless and will form a waterproof layer.

Otherwise, you could use something light, such as Scotchgard Fabric Protector. Spray it on the rug to create a thin coat on the surface. Though it is invisible, Scotchgard forms a protective shield that keeps your rug resistant to soiling and staining.

The coating will also make it easier to clean up most spills simply by running a damp cloth on the carpet.

When buying a rug for wholly exposed outdoor areas, you may want to go for one with all-weather marine backing to resist water and moisture better. The same rule should apply if you live in a high-humidity climate.

Do you need a rug pad for outdoor rugs?

Outdoor rugs are generally low maintenance compared to indoor mats. Still, they need proper care to last longer. Utilizing rug pads is one way to prolong the lifespan of your outdoor carpet. The pads provide a much-needed buffer between the rug and the ground or patio surface. Moisture from the ground, therefore, has enough room to evaporate instead of soaking the carpet. 

The pad significantly helps improve air circulation underneath the rug. This is crucial because little to no air circulation can often lead to the growth of molds and mildew. Damp conditions under a carpet can also provide a foothold for bacteria.  

This important accessory will also offer protection for the wood or concrete floor. Dirt and debris are a common problem wherever there is a carpet. They can get trapped between the floor surface and the rug. With the pad acting as a buffer, this debris and dirt will not stain or discolor the floor. 

It helps to purchase a pad to go under the carpet irrespective of the type of rug you are buying. Including a rug pad significantly helps keep your carpet looking better for longer and improves its functionality.

If you have a remarkably smooth rug such as those made of synthetic materials, using a pad can prevent the carpet from sliding around and help keep you from slipping and falling.

Since most outdoor rugs are reasonably thin, adding a pad will provide more comfort under the feet. Consider finding a thick rug pad for maximum softness and comfort. 

When shopping for a rug pad, remember that there are different kinds designed for various conditions. Rug pads meant for indoor use may not withstand the elements within the outside environment. You, therefore, want to ensure you buy a material that is designed for outdoor use.  

What is the best outdoor rug for rain?

There are two broad types of outdoor rugs, namely natural fiber and synthetic outdoor rugs. The natural types such as jute, bamboo, and sisal are sturdy and durable. They also tend to have an excellent texture to add a touch of personality to your outdoor space.

However, as far as rain is concerned, these natural fibers are not the best choice. They retain more water and can be prone to molds and mildew. Exposure to rainwater will likely destroy a natural fiber rug and render it unusable much sooner.  

A bamboo mat, for instance, can stain easily. It requires that you blot out spills as soon as they occur or once you become aware of them. Otherwise, they could quickly form permanent stains.

Jute outdoor rugs have soft fibers that almost feel like wool. They are the least durable of all these natural fibers and will not stand up to water. 

Synthetic outdoor rugs are, therefore, the best for use where there is rain. They are durable and resistant to fading, mold, and mildew. The majority of these carpets are manufactured using polypropylene, but polyester, nylon, and acrylic varieties are available. 

While each synthetic fiber has its pros and cons, they all resist water and will not soak up after rainfall. Here are some top picks you may consider for your next purchase. 

  • Nourison Positano Outdoor Rug

This synthetic outdoor rug features a 100-percent polypropylene construction that makes it durable enough to handle the most adverse weather elements. Despite being low cost, the mat holds up great to high traffic from pets and kids. 

Customers also find it extremely easy to clean. The prices start from as low as $23 on Amazon, and it comes in 13 different shapes and sizes. 

  • FH Home Outdoor Rug

This low-cost rug is eco-friendly and made of recycled, high-quality polypropylene. It is waterproof, stain-resistant, and UV-resistant. These qualities also mean that the carpet is easy to clean and maintain. 

Also, the UV resistance means that it will not crash under the damaging effects of the sun’s harmful rays. 

It comes in five different sizes and more than a dozen vibrant colors and prints to choose from. If you wish to have an outdoor carpet on just a tiny porch, this is the perfect choice to go for.

  • Unique Loom Geometric Outdoor Rug

If you are looking for something modern, then you may consider this exotic piece. It features a stylish geometric print and sturdy polypropylene material that makes it highly durable. The mat is also stain-resistant and easy to clean. 

The rug is available in more than a dozen different shapes, colors, and sizes. According to a buyer on Amazon, the mat is “easy to clean and doesn’t get waterlogged when it rains…” 

  • Nicole Miller Patio Country Danica Outdoor Rug

This rug is rated 4.8 stars on Amazon, which speaks of how satisfied customers are with it. It is an ideal choice for the patio. It features durable polypropylene construction and an easy texture that is comfortable to walk on.

The carpet is easy to clean and lightweight so that you can move it around with ease. It boasts two main designs that give you the option of selecting your most preferred look. 

Essential care tips for outdoor rugs

We have mentioned that outdoor rugs are low maintenance but still require some level of care to prolong their life. Keeping your mat for a long time means that you don’t have to spend money buying another one every other time. 

For the rug to remain looking good for longer, you must take good care of it and prevent damage. 

There is no denying that exposure to weather elements will have a toll on your mat as long as it stays outside. Still, there are several steps you can take to protect the rug and preserve its good features.

  • Dust the rug regularly. 

You could use a clean cloth to dust off the rug or vacuum it from time to time or when loose dirt becomes noticeable on it. This care routine ensures that dirt does not accumulate to levels that could be damaging. 

Even though the outdoor carpet is likely to be mold- and mildew-resistant, accumulated dirt can provide a medium for molds and mildew to grow when there is moisture. Frequent dusting is an easy way to keep dirt from collecting on the carpet.

  • Shake it out

Other than dusting, you could simply shake the rug regularly to remove loose dirt. Shaking is an easy and quick way to get rid of particles trapped in the fibers, preventing them from collecting there.

  • Clean spills as soon as they occur or once you become aware of them.

Be sure to blot the rug to clean it, not scrub. For those carpets that have been treated with UV protection, scouring may remove that protective finish, leaving the mat exposed to sun damage. Scrubbing may also push stains deeper into the fibers instead of removing them. 

  • Keep the rag in dry storage indoors during the offseason, away from the snow

Wrapping or covering up your rug with a lightweight fabric before storing it for the winter will help it breathe. This also helps shelter it away from pests and insects that could damage it. 

  • Disinfect your rug

If your mat is deeply stained, you may want to use diluted bleach to clean it, removing mildew, mold, or algae that may have accumulated on it. 

Alternatively, you could use vinegar solution instead of commercial bleach. It is more natural and easier on the material. When disinfecting, always read the instructions on the container before using any product.  

  • Hose it down

Do not use a pressure washer to clean your rug. The high pressure can cause permanent damage to the carpet. To rinse it, always use your garden hose with the standard water pressure. After rinsing, you may want to air dry the rug by hanging it somewhere or on a line.

FAQs – Waterproofing Outdoor Rugs

Can outdoor rugs be left in the rain?

Yes. Outdoor rugs are made to be left outdoors the whole year. They are created to withstand rain, sun, snow, and sleet. 

Can I waterproof an outdoor rug?

Generally, outdoor rugs are water-resistant. They are made of synthetic fibers that do not experience molds and retain water or collect moisture.

Can you put a regular rug outside?

Unless they are made for outdoor purposes, regular rugs cannot be put outside.

What is the best waterproof outdoor fabric sealer?

There are several outdoor fabric waterproof sealers in the market you can choose from, but the best ones include, Sof Sole-Unisex Adult waterproofer, Scotchgard Heavy duty water seal, Forcefield Unisex Adult waterproof spray, Fabric Guard, and NikWax fabric and leather proof waterproofing spray.

Can you use polypropylene rugs outdoors?

Yes. Polypropylene is ideal for outdoor rugs  used in areas with high traffic and moisture prone. 


Any outdoor space can benefit from a good rug. Now that you know the ins and outs of outdoor carpets, take a look around your home and figure out which design, material, shape, size, and color will best suit your home. Then go out and do some shopping for an outdoor rug – to usher in the warmer season in style.

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