How to Paint an Outdoor Rug

Transform a plain, inexpensive outdoor rug into a custom DIY creation with a little paint.

Add interest to a patio, a porch, or any outdoor space with a pretty hand-painted rug. Our easy-to-follow guide shows you how to transform a basic sisal rug into a trendy patterned rug. All you need are a few simple DIY materials and a little bit of time.

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What You Need

  • Outdoor sisal rug
  • Drop cloth
  • 2-inch-wide painters tape
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Chalk-finish paint (we used 1/2 quart of Annie Sloan Pure White Chalk Paint)
  • Cloth
  • Large round paintbrush

Step 1: Prep the Space

Place your rug on a drop cloth (or use the plastic wrapper it came in) in a well-ventilated area. If your rug has a border you would like to keep, cover it with painters tape for protection.

Step 2: Mark the Rug

Using a tape measure, find and mark the center of the rug with a pencil. Working outward from your mark, apply two lengths of painters tape side by side diagonally from the center to one corner (side-by-side lengths of tape should overlap slightly). Apply a second set of two side-by-side lengths from the center to the adjacent corner, creating a V shape. Each leg of the V should be 4 inches wide.

Step 3: Trim to Perfection

Where V legs intersect, use scissors to trim a perfect point and cut off excess tape.

Step 4: Guide the Tape

Use a ruler or make a 4-inch spacer out of tape to guide the placement of each subsequent V until the whole rug is taped. Each leg of each V should be 4 inches apart.

Step 5: Start Painting

Mix in 1-2 drops of water for each cup of chalk-finish paint to help it glide on. Alternatively, you can fill a spray bottle with water and use it to slightly dampen the rug before painting. Use a cloth to blot any excess paint from your paintbrush, and paint between your taped Vs. Add more coats as desired. Let dry completely. Repeat steps to complete the rug.

Step 6: Remove Tape

Carefully remove the tape to reveal the finished rug.

Editor's Tip: There are many chalk-finish paints on the market, but we chose Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for this project because we like how evenly it covers the surface -- and it doesn't require a separate sealant.

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1 Comment

  1. I was thinking of using this technique to update an older rug and have a few questions. 1) Can I use the old rug or do I need to start with a new clean one? 2) Is there a particular type of tape that works better for this? 3) Is any type of paint good as long as the rug is moistened, for instance could spray paint be used and work as well? 4) Is it necessary to seal the paint in some way to protect from the elements (sun, water, etc.)?

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