How to Paint an Outdoor Rug for a Quick and Easy Makeover

Transform an inexpensive outdoor rug into a custom creation with the help of a little paint.

Sisal rugs are affordable, durable, and great for layering on porches and patios. The natural woven fibers help ground your outdoor space, but if you prefer a little more color or pattern, this style of area rug is easy to customize with a pretty hand-painted design. Our step-by-step tutorial shows you how to transform a basic sisal rug into a trendy patterned accent. Look for a smooth, low-pile outdoor sisal rug for this project to ensure the painted lines look crisp and professional. Then gather a few basic DIY materials to create your own painted outdoor rug.

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modern patio with blue bench and pillows
Cameron Sadeghpour

How to Paint an Outdoor Rug

Follow these instructions to create a chevron pattern, or use our how-to as inspiration for your own design. This easily customizable project allows you to quickly transform an outdoor sisal rug with paint.

What You Need

  • Outdoor sisal rug
  • Drop cloth
  • 2-inch-wide painters tape
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Chalk-finish paint (we used ½ quart of Annie Sloan's Pure chalk paint)
  • Cloth
  • Large round paintbrush
prep rug on drop cloth
Cameron Sadeghpour

Step 1: Prep Your 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.

measure and mark rug
Cameron Sadeghpour

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.

trim painters tape
Cameron Sadeghpour

Step 3: Trim Painters Tape

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

tape rug
Cameron Sadeghpour

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.

paint rug
Cameron Sadeghpour

Step 5: Paint Area Rug

Mix in 1 to 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.

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 that it doesn't require a separate sealant.

remove tape from rug
Cameron Sadeghpour

Step 6: Remove Tape

Carefully remove the tape to reveal the finished rug. To add more color to your painted rug, tape off ½-inch-thick pinstripes between the wide stripes and use a bright accent color. Or try a few different colors on the 4-inch Vs.

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