How to paint an indoor/outdoor rug.

By: Diy maven May 23, 2007

All home improvement stores sell big indoor/outdoor rugs. They’re cheap and they’re not attractive–dare I say ugly? Well, here’s a way to make one of those utilitarian things look fabulous.

What you need:

One indoor/outdoor rug. Mine is an Ozite, 6' x 8' rug in bark. It cost 12 bucks and I had a 2 dollar rebate. If this size is too big, you can cut them down with a scissors to any size or shape you desire–probably even puzzle pieces.

Paint that will work in outdoor applications. I used RustOleum, indoor/outdoor, American Accents Midnight Blue in satin. One pint (about $2.65) was just enough to complete my project.

A small paint roller and paint tray

2" wide masking or painter’s tape–or whatever width tape you fancy


What you do:

Tape out a design on your rug. I applied tape two inches from the edge to reveal a border. Whatever design you choose for the interior of your rug, I’d highly suggest including a border as this will give a ‘bound’ look to your rug.

Tuck newspaper around the perimeter of your rug, and, using your roller, apply your paint to your taped-off area.

Let paint dry and–I LOVE this part–remove the tape.

I’ve tarted up these kinds of rugs before; they hold up really well to the elements and, when rained upon, dry as quickly as those fancy (and expensive) outdoor rugs. The paint, if you use the right kind, holds up equally well. In sunny spots, it will fade slightly. Great for decks, balconies, patios and porches; these rugs are so inexpensive and easy to decorate, you might want to make several.

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Thank you for responding.  I do have several spots that I need to clean up where I got careless.  I need to make the rug heavier as it slides quite a bit.  I do have a rubber mat under it.  I am going to try this again.  It was fun.  

Rugs like this can absorb a lot of paint, so one quart probably isn't out of the question. It all depends upon the application process. As far as the front and back, the front is the nubbier side, which will abosorb more paint than the back as the back has a stiff, almost melted nylon feel. Applying with a small roller is probably the best, as it's faster and will keep the paint's application more even.

As for TYPES of paint, yeah, any kind of exterior house paint will do. Probably leftover interior as well--although I haven't tried that. I used an indoor/outdoor all-around Rustoleum. 

I done this project.  I am very happy with it but I will say I found it very hard to paint.  I used 1 quart of regular paint.  Thoughts on maybe what I did wrong?  I thought maybe I painted on the wrong side of the rug???

This looks great!! Exactly what I need! Can you tell me more about the paint? Is it a house paint like a latex paint or a fabric paint? I've seen those new carpet paints too. My carpet is a smoke grey. Should I plan on two coats?

The Limited Edition Rug Collection is far from limited in choice and customisation possibilities. It offers one of the broadest selections of styles, colours and applications in the world today, as well as a design choice varying from elegantly conservative to bold and unexpected.

I have a solid red5x8 jute rug on my porch. It is faded in spots, should I Paint, to keep the solid red & which paint? thx

Thanks for the info!!   Got my wheels turning to rev up an old "outdoor" rug!

While choosing a rug for the hallway, keep first three feet near the entry door clear.

@christine...THANKS! It's as easy as it looks. Truly.

I love this - you make it look so simple - and very stylish - from dull to fabulous. Definitely bookmarking this page. Thanks

Be careful what indoor rug you choose. I tried to repurpose my ugly indoor rug I had. It had a pattern which the paint couldn't cover up and the rug was too thick so it absorbed all the paint. I just posted about my failings at my blog.


I have been looking and looking for info on painting rugs and carpeting.  Many thanks.  Do you have photos of any of your other rugs?  I'd love to see more.

Jacki--probably, but painted pile of the long variety might not look as good as a dense pile like on these outdoor rugs. 

Can you just paint an indoor rug by taping off and adding the paint?

It would work fine. They're very utilitarian. Flat, dense, etc. BUT you can hose them down when they get dirty and--if you can hang them over a balcony or railing outside--they dry in no time. You can vacuum them too, of course. (The vacuum is the only way I can get cottonwood tree fluff off of mine.) I always thought using stencil/s on one would be cool. If you do want to use one indoors, I'd suggest making sure the back doesn't have a black seal, which starts to flake off after awhile. At least outside it does.

How would this work inside under a kitchen table? Since I'm re-doing my kitchen decor, I;m thinking about a custom area rug.

Hi pbrown. I haven't tried a shampooer on my rug, but I have actually vacuumed it with a vacuum that has a beater bar. (It's the best way for removing cottonwood tree fluff!) Since the rug is weatherproof and because the beater bar didn't do any damage to it or the paint, I'm guessing a shampooer wouldn't cause any damage either.

this a great idea but i was wondering if anyone had tried to clean one of these with a carpet shampooer.  i have dogs that seek out mud and carpet cleaning is a must.  hope i hear from someone soon so i can start on this project.  thank you in advance for any advice.

That's GREAT!!

Thank you very much.  I finally found an indoor/outdoor rug on sale at Home Depot that was not tooooo ugly.  Then, yesterday I was at another Walmart, and lo and behold, walked right by a display of Ozite.  That's the way it goes, but I am still planning on doing this project at a later time.  Thanks again.
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