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How to Paint a Rug — Seven Tips for a Perfectly Painted Rug!

One of my favorite Home DIY projects to make over the past year has been painting rugs.

It’s so fun to come up with a pattern or design and then create it. I love taking a pattern from a pillow or even trying to recreate the same pattern from a very expensive rug.

This week I took a pillow from my daughter’s Nautical Teen Room and decided to use that Greek Key pattern on a painted rug. It turned out to be a little more complicated than I thought. But figuring out how to make it and seeing the finished result was wonderful. A full tutorial on how to make this Greek Key rug, plus a printable worksheet is coming up soon.

In the meantime, here are 7 tips to help you create a beautiful painted rug:

  • The first thing to do is find the right kind of rug. You want to use a rug with a low nap or a flat woven rug work best. My favorite rug to stencil that I have found is the Erslev rug from Ikea ($59 for a 5×8 size).

I  love it because it’s easy to work with, it’s woven so there is no nap and it’s reversible. So if you mess up, you can flip it over and start again. Plus, I had one that sat outside on my patio all winter and it still looks good. I know!! I was so surprised.

  • The second tip is to sketch out your pattern on paper before you attempt to lay it out on your rug. You should also use a tape measure and measure the rug you are using and then figure out the dimensions of the pattern you are creating. This will save you a lot of time and frustration. Also know that it might take you a few times to get the entire pattern looking right before you begin.

  • The third thing you need is good tape. My favorite so far has been Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape. A tip for applying the tape — when you are done laying the pattern out on your rug, go over all of the edges of the tape with your hand. Push the tape down and seal all of the edges. This is very important.

  • The fourth thing is use a foam roller to distribute the paint. Put the paint in a paint tray, roll the roller in the paint and then roll it on a paper towel before you roll it on the rug. That keeps the paint from being so liquid that it runs underneath the tape.


  • The fifth tip is to roll from the edge of the tape in, toward the bare rug. That way you aren’t pushing the paint toward the edge of the tape and forcing the paint underneath the tape.


  • The sixth tip is to apply more than one coat of paint. You might think your rug is ready, but go over the entire rug one more time. This will make more of a contrast between the paint and the rug and a crisper finished product.

  • The seventh tip is use fabric protector on your rug. You have spent so much time getting your rug to look just right. You want it to last for a long time. Spray the entire rug with fabric protector. But just to be safe, spray it first on the backside of your rug and make sure it doesn’t discolor the rug.


Enjoy your new painted rug!!

Here are a few other painted rugs I have made:

Taped Circle Rug — this rug I used spray paint instead of rolling the paint on. And I have to say that I don’t think spray paint leaves as crisp of lines as rolled paint does. This rug was left out on my patio all winter in the snow and it still looks great. Also, I copied a very expensive rug pattern for this project, and that rug cost over $5,000. I made this one for under $70.

Striped Nautical Rug — This is probably the easiest painted rug you can make, and yet it’s still one of my favorites. I love the clean lines and wide stripes.

Painted Chevron Rug — Of course I had to paint a Chevron rug. And this one is now living in my Beachy Laundry Room. I love it. This rug base is also from Ikea and the small size makes it an easy first-time painted rug project to tackle.

Stenciled Houndstooth Rug — Here’s a rug that I painted using a stencil.


And here are a few of my favorite DIY Painted Rugs from around blogland:

Geometric Sunburst Rug @ Adventures of an Almost 40 Year Old Intern, Painted Carpet @ Pudel Designs, Zebra Painted Rug @ J and J Home, Painted Patterned Rug @ Design Sponge, Painted Bathroom Rug @ The Idea Room, Quatrefoil Throw Rug @ Momtastic, Pink Geometric Rug @ Adventures of an Almost 40 Year Old Intern, Chevron Painted Rug @ House of Smiths, Painted Utility Rug @ Vixen Made.


Have you ever painted a rug?

Share YOUR idea in the comments with a link — I would love to see YOUR idea!!

And speaking of ideas — I’m excited to see YOUR ideas tonight!!

It’s Friday — my favorite day of the week.


It’s the time when I get to see YOUR ideas and feature YOU!!

The Weekend Wrap Up Party starts tonight at 6 pm MST.

I hope you can stop by for the fun!!

Happy Friday!!



  1. This is awesome and I can’t wait to do it. Im just unsure of what kind of paint I use. Can u help?

  2. I am planning a banquet and the theme is Wizard of Oz. I would like a yellow brick road that can be walked on. Can this work for this? Your website has great ideas! I would appreciate any help you can give me.

  3. Hi Jen,

    Wonderful work!!!
    Planning to do the same this month.
    Can’t find a similar flat weave rug as IKEA discontinued it!
    Can you recommend what and where to find one for the project??
    I am sure many others reading your work would like to know too!!

  4. I’m obsessed with your blog. You shouldn’t have to be rich to have a beautiful home. Thank you for the exquisite inspiration.
    How do you get the patterns so perfect in terms of not crooked and weave the shapes together? I know you said put it on paper first….but how do you start on the paper? Then how do you get from the paper step to transferring it??

  5. These are awesome! Do you by chance make these and sell them?? I just don’t know that I’m that artistically inclined to do the houndstooth pattern but I am dying to have a burgundy houndstooth rug for my living room and can’t find one anywhere!

  6. JOSSELYN says:

    I am moving into a house that has really short carpet done the stairs (that really old style). I like the design in the carpet just not the colors. My question to you is, will the design show through the paint and does it matter what kind of paint I use?

  7. jan newton says:

    I would like to paint a border on my living carpet to perk it up a bit but it has texture,what paint should I use?

  8. Awesome tutorial! How does the paint feel under foot?

  9. Paughnee Bornert says:

    I have a rug purchased from Pier I that I wish to paint over the green with a different color of green that is in the rug. Is this possible? If so, what type of paint do I buy?

  10. I would like to paint teal buffalo chs on a rug,, i made roman shades out of that fabric & need to bring the color down,, & paint a creme color rug with the teal paint,,,, how would I go about tapeing that off of 4″ check,,, thanks

  11. Hi, Love the rugs! Cannot wait to get started! I have the same comment as Danielle..the Ikea rug has been discontinued. Please give your suggestions for a similar rug.

  12. Hello ! Wich paint please ? Acrylic ? special rug ? Where buy it ? Thanks ! (excuse my english, i am french)

  13. Jane Davis says:

    So excited about this! Has anyone ever tried to paint other types of rugs? What about those cheap bamboo/wood/hemp rugs?

  14. What type of paint do you use? I want to be able to walk on the rug and lay on it without it feeling strange.

  15. Hi Jen, I have a question… I just now found out about the wonderful and amazing world of rug painting ! A little too late yes, but please don’t judge ! LOL And now that I am DYEING to do it, affordably – IKEA has discontinued the Erslev ! Do you have any other affordable rug suggestions that we can also paint on ? I know it has to be a flat weave…. But was just hoping that anyone else out there has figured out an Erslev replacement…. Thanks !

  16. Thanks for the info, I have been trying to figure out how I could change up an old sectional I have. Love it and it’s in good shape, but I hate the color. I’m going to try watered down latex and a sponge roller, wish me luck!!!

  17. I have made several painted floor cloths. I have never painted ona actual rug looks like fun

  18. Wow these are gorgeous! You did a fantastic job creating these rugs, I am so inspired to try doing one of these!! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  19. Hi,

    What pain should i use?

  20. Alexandra says:

    Hi Jen – These rugs look FABULOUS! Quick question though, how does it feel under your feet? Do the painted parts feel scratchy? I’m looking to do this, but would love to know how comfortable it is!

    Thank you!

  21. Thanks so much for your great tips Jen, I linked them in my post yesterday. I joined a few other bloggers and we all revealed our painted rugs yesterday. It was a fun and a first for many of us ~ I chose a suzani using a free download stencil from Lowes that others may like to use. :).


  22. -Hi Jen, fantastic tutorial, but I’ve got a couple questions – I have a patterned rug that is beautiful, but I HATE the colors, but its such an expensive piece (gift from my folks) that I don’t want to get rid of it. So my question(s) are What would you think of painting a base color (such as creme) and then another color (probably slate) as stripes over that?
    -Do you think that’d be too many layers of paint?
    -And also, after all is said and done, how does the painted rug feel under foot? It will be in my living/dining room, so comfort is key.

    Thanks so much!

    • Cassia did Jen answer your questions about the rug? I have the same questions that you do.If you have got the answers would you let me know please.? Thank you Imogene

  23. Great post! I linked to your post in a post on my blog via your image! http://www.hypheninteriors.com/2012/09/20-things-you-can-paint.html

  24. Hi,
    Thanks for the post, the fabric protector is a great idea, didn’t think of that. I have painted 2 rugs, both on the IKEA Erslev rug (so affordable). One for my little girls nursery http://www.littlechupi.com/2012/07/painted-rug-for-chupis-nursery.html , and one for the living room. I am yet to post about that DIY but you can see it in the last picture of this post http://www.littlechupi.com/2012/09/diy-ikea-dresser.html

  25. Hi there! Just wanted to let you know that I tried this and I LOVE how my rug turned out! Here’s a picture of it: http://www.ashlinixon.com/2012/08/dining-area-makeover-part-2/ :)

  26. Stephanie says:

    I love your rugs! Have you ever tried painting a rug with knapp to it? I have an old oriental rug that is stained. I thought about painting it, but didn’t know if it would work.

  27. How do your painted rugs feel on bare feet? They look amazing, but wonder if they feel just as cozy.

  28. Beth Birdsong Stokes says:

    Great article – thanks for sharing!

  29. Hey I’ve seen a lot of these online lately, but some of them say that afterwards the rug feels “crunchy.” Is there a certain type of paint to use to prevent that?

  30. Hi Jen great job on the rugs… all i can say is WOW…i’m definitely trying this on this old rug i have….BUT my question is … if i use Latex paint would it leave crack marks if the rug is folded?… i want to do this project soon but i will be moving soon as well so the rug will be folded in order to be moved…. please share your thoughts. thanks

  31. I want to do this for my living room, but I’m nervous the paint would rub off onto bare feet. Have you ever had that happen or know a good way to stop it? I would hate to find out after all that work. They look great! I’m excited to try!

  32. cupcake says:

    Help! I bought a chevron rug online (UN-returnable) and instead of crisp navy and white, it’s a sort of dirty oatmeal color and navy.

    So, I have worked up the bravery to paint the oatmeal parts white. I’ve tried with acrylic crafter’s paint and it looks NOT GOOD. It’s a flat weave dhurrie type rug, but it looks pretty mottled with the paint. I used a paint brush and dabbed instead of rolled in order to AVOID the matted look.

    I’ve only done a small test portion so far (and it’s reversible, so can always flip it if the painting totally doesn’t work out).

    Should I dilute the paint a bit with water? Any other suggestions?? help if you can!


  33. Jen I love that houndstooth rug!! I mean, I love them all, but the houndstooth rug is my favorite 😀 Great tips!

  34. This is great! I’m so adding your blog to my reader list just for sharing this! :)

  35. thanks so much for featuring 3 of my painted rugs on your post! love yours as well! xo

  36. Wow! I need to stencil a rug now! :)

  37. This is such a great post, I’ll definitely be pinning this for future use! Thanks Jen, you always feature the best stuff :)


  38. LOVE This rug! i’ve been wanting to paint a rug for awhile but was uncertain about the pattern and you just spoke to my heart!!
    can’t wait to test this out!!

  39. Your Greek Key rug (and all your others) turned out amazing! i love it! Thanks so much for including my rug in your group! Great tips!!

  40. Another fantastic job! I’m going to have to add this to my “To Make” list…regrettably it gets longer and longer, but I think this may be moving to the top! Thanks for the fabulous tips!

  41. Love the chunky grey and white stripes on the nautical rug! Just a fav of mine 😉

  42. LOVE this collection of painted rugs Jen! I’ve wanted to try it for awhile now but after this I KNOW I have to do it!!!

  43. you are SO awesome! I love your rug!

  44. I SO need this right now! Thank you!!


  45. I have not painted a rug before – but this is certainly inspiring! I love the geometric designs you showcased!

  46. I so want to try this! It looks so great! Thanks for the how to.

    Have a great weekend!


  47. I want to try this so badly but I’m nervous! Your photos are helping me work up the courage, thanks for the tips!

  48. Your rugs are amazing. I would love to do one, but I’m hesitant with my creative skills. This makes me want to run out to Ikea and get a rug. I might be able to pull off the strip version. Looking forward to the tutorial. It will be so helpful.

    • You should try it. The striped rug is super simple and makes a great statement!


  49. Melissa says:

    Looks great but does it hold up well? Please let me know, looking to do this really soon, Thanks!

    • Hi Melissa!!

      Surprisingly, yes. The turquoise painted rug had been left outside all winter in the snow and it still looks good. It’s on my porch right now.


  50. Jen I LOVE how it turned out!!! You are a rug ninja!

    Love your guts

  51. This is a project I’ve wanted to try for quite a while now but wasn’t really confident what type of rug to purchase or how to go about it. This was so helpful I feel like I could actually give it a try! Do you have instructions on how you did the taped circle rug? That looks like a tricky pattern to tape. Thanks for the great post! :)

    • Hi Lisa!

      Yes, there is a link to the circle taped rug right under the picture in the post :)


      • Fabulous! This is definitely going on my “Future Projects” list! P.S. I love the “Good Luck Charlie” house (and show) too! :)

  52. Jen, each rug is wonderful! I love your color and pattern choices. So classy, lady! Thanks for this great post that sums it up. Must try! You make it look…well, not easy, but doable. Thanks!

    • Thanks Michelle!!

      The hardest part if taping the rug and making the pattern. The painting part is easy :)


  53. I have never painted a rug, but I was thinking of painting one for my new dining room. We will see!

  54. So I almost painted a rug last week, as I was customizing the size of it, but opted against it… What kind of paint are people finding has the best results for wear and tear? Little Bit

    • You should try it! I have used both outdoor and indoor latex paint as well as spray paint. And I have to say that they all hold up well. The spraypaint holds up the best outdoors. But if you are using the rug indoors, any type of latex paint should be great.


  55. Awesome! Are you using regular latex paint?

  56. Great Job! I really like it and your tips. Thank you so much for sharing.


  1. […] have been wanting to paint a rug ever since I saw Jen’s over at Tatertots and Jello. Only, I was a little hesitant to spend $50 dollars on a bigger rug because I was fairly certain […]

  2. […] However, everything I ever wanted to know, I found on TaterTotsAndJello.com. […]

  3. […] Not only will the pattern add interest but you can also incorporate your brand colors. Jen from Tattertots & Jello has a great post on rug painting […]