How to Make an Outdoor Rug From a Canvas Drop Cloth

If you have been reading my blog with any regularity, it’s safe to say that you know that I like to paint stuff.  I particularly love painting things a) in bright colors and b) that aren’t “supposed” to be painted.

A few months ago, I took it a step further by painting something that is actually supposed to keep other things from being painted.

Confused yet?  Yeah, me, too.

Anyway, my friends at my favorite store in the world – Home Depot – sent me a box of paint brushes, drop cloths, painters tape and stencils and asked if I would create an outdoor rug out of a canvas drop cloth.  You know I couldn’t say no to that challenge!  They sent me a few color palettes to choose from and a gift card to pick up some paint at my local store.

Is it any surprise that I chose the brightest of the sample palette choices?  It shouldn’t be!

I honestly had my doubts that a canvas drop cloth would make a good faux outdoor rug, but I always trust that my friends at Home Depot won’t steer me wrong.  I washed and dried the drop cloth to help remove the folds and wrinkles and laid it out flat over another drop cloth in my entry way.  Using a foam roller, I primed it with a basic Kilz latex primer and let it dry over night.

I decided to give the rug a pattern with a starburst effect, but I wanted to give it a modern twist.  I sketched out my design on a sheet of paper, and then I painted the entire rug my base color, Oyster Shell by Glidden.  It’s a soft off-white.

Using my sketch as a guide, I used 1-inch width painters tape to lay out some lines on the canvas.  Like a starburst, I wanted them to all radiate from the same point.  I decided to make that point 2/3 of the way down the drop cloth.  I didn’t measure the distance between the lines, because I wanted some sections to be thin and others to be quite wide.  I took special care to press the tape down really well to avoid any paint bleeding underneath the lines.

Then, I painted each section at a time using a good quality paint brush.  I started at the top left corner of the cloth, and just painted section by section.

I gave each section two coats of paint.  I found that the dark colors (like the navy) covered pretty well with one coat, but the really bright colors (like the orange, green and red) needed two coats for the colors to be fully saturated.  There were a few spots that the paint did bled underneath my tape, so I went back with a small artist sized paint brush and touched up those spots.

I let the paint dry for a full 24 hours, and then I applied two coats of Rustoleum’s Ultimate Polyurethane using a good quality paint brush.  That will give it enough protection that it could easily be used in an outdoor space.  I let that poly dry for about 48 hours and then boxed up my ‘rug’ and sent it to Home Depot’s professional photographer.

Now, I will be featured in Home Depot’s free Style Guide app for the iPad.  How cool is that?  Even more fun is that I’m “above the swipe.”  I feel like I’m “above the fold” in the New York Times.

Each season, Home Depot releases a new version of the Style Guide both via the app and online.  It’s filled with decor ideas, DIY tips and tricks, and lots of other cool stuff.  The summer version of the Style Guide comes out any day now, so if you have an iPad, head over to the App Store and download it so you will be ready when “my” version comes out.

I loved the way the canvas drop cloth turned out.  In fact, I’m planning to do another one to hang on the giant, empty wall above my staircase.  I think that it will be a cheap and easy way to create a piece of custom artwork that is quite large in scale.  I need to figure out another cool pattern, though.

How about you?  Would you what colors would you paint your custom drop cloth floor (or wall!) covering?

Filed Under: Create Your Decor, Project Gallery

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).


  1. Very cool. It looks great!!!

  2. I love this Idea – I really need an outdoor rug.

  3. AWESOME! What an honor to be featured!!! I don’t know you but I’m so proud of you! And I’ll be doing this right away!! Can’t wait!

  4. I was actually thinking about this last wednesday night, just as I was drifting off to sleep. I truly believe folks thoughts go out into the ethers and fall upon those with an open mind . This same thing keeps happening to me again and again.

    I know exactly what color I’d want and actually saved a photo as I contemplated doing it this morning..

    I am amazed at your result but even more amazed to learn again that Thoughts are Things and move around the universe .. That’ll certainly teach me to do my best to keep my thoughts Positive:)

  5. So cool! And so cool to be “above the fold” lol

  6. Painting floorcloths has been around for a long time. I have a book on it–had it for years, keep wanting to do this, never getting around to it. Now that I’m embracing the bare concrete floors as part of my eclectic industrial cottage funky whatever style, I’d like to do several. You just have to remember to place the squiggee non-slip rubber…gah! where are my words today?…thingies under them if you use them indoors.

  7. Jeannie says:

    For those of us who can only copy fantastic ideas, thanks for coming up with so many. Love the rug and congratulations on being featured.

  8. Very cool indeed! (You know, I thought it was the Union Jack at first though.) :)

  9. Fun idea! Turned out great! :)

  10. i love this idea! can it be used also indoor? i have carpet in dining area and thought this could work ? any thoughts??

    • Hi Georgina! I think it should work just fine, put you may need to pick up your chairs instead of scooting them. I’d put one of those non skid rug pads underneath it so it doesn’t bunch up.

  11. Awesome idea…. I was wanting to buy rugs for the kids rooms, but now I think I’ll let them help me “design” their own, it’ll make them that much more special!!!! Congrats on being featured! What an honor!

  12. can this be washed? any suggestions for the best type of paint to use? acrylic? fabric paint?

  13. can this be washed? any suggestions for the best type of paint to use? acrylic? fabric paint??

  14. Just found this post, and I love the idea!! Do you,by chance, remember what colors you used. I love what you picked out.

  15. how is the latex paint holding up?


  1. […] is perfect for a kid’s play area, your craft room, and ideal for an outside setting. Click here for a step-by-step tutorial on how to make rugs using canvas drop cloths.  Here are some […]

  2. Home Depot Style Guide - Fall 2012 says:

    […] It’s safe to say that you guys know I love to transform everyday items with my own little brand of awesome, and I generally buy most of the items I use at Home Depot.   Earlier this year, they came out with the seasonal Home Depot Style Guide (available for free online or as a free iPad app in iTunes) that gives you interactive project ideas and decorating inspiration.  I even joined them in creating a project specifically for the Summer Style Guide. […]