How to Paint a Drop cloth Rug

This painted drop cloth rug is a beautiful and simple Aztec wonder. It is created simply from a drop cloth and paint. Take an afternoon and create yourself a beautiful cloth for under your table.

Note: this project costs as much as you would like to spend on the materials. You can come in very cheap with an inexpensive drop cloth and leftover paint.

Create a painted drop cloth rug. Easy to follow tutorial to make this budget-friendly DIY.

Paint a drop cloth and use hand made sponges (these are just sponges cut into geometric shapes) to create your own Aztec inspired design. This one is for my soon to be made-over Dining Room (to see the finished room go HERE).

Drop cloth Rug Supplies:

  • drop cloth ( I recommend THIS one)
  • sponges (plain kitchen sponges will do just fine)
  • paint (you won’t need a large amount. Try to have 3 different colors for the accent and 1 base color. I prefer THIS PAINT.
  • roller (if you choose to use one for the base coat)
  • paint brushes (you can use the cheap sponge, if you like)
  • clear sealer (if desired)
    Note: You do not need to use a specific kind of paint. Outdoor or porch paint will hold up the best but you can absolutely use interior paint. If the rug turns out amazing (which it will!) and you do not want it to EVER be ruined then think about spraying a clear coat on top of it to withstand traffic and washing better.
make a dropcloth rug with paint. Full tutorial.

Instructions for drop cloth rug:

1. Iron the drop cloth as best you can.

Don’t worry too much, many of the wrinkles take care of themselves when you paint. Just get the worst offenders out, if possible. Most drop cloths come folded up in the package. Those folds need to be taken out as best you can.

2. Paint the base coat.

Use two good coats of base paint (the one pictured above uses orange) before you get started with your design. Don’t duplicate this color within your later design or your full design won’t show up. There is no need to let coats dry in between painting each one because you are just trying to get the drop cloth to soak up the color. It won’t seep underneath because of the plastic underside. But, be sure to let the two base coats dry after the 2 coats are applied and before you put in your design.

3. Cut your sponges.

To make a design like the one pictured, use multiple variations of triangles. And a small square. Use what will work for what you are trying to achieve.
With this type of design, it’s best to go with a basic, geometric shape. You will just build basic shape on top of basic shape on your rug. Keep it geometric and orderly. Or, perhaps you have a plan and are going to go crazy. Go for it.

4. Use a pencil and lightly draw guidelines.

Give yourself a basic idea of where to put the stamps. It doesn’t need to be detailed. Just an eyeball. It’s hard to “undo” paint. Being a bit prepared and planned will save you time in the long run!

5. Apply stamps.

Be sure to work bit by bit. If you’re trying not to mess up, do the pattern in order (section by section) rather than one color at a time. But, do what feels right to you. If you mess up, cover it back over with orange paint, let dry…try again.

6. Seal.

When you have your pattern and everything dries..seal with a clear sealer.
This is the part that allows you to use whatever paint you want or is on hand.

Be aware that this rug is more of a “floor cloth” in texture, if you’ve experienced those, and works FAB on carpeted floors or with padding underneath. This is also a fantastic way to cover a current rug that needs updating. For many places in your home it is perfect. In your mud room you can just sweep this off and not have to pull out the vacuum. You can make a beautiful “rug” for under your dining room table that can handle food and use with ease.

drop cloth rug. Full tutorial.
make a rug with a drop cloth and paint. Full tutorial.

If you don’t want to make your own here are a few of my favorite Aztec inspired rugs for you to buy:

Other great projects that you can do with drop cloths:


34 thoughts on “How to Paint a Drop cloth Rug”

  1. It would if it doesn’t get alot of rain on it and you use an outdoor paint. If it gets really wet out there I would be concerned about the water not drying out on the rug. Because you are using a dropcloth that is intended to keep paint or liquids from soaking through it could be difficult to dry off if it was more than your spray from rain. I hope that helps!

  2. Would this work for an outdoor area rug? I have a screened in porch I would like to put a rug in. But can’t find the right size.

  3. You know, I don’t think I would machine wash it. Maybe on hand wash? I would just give it a good wipe with a bit of soap and warm water in a corner to test (should hold up fine) and go that route. HOnestly, great question!! It is outdoor paint but sometimes that paint chips off and flakes when it gets wet and abused.

  4. love this rug! Just finished mine! I was wondering if it is safe to machine wash? It got a little dirty while I was painting it.

  5. I would simply use a clear polyurethane. If it was a nice day, a clear spray sealer would be fast and easy!

  6. I first wanna say I LOVE IT! I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while now but don’t have the guts to do it :-P
    I know you said you didn’t seal it, but could you tell me what you would use to do so?

  7. That is actually chalkboard paint (the regular black kind that comes from Menards). Isn’t it fantastic! We love it!

  8. This rug is amazing! I also really love that dark blue wall color in the photos. Do you happen to remember what color it is? :)

  9. I don’t find it any different than traditional rugs. A bit smoother and thinner. But, not much different at all.

  10. How is it with the chairs and table? I am thinking about making one for under my dining room table, but my husband is concerned that it will be a hassle with the chairs sliding on and off. Any thoughts?

  11. I used traditional latex paint. I think mine was Valspar. Another time I used outdoor paint and think it might be holding up better. But really, you can use traditional indoor paint just fine. Throw a coat of clear spray paint over the top of it for good measure, if you like. Good luck!! Be sure to send us a pic of the finished product so we can ooh and aaah!

  12. Hi! I love the rug! Congratulations! What type of paint did you use? I’m dying to give it a shot but I don’t want to mess up by choosing the wrong type of paint.

  13. Gorgeous! It is similar in color and pattern to a wonderful old, tattered Oriental rug that belonged to my great grandmother! I am definitely going to give this a try for a bedroom I’m redoing! Thanks for sharing.

  14. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future.
    All the best

  15. I used a latex paint from the oops section (nothing special) in flat and just a clear spraypaint as the sealer.

  16. I don’t have a problem with that. But, on other rugs that I have I run a bead of caulking on the underside. Works like a charm!

  17. I used flat but I believe any would work. You can find spray sealer with spray paints at the store. You can also buy it in the can and use a brush, if you like. Not as easy, though :). Spray sealer can also just be clear paint, if that’s all you can find.

  18. Love this, but I have questions. What type of paint? Latex? Gloss, flat, semi gloss? Interior or Exterior? What is spray sealer and where do you find it?

  19. Thank you!! Since this post I got my hands on another dropcloth and have a second rug. I love them!

  20. Carolyn O'Connor

    This is very cool! I love using paint to spruce up just about anything. I do funky painted furniture but this post has me ready to work on a rug for my kitchen area! Great post and loved your design.

  21. hmmmm….that’s a good question. Not sure. It would be made to protect floors and furniture from paint. It would have plastic on one side and canvas on the other and is usually quite inexpensive.

  22. I’m amazed!! I can’t find THAT looking good rug anywhere. I have one question though…is there other name for dropcloth? cause I can’t find any translation for this word and in order to buy it I need to know the word in Hebrew:) is it like painting-canvas? Thanks!

  23. It is a bit stiff. It isn’t something I would put where I want it soft under-foot. But, that said…I would totally make this again for my living room and bedrooms. It doesn’t feel much different then the rugs you buy.

  24. Wow, this is by far the best looking drop cloth rug I’ve seen!! I was wondering-does the texture of the cloth feel stiff since you painted/sealed the entire surface? I made one last year in chevron but I didn’t paint the entire surface or use sealer because I was worried it would feel too stiff under foot.

    And for the commenter above, this is a great way to cover up an existing rug that you no longer like or want to replace. That way you have a good solid no-slip base and you can easily change the way it looks by switching drop cloths!

  25. Oh my lanta, you are brilliant!!! Thank you for the great idea, I can’t wait to try this. I’ve been area rug shopping and they are all so expensive.

  26. You know, it hasn’t been. It could be my floor, I suppose. But…a quick way to fix that is run a few rows of hot glue at the bottom. Or buy a no-slip rug thingie (real technical term!).

  27. I absolutely love this and want to try this, my only question is, wouldn’t this be slippery since its a drop cloth?

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