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Do It Yourself

Canvas Floor Rug

by Miss Loverly

Heavy canvas

A strong white glue, like No-More Nails or Well-Bond

Latex Wall Paint

Acrylic Art Paint or Fluid Acrylic

2″ wide brush

Painters Art Brushes


About ten years ago, when Martha Stewart was on the televison 24/7 (prior to her prison sentence) I saw this project and fell in love. Since then, I have probably made three floor rugs, each incredibly different. These rugs are perfect for any room where you would like to have some personality and pizazz. They cover up really ugly floors, just like the ones in my apartment(!) and makes great use of left over wall paint.

A word of warning though – this project takes time and it is good to sketch out your design ahead of time.

My current rug started two years ago and immediately I hated the colour combination I created. I restarted this Spring re-doing 80% of the design and changing the colours to reflect a tea towel and old tin sign in my kitchen.



STEP ONE: Determine the size of your rug and add four inches to the perimeter of your measurement. (For example, say your rug is 28″ wide, your cloth measurement will be 36″). Purchase a heavy quality canvas from your local art store big enough for your project. Make sure it has no wrinkles or folds in it because you won’t be able to get them out! You can cheat by buying pre-primed canvas but I don’t recommend it, as the fabric seems to be too thin for the wear of a rug and doesn’t have the weight to stay in place on the floor. While you can buy an anti-slip pad to solve this problem, the texture of the pad will show through. Trust me, I’ve tried it and it looks awful!

Cut your canvas with the 4″ perimeter attached. Using a latex wall paint, paint the top of the canvas. Let dry flat. Paint the bottom of the canvas. Let dry flat. Paint the top again. By painting the top, then the bottom, then the top, you will be shrinking the canvas so it will lie flat.

Draw your rug shape on the painted canvas lightly with a pencil. Include your 4″ perimeter border. Pre-fold your border and cut off your corners. Fold your 4″ border to the underside and glue, weighing the border down with books, paint pails, or anything you have on hand that is heavy.

STEP TWO: Voila! You have a blank canvas rug! Paint away your creation using artist paints or wall paint. Paint borders using green painters tape. A recommendation is a new product from Home Depot named “Behr Paint and Primer in One”. While rather thick, the paint covers the rug surface wonderfully and avoids you needing to put several coats on the surface to achieve a rich colour. Is cost an issue? Try the mini pots of paint or “testers” for around $5, which Home Depot will mix in any colour you choose, saving you from mixing colours to match your vision.

Originally when painting this rug, I wanted a black and white tile scheme. It was far too drastic and with the blue border…oh! It was like a bad fifties diner. I had a creative breakdown and threw the rug in a closet for a year. Yes, a year! This left the surface bumpy and creased. Hating the blue, I decided to paint a freehand paisley pattern with a dark brown while deciding what to do with the tiles.

Taking a cue from my inspiration, I repainted my mistakes and the rug flattened itself out from the folds of storage. I changed the white squares to yellow and black squares to a dark blue. Again, I found the tiles too bright!

Using the brown paint, I made a wash (brown paint thinned with water) and covered the entire surface of the rug. Avoid brushstrokes while doing this by having some paper towels on hand to dab the paint.

STEP THREE: To make the rug durable and waterproof, you must Varathane it. Most Varathane’s are oil based and you must use them outside for ventilation purposes. I coated my rug on a sunny day on my apartment driveway. Coat your rug with two coats of varnish (two,three hours between coats), paying special attention to the edges of the rug which seem to wear easily. You will find between coats you will miss areas no matter how hard you tried to avoid them (so don’t skip the second coat)! There are aerosol Varathane sprays, yet I find they result in spotty patches of varnish. I varnished my rug with a brush from the dollar store that I would place in a plastic bag between coats and tossed after the project.

Big tip: are your hands sticky from the varnish? Use a drop of vegetable oil on your hands to brake down the Varathane and wash with soap and water.

Adding varnish to the rug will bring out the colour of your paint so don’t skip out on it! Your rug will smell for the first few days and you may like to have it off-gas in the garage for 24 hours. Your rug’s surface will be shiny for the first few months of use but it will dull as you walk on it. It may also slide on your linoleum or wood floor so you may need a non-slip mat underneath if you don’t have say, a table, weighing it down. Enjoy the compliments you will receive and expect orders to flood in!



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July 2012
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