How to Paint an Outdoor Rug

Earlier this summer I showed you the big reveal of our small outdoor balcony. We’re still enjoying the colorful oasis, and you’ll often find Finn & I sitting out here on a warm night. My flowers are still alive (woo hoo!) and my DIY screen door is still intact (phew!) Everything seems all good out here, right?
Well not quite. In order to add a bit of color to the balcony area, I found an outdoor rug in teal. I loved the pattern and the pop of color…but if I was being perfectly honest with myself, the rug was just way too small.
too small outdoor rug
…it’s cute, but just not large enough for the space. I headed to a few stores and even did a little online shopping to try to find a larger outdoor rug.  I thought it would be a quick and painless process, but boy was I wrong.
First of all, most of the rugs were just way too large for the space. I needed something 4×6, but couldn’t find anything smaller than 6×8 that might work. Then to add to my frustration, almost every rug was incredibly expensive. I’m talking over $100 for a rug that I knew was just going to sit outside and get kinda gross.
So since I couldn’t purchase the perfect outdoor rug, I knew I would have to DIY one.
I found this rug online at Home Depot. It was 6×8 (too big for our small balcony) but was only $17.88. I figured I could purchase the rug and see if there would be a way to cut it in half. For less than $20, it was worth a shot.
Now I know what you’re thinking…that rug isn’t exactly the prettiest thing on the block. Well, I had a solution for that too. Paint!
Behr paint sample
I purchased 5 paint samples in a variety of colors, and each was less than $3! Since I wanted to paint multiple colors onto the rug, I figured this was the most cost effective option. Be sure to buy paint that works well outdoors. I purchased indoor/outdoor paint, so I knew it would hold up on our balcony.
painting supplies
Then I grabbed a few more supplies, including paint brushes, a drop cloth, and some extra duct tape I had leftover from our office accent wall project.
measuring rug
When the rug arrived, I instantly knew I would have no trouble cutting it down to the right size. It was incredibly lightweight and very thin (that’s what happens when a rug is only $18!) But I didn’t mind at all, it was going to work perfectly for this project. I measured it out, and drew a line splitting the rug into two equal parts.
cutting a rug
Then I simply used scissors to cut my rug. Instead of one large 6×8 rug…I now had two 4×6 rugs. It worked out so well that I cut a rug right there in our family room (pun definitely intended, please picture me joyfully dancing when my plan worked!)
duct tape stripes
Next up…painting! I figured stripes would be the easiest “design” for me to tackle. I decided to go with a variety of widths…2 inches, 4 inches, and 6 inches for the stripes. I attempted to plan everything out ahead of time…but I’m not one for math and I was just too eager to paint. So I just went for it and figured if I screwed up, I had another rug right there ready to go.
paint samples blue colors
painting rug
Rookie Tip: After painting my first stripe, I quickly realized that I needed a way to get the paint down into the fibers of the rug. Finn suggested I use a scrub brush to really work the paint down in there. That man is a genius…it totally worked! I definitely suggest buying a pack of cheap sponges for this stage of the project. Use the hard side of the sponge to work the paint around. I only had one sponge on hand, so I had to wash it in between every color…learn from me and spend a couple bucks for more sponges.
I let the rug dry for a day or so, and then it was time for its balcony debut!
outdoor rug on balcony
To say I love it would be an understatement. It’s absolutely fabulous. The size is 1000x better than the dinky one we had out there before, and I just can’t get enough of those preppy stripes.
bistro table
watering can
yellow and blue rug
decorated balcony
The blues, whites, and pop of yellow work really well together. Plus it goes well with the other accessories and flowers we already have on our balcony.
striped rug outdoors
It’s been out there for a couple weeks now, and it really is holding up well! We’ve had lots of storms but it still looks fresh and the color has not faded.
how to paint stripes on an outdoor rug
I figure I’ll give this little guy a year, and then next summer I can use a new pattern and colors on the other half of the rug.
beer and fresh fruit
yellow pillow and flower pot
This project cost less than $30 for the rug and all of the supplies, plus I still have half a rug left for next year! It may have taken a couple hours to paint the stripes, but to me it was time well spent. I’m now even more in l-o-v-e with our outdoor oasis.

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Leave a Comment

  • That’s pretty adorable, especially when there is a lot of scope to re-use old stuff or to make creative use of leftovers from previous projects. Those, blues, whites, and pop of yellow work will do for sure.

    • Thanks so much, Bob! We love it too. Although it’s not seeing much action this winter. Can’t wait to get it out there again once it warms up.

  • Shannon

    Where is this furniture from?? (Love love love the rug!)

    • The furniture is from Lowe’s about 8 years ago!

  • Erica

    Hey! Thanks for all the tips on how to paint an outdoor rug, I was wondering did the paint leave the rug a weird texture? As in if I was to be barefoot on the rug would it feel rough? Thank you!

    • Thanks Erica, and great question. No, where we painted isn’t extra “rough” on bare feet. I guess it’s slightly different than the rug texture but both very safe for bare feet to walk on. =) We’ll definitely be making more this year.

  • Andrea Kay Bloom

    Please share your color choices. These are the colors I am hoping for. I have a large deck to cover & could never afford a large enough rug for it. Luckily, I found the perfect size new on Craigslist for $30 (8×10), but it’s boring. I can’try wait to spruce it up!

    • Andrea, I’m so sorry but I don’t have the exact colors on-hand anymore. Sorry about that! I just tried to find good blues and a pop of yellow in the small paint samples. Love the idea to spruce up an old rug from Craigslist. Good luck!

  • Taylor Krall

    I love the colors and stripes, super cute! But do you know if this will last lots of traffic or weather outside? It rains quite a bit where I live 🙂

    • If it can survive in Chicago, it can survive anywhere! hahaha! Using outdoor paint is a must to keep the colors looking good. So if you do that, then it should last!