As it turns out, painting a rug IS possible, but it is also rather time consuming. Maybe not so much if I hadn’t started with an old rug that had a dark print on it . . . so it took several coats of paint just to cover up the original design. And because I was painting on a surface that was porous, it soaked up a LOT of paint in the beginning. Fortunately I had some left-over ivory paint from a previous project so I was able to get the base coats applied without much expense. Even so, to replace a rug this size would cost a couple hundred dollars, and buying a couple of gallons of inexpensive paint could fit into our budget.
We started out by rolling on the first coat of ivory paint and, of course, it soaked in immediately and took about 24 hours to dry completely. But it still looked almost the same as it had before we started. I wondered if this was really going to work, but decided to keep going and see how things turned out. We used a paint brush for the second coat, which allowed for a thicker application of paint and that was really a good idea. All the remaining coats of paint were applied using a wide paint brush.
This really was a fun project that we worked on together, out in the garage, on a lovely summer day. You can see how dark the original design was – I’m sure this was a beautiful rug when it was new, but the dark colors were just not creating a joyful, light and bright vision that we are trying to create in our home. I think that if I paint the larger area rugs, it will be a bit easier because they are already a solid, light color. But they have been out in the workshop for a couple of years and have marks and stains on them (and now they have paint on them, too!)
One of the things that you need to remember if you decide to paint your rug is that (of course!) it will not be soft and fluffy when you are finished. This rug was not “soft and fluffy” to begin with; it had a very low nap but it was not stiff. Once we had applied several layers of paint, it is now quite sturdy, but it has a surface that is pliable yet firm and feels like a textured, painted wall. It will be great for walking on, but not so much for laying down to take a nap or read a book. But that’s OK, because this rug is going to be used in my work room and will match perfectly with the soft green and ivory of the walls, counter tops, and cabinets.
This is after three coats of the off-white paint that we had left-over from painting the sewing room cabinets. I wanted the rug to coordinate with the soft green walls but I wanted it to be a bit darker, so I did buy one gallon of green paint in a medium shade (it looks like lime green in some of the photos, but it is really not that bright). After we had completely covered the dark design of the original print, then it was time to add the final two coats of green.
I started from the middle of the rug and painted (with a brush) from the center outward to the edges. You can still see some of the design underneath the ivory paint, as well as some of the texture from the original rug, and it the end it actually looks quite nice with that bit of rough texture throughout.
There it is! Three coats of ivory base paint and two coats of medium green paint, and then it was time to decide what kind of design I wanted on it. At first I wanted to just drizzle some pink, white, and dark green all around in little squiggles. So I tried that and didn’t like it. I should have taken pictures of it but forgot to do that . . . I couldn’t control the flow of paint as I applied it so some of the squiggles were more like glops and some were wide and messy, while some were perfectly squiggled all over the place. It actually looked pretty cool, but being a bit of a perfectionist, I knew that I couldn’t cope with it that way for very long. So I painted over it. Now there are three coats of medium green paint.
I was shooting for all-over flowers, kind of abstract and undefined, so I just started with bright pink and white paint, making a few big flowers and a few small flowers. I have no idea if there are actually any flowers in the universe that look like mine, but I do like the way they turned out. Kind of fluffy and fluttery, with a few leaves peeking out from the sides. The leaves were painted with a combination of light / bright green, dark green, white, and a touch of black. The centers of the flowers were painted with light and dark brown, dark green and just a couple drops of white.
On this one you can see on the leaves in the far left side where I didn’t like the way the they looked so I just painted over the part I didn’t like! I will work on that this afternoon and touch it up, as well as add the rest of the flowers. It should be completely finished and dry by tomorrow and then I’m going to add one or two coats of clear acrylic sealer. It should be OK to walk on (although it is not going to be where we will walk through with muddy boots, just in my sewing room, so it won’t get lots of traffic), and it will definitely add a pop of bright color to my little corner of the world.
This one still has some problems, too, but I can fix them later today . . . but here’s the word of encouragement for today: JUST TRY IT! If you make a mistake, just paint over it. Use an old rug that is already ugly, and that way if you ruin it, no big deal. If you’ve ever thought about spiffing up a room in your house, but buying new everything is just not in your budget, be creative and resourceful and see what you can come up with. I’m not thinking I’m going to paint every rug in our house (!) but some of the rugs that are still in pretty good shape but need a little TLC will probably get a few coats of paint to brighten them up.
What do you think? Would you ever consider painting a rug? It was all news to me that it was even possible, but once I realized that it could be done, I was determined to see what I could do. I’m pretty happy so far with my painted rug!