How to paint a faux linoleum rug — Lauren shows us how

DIY painted rugretro craftsAfter mentioning vintage linoleum rugs, I heard from several readers about the potential for making your own vintage style linoleum rug by painting on the backside of sheet vinyl or linoleum. Lauren is a DIY maven — and quickly sent me these photos of her DIY painted linoleum rug project. This is actually the second one she has made, she said, and the first one proved very durable. Read on for her story, more photos, and two links for more information on how to make your own vintage style linoleum rug.

paint your own rug

Lauren writes:

Hi Pam –

I wanted to share my story about my linoleum rug, circa 2012 – made by moi. I didn’t know that they had linoleum rugs in the 1950’s, but I have seen area rugs with the same patterns and colors.

painted linoleum rug diyI have also seen photos of my Grandmother’s home and in the living room she had those type of area rugs and that is where I found my inspiration for my linoleum rug.

blue and brown decorating ideasI love, love, love everything mid-century and retro. However, I have a nice home that cannot be described with those words. So I sneak in anything I can that is mid-century and retro.

painted rug DIYI created my linoleum rug for my eating area that is open to the kitchen. The room has hardwood floors, wood framed windows and neutral walls. So I decided that I needed some color under the table in the form of a rug. In my hunt for the perfect rug I looked into typical area rugs (which were pricey and food magnets), painted canvas rugs (which were popular when I started the rug search), and then I finally met a woman at a canvas rug painting class that suggested linoleum – “paint on the backside of linoleum [meaning the backside of vinyl flooring]” she said. I finally had my answer.

create your own painted linoleum rugI am not a decorator, designer or artist, but I am a huge DIYer and if I can layer DIY with mid-century or retro, I’m in heaven. So I backed my car out of the garage for 3 weeks, bought a sheet of vinyl flooring from the big box store, used 3 colors of paint, armed myself with a large sponge stamp and some painters tape, topped it off with 5 coats of polyurethane and I had my ‘linoleum’ rug. Unlike the linoleum rugs of yore, it was made by my two hands, and it is intentionally not perfect. To give it more character, the base coat is not uniform, the trim is streaky, and the stamps are randomly placed and rich with texture (bumps from the paint).

do it yourself painted linoleum rugTo answer any wearability questions, I should tell you, this is my second “lino rug”. The first one was under my table for 8 years. It never chipped, peeled or cracked. And the linoleum was new so it had no chance of being brittle. It protected my hardwood floors from kids and chairs until it was retired to the garage, per my husband’s request, to be put under his car.

lauren with her diy painted linoleum rugThank you for your blog, Pam. I love it and enjoy it everyday.
Lauren J

What a great job, Lauren, your rug turned out beautifully and looks fantastic as part of your mood board and overall design. Thank you! I really want to try this myself now. However, first, I think this has my friend Denise’s name all over it. Denise… You readin’ this?

Two tutorials on making a painted rug:

Reader LFMoon also sent some links on online tutorials on how to make this style of rug, and another on how to patch squares together:

  • e-how has like 6 tutorials, all slightly different. This one (link now gone) looked kinda sorta best – I like how they recommend adding a special rubber coating on the back of the rug to help ensure it doesn’t slip under foot.
  • This HGTV tutorial (link now gone) on how to patch 12″ x 12″ squares together to make an area rug also is interesting. Note: These seem to me like they’re going to get kinda thick and high. Also, I think they used a pretty remnant – are those sparkles? And, I there is “linoleum” and there is “vinyl composite”. These tiles look to be vinyl composite.

Notes on these linked tutorials:

  • These tuturials all keep saying “use the backside” or in some case, “the front side” of “linoleum.” I think they mean vinyl sheet flooring. Real linoleum sheet flooring would be very expensive to work with — I was just quoted $48 per square yard for Armstrong linoleum sheet. Surely these tutorials mean: Use vinyl sheet. Drives Me Nuts to misuse of this important terminology, although I recognize: I am a retro-geek.
  • I’m also thinking: The tutorials mean to use the back side, which would not have any coatings on it and therefore, would allow for better adhesion of the new paint than would the finished shiny-side front of the vinyl flooring.
  • I wonder if there is another material — rather than finished vinyl flooring — that can be used. It seems a $ and environment waste to use a finished piece, with its value-added, if there is something pre-finished that could be used instead. Any suggestions, readers?
  • To repeat, as I mentioned above: Put a non-skid backing on or under the rug. You don’t want slips and falls.
  • And finally, from my collage work I *think* I know that varnish dries harder than many other clear top coats. Not sure about polyurethane and what that is considered. Use real “varnish” as a top coat? Help from a reader who thinks they really know what they are talking about is welcome!

  1. Melisa says:

    thanks for the great post. do you think the vinyl rig would work carpet? we are renting a home with carpet everywhere including the dining room. I’m trying to save myself from the eating disasters of two young girls

  2. Scott says:

    Very creative, I am impressed.

    I wonder if Lauren’s technique could be used to improve an okay but not quite great existing flooring. I have the Armstrong Urban Settings Diffusion Jade


    in my bathroom now. It was installed a few years ago before I rediscovered my inner MCModernist but still strikes me as quite nice, just a bit lacking in the zip department. Now I’m thinking okay could become WOW with some accents to bring those pale pinks and greens in the background ot the foreground and maybe even some gold speckles. Hmmmmmm.

  3. Ezbi says:

    There is a distinct difference in how linoleum is made vs sheet vinyl. Linoleum is made from natural products and tends to be long lasting and bacteria resistant.
    I think this is a wonderful idea for sheet vinyl. Big Box retailers like Lowes and HD usually have remnant bins in their flooring department. The vinyl remnants would be perfect for one of these projects. Also check local flooring retailers for remnants, they may not have as many but might be willing to sell smaller pieces as remnants.
    BIN primer by Zinser is an outstanding product that promotes paint adhesion like nothing else I have tried. It dries quickly and has low odor. If (when) I give this project a try, I will certainly use it because it has proven to be such a durable product in the past for me.
    Thanks for sharing this. Now to make room in the garage….

    1. pam kueber says:

      I was at my local Re-Store Habitat for Humanity yesterday, and they had rock bottom price pieces of vinyl sheet remnants — another potential source to try out.

  4. Denise says:

    Hey Pam, yup, I’m here. Haven’t been as often as I’d like due to limited Internet connections. But, alas, the end of the week is the end of the 5 week vacation. 🙂

    Quite a few years ago I learned about painting the underside of vinyl flooring to make a floor cloth. I always had intentions of doing one but never got there. I have made them out canvas.

    I used to know of a latex product that you painted onto the back of the floor cloth to prevent slipping. Not sure of the name or where to get it.

    Re: varnish, poly, clear acrylic — oil based vs water based — oil base will yellow over time and is not flexible but is hard wearing. Water based is flexible and there are some really good floor products that have hard wear abilities. I tend to put an extra coat or two because it makes me feel better. The only thing is that if you are doing something with dark colors, water based can have a light milky film. You need to work faster also. With practice it’s easy to get the hang of it. If the cloth is going to get rolled up at anytime for storage I’d choose the water based material. There’s pros and cons to each. I most often choose the water based for the lower environmental and health impact.

  5. Hillary says:

    When I was looking up linoleum rugs after the last post here, I found this video: http://www.hgtv.com/video/a-linoleum-rug-will-floor-you-video/index.html

    It seems like a really cool idea to glue 12″ vinyl tiles to the back of sheet vinyl! It would give me a chance to make a wild floor without worrying about destroying the resale value of my house. The only thing I worry about is the height of the edge and whether it would be annoying or a trip hazard. Of course in the video she used a piece of edging to taper it. I wonder if you could glue the tiles to a really strong piece of canvas to combine the oilcloth/vinyl tile idea? It might not be strong enough though.

  6. Lauryn says:

    Lauren, this is fabulous! I never would have thought to do something like that, but I sure like the practicality of it over an actual rug (pets, and all, sharing our household). I’m not sure I’m up to the task, but I have been sharpening my DIY skills over the past few years, so who knows!

  7. Leslie says:

    When I first read Pam’s story about linoleum rugs, I wondered why they hadn’t made a “come back”. I love the idea for protecting the wood in certain rooms, especially the dining area! Lauren, what would you say the approximate cost was for this rug?

    1. Lauren J says:

      The cost for mine was reasonable. My costs were for the vinyl – check out prices at your local home improvement store. They sell it by the foot. I purchased the thickest I could find that wasn’t too squishy. Other costs were the stamp was about $25, painter’s tape, paint and polyurethane. I should also let you know that I primed the backside of the vinyl with 2 coats of Gesso.
      The most important point is don’t get the inexpensive, thin vinyl – because it will not end up as a nice quality rug.

  8. Janet says:

    Looks terrific! What a great idea to use the underside of linoleum! I have all kinds of remnants that my husband brought home from work that I should practice on. I love braided rugs but can’t have them. My “puppy” who is three last week chewed up two of my braided rugs and all four of my kitchen chair pads so I no longer can have them in my house! I don’t think she would chew up linoleum but you never know with her! This will be pretty, useful as can be, and hopefully unappetizing to puppy dogs!

Comments are closed.