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

DIY painted rugretro craftsWhen I showed 31 designs of linoleum are rugs from Armstrong’s 1954 catalog, 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 –

After I saw your blog about linoleum rugs 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 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 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. Renee says:

    As stated by someone else polyurethane and varnish will yellow but as someone who paints furniture I can tell you that polycrylic won’t. That’s what I’ll be using on my diy rug. Thanks so much for the tutorial.

  2. Pat says:

    I was wondering the same thing Penny is talking about above. Could you use a vinyl painted rug on a patio or deck ? Will the paint and vinyl hold up to the elements (hot sun and rain) ? I would use marine varnish to coat it with after painting.

  3. Penny says:

    This sounds like a great idea for a rug on my deck! I bought a indoor/outdoor rug last year that just soaks up the rain and takes days to dry! Yuck. I bet this painted “vinyl” rug would repel rain and look fabulous!

  4. Lin Diamanno says:

    The edges of my vinyl floor cloth are curled up. Any suggestion for getting it to lie flat so it isn’t a trip hazard?

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Lin, I don’t know the answer to this. You are right to be concerned about this issue as a trip hazard. Probably best not to use it until you figure it out… Did you buy the rug from someone? If so, probably best to ask them! Good luck – be safe!

  5. Helene Aarons says:

    I need some resources to: 1/ pad a vinyl hand painted floor cloth that has a nonskid layer on it; 2/ how could you hang a vinyl hand painted floor cloth, and 3/if you didn’t want to pad the vinyl floor cloth, what could you treat the back with to make it skid proof. Any ideas, experiences with any of the above would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,


    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Helene, I don’t know the answer to this questions. To make it non-skid — I suggest talking to a flooring store/flooring professionals, since this is a safety issue.

Comments are closed.