How to Paint an Outdoor Rug (That’s Cheap and Durable!)

Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by Beth Martin

I love having an outdoor rug on our deck, but the super hot sun and constant humidity where we live make it look moldy and gross more of the year than I would like to admit. This tutorial will teach you how to paint an outdoor rug that will last all four seasons. And the best part is that it’s cheap too!

With so many stencils to choose from, this project will complement any home decor style. Better yet, when you want a new style outdoor rug, all you have to do is repaint it. 

A “carpet” painted on your deck, or outdoor patio floor is a fun project that can be completed on the weekend. This DIY is simple but makes a huge impact. Your outdoor space will undoubtedly be transformed – I know mine was!

Your Materials List

How to Paint an Outdoor Rug Like a Pro

A rendering of my porch to show the layout of the painted rug.

1. Select Your Paint Colors and Buy Your Paint

Select your paint colors. I originally chose a black-and-white color palette (the exact colors are listed above in the materials list), but I decided to change the inside pattern to gray at the last minute. I mixed the original black and white paint I purchased to create a light gray, saving some money.

The sky is the limit with your color options, although consider the fact that darker colors will be hotter on your feet during the warmest months. A sophisticated pastel or bright color could be a really fun addition to the pattern.

Bright colors can also be used on the border for a more subtle accent.

I recommend using paint made for your deck rather than typical latex or spray paint. This will allow your project to last longer and make cleaning easier when your deck inevitably gets dirty.

2. Determine Your Rug Size and Stencil

Just like in any design, this step is the most necessary part. The more attention you put into the details in this step, the easier the rest of the process will be.

Also, use this time to gather all of your materials.

Measure your deck, and know how you want to lay out your furniture, what stencil to use, and the size your rug should be.

Since this is a custom project, don’t feel like you need to stick to standard rug sizes. Choose the best size for your space and furniture layout.

My painted outdoor rug will be 86″ wide by 102″ long, including a 3″ border around all sides. My stencil is 40cm x 40cm, so it will repeat five by six times.

How to Paint an Outdoor Rug Step 1 - Make a layout.

You don’t need to make the rug size be in an exact increment of your stencil, but I thought this would work the best for the design I chose. You might want to take this into consideration when selecting a stencil.

Etsy has countless stencil options in any style you can imagine, and you can also find some great options at your local home improvement store.

3. Layout Your Overall Design in String.

Now it’s time to bring your schematic into reality and place your design on your deck. Use your tape measure, and locate the four corners of where your rug should be placed.

If your design runs parallel to your deck boards, you can use this to your advantage to keep your dimensions consistent. If your rug is skewed from how the boards run, you will need to check the overall measurements to ensure the shape is a rectangle.

An easy way to set the lines of your design is by using small nails and string. Place a nail at each corner by only hammering it just enough so it just stays. You don’t want the hole to be too deep.

Tie a string around the first nail, then wrap it around all the nails until it reaches back to the first corner, forming your rug shape. Double-check your dimensions match your diagram.

Repeat this step for the interior border. Mine is border 3″ all around the rug.

You now have two rectangles drawn on your outdoor space in strings: an inner and an outer. The inner rectangle will be painted the background color (white) and stenciled, and the outer rectangle will be painted the border color (black).

4. Paint the Inside Rectangle.

Now you get to start painting! Make sure your paint is shaken or stirred really well, and get your paintbrush ready.

We are starting with the white paint and will only be painting the inside rectangle, and it’s better to go a little past the string into the border zone. It does not matter how messy your edges are since we will eventually cover the white edges with a black border.

I recommend using a paintbrush instead of a roller for a project of this size. Yes, a roller would make this go a little quicker, but rollers also tend to splatter a lot more. That additional cleanup is not worth the slightly improved speed for me.

If you choose to go with a roller, make sure to be mindful of not putting too much paint on at one time. Also, make sure not to knock down your string line.

Depending on how your paint covers, you might need two coats.

Pro tip: If you need to step away between coats, dip your brush in the paint and wrap the brush in saran wrap. It might sound weird, but if you keep the brush in the fridge it will stay fresh for days without getting crusty.

5. Tape and Seal For Crisp Lines.

This part takes a little patience. You must wait for a minimum of your paint’s full suggested dry time before you can tape the edges. My dry time was 18 hours.

Once you are ready, use the string lines as a guide for the painter’s tape. The tape should go on the outside of the outer rectangle and the inside of the inner rectangle. The remaining space will be the 3″ border that we will paint black.

Before we can start with the black paint, we must seal the edges of the painter’s tape. Sealing the edges is a critical step to getting crisp edges. If you skip this step, your paint will more often than not bleed through the painters tape.

The outer rectangle is sealed with brown paint and the inner rectangle is sealed with white paint.

To seal, paint the edge of the painters tape the same color as the area underneath it. This means that for the outer rectangle, you should paint the edge of the tape the original color of your deck. For the inner rectangle, you will paint the tape white.

This might feel like a wasteful step, but it will feel extra satisfying when you peel the tape off and have super crisp lines.

6. Paint the Border.

Now that you have done all the hard prep work, you can go ahead and paint the border black. Be careful not to paint past the tape.

Check and see if a second or third coat is needed. I needed a second coat for full coverage.

Once your paint is about 50 percent dry, you can peel up the tape. This job will be much more difficult if you wait until the paint is completely dry. For the best results, peel the tape at a 90-degree angle from the direction of your paint line.

7. Paint the Stencil.

Once your border is dry, you are ready to start with your stencil. Consult your design and decide where you will begin your stencil layout.

Since I designed my layout as a grid, I am starting in the top corner. Place your stencil in the desired location and use painter’s tape to hold the stencil in the correct spot. You can also use a light coat of spray adhesive to ensure your stencil won’t move around.

I used a tiny sponge foam roller to apply the paint when using the stencil. If you use too much paint on the roller, the paint will bleed under the stencil, and the application will look very messy. Try to use the least amount of paint as possible. Trust me, you can always add more, but it’s hard to go back and clean up those edges.

Most stencils have repeat markers that help you place where to start the next sequence. Line up these markers and repeat this until the whole rug is filled with the pattern.

Let the paint dry for the recommended dry time. You don’t want to rush this part and risk scratching all that hard work.

The outdoor sofa is by Outer (see my full review here); The white side chair is by Loll; The cocktail table by Loll; The black woven chair is from Wayfair

8. Style Your Furniture (The Fun Part!)

Nothing is better than setting up your furniture, taking a step back, and looking at how your space has been transformed into a beautiful oasis. Style your outdoor furniture around your finished rug, and look at how your outdoor space shines.

I think this calls for some lemonade!


Painting your own outdoor rug on your patio is an easy and affordable way to cheer up many types of outdoor living spaces. Anyone can accomplish this DIY project in a few days and be ready to entertain all year long.

Forget the hassle of wet, moldy rugs that never dry out, and say hello to unlimited creativity. This project is perfect if your space is unusual in size or shape because you can paint anything you want.

This may seem like a time consuming project, but this whole process only took me one weekend to accomplish. Not only do I love how this looks, but it’s so much easier to take care of, so the time was definitely well spent.

When deciding how to paint your outdoor rug, don’t feel limited to a black and gray color palette. Experiment with any color that matches your home decor and style, and don’t be scared of bright colors!

This painted outdoor rug can fit so many design styles and looks great with all types of decor, making it a great idea for your next weekend project.

Get your paintbrushes ready, and let’s start painting!

Similar Posts