When it comes it flooring, you know I’m a little bit of a non traditionalist.

I have been working on my craft room the past few months and, although it was coming together, I felt it was missing something. With most of the floor being open by design, I was starting to want a rug both to pull the space together and to protect my floors.

Of course the average rug wouldn’t do- I not only sew and craft in this space, but I paint furniture in here as well.  I almost always paint on a hard surface where I can swipe the errant paint drop up with a finger. Our hardwood downstairs and the paper floors upstairs have proven very resilient to my painting style, both having that polyurethane finish. But, for a long term dedicated painting space, I really wanted to spare the floor.

The rug would have to be flat, easy to clean, and most importantly swipe-able. My first thought was to put one of those clear office mats over a fun flat weave rug like a protector. Meh. That’d probably look a little strange and end up being really thick.

Ah ha! I’ll paint the office mat itself! Then I went to Office Depot and saw how expensive a small one was. Errr…no. It wasn’t until I was googling for things like “painted vinyl rug” and “cheap vinyl” that it occurred to me that I might have seen someone paint a piece of vinyl flooring on a blog or TV show sometime in the recent past. Eureka! It’s hard to have an original idea with the internet, but it’s nice to arrive at a solution in a somewhat organic fashion.

Off to Home Depot I went to do something I never thought I’d do: price out sheet vinyl flooring. It was actually a little more expensive than I thought it would be, but still within the range I was looking to spend on this project. I needed an 8′ x 9′ rug, and I found a pre-cut 8’x 12′ piece (it comes is 12′ widths standard by us) for $50. Sold.

I know sometimes it seems like I just bulldoze through a project with reckless abandon, but when I’m trying something new (or something I might be just a wee bit scared of), I recruit my friend Amy to do what I call “supervise me.” I set her up with a Keurig K-cup and a chair and basically she just watches me do something crazy while telling me it’s going to turn out fine. Even crazy people need support too! We talked about what I was going to paint on the rug, the colors, style, etc. all while I laid out this giant piece of vinyl and proceeded to cut it down to 9 ft wide. Then I turned it over. That’s right, you paint the back side (so don’t get the kind with the mesh looking bottom).


EDIT: I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this, so I want to be clear. The back side of the vinyl I painted is not vinyl at all. It’s matte like paper- in fact it might actually be paper.  I bought a pre-cut roll at Home Depot by Natco Co. called “The Gold Label Collection”.  There are other pre-cut sizes as well (if you want to make a smaller rug). Even though it was pre-cut, it was cheaper than getting a piece cut for me of something else. Also, some of the vinyl that is cut to order is 1) meshy/spongy backed and 2) pre-glued, so it may not work as well for the purposes of a floor mat. Just be careful when choosing, remembering that the back side is really what you’re looking to paint. With the Natco paper backed flooring, you can just use regular primer and paint, no other prep work like sanding or special products. It is very cheap and thin, the label even says you can use it to line shelves. So please understand this is really not a flooring tutorial, but a rug-like floor mat tutorial.

If you are wanting to paint your vinyl/linoleum floor, this is not a tested method for that! 


Once I got over the fear of buying $50 worth of something just to cut it and paint the back side, the project went pretty smoothly. I put 1 coat of primer on, and 2 coats of my base color (SW Dovetail, shocked?).

I looked at sooooooooo many rug designs online, considered buying a new stencil, and ultimately decided to try this rug (it looks like the grey/white is discontinued) from Urban Outfitters. It was exactly the colors I had in mind, and you know I love a fish scale.

{Urban Outfitters}

I used the edge of a paper plate to create a semicircle, which I traced onto a piece of plastic (a cheapo place mat would probably work great). Then I proceeded to paint that stencil for about 20 hours over several days. I’m not joking. Why couldn’t I have chosen a simple stripe? Or even purchased a larger stencil with repeats?

For stenciling, I like to use a 4″ foam roller. The color here is SW Worldly Grey (it looks white but it’s not).

See how we’ve gone from day to night here? I thought I was losing my mind. Fast forward to the next day…

Notice how I’ve also started the quarter round in here, you know since all the furniture was out and all. I am physically incapable of doing only one thing at a time apparently.

After I was done stenciling, I rolled on 3 coats of Minwax Clear Satin Polyurethane (the oil based variety).

As it turns out, 4 days of back breaking work was totally and completely worth it. I LOVE THIS RUG. This is the only acceptable use for sheet vinyl in my book, and hot diggity dog it’s awesome. And that’s why I’ve dubbed sheet vinyl: The Comeback King.

Even though it took me forever, I think this is one of my favorite projects. In total it cost about $65- $50 for the vinyl, $5 for a quart of Worldly Grey (I planned to use paint I had on hand, but ran out part way through), and $10 for the poly (the only stuff I had on hand was high gloss and I wanted a more subtle sheen). It’s still cheaper than a lot of regular rugs would be at this size, and it’s customized perfectly to suit my needs. I big fat puffy heart it, and that’s all there is to it.

29 Responses

  1. Vicki

    Just yesterday I was reading about painting vinyl as I am redoing my kitchen. Your process was exactly what I read about, about except you did have to sand it first. I found a site called Linoleum Laquer, that is suppoed to eliminate the priming and top coat. If anyone had used it, I would love to know how it has helf up.

    • rachaelevans

      Hey Vicki, I’ve never heard of that product- but it sounds cool! It looks like it’s designed to go on the top side, like for someone who has linoleum installed already and doesn’t want to replace it just yet. I painted my rug on the back of the sheet, which is super matte like paper. That’s also why there are no “grout” lines on my rug. I guess what I’m saying is that if you have primer, paint, and some kind of top coat on hand already, it doesn’t seem worth it to buy a specialty product to make a floor mat. But, if you have a whole room of installed linoleum and need a quick fix, the Linoleum Lauquer might be a good option. That really isn’t the same method/application as the “rug” I’ve done unfortunately, lest anyone get confused and start primering/painting their floors!

      • Kelly

        Hey friend-
        I am researching this topic and came across your blog. Love it.
        I am wanting to do something like this; but here is the wrinkle…. we are military and move every 1-2 years. How well do you think this would roll up and travel? I originally was going to do a canvas floor cloth; but after talking to some folks in colonial Williamsburg – they said the cloth would damage if rolled every 1-2 years- the cloth is best in a permanent spot.
        So what are your thoughts?

      • Rachael Evans

        I think it would hold up pretty well…my only concern would be the paint maybe cracking if you rolled it too tight? But that may not be an issue at all!

  2. Amy Evans

    It looks amazing, friend. And I am glad to have been such and integral part of your process. You are welcome 😉 I will be over shortly to hijack your left over supplies and make them into a fancy floor mat of my very own. I’m thinking i’ll go with stripes, however.

  3. Marsha

    Hope you are feeling better, after that terrible reaction to the bee sting,
    The carpet is amazing.
    Boy do you have stamina.
    This is exactly what I need in my A&C room.
    Thank you

  4. Connie

    I’m wondering if this would work as a living room rug over carpet. can you tell it’s vinyl and made for more work spaces?

    • rachaelevans

      Hi Connie- I did actually think about how it would look over carpet because a friend of mine hates the carpet in her office. What I’m thinking is that it could be ok in the right setting. I think you’d want to choose your patterns/colors carefully and use a non slip pad to get the best look. I’d also be weary of using any paint or sealer with a lot of gloss to it. If the carpet was really low pile it would work best I think. But if it were my house, and I was strongly thinking about it, I’d buy a pre-cut roll in the size I wanted, lay it out on the floor and see how it looked. If it ends up being super weird, you can roll it back up and return it (one of the benefits of buying the pre-cut roll instead of having something cut for you). If you try it, I’d love to see a picture!!

  5. Andi

    Ok, so this is awesome. I copied your brown craft paper floors (http://thescottlandyard.blogspot.com/2011/10/project-no-more-carpet.html) about a year ago, and we LOVE it. With this, you have officially secured role of my Project-No-More-Carpet guru.

    I think I want to do this in my son’s room, and I have a few questions.
    1.) Did you use a special kind of paint on the vinyl? Or will good ole’, regular indoor paint work?
    2.) Did you secure the vinyl to the floor once you were finished? If not, does it slip at all? Imagine a 2 year boy running all over the place. I want to make sure he’s not at an even greater risk for concussion.


    • rachaelevans

      Hi Andi! I’m glad you like your brown paper floors 🙂 I think I’ll go back and edit the post a bit because I didn’t make it clear that the back side of the vinyl is not at all the same as the front side. It’s basically like paper. Not shiny or vinyl-y at all. So I just used regular primer and paint. Since the mat is upside-down, the vinyl side is facing the floor. I don’t find it to be super slippery (the vinyl is kinda sticky), but I would use a non slip rug pad just in case. I’m actually planning to put one under mine when I can find a good price 🙂

  6. Sandy Walters

    I think you are on your way to another magazine article…not only does the mat/rug look fantastic, it is so functional! So sorry I cannot take any credit for your amazing creativity, but it is wonderful to watch!

  7. Karah @ thespacebetweenblog

    This is such a phenomenal idea I can hardly stand it. We are in a rental house with the most awful tile floors! This solution would be beautiful and cost effective. Thank you so much for the inspiration … so happy to be featured with you at tt&j today. 🙂

  8. Karin

    Great look and directions! Thanks so much for pointing out that you used the vinyl with the paper type back! I have been meaning to try a painted floor cloth but figured any type of vinyl would work… I will specifically look for the paper backed now. Do you think it will tolerate a rolling chair? Would love to know how the floor continues to work for you as you use it! Will watch for updates! Thanks

    • rachaelevans

      Karin- I’m not sure about the rolling chair to be honest. I don’t use them at all because I think they are hard on any floor. I prefer flat feet with felt pads for sliding around 🙂

  9. Lauren


    My husband and I are expecting our first bebe this fall, and Olive, our usually sweet, completely house-trained 3 year old poodle, has decided she should start freaking out and peeing on our dining room rug. Yaaaay.. Strange as it may be, we don’t like the smell of dog pee, especially when we’re eating dinner. Now that we’ve rolled up the rug and hauled it off, the room looks *insane* to me. I googled vinyl rugs (having NO IDEA they were that expensive) and wept a little. You’re my savior. I *cannot cannot cannot* wait to not only make one for the dining room, but the wee bebe’s room as well. And maybe the kitchen… and the backdoor.. and the entryway.. And my room? And our porch!

  10. Joan

    So bummed!!! I did a similar process on my bathroom floor – on the already installed and yucky looking vinyl. Primed (2 coats), painted base color (2 coats), stenciled and then put on Poly. Unfortunately, the poly turned my floor yellow and no it looks like it has pee stains, especially where the poly was too thick. Is that anything that I can do?

  11. Nel

    I’m confused how you made the pattern… did you first paint the whole underside grey, and then paint white in the stencil, or did you keep the white from the underside and just paint inside the stencil with they grey?

    • Rachael Evans

      Hi Nel, the whole mat was painted gray, with white stencil on top. Hope that helps!

  12. Nicki

    Could you share the exact brand of poly you used. I have tried this process and also had my floor turn yellow after applying the poly. I guess it could be a poly and paint reaction so if you could share the brand names that would be great.

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  14. Jenny

    Hi Rachael, I came across your page on Pinterest and really love this idea. How has it held up over time? I am mostly concerned with the edges curling up. Do you still have it? Thanks!

    • Rachael Evans

      It’s still in use!! No curling at all, although most of the sides are covered in furniture I don’t think it would be an issue.


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