Introduction: Paint a Concrete Rug

About: I am the monthly DIY/crafts writer for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. You can access an archive of all my columns at

A recent article in a gardening magazine inspired me to paint a rug on my concrete patio. We’re talking about a 25-year-old, roughly finished, stained from who knows what, and generally unattractive, garden patio. I chose a garden theme to my rug, and designed it around flower stencils I bought at a craft store.

Step 1: Supplies, Cleaning Concrete

What you need:

1 gallon white porch and floor paint
Large paint brush
2-ounce bottles of acrylic craft paint in a variety of colors
Stencil brushes
Blue painter’s tape
Tape measure
1 gallon clear concrete sealer
Large paint roller
1 audio book

Painting a concrete rug is a great opportunity to read a book. Borrow or download a good long book that you can listen to while painting. Start by cleaning the concrete with a pressure washer or garden hose. I also scrubbed the concrete with a brush and concrete cleaner (unless it’s a “green” version, keep this chemical away from plants and soil), although I’m not sure it made a big difference.

Step 2: Tape Outline and Prime Concrete

Tape off the perimeter of the rug with chalk and painter’s tape, keeping the sides straight and the corners square using a tape measure and L-square. A perfect rectangle will have matching diagonal measurements, but close is good enough. Paint inside the tape with two coats of white porch paint using a brush or roller, following the manufacturer’s directions for drying times.

Step 3: Sketch, Mark Sections, Paint

Sketch out the overall design of the rug on a piece of paper, keeping in mind the relative dimensions of the stencils you will be using. Use bands of colors around the outsides, and blocks of color in the center section.

Using blue painter’s tape, mark the borders of each color as you go. I used the edges of the stencils as guides to keep the tape lines straight and equidistant from the edges. Start on the outer edges and work towards the center. The tape can be removed after you paint a band or block, but allow paint to dry fully before taping over it for another section.

Step 4: Stencil Designs

Use the stencils to paint designs in the center of bands or blocks, dabbing color in with a stencil brush. Pour a small amount of paint into a plastic container and load paint brush sparingly for best results. Of course you also have the option of painting freehand. Don’t be too much of a perfectionist when painting on concrete—it’s impossible on this irregular surface. The overall effect will still be striking.

Step 5: Seal

Cover your rug with a plastic tarp to protect it from dirt and critters between painting sessions. Finish the rug with two coats of clear concrete sealer applied with a paint roller at a windless time of day. Then stand back and admire your patio transformation.

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