How to Paint Sisal Rugs

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Customize a plain sisal rug with paints to give it the designer treatment. Use painter's tape or stencils to plot out stripes, chevrons or your favorite pattern. Both latex and acrylic craft paints work well; use a narrow paint roller for large designs or a stencil-pouncing brush for stenciled areas.

Preparing the Rug

Things You'll Need

  • Clean plastic tarp 
  • Painter's tape

Step 1: Shake Out the Rug

Shake or beat the rug outdoors to remove loose debris and fibers.

Step 2: Protect the Floor

Cover the floor of the work area with a plastic tarp. While the paint most likely will not soak through the rug, the tarp protects the floor, just in case.

Step 3: Prepare the Rug

Set the rug flat atop the plastic tarp. Apply strips of painter's tape around the entire rug binding to keep paint off the binding. Line the tape up perfectly with the binding where it meets the rug; then smooth the tape down to ensure there are no gaps.

Plot the Design

Create the desired design on the rug using painter's tape or stencils. Painter's tape works well for designs such as stripes or rectangles, while a stencil comes in handy for more complex designs, such as chevrons or repeating patterns of geometric shapes. Create straight lines using a large straightedge and a piece of chalk. Remove the straightedge and place a strip of tape against the chalk line. If using stencils, tape the edges down flat with painter's tape.

Applying Paint

Pour the paint into a paint tray for easy access. Dip in a narrow paint roller to paint large lines or cover large areas between strips of tape. If using detailed stencils, dab on the paint with a stencil-pouncing brush. Allow the paint to dry completely. If you like the look of the paint as-is, remove the tape and stencils. For a bolder painted design, apply another one or two coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next. Allow the paint to dry for a few days before walking upon the rug.

Tip

    • If the rug is for a protected outdoor area such as a porch, use an exterior latex paint. Exterior paints contain additives that block ultraviolet rays, which helps prevent color fading.   
    • A fabric medium may be added to the paint to make it more flexible once dry, although this isn't necessary on a rug unless you plan to roll and unroll it frequently. 

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