Over-Dyed Rug–DIY

Happy belated Thanksgiving!!  I hope yours was a fun-filled, family/friend-filled, edible occasion!  We drove to my sister’s house in Florida and, while our time spent there was a blast, that seven-hour drive is always so F U N with kids.  ;)  But, I guess it’s like anything – pregnancy and labor, the job interview process, research papers, school in general – you have to waddle and labor, hop around the interview train, read, read, read, and study, study, study to get that baby/job/A+/graduate.  You feel me, right?  LIfe can’t be easy or we’d all be bored out of our minds.  So goes road trips.  The miles might be hard but getting to that destination is super sweet.

And, I don’t mind if I do swing it around but, painting a rug might carry the same sentiment.  Let me explain.  I told you I painted the rug in the kids’ room, right?  Well the process wasn’t necessarily a party but the result IS.

When my sister and her fam moved into their current house, the owners’ left behind this rug:khouse (3)
They had it under their dining room table and so it wasn’t the cleanest of all the rugs in the land.  Well, my sister didn’t want it but I thought maybe it had some dyeing/painting potential so after a visit last year, we wrapped it in plastic and hauled it home, roof-top style, all those seven hours.

It got stuck up in the attic until further notice and then we moved, twice, and to this current house it came, still wrapped in that same plastic.  We made progress though – we unwrapped it, laid it outside to shampoo the heck out of it, and then laid it in the kids’ room.  As is.  Not pretty.  But, it is super heavy (which made washing it a feat of CrossFit-sized proportions) and thick and I loved the idea of having a fun round rug in their room…emphasis on idea.

The One Room Challenge lit a flame under my rear to finally get it colored something else and well, if you’ve seen the reveal, you already know what color it turned out to be, but in case you need a reminder:after kids

I’ve never turned a rug a whole different color before so I wasn’t positive how this was going to turn out – success or fail – but it looks exactly as I envisioned with that big ‘ole punch of color.

Here’s everything you need to know about how I painted our rug and how you can too.  You know how I do.  ;)

First, supplies.

I took this picture of all of the things I used to make this happen before I had even started but then I started and had some big realizations that changed what I needed to use.  Let me explain.

-Handy Paint Pail* – Handy sent me a few of their awesome products to use in the ORC and the paint pail was one of them.  They also sent me a Pro Pail* and honestly, I thought it would come in “handy” if I were painting the outside of our house again but I didn’t think it would get used in this makeover.  But, I was wrong.  I SERIOUSLY underestimated the amount of paint I would need for this project and therefore, underestimated the size of the paint pail I’d need to hold all of the paint I’d need to use.  I started with a sample pot of paint (the thought alone makes me laugh right now) and the paint pail.  But, after the sample pot of paint only painted about a quarter of the rug (on the first of three coats), I needed to upgrade to the Pro Pail.  Of course you could always just grab a big tupperware container but this thing makes painting so much easier because it has an awesome (and super comfortable!) handle on the side of the container and a rolling deck to roll off excess paint.  Can your tupperware dish do that?  Nope. 
-Paint – After that sample pot ran out in two minutes, I had Anthony make an emergency run to Lowe’s to grab more paint – a whole gallon to be exact.  The color I used is the same color we painted our old front doorRed Hot by Behr – but I had him have Lowe’s color-match it to this cheap Valspar Express paint.
-Roller – I used a four-inch foam roller* because I diluted the paint with water and needed a roller that would soak up paint and then be able to deposit lots of it on the rug.
-Fabric Medium* – I had a couple of bottles of this left over from a project I did few years ago and thought they’d be enough but with my underestimation of paint came the same with this medium.  I didn’t go out and buy more though.  Instead, I read somehwere that fabric softener mixed with paint was a good substitute for fabric medium and I honestly can’t say either way if it really is or not but it was a heck of a lot cheaper to use fabric softener I already had then go out and buy 10+ bottles of fabric medium.  AND it made the rug smell fantastic. 
-Paint Stir Stick – Crucial for mixing the water + paint.  Lowe’s and Home Depot hand these out for free when you buy paint.

The first step is mixing the paint and water.  I used a LOT of water because my thought was to thin out the paint so much that it would sink into the fibers of the rug; more like dye would than paint.  You can see how much paint I used in the picture below. 


I filled that little container up the rest of the way with water.  So, it ended up being about one part paint to eight parts of water.

Once I realized I’d need more paint, I switched over to the Pro Pail and this is what my bucket looked like:IMG_9171

Not a lot of paint but lots and lots of water.

As far as the process, Anthony and I laid the rug in our carport on top of a large piece of tarp plus a cheap plastic drop cloth for extra protection.  We didn’t want the paint to seep through the rug and onto the concrete.  We also didn’t want the underside of the rug to get dirty.  With a quick vacuum, it was ready for paint.


After I had my paint/water mixture all stirred well, I just stuck my roller into the pail for a few seconds so that it soaked up lots of paint/water, and then rolled that out onto the rug.  Working from one side to the other, it took me about 20 minutes to roll on one coat.

I had to refill the Pro Pail three times for each coat that I put on the rug.  I rolled on three coats and let each coat dry for a whole day before the next coat went on (we placed the rug so it was in full sun for most of the day, which helped it dry fairly quickly).  Our round rug is thick and big (8’ wide) though so a smaller, thinner rug would use less paint.


After:after kids rm (20)

I’ll be honest, before I started I was a little worried that painting this rug was going to make it feel really hard.  For a kids’ room, softer is usually better, right?  BUT, this wool rug wasn’t particularly soft to begin with and adding paint didn’t make it feel that much more coarse.  I’m going to chalk that up to the little bit of fabric medium and lot bit of fabric softener that I used (though I can’t be certain if they made that much of a difference).  Now the rug just feels like a flat-woven rug as you walk upon it; not necessarily like walking on a cloud but not like concrete. 

I was also interested in how well the paint would cover up all of those colors on the rug.  You can still see some of the blues and greens peeking through but it really just looks like a bonified over-dyed rug – one that was sunk into a massive vat of bright red-orange dye for a few minutes. 

SO, that’s it.  Keep your eyes peeled in your local resale groups and thrift stores for unwanted, ugly rugs.  I know they’re all just dying for a good shampoo and paint job.

And, as always, let me know if there are any unanswered questions or if I didn’t explain one part entirely too great.  I always feel rushed these days as I try to project with the kids running around so fewer in-process pictures are taken and I speed through things.

Have a great week and Happy first day of Advent!!  Yay!

Psst…this isn’t the first time I’ve taken paint to a rug.  Check out this West Elm look-a-like, this stenciled fun one, and my favorite, our kitchen rug.

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*These links are affiliate links which means that, if you click over and/or make a purchase through the link, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  All of these links will lead you to things we actually paid for or that are similar to the item we paid for in case ours is thrifted/sold out/secondhand.  This extra moolah helps us with the costs of running the blog and might help fund our next crazy idea.  Thank you for your support and for fueling our love to share all things DIY!

diy over-dyed rug

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