How To Make A Custom Rug Out of Fabric

I have a very easy and inexpensive trash to treasure transformation for you today.  I found a scrap of vinyl flooring from one of the bathrooms in my house that was discolored.  I was about to toss it in the trash when I thought of a way to salvage it.

I don’t know about you but when ever I am looking for small area mats or rugs for my kitchen, foyer, or bath I can never find one in the color or style that I envision and end up with nothing or something that I really don’t like.  I buy it because I need the function of the rug to wipe feet or protect the floor.  This project is going to end that – I am going to use fabric to make a custom rug so my color and pattern options are endless and I will get exactly what I want in color, style and size.





What You Need:

Scrap of vinyl flooring cut to the desired size
(flooring stores sell small remnants inexpensively)
Mat knife
Stiff paint brush
Spray glue
Zinseer Bulls Eye Ultimate Polyurethane – Gloss finish. It is water based  or any water based poly.  Water based won’t yellow your fabric.
Duct Tape

This is the fabric I used.  It is printed duck cloth. I bought it at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics on sale for $5.99 a yard. I needed less than a yard for the size of my rug.  It is called HS Gia by Home Seasons.


1. Cut vinyl to size with knife and T-square to ensure you are making straight cuts.


Optional step.  I lightly sprayed the vinyl with white spray paint I had on hand and let it dry.  I didn’t want to be surprised once I put poly on the fabric and have the dark green blocks show through the fabric. If your vinyl is white or all one color you can skip this step. Since the vinyl is to give the fabric some heft it doesn’t matter what it looks like, I could have just flipped the vinyl so I would not have to worry about the hue of the green squares coming through the fabric, but I wanted my rug to look good on the back side too  :)


2.  Turn the vinyl upside down on the wrong side of your fabric and cut the fabric around the vinyl leaving about 3-inches extra on all sides.


3.  Flip both over and use spray glue to adhere the fabric to the vinyl. The best way to do this is to go outside.  Spray the back of the fabric and the top of the vinyl.  (Don’t worry about getting the fabric edges with glue in this step, just the part that will be on top of the vinyl) Let the glue get tacky and then center the fabric on the vinyl.  Smooth with your hands making sure there are no creases or air bubbles.

4.  Using a stiff bristle brush, apply one coat of water-based poly and then let it dry overnight.  It takes a while to dry on fabric.  Once it is dry add another coat, let dry.

Don’t proceed to the next step until you have a t least two coats of poly on your fabric.  My fabric shrunk a tiny bit, so allow for this to happen and then proceed.


Make sure you are covering every section and the edges.   Watch out for air bubbles, and creases – keep pressing them out with the brush.  Push them out to the sides of the rug until they are removed.

You want to build up the layers of the poly so that the fabric is eventually totally covered. You want to get into and cover the grain of the fabric.  Fabric with a tighter weave will not require as many coats as the duck cloth I am using does.   The layers of poly are what make the fabric wipe-able so your rug will stay clean.  If you skimp on layers of poly – dirt would be harder to clean off.


5.  After you have two coats of dry poly on your rug you can now turn the edges and secure them to the back of the vinyl.  The fabric will be stiff, but just pull it tightly around to the back.


6.  Start in one corner.  Use spray glue to attach fabric.  Just a shot on the vinyl, let it get tacky and then press the fabric in as shown below.


7.  Once you have the first corner done work around the vinyl until all the fabric is secure on the back.


8. Then using duct tape – yes – duct tape all around the edges. It is a cheap and strong tape that will make sure your fabric is not going to come off.


Before you use your pretty new rug –  apply a few more coats of poly to make sure you have a wipe-able surface. I did 5 coats. Each coat takes time to dry(the first coat the longest), but it will be worth the wait as the fabric will be able to be cleaned off when it gets dirty.

Here it is in my foyer-


Or maybe I will use it in my bathroom-


That’s what makes small area rugs like this so much fun – you can move them all around the house wherever you need a pop of color.

Do it yourself fabric rug

 Make a custom rug using a favorite fabric to coordinate with your decor. Easy to make DIY. Step by step tutorial | In My Own Style


  1. Amelia says

    Thank you so much for the fantastic post – I’m about to move into a new little house and I started hunting for fabrics as soon as I read this weeks ago.

    One of the favorite things that I found so far is actually a cotton rug – do you think I could just poly the whole thing as-is or will it curl up or do something weird without laminate? I swore i would never put another cotton rug in my kitchen since the one I have now is so gross, so poly is a must – but I’m not sure if it needs laminate since it’s already a rug. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    This is the rug if it helps:

    Thank you so much again!

    • says

      Hi Amelia –
      I would not poly the rug. It would take a ton of poly to get a wipe-able protective coating since the cotton is thick and porous. Fabric is thin and with the vinyl floor backing – it doesn’t require much poly to protect it. You may want to ScotchGuard it to help keep it clean looking. Or take it outside and hose it down with a scrub brush and soapy water when it gets dirty. Then hang it over something outside to dry.

  2. Kate says

    I’m the one that used oil based poly a few months ago and wanted to let you know how it turned out.
    First of all, the fabric is a deep chocolate color, so the color wasnt affected at all. The next morning it was still a little damp and the smell was awful, so I dragged it outside into the sun to dry. It was a big rug — big enough to fit under my kitchen table, and I was shocked at how much it shrunk when it dried! But I still was able to use it. It’s about five feet by three feet. After a day or so, the smell went away. I only attempted one (generous) coat of poly because of the fiasco, but it’s stiff enough to be wiped clean. It looks great!

    • says

      Hi Stacy – the weight of the vinyl keep is down. I have two of them and have not had a problem with them curling up. If you want to make sure any rug is not a tripping hazard you can add a few thin lines of acrylic caulk underneath. Let it dry. It give the rug some traction so it won’t move.

  3. Jodie says

    Wondering if anyone has tried this fabric and ply technique to upholser dining chairs? Would it be comfy to sit on? Would the poly eventually crack with all the squishing going on??

    • says

      Hi Jodie – I have not tried it on a chair cushion, but if the fabric has a big weave or texture the poly would settle in and resist cracking. I have made two rugs that get a lot of wear and they have not cracked or peeled. If you are interested in protecting fabric -you can buy fusible vinyl by the yard. Heat N’Bond makes one. JoAnns sells it. You iron it to your fabric and then cover the seat as you normally would. It works well and is quick and easy to do.

    • says

      Hi Elana – Yes you could add a pad, no problem. I recently bought one of those padded kitchen mats that are becoming popular. They feel great to stand on, but come in dull colors. I plan on covering it with a fabric I like soon.

    • says

      HI Melanie –

      The rug would work fine at the main entry of a house. Just seal it well with a few coats of poly. You want to create enough of a barrier with the poly so that the fabric doesn’t get dirty, just the poly finish that you can wipe off with soap and water to clean. My daughter has one in front of her kitchen sink. She uses dish detergent to clean it.

  4. Shelley says

    Hi. I made this last night and was so excited to see how it turned out this morning. I used a rubber mat instead of the vinyl. The problem that I have is that the material buckled when it dried. Any ideas of how to fix this?

    • says

      Hi Shelley –

      Did the fabric wrinkle when it dried? I just want to make sure I am visualizing the problem correctly before trying to figure out a fix for it.

  5. Jacinta says

    Hi, could i use water based poly on fabric covered drawers?? I know most use mod podge, but i dont like the uneven glossy appearance of it. Thanks

    • says

      Hi Jacinta – Yes you can. It will work very well. Use a stiff brush to make sure the water-base poly gets into all the hills and valleys of the fabric. Use a few coats, let each one dry before applying the next. They do make matte Mod Podge – it has a yellow label. I like it much better than the gloss orange label formula.

  6. Karen says

    After applying the polyurethane, my fabric developed numerous air bubbles. It didn’t show when I was applying the polyurethane, but when it dried it was very obvious. By then, the fabric was stiff, stuck to the vinyl and impossible to get the air bubbles out. Any suggestions?

    • says

      Hi Karen –

      Two reasons the air bubbles could have developed – 1. The can was shaken before using. More likely – 2. If you used a foam brush and pressed the poly into the fabric instead of brushing it across the fabric. When you press the foam brush, air escapes and can get into the poly. As it dries, the trapped air rises and you get an air bubble. To fix the surface, I would pop each air bubble with a pin and then go over the surface with a medium grit 100 – 220 sandpaper to smooth. Clean off the grit and then reapply the poly. If you used a foam brush, try using a bristle brush across the fabric when applying the poly.

  7. Ambre says

    I LOVE this idea! And this would end the dilemma of how to find a matching area rug for the drapes I want to sew!!I am curious as to how stiff the fabric gets after applying the polyurethane? I would need to create a large area rug for my living room, but I am uncertain as to whether or not this finished texture of this product is appropriate? Any input would be greatly appreciated :)

    • says

      Hi Ambre – The finish of the gloss poly on the fabric is slightly shiny, but durable and can be wiped cleaned. For less or no shine, I would use satin water-based poly. The feel of the fabric is stiff, like walking on padded vinyl. I am not sure the rug could be any larger than the width of the fabric you choose. Most fabrics are 44″ – 54″ wide. If you needed a larger rug, you would need to sew two pieces of fabric together and press the seam flat to make a larger area rug.

  8. Dawn says

    I just did this to a rug I have last night. I used a water based poly and put 3 coats. Waited 2 hours between each coat. It’s been drying overnight. Now today when I look at it, it turned all the white in the rug yellowish. What did I do wrong?

    • says

      Hi Dawn – Since you stated it yellowed, it sounds like you didn’t use water-based poly.I wrote in the tutorial to use water-based. Regular polyurethane will darken or yellow everything it goes on. What poly did you use?

      • Dawn says

        I purchased minwax water based oil modified polyurethane clear gloss. That’s what it says on the container.

        • says

          Hi Dawn – I am not familiar with this formula, so I am not sure. Since it says oil modified on the can, it must not be totally water based. :-( I would highly recommend the Zinsser Ultimate or Minwax Polycrylic. Both of these are totally water-based and will not yellow or darken your fabric. When you first apply them they may have a white tinge, but will dry clear. They are the best to use for all DIY projects including furniture makeovers since no yellowing will occur.

  9. Kim says

    I am so excited to see this post! I am curious if you ended up trying this on the stock padded kitchen mat like you had mentioned in the comments, and if so, how it turned out? Any different tips to add?

    • says

      Hi Kim – I never did it on a kitchen mat, but did do it over canvas. Both the canvas and vinyl have held up very well. I gave one each to my daughter’s to help decorate their apartments. They use them in their kitchens. As far as tips to add, just make sure if there is a pattern on your fabric that is is straight and make sure to use water-based poly.

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  11. nhlanhla Andreas says

    hi my name is Andreas khanyile I would like to know that if I want make money by creating this amazing mat do u have some classes maybe I’m just asking.thank you


  1. […] Diane over at In My Own Style shares an ingenious tutorial on how to make your own rug using fabric and vinyl flooring.  I immediately headed to Joann’s and picked out my fabric.  Then I went to Lowe’s to get the vinyl remnant, spray adhesive and water based polyurethane. […]

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