How To Make A Custom Rug Out of Fabric

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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. *To see other projects with this vinyl floor, check out: Updating Vinyl Floor for $10; and How to Paint a Pattern on Vinyl Flooring.

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. 

Vinyl Floor Scrap Before


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.

How to Make a Custom Rug Out of Fabric


supplies needed:

  • Scrap of vinyl flooring cut to the desired size
  • (flooring stores sell small remnants inexpensively)
  • T-square
  • Mat knife
  • Fabric
  • 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 is the fabric rug 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

To see how I created a “rug” in my mudroom check out my post: Painting a Rug.


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  1. Thinking of making runner for troller boat I making cushions for-this will be at the entrance of the cabin – this will get a lot of traffic…will it hold up? Does it crack? Can it stand salty air? Thank you

  2. I think this will be great, I want a nice rug for our front porch on our log cabin where the chickens come and poop if I can spray this off with a hose and still have a nice rug I will be so happy. I won’t want it to develop any mildew on the back side so after washing it with the hose and water I will have to make sure it’s good and dry before I lay it back down…. The chickens poop on our front porch often, so sometimes I will try to just wipe it off with disinfectant and a rag.

  3. How do you prevent the rug from sliding? I think the vinyl would be slick on the back and need something to hold it in place – especially in a high traffic area.

    1. Hi Laurie –

      I have made two of the fabric rugs and neither moves once placed on the floor. I think the reason is the vinyl I used has a rough underside. Also the wrapped fabric to the underside helps to hold the rug in place.

      If your vinyl is slick on the underside and you want to make sure it stays in place. Cut a piece of a non-slip rug gripping pad:
      or use place these rug grippers on each corner:

    1. Hi Patti – No you do not have to wash the fabric first since you will be sealing it. Not washing it also will keep the colors vivid. To clean the rug once it is sealed, you wipe it with a rag and detergent.

    1. It’s a rug Ana. Rugs can be made of many materials besides yarn. Some individuals just enjoy being snarky. Let Roy stick with expensive commercial “rugs” that everyone else has . Creative people love to make unique items and will as long as they are able!

  4. I live in a rental and want to do a fabric backsplash in my kitchen. Many of the DIY using fabric as a backsplash, talk about putting the fabric under a plexiglass. I was thinking about using this method by preparing the fabric (before cutting if), cutting it after it had been treated than hanging it with glue. How difficult would it be to cut. Do you think it would be heavy to hang? Would appreciate thoughts from anyone who has used this method.

  5. I’m a teacher who has hand painted canvas rugs every two years because of the amount of traffic they see. I don’t mind redoing, but the drawing, taping, etc can be time consuming and my options are limited by my ability and time! This is a great idea! I’m finally going to have a rug that matches my curtains!! Thank you!

  6. 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

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  8. 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?

    1. 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.

  9. 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?

    1. 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?

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

        1. 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.

  10. 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 :)

    1. 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.

        1. Hi Sally – Yes it would. Great idea! Fabric is fabric no matter how it comes. Since fabric yardage can get pricy, I am sure you can get a great price on shower curtains at stores like TJ Maxx and Home Goods. Thanks for sharing your idea. :-)

  11. 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?

    1. 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.

  12. 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

    1. 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.

  13. 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?

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  14. 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??

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

    1. 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.

  17. I’ve seen painted rugs before, but that just wasn’t the thing I wanted. I’m so glad I found this post; it’s perfect! I do the same; either settle for rugs I don’t love, or go without. No more of that! Thanks!

  18. I’m half way through this project, and I think I messed up. I used OIL based polyurethane, and as I was brushing it on, I could feel the adhesive dissolving under the fabric. Sure enough, the fabric is peeling right off the vinyl. I continued with the poly application and its drying now …. kinda. Did I ruin it? It is a soggy looking mess, but its only been drying for about an hour. I am hoping it looks better tomorrow..

    1. Hi Kate –

      Oil based poly may dry OK and it may stick as it is pretty heavy duty stuff, but I am not sure as I have only used water based poly. It dries quickly, clear and doesn’t smell. The oil based will take at least 24 hours to dry and will probably have a strong chemical smell for awhile. Oil based polyurethane will also darken the fabric and turn orange :( If you are using a dark fabric you may not notice this. I would let it dry and see how it looks. If it makes you feel any better – I recently was redoing a table and accidentally grabbed the wrong can and applied it to the top of the table only to watch it melt all my work. I threw it out along with the can of oil poly.

  19. hi diane! thanks for the tutorial. i want to make a “rug” for my office using one of those plastic chair mats. do you think a regular office chair would roll around on the poly-ed cloth okay?

    1. Hi Stacee – I think it will roll around just fine. There will still be some texture to the fabric even with a few layers of poly on top, plus the weight of the chair will help with traction.

  20. If slipperiness was a problem, you could use rubber non skid pad under it, even adhering it to the back. By the way, this is the perfect solution to covering my grandson’s floor between the beds.

  21. I like this, but I’m curious about the polyurethane part. Would that not make the fabric less absorbent? I need rugs by my doors to absorb moisture and such so it doesn’t track on the wood floors. Also does the polyurethane make it slippery?

    1. Hi Norma –

      The polyurethane does not make it slippery at all. When applied to the fabric, it goes into the texture of the fabric. A few coats will cover it so that you can wipe it clean. If you didn’t add the poly – the fabric would get dirty very quickly with no way to truly clean it. It will absorb some moisture/water, but not lots. It is good to stomp on to get dirt off shoes and to dry soles of shoes that came in from the rain. I have mine in my kitchen and I spill things on it all the time. I like that it gives me a colorful rug that is easy to wipe clean. I hope this helps.

  22. Hello there, Diane!

    I’m always so inspired by your ideas! I really appreciate how detailed you are in your instructions, and your images are always so bright and clear, every step of the way! I’m still a novice at all this DIY stuff, but with the right mentor (you) even I can complete a project and not be embarrassed by it!

    I look forward to the next brilliant idea you’re going to share! Thanks!

  23. Hi There,

    I love this project. I’m thinking about adding some batting to the vinyl piece so it’s a little more comfy. Has anyone made a larger area rug of this type? That’s what I’m thinking of doing.

  24. Hi, I saw your blog today. I really enjoyed reading the whole article. I found it very informative. Thanks for writing this article. I have to book marked this blog site, so I can share it with friends, I’m sure they will be going to love this stuff. It was kudos to you in sharing this blog with us. Keep it up.

  25. I LOVE this. Question – I currently have a cheap runner, some type of synthetic wool , do you think I can follow your directions using it as the backing as opposed to the vinyl? It has extra cushion for the tile floor and is the perfect size already.

  26. OMG!!! I am totally going to use this same technique for doing a back splash in my kitchen. I wanted to use fabric but didn’t know how to waterproof it. I didn’t know that you could use poly on fabric. I am sooooo excited!

    1. Hi Rea-

      Polyed fabric on your kitchen back splash – imagine the possibiilites! What a great idea. I would love to know how it turns out.

  27. Great idea for the rug!!
    I’m fairly new to this type of craft and don’t want to spend a lot on equipment all at once. Hence, no glue sprayer – so what other type of glue could be used? White glue? Modge Podge? Any suggestions?


    1. Hi Cathy-

      Spray glue is sold like spray paint – in a can – No equipment needed, but it does cost about $8 a can. White glue like Elmers would work. What you need to do is apply the glue to the vinyl and use a paint brush to smooth it out. Make sure you get the whole surface covered. Place the fabric over it and smooth it out. Let it dry overnight, before applying the poly on top of the fabric. The spray glue dries in about 5 minutes so you can continue on to the next step right away. I hope this helps you out. Thanks for connecting with me.

  28. Thank you SO much for posting this up!! I’ve been searching for a larger, inexpensive but pretty & colorful rug for my daughter’s room, and haven’t found one I liked yet.
    The painted ones intimidate me… I know fabric a whole lot better than paint, lol! So this is perfect… now to get a scrap of vinyl and the perfect fabric!

  29. Gorgeous! I linked it to my rugs post too – I really like how yours turned out!!

  30. This is fantastic, and I already snagged your URL so I can copy this (with full credit, natch). I love the custom look, how easy the project appears, and I already know how awesome urethane is when it comes to clean up. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  31. I am so going to do this! I have been looking looking looking for a fun rug for my side door entry way – that everyone uses! I know exactly which fabric I am going to use! THANK YOU!

    1. Hi Melanie-

      I just made another one that I painted as I could not find a pink fabric I liked. I bought a vinyl remnant at the flooring store for $8. It is much thicker softer vinyl than the scrap I used for the blue one . I found out there are two types of vinyl flooring – felt back – thin kind and fiber backed the thicker kind. Both work, but the fiber back one has a bit of cushioning to it. I made it longer to place by my kitchen sink. I will post the link to it next Friday when it gets published on the site.

  32. I love this idea, and I think that the duct tape will probably have enough tackines to keep the rug from sliding on a slippery floor, but if not, just add a big piece(s) of shelf liner to the back, especially around the edges, and it will not slip around.

  33. This is brilliant! I love that whole process is cheap and easy. And to think that you can now choose a rug design from the thousands of patterns at Joann’s!

  34. Thanks for sharing on DIY’ER!
    What a smart idea! I totally agree with never being able to find a rug to match perfectly!
    I’m a new follower and would love you to be mine!
    I’ve got some great things on there and coming out!
    Much love and many more blessings!

  35. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have a TON of left over vinyl that I couldn’t decide what to do with….unitl now! Personalized rugs, here I come!

  36. What an increible (and yet so simple) project. That is right up my alley….and after redoing the bathroom this week we WILL have some extra vinyl around….you got a gears turning lady. I’d love it if you’d link this project up on my Marvelous Mess party!! I’ll be picking one project to feature prominently on my sidebar for a week!! Here is the link to it:

  37. You know I’m going to have to try this, don’t you?! I LOVE it! It’s fabulous – so many possibilities! Thanks so much for sharing in the DIY Project Parade!

    Have a great week, Diane!
    Take care!

  38. I’m visiting from the DIY page, and I love that fabric! I wish I had a Joann’s nearby! lol Great idea

    1. Hi Katy-
      I think you may be able to find it at any chain type fabric store. It wasn’t an exclusive Jo-Ann’s fabric. They may have it on their website. Here is the item #
      HS-GIA NBlue Porcela 400102184514. It is $9.99 a yard, but I used coupons and got it for half price.

  39. This is a great idea-I have used vinyl remnants and cut them into shapes, painted designs and then used them as scatter rugs in bathrooms but fabric is less limiting than my painting skills!!

  40. I have been saving a piece of vinyl for years knowing it could be used for something. Now I know. Great instructions, thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Patrica-
      See – sometimes you know in advance that something good is going to come out of something we have hung on to for years. I have a few things that fall into this description in my attic and basement – just waiting for some more inspiration :)

    1. Hi Kim-

      Now I just have to go to my local flooring store and buy an inexpensive remnant of vinyl. I used all my scraps up and I want to make more rugs.

  41. AAAAAAAHCK!!! I am in love with that! I have been looking and looking for a rug for my downstairs outdoor area and this is a super-fantastic idea!!!! I know I have some vinyl in the garage and I am thinking about using dropcloths with some kind of painted design…oh my you have totally inspired me-and saved me a ton of money!!

    1. Hi Molly-

      Thanks. I am making a rug from canvas and painting it now. I made a huge one years ago for a Showhouse I did. It lasted for a long time. Now that I have made the vinyl one, I am liking it better only because it has some cushioning and doesn’t flip up like the canvas one always did.

  42. WOW! I am so excited to try this! Would I be able to make a really large one if I sew some fabric together for under my dining table? Or would that look not so good with the seams of the fabric? I can’t wait to try it either way!
    Thanks for the great idea!
    knuckle bump!

    1. Hi Tasha-
      I don’t see why not. If you can hide the seams in the design of the fabric somehow that might look ok. Or if you make the seams part of the rugs look – like it was intentional. Even if two pieces would cover the area – use three or four pieces and create the seams at even intervals across the whole rug. The seams would be part of the overall design.
      I think you would have a winner then.

  43. Ah! So jealous of your weather! We’re stuck in the freezing 20s right now! I love your mat! BRILLIANT I TELL YOU! ;)

  44. UM BRILLIANT. I have had the hardest time finding a rug for our entry way. Now I have all the options that have opened up because of this idea. THANKS for sharing.

    I will have to let you know how it turns out.

  45. Diane, you did it again! This is such a clever and practical idea. I bought a kitchen rug that is rubberized. I was amazed at how fast our feet got with the laminate wood floors. Within a month my new “rug” was ruined. I went and got a cloth one with a rubber back. I love your idea. You could have rugs for different seasons and created place mats and other accessories to match.

  46. This is one of the best ideas I’ve seen for making your own rugs. I love the durability and how you can coordinate it to your taste.

    Great idea! xo Michelle

  47. I tried to post earlier from work and it wouldn’t let me. GREAT IDEA- Love it…I am going to make one for the entry door to the deck off our kitchen! I have several old scraps in the basement. Hugs- Diana

  48. I really like this idea Diane. What a great inexpensive way to bring some color in. Some area rugs that are so colorful and pretty are also very pricey. I think it would be great in a kids playroom since you can just wipe up spills.

    1. Hi Dianne-

      The process is very similar to the vintage craft of painting floorcloths from canvas. Using the vinyl as backing makes it so much more sturdy then a canvas one. The way to make sure it stays clean is to intially bulid up the coats of polyurethane on the fabric. Once that is done – the rug can easily be wiped clean.