Make your own floor mat by adapting a printed design you love, and add a personal touch and graphic punch to any room.
How to Paint a Floor Mat
James Carrier


  • decorative design on paper
  • preprimed canvas floorcloth, 2 feet by 3 feet (available at crafts stores)
  • latex enamel or artist’s acrylic (background color), 1 quart
  • latex enamel or artist’s acrylic (design color), 8 ounces to 16 ounces
  • matte clear acrylic, 1 quart


  • art projector, available at crafts stores
  • paint tray
  • foam paint roller
  • ruler
  • masking tape, 1 inch or wider
  • pencil, preferably 2B (softer than standard No. 2)
  • artist’s brush with flat, rounded tip, in a width suitable for your design
  • scissors
  • fabric glue or double-sided carpet tape


1. Copy the design. Choose a design or decorative pattern from a book, or print one from the Web. Check the specifications on the art projector to determine the largest image you can work with. Then photocopy the pattern you selected to make it a size suitable for your floor-cloth. Make a black-and-white copy; it will project best because the contrast is most vivid.

2. Paint the base coat. Pour the background color into the paint tray. With the roller, apply one coat, covering the entire front of the floorcloth. Let dry. Then, apply a second coat and let that dry.

3. Mark the hemming line. With the ruler, mark a 1-inch allowance on all the edges of the floorcloth to allow for hemming later. Only the image you paint within the hemming line will show later, but for ease of painting you can extend the design into the border.

4. Project and trace the pattern. Use the masking tape to hang the floorcloth on a wall in a room you can darken (so the projected image will be easier to see). Set the art projector on a chair, bookcase, or other flat surface that’s the right height to be even with the midpoint of the floorcloth as it is hanging. Place the photocopied pattern beneath the projector and move the projector and its support until the image appears on the floorcloth in the desired size and within the hem allowance line. Use the pencil to trace the pattern onto the floorcloth. If the background color is dark, use chalk or a white pencil.

5. Paint the pattern. With the artist’s brush, apply the second color between the lines to complete the design. If you are painting a light color onto a dark color and the first coat doesn’t cover completely, you may need two coats. Let the paint dry between each layer.

6. Varnish. Pour the clear acrylic into the cleaned paint tray. With a clean roller, apply three thin coats of the clear acrylic. Let dry com­pletely between coats.

7. Finish the edges. To create a hem with tidy mitered corners, use the pencil to mark the floorcloth edges 2 inches from each corner in both directions. With the ruler, draw a line connecting each pair of marks. Cut along each line with the scissors to remove a triangle of fabric from each corner. Fold under 1 inch on each edge of the floorcloth. Use fabric glue or double-sided carpet tape to secure the folds. If you use fabric glue, place books over the folds on the floorcloth to help set the glue as it dries; if you use tape, simply press firmly down on the floorcloth. Let the glue dry completely, and allow the clear acrylic finish to cure for at least a week before walking on your new mat.

First-timer tips

Start painting along one edge of the floorcloth and rotate it as needed so you don’t need to reach over fresh paint, risking a smear.

If you use artist’s acrylics, and the paint looks thick, thin it with a little water before use. Thick paint may crack when people walk on the floor mat.

Style note 

Simple, high-contrast patterns work best because the projected image will show up well and the design will be easy to execute.