How to Paint a Permanent Outdoor Rug for Under $150 ~ On Concrete or Rooftop or Deck or Patio or Wherever

20160527_075922We have a rooftop patio, awesome for watching the sun set, seeing planes take off from LAX over that hill in the distance, snooping on goings-on (a few years back, Modern Family filmed an episode directly below, FUN watching). Unfortunately, the sun up there is brutal. In a single year, our outdoor rug disintegrated. Lightbulb moment – I’ll PAINT a rug right onto the deck. As in, ME doing the painting.

Doesn’t Google have all the answers? Apparently not. “How to paint a rug on cement” produced no satisfactory How-To’s. UNTIL NOW!! Here is THE tutorial…

For a design, HOUZZ was my go-to design website for ideas and patterns I could do without freaking out. This pix (below) was safe – just two colors and unmatching lines. (If you are more clever than me, feel free to stencil a prettier design!) Per Larry’s research on the correct paint, I went to the Dunn Edwards Paint Store for supplies and courage (as my initial idea was to hire painters, but considering how many steps this would be, fuggedaboudit).

I blocked out a full week to coddle my aching back, plus the deck is wet early AM from ocean dew, and then so bloody hot and sunny, I couldn’t paint mid-day. In fact, as I taped my lines, my shoes were burning my feet.



SUPPLIES – Total cost: $148.99. Cheaper than a woven rug.

Step 1 – WASH THE SURFACE. Hose it first, then use TSP, really hot water, scrub brush and an old towel to wipe it up. Let dry completely. TSP removes grime that might keep the undercoat from adhering. You can also sand the surface, but that is always unappealing to me because there’s then sawdust to clean up.



Step 2 – TAPE EDGES of the rug’s outline with Frog Tape, using a measuring tape and Sharpie for a few dots to work out the area. NO walls are even, so I found it best to mark start places, tack down one end of the tape, gently pull the entire length, tack the second end down and then fuss with it to get what appears to be a straight line. Once the overall outline was taped, Larry had the chance to weigh in. He was right, too big. I pulled in three sides by six inches. Walk away, come back, looked better.

Frog Tape is painters tape that squishes into lumpy surfaces to lessen the chance of paint bleeding (nobody is allowed to look too closely at my final work, however). Rub the tape down tightly to the surface. The package says you can safely leave this on for 21 days, or 7 if full sun. Already I was questioning if I could get it done in a week. Oh wait, my taping is TWO phases.




STEP 3 – APPLY SEALER. No turning back, friends. Get out the paint roller and GO. Roll a layer of undercoat to help the paints adhere and last longer. I used a 3/4” nap Rough Coater roller sponge and plastic roller liner and a sheet of cardboard so I could drag my supplies as I went along. This sealer goes on like milky water, first a blue haze then dries clear. It took 45 minutes to do this layer, and then let it cure overnight.





STEP 4 – BACKGROUND PAINT. Lucked out! The next morning was overcast!! I painted an off-white layer. Yes to a second coat, it was obvious I had many “holidays” (my dad’s word for missed paint spots). During the 6 hour dry time, I put the wet roller and paint tray (after pouring the remaining paint back into the can) into a plastic garbage bag, capped the paint can and put everything in the shade. After painting the second coat, I threw away that roller cover and tray liner. After an hour of drying, I GENTLY pulled up the outline tape. Nice! Dry overnight.





STEP 5 – TAPE THE STRIPES. Damn, THIS morning was SUNNY. But I dreamed all night about stripes! First, I put down the edge, then I worked from the middle-out. Measuring to the middle point, I taped my first wide stripe, then two stripes the same width between the middle and the end, same system of tacking down one end, unrolling the tape, tacking the other and then lifting and setting it down a few times until straight. Then no more measuring, I went rogue on the rest – put down a strip on the left side, mirror it on the right. Stand back. Put down a narrow stripe on left, then mirror. I kept going until I ran out of tape. It was an “eyeball” job, DON’T DO THIS STEP ON A WINDY DAY – you will be taping everything (hands, hair) except straight lines. Once all lined and straight, rub the tape down well for a good seal.

This may be a no-brainer but to visualize the outcome of colors, EVERYTHING GREEN will be white, and everything white will be the second color, gray. The more tape, the more white stripes.

Work in patches to not get overwhelmed. Yes to a second coat again; I put all my supplies into trash bags, in the shade to wait six hours. Being a cloudless day, both layers of paint, I was literally snow blind.





STEP 6 – PEEL OFF TAPE – drumroll. I let that final coat dry for one hour, then gently peeled one stripe at a time. Ahhhhhh!



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