A custom hand painted canvas floorcloth rug is a family heirloom that can be passed on for generations. Even though we now have wall to wall carpet in many rooms, there are still hard surfaces to cover with beautiful floorcloth rugs made by your own hand. Floorcloth rugs can easily be made without a lot of expensive equipment or tools.
You will need:
- Paper and transfer paper such as carbon paper or graphite paper
- Canvas cut to size
- Stencils and stamps
- Stencil brushes and paint brushes
- Straight edge, tape measure and carpenter’s square
- Needle and thread or sewing machine for hemming
Heavy duty canvas should be 12 ounce weight or heavier. Painters drop cloth can be found in 12 ounce canvas and is generally good for smaller projects. For larger projects you will want a heavier weight, either 18 or 24 ounce. The larger the rug the heavier the weight you will use.
You can buy primed or unprimed canvas at craft supply stores, fabric stores and home improvement DIY stores. Some stores offer hemmed, pre-cut and primed floorcloth blanks. There are also online resources for floorcloth canvas. Dick Blick and Canvasworks Floorcloths are two online sources. Consider using heavy weight colored Duck Canvas. In the case of using colored canvas you will use a clear primer.
For large projects use a good quality acrylic latex house paint. You can use indoor or outdoor paint. Check the can to make sure it is water clean up. Using oil based, solvent clean up paints can be toxic and messy so it is not recommended. For smaller projects such as placemats or small throw rugs you can use craft paint or any fabric paint, however, these will be more expensive. You may want to check your local paint store for discounted mis-tints.
For the protective finishing clear coat use a water based polyurethane. Tip: Never shake a can of polyurethane as the bubbles will show in your clear coat.
Cut the canvas to desired size adding two inches in length and width to allow for hem.
Hem the canvas all around mitering the corners. You can do this on a sewing machine or by hand. You may want to consider taking your canvas to an alterations shop or shoemaker for hemming if you are not able to do this yourself.
Prime the canvas front and back with two or three coats of background color. Let one coat dry then turn it over and do a coat on the other side alternating sides as each side dries.
Create your design on paper while your primer coats are drying. For your first design try something simple like a geometric design. You can also use pre-cut stencils purchased from a craft store. Stamps are another method that you can use. It is recommended that you work out the entire design on paper first especially for beginners. As you gain skill and confidence you may want to go directly to the canvas. Go to Google images for floorcloths to get design ideas and inspiration.
Transfer your design on to the primed floorcloth using carbon paper or graphite paper or other transfer method. Light pencil lines can easily be erased or painted over. If you are creating a geometric design you can use painters tape to tape of the design. Tip: if using painters tape, apply a light coat of the background color to the edges after it is in place and allow it to dry. This will help seal the tape to prevent the design color from seeping under it.
Paint your design. Use several light coats rather than one thick coat. If using stencils be careful not to overload your stencil brush. Stenciling is easy but takes a little practice. Use a scrap piece of canvas to practice if you have not used stencils before. The stencil brush is flat and should be used in a flat circular motion. Tilting the brush will give unsatisfactory results.
Allow your floorcloth to dry for a couple of days and possibly up to a week before applying the clear coat protective finish.
Apply polyurethane. Use three to four coats on the top allowing each coat to dry thoroughly. Remember to not shake the can of polyurethane - stir gently.
Using Your Floorcloth
Let your floorcloth dry for a couple of weeks before putting it down to be used. Floorcloths are not suitable to use on deep pile carpet because they will crack and be damaged as they are walked on. They need to be put on a hard surface or a flat indoor/outdoor carpet. Anything soft and cushiony under a floorcloth will cause damage to your floorcloth. Use double stick carpet tape or similar product to keep it in place.
Maintaining Your Floorcloth
Vacuum or dust your floorcloth and wipe clean with a mild household cleaner or soap and sponge.
Every two to three years, depending on use, reapply a coating of polyurethane.
Do not roll up tightly and do roll it so the design faces outward.
Making a floorcloth rug of your own design provides a unique accessory that can be created to suit your furnishings and décor. Be sure to sign it - it’s a work of art!
You may want to try hooking rugs as well! There are four basic rug hooking techniques that can be easily learned. Another easy method if Braided Rag Rug.