How To Turn a Tablecloth into a Rug

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Tuohy
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Who doesn’t love area rugs? They are the perfect accessory to brighten up any room, patio or deck. A new rug is an instant makeover for any space.

In my search for a colorful, stain-proof, child-proof rug for our playroom, I researched outdoor rugs, which (despite the name) can be used indoors, and promise more stain and water-proofing than your traditional indoor rug. Since the purpose of this rug will be for a playroom, a key search term was “budget,” and I came across the idea of turning a tablecloth into an outdoor rug, offering the added benefit of repurposing one of the many tablecloths that I have stored in my kitchen.

A tablecloth-turned-rug is the perfect, inexpensive solution for areas that see lots of dirt, high traffic or for hardwood or concrete floors in need of some sprucing up.

Here’s how I turned a tablecloth into a durable, colorful waterproof rug:


A 52” x 70” cotton tablecloth (not pre-coated) $9

A 56” x 86” rug pad ($20)

Double sided carpet tape ($5)

Satin finish, water-based polyurethane ($48, you’ll get at least 5 “rugs” out of one can)

Foam Floor Applicator ($13, refills $4)

Plastic drop cloth $2

The polyurethane boosts the tablecloth’s durability, as stains just sit on the surface and can be easily taken outside and hosed off.

Step 1

Spread your drop cloth down and lay out your tablecloth. I did this outdoors, but a garage would be a better option, due to less breeze and potential debris sticking in your varnish.

Step 2

Pour a small amount of polyurethane onto the cloth and use the spreader to move it evenly around. It’s best to do this in sections, depending on the size of your rug, to make sure you don’t miss a spot. Let it dry for about 10 minutes and then lift the rug off the drop cloth and re-position, so it doesn’t get stuck to the floor.  Allow it to dry for 30 minutes (or follow directions on the can) before applying another coat. Repeat this process for three coats.

Step 3

Remove the tablecloth from the drop cloth and lay it out flat on a protected surface to allow it to fully dry, preferably overnight. If you are planning on using your new rug outdoors, you’ll want to flip it over once dry and give the underside a poly coating too.

Step 4

Once dry, lay your rug pad over the tablecloth and cut it to fit, about an inch shorter all around than the tablecloth.

Step 5

Bring the tablecloth to the room where you plan on using it in. Lay it upside down and measure out your double-sided tape. Attach it to the bottom of the tablecloth in a widespread pattern and then carefully remove the top layer of tape.

Step 6

Starting from the bottom, methodically push down the rug pad onto the double-sided tape, making sure it is taught and well-secured. This process helps give the resulting rug more shape and definition than the original tablecloth had.

Step 7

Turn your tablecloth over and admire your brand new waterproof rug, suitable for indoor or outdoor use! When it gets dirty, just give it a mop or take it outside and hose it down.

All in, this new 5 ft. by 7 ft. rug cost $48, factoring in that I will be able to use some of my supplies to create more fun, colorful rugs for my home. I already have my eye on the perfect pattern for my screened in porch.

Jennifer Tuohy lives in Charleston, South Carolina, and writes about her upcycling projects for The Home Depot. To view a broad selection of traditional area rugs, you can visit Home Depot’s Home Decorators website. 

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