My husband and I bought our first house two years ago. At only 1,200 square feet, I was focused on making every inch count when it came to furniture and decor.
As our family grew (we welcomed our first daughter in 2019), I realized my living space could be doubled by sprucing up the backyard. The back patio had great bones with a (fairly) new concrete slab, wood pergola, and large grass space.
My goal was to create a comfortable living space without spending too much money (outdoor patio furniture is expensive!). I purchased consignment furniture but knew something just wasn’t quite right: the concrete slab! The cracks and rust stains throughout the slab didn’t make the space as inviting, so I thought, maybe a rug would help?
With the unpredictable weather in Utah, I realized outdoor rugs may not last. That’s when I discovered the idea of a concrete rug, a stencil painted directly onto concrete to give the illusion of a rug. So, I decided to tackle it… and I’m so glad I did. Keep reading for a full tutorial or skip to the video tutorial.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cricut® machine (or scissors to hand cut a design)
- Concrete paint (two colors), I used Behr paint brand in colors white cloud and pacific
- Mylar (or vinyl)
- Concrete filler and smooth rod caulk gun* (optional)
- Concrete cleaner or etching primer
- Painter’s tape
- Paint tray
- Chalk line
- Polyurethane for paint sealant
- Stencil brush (multiple sizes)
- Paint roller with outdoor brushes (for first layer of paint)
- Outdoor paint brush (for edges of patio)
- Power washer (optional)
*Only needed if you have cracks in your concrete that you would like to fill.
Step 1: Find a design and test it out
I researched (literally) hundreds of different floor patterns until I decided on a repeating pattern in art deco style. After searching “stencil” and “tile” in Design Space®, I found a pattern I absolutely loved: a bit art deco with softer lines. It is image number #M2358107, “ceramic tile.” I sliced the image into four pieces because I had such a large patio to fill.
- Here’s my community project in Design Space.
- If you don’t have a machine, download the SVG pattern and size it to your project. You can print and use it as a template.
Each piece fit on to a 12″ x 12″ mat. All I had to do was to cut on two 12″ x 24″ mats to get my stencils, but you can also use a regular 12″ x 12″ mat too. I recommend using a brand new or green Cricut mat with your machine.
Step 2: Prep your concrete patio
It’s very important that you have a freshly cleaned surface. You don’t want to paint over dirt and rust. That’s why a power washer is key to this process. While you could clean the surface by hand, I wouldn’t recommend it. A power washer cleans your surface more efficiently and with much more ease.
We bought a gas power washer but they are also available to rent at your local home improvement store. Make sure that your patio is completely dry before you start painting. I let the patio dry overnight before putting the first paint layer on.
I also wanted to fill the cracks. This isn’t totally necessary, but I wanted to fill areas I knew would be problematic when painting. A caulk gun is useful with the concrete filler to help dispense it more easily into the cracks.
Step 3: Paint your base layer on patio
After testing a painted stencil on bare concrete, I decided I didn’t like that look and opted to paint a base layer first. With my paint roller, I proceeded to roll the paint on in three layers. Concrete paint dries really fast, but I still suggest at least one hour of dry-time between layers.
Step 4: Prep for your stencil
Once your base layer is completely dry, you’ll outline your stencil area. Since I didn’t want to take the stencil all the way to the edges of the patio, I used a chalkline to create an outline. A chalkline drops a perfectly straight line across your surface so your stencil stays even all the way across. To apply the chalkline, pull the string out (it will have chalk on it), attach the edge of it to the edge of your patio, and snap it down to create the line on your surface.
Step 5: Start your stencil
This step definitely takes the longest because you want to be careful as you’re painting each stencil. Take each piece of the stencil and lay painter’s tape around the edges. Grab your large stencil brush and blot the paint on slowly across the full stencil. Blotting is an important technique so you’re not pushing the paint too hard where it will bleed over the lines of the stencil.
Let your stencil dry for 5-10 minutes before moving on to the next stencil.
Repeat this process for multiple rows. My stencil had 4.5 rows by 6.5 rows. I reused the same four stencil pieces all the way across the patio. However, in hindsight, I would highly suggest cutting more than one full stencil shape to help the process go faster.
Step 6: Seal your stencil
I would suggest using a sealant on your stencil, especially if you live in a place with changing weather patterns. I used a polyurethane spray sealant across the entire patio. There are a lot of different options but the spray seemed really convenient to me. I sprayed two coats and let each coat dry for thirty minutes.
Now you’re done and can enjoy a beautifully designed patio that you did yourself! I learned a LOT during the making of this project. Overall, it took me 3-4 days to complete (you could likely do it faster if you block out an entire day for the stencil part).
If I had to give three tips, I’d say:
- Make sure to really clean your surface before starting
- Choose an appropriate paint and test the colors before deciding
- Cut out multiple stencils to make the process go faster
Also, I should add, it helps to have a best friend who is a DIY superstar! A huge thanks goes to my best friend, Chelsea Hentkowski, who gave me a ton of tips and tricks along the way. You may recognize her project from the DIY fireplace mantel.
Concrete “rug” video tutorial
Here’s a video tutorial so you can follow along as I made my rug.
Looking for more DIY home inspiration?
Return to the Cricut Guide to DIY Home Projects.