How to Turn an Indoor Rug into an Outdoor Rug ( 5 DIY Hacks)

Outdoor rugs are a fantastic way to spruce up outside spaces like decking or patios, but they can be expensive. Using an indoor rug outside is a cost-effective and stylish way to get the same effect.

Indoor rugs come in a broader range of colors, patterns, and materials than outdoor rugs. They’re usually softer underfoot and add brightness, giving a sense of the indoors outdoors. Repurposing an indoor rug that you might otherwise throw away is also a great way to recycle.

If you’re wondering, “How to turn an indoor rug into an outdoor rug” or “How can you use an indoor rug outside?” we have the answers. Simply follow the five-step tutorial below on turning an indoor rug into an outdoor rug.

Can you use an indoor rug outdoors?

Yes, you can put an indoor rug outside (and you can use an outdoor rug inside!), just remember to keep it clean and dry. You may wish to use a darker, more durable material outside, and bear in mind that fabric or tassels around the edges of the rug will wear out more quickly outdoors.

It’s much better to properly prepare and waterproof your indoor rug before using it outside, which we will show you how to do below.

Why turn an indoor rug into an outdoor rug?

An indoor-outdoor rug makes a great addition to your outside space, either with a larger outdoor rug underneath or on its own. It creates area definition and adds a sense of coziness, particularly as indoor rugs are usually softer underfoot.

As long as they are used with non-slip rug pads, indoor rugs can be used outdoors. This will prevent ripping and stretching of the rug by soaking up rainwater.

Indoor rugs also come in a greater variety of colors and patterns than outdoor rugs, giving you more creative opportunities. You don’t need much time or specialized tools to design a look that sets off your outdoor space.

Indoor-outdoor rugs also help to protect flooring in spaces like porches, patios, hallways, kitchens, utilities, and other rooms with heavy, dirty, damp traffic.

If you have an old indoor rug that you’d otherwise throw away, creating a DIY indoor-outdoor rug is a cost-effective, stylish, and easy way to repurpose.

How to turn an indoor rug into an outdoor rug

Follow the simple five-step procedure below to create your indoor-outdoor rug. Before you start, you’ll need some tools and materials.

To prepare your indoor-outdoor rug, you need:

  • Tarpaulin/drop cloth
  • Measuring tape/ruler
  • Vacuum cleaner

Scrubbing brush, detergent suitable for rugs, and a bucket or garden hose OR you can use a carpet cleaner.

If you want to waterproof your indoor-outdoor rug, you need:

To modify the size and design of your indoor-outdoor rug, you need:

  • Carpet knife
  • Marker pen
  • Measuring tape/ruler
  • Fabric glue
  • Paintbrush or paint roller
  • Paint or spray paint
  • Masking tape
  • Stencils

Once you’ve got your tools and materials prepared, you can proceed.

Step 1: Measuring

Measure the space for your indoor-outdoor area rug; then, if the rug you want to use is too big, you’ll know how much to trim off.

Step 2: Cutting the rug to size

(If your indoor rug is already the correct size for your outdoor space, skip this step and move on to step three).

On the back of your indoor rug, mark out the dimensions using the measuring tape or ruler and marker pen so you know exactly where to cut. Use a carpet knife to trim your mat to the required size. Apply fabric glue to the rug edges you’ve just cut to ensure your rug doesn’t fray. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

Step 3: Cleaning the rug

Prepare the rug by vacuuming it thoroughly. Some indoor carpets are machine washable, but not all. Check first, as you may be able to clean the rug in your washing machine if it’s small enough.

If you have a carpet cleaner, follow the manufacturer’s operating guidelines. Alternatively, using detergent and water outside, you can clean your rug by hand. Place a tarpaulin/drop cloth on the floor to keep the rug from getting dirty as you’re washing it.

Step 4: Painting the rug

Painting is a fantastic way to give an old indoor rug a new lease of life. Remember to apply primer to the rug and allow it to dry before painting. Primer improves water resistance and creates a base layer for painting.

Lay the tarp or a rug pad under the rug to prevent paint from staining the surface. The next step depends on the look you want for your rug. You may wish to paint the whole rug another color, in which case, apply a coat of paint with a roller and allow it to dry completely. If it’s patchy, apply another layer of color to the paler patches.

Alternatively, you may want to get creative and redesign your rug; for example, you could paint stripes on it. Place masking tape on the rug to keep the lines straight and prevent the paint from bleeding through. Apply the paint with a roller and allow it to dry thoroughly before removing the tape.

Stencils are a great way to create a unique look. Stick the stencil design to your rug with masking tape, then roller, brush, or spray paint your design.

Step 5: Waterproofing your rug

Waterproofing your indoor-outdoor rug is a simple procedure that’ll prolong its life and prevent damp and unpleasant odors. Putting a waterproof rug pad on the back of your rug will also prevent it from slipping by providing a waterproof layer.

Start by measuring and cutting the waterproof fabric to fit the underneath of the rug. Attach it using carpet tape with the waterproof side facing the rug’s underside. Next, stick the waterproof non-slip pad to the back of the rug using silicone adhesive.

Turn the rug over and apply a coat of waterproof fabric spray. Once it’s dry, apply a second coat. Store the rug somewhere clean and allow it to dry for 24 hours before applying liquid to see if the rug is repelling water. If any moisture is soaking into the rug rather than running off, repeat the process and apply another two coats.

An indoor-outdoor rug shouldn’t need more than four coats of waterproof spray. Once the rug’s dry, you can begin using it. Do not forget to use a waterproofing fabric seal during the process.

You now know how to produce your own DIY indoor-outdoor rug in five easy steps.

How do you use indoor rugs outside?

We’ve answered the question, “Can you make an indoor rug an outdoor rug?” But how do you use your new indoor-outdoor rug?

Using indoor carpet outside helps to define a space. For example, on a porch or decking, you can use it on its own or place it on top of a larger outdoor rug to break up the lines and add color.

You can use indoor rugs outside to help protect the flooring underneath from heavy foot traffic, keep the surface underneath clean and prevent damage from heavy outdoor furniture. Indoor rugs help create comfort in your outdoor area and bring the feeling of indoors outdoors.

How to Care for Indoor Rugs outdoors

When using an indoor-outdoor rug, it’s advisable to waterproof the rug with spray and pads before using it. See the FAQs for step-by-step instructions on waterproofing.

Store your indoor-outdoor rug in a dry place when not in use to keep it clean and dry and prolong the rug’s life. If your indoor-outdoor rug gets wet, dry it thoroughly before storing or using it again to prevent dampness and odors.

To keep your indoor-outdoor rug clean, simply vacuum it and use an appropriate detergent or a carpet cleaner. Again, make sure the rug’s fully dry before use or storage.

How long will outdoor rugs last outside?

Outdoor rugs usually come in darker colors due to the level of dirt outside, and they’re already waterproof. Made from tough, durable materials, outdoor rugs are designed to withstand heavy outdoor use.

How long an outdoor rug lasts outside depends on how much use it has and whether you store your outdoor rug in a dry place after use. Also, it depends on the floor type, such as a concrete patio or wooden deck. If your outdoor rug gets wet, dry it properly. Well-cared-for outdoor rugs can last for years.

FAQs – How to turn an indoor rug into an outdoor rug

Can you spray a rug to make it waterproof?

Yes, you can cover the indoor rug with waterproof fabric spray to make it more robust for outdoor use and help prevent mildew and mold growth.

Spraying is a cheap and quick way to protect your indoor-outdoor rug. Simply spray a layer of waterproof fabric paint over the top of the rug, allow it to dry, and spray another layer.

Leave it for 24 hours before moisture testing, and then if required, repeat the process. Don’t forget the underneath of your rug will trap moisture, so it’s worth using waterproof fabric and pads as well.

Can you waterproof the back of a rug?

Absolutely! Waterproofing the back of the rug is a great way to help prevent mildew and mold from forming on damp materials. It also prevents your rug from slipping.

You can waterproof your rug in a couple of simple steps outlined under the heading above: “How to turn an indoor rug into an outdoor rug.” Always remember to place a waterproof fabric underneath while at it.

What can you use for an outdoor rug?

With the proper maintenance and storage, any indoor rug should give you many years of service as an indoor-outdoor rug. Think about size, shape, and color when selecting an indoor rug to use outside.

Indoor rugs consist of various materials, including polyester, wool, polypropene, cotton, jute, and sisal, all of which you can use as outdoor rugs. Consider the potential durability of the rug material in outdoor conditions. Will it be easy to keep clean, and can it withstand frequent heavy use?

Certain materials, like wool, or rugs with fabric or tassels on the edges, will quickly lose their quality under heavy outdoor use. Other materials, like polypropylene, are more robust and better suited for indoor-outdoor rugs.

Can a polyester rug be used outdoors?

Yes. While it’s worth considering the durability of different rug materials in outdoor settings and under heavy footfall, any rug material will function as an inside-outside rug. That includes polyester, which is tough and easy to maintain.

What happens when an indoor outdoor carpet gets wet?

If an indoor-outdoor carpet gets wet, it can develop mold, mildew, and a foul odor. It’ll be difficult to clean, and the carpet could deteriorate significantly.

If you use the indoor-outdoor rug on top of another outdoor rug or have a surface like wood under it, moisture can get trapped underneath. Therefore, anything under your indoor-outdoor rug will go moldy and eventually rot. To avoid this, you can use a water-resistant rug below, or place vinyl grip pads underneath.

When using an indoor carpet outside, avoid leaving it sitting in water. Should your rug get wet, ensure you clean it thoroughly and leave it to dry before storage or use.

Bringing an indoor-outdoor carpet inside for safe storage when not in use protects it from moisture. Additionally, waterproofing an indoor-outdoor carpet protects it and makes it easier to clean and dry.


Turning an indoor rug into an outdoor rug is an affordable and simple way to creatively enhance outdoor spaces. Using the five easy steps detailed above, you can create a cost-effective DIY indoor-outdoor rug that complements your outdoor space perfectly.

The only thing you need to do then is to sit back in the sunshine and enjoy!

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