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An Unexpected Way to Revive an Old Carpet

What do you do when you're stuck with old, worn-out carpet but you can't afford to replace it? Here's an unusual suggestion: paint it!
Time: 2 Weeks Cost: $55.00 Difficulty: Easy
I needed a way to bring some rock-n-roll attitude into this music room, and I couldn't afford to replace the nasty old beige carpet.
I'd seen a few carpet-painting tutorials (all done with cheap outdoor area rugs), and when I suggested this option to Chris, he agreed that it would be pretty hard to make the old carpet any nastier than it already was. In my mind, "I suppose you can't make it any worse" is completely equivalent to "That sounds like a fantastic idea!" So with that rousing endorsement, I dove in. I started by bleaching the carpet in an attempt to even out the tone and hopefully mellow out some of the stains.
I like to think that it made a huge difference. But in reality, well...maybe I just don't want to admit that I wasted several hours of my day. Anyway. After bleaching, I let it dry out completely. When it was finally ready to paint, I basically reverse-engineered a method that I've used to get paint OUT of carpet when I accidentally spill and I'm not using a drop cloth. (Don't act like that's never happened to you.) I used a pump sprayer to wet sections of the carpet, then used a wet-dry vac to suck most of the water out. The damp carpet absorbs paint much more evenly than dry carpet. Then I rolled on a mixture of 2-parts-paint-to-1-part-water. And I used a scrub brush to work the paint evenly into the carpet.
After painting, I let it dry for a couple of days. Then I added the pièce de résistance: the stencil.
Once again, I watered down the paint. Then I spent 10 hours on my knees, using a 1-inch stencil brush to cover an entire 11x13-foot room with the coolest stencil I could find. And it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.
If you'd like more details on my carpet-painting process, check out this blog post: http://www.sarahsbigidea.com/2014/11/magic-carpet-ride/

Materials used for this project:

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To see more: http://www.sarahsbigidea.com/2014/11/magic-carpet-ride/

  • Debbi W
    Debbi W Panama City, FL
    on Nov 17, 2014

    looks very nice. I painted the whole room size carpet, at my mother's house. I used latex paint and it held up pretty good, after a few years of the vaccum, it started to fade but by then she could afford new, so I say go for it. Yours is very cool. Rock On!

  • Miriam I
    Miriam I Bay Shore, NY
    on Nov 17, 2014

    I love this a whole lot of much. :-)

  • Hannah V
    Hannah V Brooklyn, NY
    on Nov 18, 2014


  • Karryn Dahl Conlin
    Karryn Dahl Conlin Lefors, TX
    on Nov 18, 2014

    does it make the carpet stiff?

    • Sarah's Big Idea
      Sarah's Big Idea Minneapolis, MN
      on Nov 18, 2014

      @Karryn Dahl Conlin It added a little crustiness, but vacuuming softened it up a bit. Now it's not noticeably different from the unpainted carpet in the rest of the house. I wouldn't try it on a plusher carpet, though...stick to flat-weave or berber.

  • Sandytheisenmitchel
    Sandytheisenmitchel Fort Wayne, IN
    on Nov 18, 2014

    Great idea!

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