How to Make Canvas Floor Cloth

Written by judy filarecki
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How to Make Canvas Floor Cloth
Handmade Canvas Floor Cloth (Contemporary Abstract Cloth Fabric Background Pattern image by James Phelps from

Canvas floor cloths have been around for centuries according to HGTV. They were made mainly from heavy canvas that had to put on a stretch frame and coated with several coats of shellac. Today, a modern method is used that is much more environmentally friendly. It is adaptable to all skill levels allowing you to be as creative as you want.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pre-washed heavy canvas, duck cloth or denim; primed or unprimed
  • Iron
  • Gesso: white, black or clear
  • 3 or 4 inch synthetic bristle paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Yard Stick
  • White glue
  • Sewing machine with heavy duty needle
  • Pencil
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Stencils or rubber stamps (optional)
  • Acrylic paints
  • Various artist paint brushes for acrylics
  • Poly-acrylic or non-yellowing latex polyurethane
  • Liquid rubber backing or non-slip padding (optional)

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  1. 1

    Purchase the heavy canvas, duck or denim at least 4 inches larger than you want the finished cloth to be. Wash the fabric if it is not pre-washed and press to get rid of the wrinkles.

    How to Make Canvas Floor Cloth
    Heavy canvas, duck or denim (art canvas image by amlet from
  2. 2

    Apply gesso to the cloth once it is dry. Use three coats on each side of the fabric. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next. Use white gesso if you are going to put other background colours over it. Use clear gesso if you want the grain of the fabric to show through. Use black gesso if you want a striking effect behind bright colours.

    How to Make Canvas Floor Cloth
    Black gesso background (Traditional Floral and Cloth Fabric Background Pattern image by James Phelps from
  3. 3

    Square up your material and trim it to 2 inches larger than the finished cloth. Seal the cut edges with white glue. Fold over 1 inch on all edges and press them in place. Sew them with a heavy duty sewing machine needle.

    How to Make Canvas Floor Cloth
    Iron folded edge (ironing clothes image by weim from
  4. 4

    Sketch your drawing or patterns on the cloth with a pencil. Draw free hand. Trace patterns with stencils. Stamp on an image. Use the yard stick to draw straight lines.

    How to Make Canvas Floor Cloth
    Free hand drawing (The cheerful picture drawn by lipstick image by Mykola Velychko from
  5. 5

    Paint your images on the canvas with acrylic paint and a variety of brushes. For straight lines, lightly iron on blue painter's tape as guides for cleaner lines. If you use stencils, tape them in place temporarily to keep them from moving. Allow the finished cloth to dry overnight.

    How to Make Canvas Floor Cloth
    Painting with acrylics (body painting image by Cat from
  6. 6

    Apply two or three coats of poly-acrylic or polyurethane over the painted surface. Use a clean synthetic bristle brush and long smooth strokes. Let each layer dry completely (probably overnight) before applying the next layer.

    How to Make Canvas Floor Cloth
    Finished floor cloth (Traditional Floral and Cloth Fabric Background Pattern image by James Phelps from
  7. 7

    Prevent slipping of the floor cloth by applying a liquid rubber backing or place the cloth on a non-skid pad. You could also use it as a wall hanging.

    How to Make Canvas Floor Cloth
    Floor cloth wall hanging (Table near the painting with a lamp above image by Peter Ivanov from

Tips and warnings

  • Try to work on a smooth, level surface where the floor cloth can remain undisturbed throughout the painting process.
  • Refer to the Resources below for ideas on where to purchase supplies.
  • The poly-acrylic and polyurethane should be used in a well ventilated area. Applying it in the garage where you can have the door open while doing it, is a good solution. Close the door in between coats to keep the floor cloth out of the elements.
  • Avoid applying it on a windy day where you might get a lot of dust and other unwanted things attaching themselves to the wet surface.

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