Make A Traditional Oil Cloth Rug

Give ordinary fabric a treatment borrowed from the early settlers to turn it into a statement floor covering.  

Make A Traditional Oil Cloth Rug

A replica floor runner kept at Old Government House in Parramatta, NSW was the inspiration for this rug project.

The oilcloth was made in 1996 but it represents the prevalence of the style and its many uses for early settlers.

With materials in short supply, temporary dwellings and floor and wall coverings were made from what was available, namely canvas sailcloth that was treated with paint, turpentine and boiled linseed oil.

Oilcloth had the added advantages of being semi-waterproof and well suited to warm temperatures.

Prepare the materials
The replica oilcloth rug on display at Old Government House in Sydney
Handyman Magazine

This project takes a few weeks as it requires the application of at least eight coats of a turpentine and linseed oil mixture, with a drying time of days between coats, then four coats of paint.

We used a 1500 x 2100mm pre-primed canvas from an art supplies shop.

The stretcher frame was cut from four 1.8m lengths of 42mm x 19mm DAR pine with the corners cut from a 200 x 400 x 3mm sheet of plywood.

Be patient with the coats of oil and turps and leave enough time for each coat to completely dry before applying the next.

The more thorough this process is, the more flexible and durable the rug will be.

To flatten the canvas after it is painted and sealed, carefully weight it down with leftover timber, making sure there are no wrinkles on the back, then leave overnight to set.

TIP: Work out the design on paper before making the frame.

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