How to Make an Easy and Inexpensive DIY Table Runner

DIY Table Runner

Caylin Harris 

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10–$25

Whether it’s for the holidays or the rest of the year, a table runner is a great way to add personality to a plain table setting. A little less commitment than a full tablecloth, a runner takes up less room, usually doesn't need to be ironed, and most likely won't be spilled on since it's going down the middle of the table. So there are advantages! Plus, they allow you to show off the actual table and they look amazing underneath a centerpiece. If you're not finding a version you like at the store, just invest in an affordable plain one and you can give it an easy upgrade. Here's how to do it!

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Painter's tape
  • Foam brush, paint brush, or sponge
  • Paint palette or tray (optional)
  • Pen or pencil


  • 1 table runner
  • Craft paint or washable fabric paint if desired
  • Paper


  1. Gather Your Supplies

    You don't need a lot, but for the supplies you do use, they need to be high quality. For example, you'll want to invest in a nice painter's tape; a better quality brand will form a tight seal to keep the edges of the paint crisp.

    DIY Table Runner
    Caylin Harris
  2. Plan Your Pattern

    Before you pick up a brush, take a minute to decide what you want to create on your runner. You can do confetti-like dots, stripes, or a more intricate stencil if you're feeling ambitious.

    You can keep things relatively simple so that your runner would be versatile for special occasions as well as everyday use. This example has gold metallic stripes at the each end of the runner. Gold paint is the perfect choice for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas (not to mention the rest of the year).

    DIY Table Runner
    Caylin Harris
  3. Tape off Your Runner

    For stripes, place and secure the painter's tape to the surface of the runner. For even stripes, use the width of the tape to mark placement.

    Try varying the size of the stripes for added interest. This has a thick stripe in the middle and thinner ones on the top and bottom.

    To form the best possible seal on any edge that will be exposed to paint, run your thumb over the edge of the tape to make sure it's secure. If you're worried about the tape not performing, you'll be amazed at how clean a line you'll be able to produce using this technique.

    DIY Table Runner
    Caylin Harris
  4. Add Paint and Let It Dry

    Apply a liberal amount of paint using your foam brush. Because you're painting on fabric, don't brush the paint on the way you normally would with paper or wood. Dab to cover the area where you want your stripes to be; you'll end up using more paint than you think you'll need.

    Keep going until all of your stripes are completely covered. Let the paint dry.

    DIY Table Runner
    Caylin Harris
  5. Remove the Tape

    Once you're satisfied with the paint application and the paint has dried, remove the painter's tape. Pull it off toward you and at an angle for the most precise line. Make sure all the paint is dry completely before you use the runner for the first time. If you used washable fabric paint and plan to wash the runner, follow the paint manufacturer's instructions to heat seal the paint.

Enjoy! You'll get plenty of use out of this subtly decorated table runner.

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