Hi Melissa, My runner is not painted onto the floor or a carpet. If you can believe it, I painted it on the back of an old piece of linoleum. It is very simple to do and looks great when finished. In the next couple of weeks I will be making a new one to go with my new hallway. Check back later and I will do a blog with the steps on making one.
As you can see in this picture, your linoleum doesn't have to be pretty. Just find an old scrap. I bought a piece at Big Lots for around $20.00, it was big enough to make several mats. I have a large 6' x 8' one in the living room. The nice thing about them is, they are indestructible. Living with boys, I need that. These things have held up to Motocross boots, football cleats and work boots. And believe me, my kids are like bulls in a china closet. When they get dirty, just take them outside, spray them down with cleaner, scrub with a magic eraser and then wash off with the garden hose. If the mats can stand up to my kids, they can stand up to anything.
I don't know why above I wrote that I would post the steps. It's really pretty simple, anyone could figure it out. First you cut it out the size you want. Next prime. Then if you are really creative and can draw, you paint whatever you want. Since I'm not creative and can't draw, I use painters tape and lay out a pattern. Last comes the polyurethane. If you want it to stay the original color, be sure to use the non-yellowing polyurethane. The one in the pic. is plain old polyurethane and over time it did yellow and got an aged look.(I like that look)