So I made this:
It's made out of wood and it's a very easy project to do. Here's what you need:
Five (plus or minus, depending on how big you want your mat) 1x2s. I used cheap pine at 75 cents apiece. TIP: Make sure to get all boards with rounded edges or all boards with sharp edges. I didn't so I have a "front" and a "back" (right side and wrong side!).
Nuts (I grabbed 1/2 inch ones since my rope was 3/8)
Paint (I used two colors of outdoor latex paint)
Sealer (I used a can of Krylon Sealer spray)
Start by deciding how big you want your mat. I decided on 24x36 inches. I cut all my boards to 24 inches and cut twenty to give me the finished 36 inches.
You will need to drill a hole in each board four inches from the end so that each board gets two holes. Make sure to drill through the long way, not the short way. Using a drill press makes the process easier but isn't necessary.
Paint your boards. Decide on the pattern you want and make sure you have enough boards to lay the pattern out. I decided on brown and teal and my pattern is very basic. I am starting with one brown and ending with one brown but the boards will be twice thick in the middle. b = brown; t = teal (b-t-t-b-b-t-t-b-b-t-t-b-b-t-t-b-b-t-t-b). Decide on a pattern BEFORE you paint them so that you paint the right number of boards the right color. When dry, spray seal them.
Cut two long pieces of rope and tie a knot at the end of each one. String on board by putting the rope through your holes. Space the boards with a nut.
When you reach the last board, tie a knot. I added a dab of glue to the knots as I tied them so they wouldn't come undone.
You're finished! I'd suggest leaving some slack so that the mat is a little more forgiving. The spaces in the boards will allow water and mud to run off the shoes and it's a lot more durable than a pretty patio rug! I think that this will look even nicer as it weathers and fades a bit!
If I do it again:
1. I would make sure my 1x2 boards were all the same finishes.
2. I like the color but think it would look neat natural, too.
3. To make it cheaper, I may forgo the nuts and just tie knots or string on big wooden beads.