How to Stencil a Floor

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While the overall process to stencil a design on your floor versus your wall isn’t all that different, preparation is even more important when you are talking about how to stencil a floor. With the right preparation, you can pull off any floor project you desire, even an elaborate design. Here are step by step instructions you can use to stencil a floor.

  1. First, you’ll want to decide what shape your floor is in general. You don’t necessarily need to strip it and sand it unless you want the look of new wood. You will want to sink any protruding nails, fill in holes and sand the surface sufficiently that the primer can hold. If you have a vinyl floor, strip any wax then clean thoroughly with ammonia, rinse well and sand to a dull finish. You’ll want to let concrete floors cure for at least a month.
  2. Choose a primer that is suitable for your floor material. Make sure the floor is clean, dry and free of dust before priming. You’ll want to use a long-handled roller to apply the primer after cutting in the edges with a brush. Let the primer dry according to the manufacturer’s direction.
  3. Apply a basecoat. You may be using paint or stain here depending on your floor material. You will need to allow the basecoat to dry for several days before you continue. And when you are ready to continue, you’ll want to take your shoes off and wear clean socks to maintain a pristine surface.
  4. Create your registration marks. For an all over pattern, you’ll want to mark a grid on the floor with a chalk line (except on bare wood – see below for how to create). Measure and mark the center points of the two opposite walls. Snap a chalk line between the then repeat with the other pair of walls.
  5. Start at the center of each side of the floor and measure off intervals of the grid on both sides of center. Then match up grid marks on opposite sides and snap a chalk line in between them. This will give you a complete grid. If you have regularly spaced floorboards or parquet squares, you can use those as a guideline instead. Note: You may need to fudge the registration marks a little if your room isn’t perfectly square.
  6. Now you’re ready to stencil! You may want to place your tools and paint on a tray on top of a drop cloth and move it along with you while you’re working. Use a roller brush to make the work go faster. The process is again the same as described in our How to Stencil Using a Roller Brush with Liquid Paint article except you're stenciling the floor.
  7. After your stenciled design has had time to cure, you’ll want to seal in your floor décor with several coats of clear finish. Water based finishes will give a colorless coating while oil-based products give an amber cast to whatever they cover. Make sure to read the label for whatever product you buy to make sure it can be used over paint. Again, using a roller brush will make the job quicker. After applying the finish, keep off the floor for several days. Then for the next few days at least, make sure to wear only socks on the floor until your finish has cured.

  

A note about bare wood floors: Chalk lines on a bare wood floor will not come off without sanding. For creating a registration grid in that case, you can use string held in place with adhesive putty. You will need to take extra care not to disturb the strings while you work and will need to move them temporarily while stenciling underneath.

 

When stenciling on bare wood floors, you also can’t easily correct a mistake. Applying a thin coat of a clear sealer first, will prevent the stenciled paint from soaking into the floor and can be easily wiped off if caught in time.

 

Now that you have an idea of how to stencil a floor, which room will you start with first?

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  • Tara Woodbury
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