Monday, June 10, 2013

DIY Stenciled Floor

***Hello Pinners!! I'm really flattered by all of the action this has gotten on Pinterest, thank you!! If you were brave enough to paint your wood floor, too, I would love to see it! Please leave a link to your blog in the comments, or email me a picture!! (Click on the "Comments & Contact" tab for more details.)***

Alright, it's finally here. The one you've been waiting for. The one where I show you the fruit of my labor. The one where that itchy curiosity can finally get scratched.

Did that just get a little weird? Sorry. 

A few weeks ago I gave you a sneak peek of several projects that had gone on/were going on around the house, and inquired about which ones piqued your curiosity. I got several responses...most of them about the stencil project. It probably seemed, after that, like I just totally ignored you, but don't worry. I didn't forget. There were a couple of other things i was waiting on before feeling ready to post this, but I'm here now, ready to do a tell all.

For those of you that guessed floor, you were right. I stenciled the wood floor in one of our upstairs rooms, the room that is slowly becoming our home office. Now that it's done, it is one of my absolute favorite things about our house. Let me take you step by step through my process.

Warning: The phrases "tell all" and "step by step" should have implied that this will be a lengthy post. If you're not feeling particularly in the mood to read, skip to the bottom for the bare bones of how this was done.

For those of you who might be crying foul at the idea of painting a wood floor, calm down. Let me explain myself. The floors in our upstairs space are all wood, and have all been stained a very very dark color - they're like as dark as sin. They are scratched and stained and desperately in need of...something. 

We have great wood floors throughout the majority of our main level, all of which we had to strip, stain, and seal before we moved in. Woo. I knew what a process it would be if we decided to go that route upstairs. After some consideration, I decided the expense, time, and effort of refinishing the floor in the office was not worth it...especially since the chemicals in stains and sealants meant that I would have hardly been able to be involved because of the baby. I started considering other ways to deal with the floor. I wanted to be able to do most of the work myself, during the day, so that it wouldn't take away from Dan's work time. Carpets or rugs were an option, but that didn't appeal to me because I want the space to feel fresh and open and also be mess-friendly, as it will house all of my projects and hopefully someday the craftings of my kids. I saw a few painted floors on Pinterest, and my wheels immediately started turning. The stenciled ones were my favorite, and using water-based paint meant that I would be able to do most if not all of it myself. I was in. 

I shopped around the Internet for a stencil, considering pattern difficulty and dimensions, before settling on this one from Etsy. I think the Moroccan print is settled in a perfect place between trendy and timeless, and I trust that I'll enjoy it for a good long time. I had some white Behr paint in my stash, which worked to lighten up the heaviness of the stain in the floor and gave the space a nice fresh feel. (There is paint out there that is specifically for use with stencils...but i disnt find it necessary.) I grabbed some brushes, painter's tape, a roller, and some paint trays and I was ready to start. 

I began by taping out a 3ish-inch border all around the room. This is definitely optional, especially for a room with base boards that are the same color as the stenciled design, but since my wood floors didn't stop at the doorway to the office, I wanted to give them a clear cutoff point. 

I used Frog Tape to mask off the area. It has a special solution on the sticky side that creates a moisture-tight seal with whatever it's stuck to, so leaks aren't likely. I knew the unevenness of the floor could cause some problems for me, so I didn't want to take any chances with masking tape or a different brand. It worked great!! (It's also what I used to paint the stripes on my kitchen wall.)

Once my border was painted I was ready for stenciling!! To make the process a little easier I used Elmer's spray adhesive, following the directions on the can for a temporary bond. I really think this was a huge help in creating the crispest stencil possible, and would certainly recommend it. 

The first time I put the stencil down, I used a roller to apply the paint, and then the first time I picked the stencil up...I was sad. Even after being rolled out on a scrap piece of paper several times, the roller still held too much paint, and that excess had leaked underneath the stencil, leaving a very unimpressive, blotchy mess behind. I wasn't super dedicated to having a perfect pattern, but I knew I wanted better than that. I tried rolling again, with even less paint, but it still was no good. I decided to switch my approach and got out a stencil brush. This way was a lot slower, but yielded much better results.

If you've never stenciled before and are looking to try a project like this, familiarize yourself with a stencil brush beforehand. The idea behind stencil brushing is that you apply the paint straight to the surface, as opposed to stroking it on, like you would a normal brush, or rolling, like with a roller. The broad surface of a stencil brush ensures that the paint goes straight to the surface, especially when you use a process called stippling. Stippling involves pushing the brush down multiple times and not allowing it any drag, almost like you are stamping your paint onto the surface. You can read more about it here

Doing my entire floor took me about 4 days where I worked in 2-3 hour chunks.(Little by little, that should be the mantra of any preggo home-renovater.)

After it was finished, I recruited Dan's help, and he applied 3 coats of an oil-based varathane to seal and protect the floor. In hindsight, I wish we would have used a water-based product, even though the finish wouldn't have been as strong, because the oil-based sealant has already yellowed some. Ah well, live and learn, right?

I know that was a long read, but I wanted to give you the full process. Here's a quicker run-down of steps, though:
• I cleaned the floor. 
• Using Frog Tape to mask out my area, I painted a border around the perimeter of my room. 
• I prepped my stencil for use by giving it a light coat of Elmer's Spray Adhesive. 
• I found that the best technique—albeit it a slow one—was to use a foam stencil brush and stipple the pattern. (As opposed to using a roller.) 
• Once I had my entire surface stenciled and the paint had dried, we applied three coats of an oil-based sealant. 
• After giving the floor 72 hours to cure (dry), we moved furniture in.

And here's everything I used to make this happen:
• A broom 
• A Swiffer
• Frog Tape 
• 3-inch roller, similar to this one 
• Mini Paint tray
• Behr Semi-Gloss White Paint
• Elmer's Spray adhesive, pictured here 
• Foam stencil brush, similar to this one
• Varathane Oil-Based Floor Sealant, similar to this
• Foam Roller to apply Sealant

I LOVE how it turned out, and am excited to see the room continue to take shape. How about you? Anybody else out there done any experimenting with stenciling a large area? Anybody want to?


  1. Really enjoyed going through this blog. Beautiful transformation of a dull wooden floor into an attractive designed floor. Now that wooden floor has become very fascinating to walk through.

    1. Thank you! It was definitely a fulfilling project for me. :)

  2. Where did you get the stencil? Beautiful job! 👍