If you love pattern, but don't have the money for wallpaper or new textiles in your home, stenciling a design with paint onto your wood floor may be the solution. After all, paint is on the low end of the cost spectrum and it can always be painted over for a change or if you don't like the outcome. Whether you are stenciling an entire room or a small section of flooring (say, in the immediate square feet of an entryway), this project can be accomplished in a day's time or a weekend. The skill level? Beginner.
Step 1 - Choose Your Design
Most stenciled floors have a bohemian look to them created by the stencil, the design, and the colors used. While some folks opt for painted floor designs that look like tiles or are one flat color scheme, you can go crazy with colors and layering patterns either on top of one another or simply side-by-side. A good starting point is deciding what colors you want to use. Do you want to keep it minimalistic with white or black? Or do you want to create a unique color scheme to mach some furnishings in the room? Keep in mind the tone of the flooring underneath; white will look especially graphic against a darker toned wood, but can look nicely distressed against a light tone.
Only one color is needed to create the stencil pattern, but you can make use of a second color by painting the entire surface in a contrasting shade first.
Step 2 - Create a Stencil (Or Buy One)
Stencils are available in many designs at hardware stores, flooring stores, craft stores, and online, but can be created right at home in case you cannot find the design you had in mind. To create a floor stencil, purchase a clear piece of stencil plastic at the craft store---typically called blank stencils. This is the easiest material to use because it will not absorb paint. A stencil can also be created using cardboard, but once the design is cut out it must be covered with tape or sealed so it doesn’t absorb the moisture of the paint. If you're doing a simple geometric design you can also tape off the shape you want with painter's tape.
When creating a stencil, draw your design on the blank stencil using a fine-tipped permanent marker. Then, place it on top of a piece of cardboard and cut it out using an X-Acto knife or other craft blade. To stop the stencil from slipping, you can spray the underneath side with a repositionable adhesive spray that allows you to pull the stencil back up after sticking it to the floor with each use.
To save painting time, create two identical stencils. The same look can be achieved with one stencil, having two streamlines the process.
Step 3 - Prepare the Floor for Paint
The wood floor you plan to paint should be lightly sanded, vacuumed, and wiped completely clean before painting. Any dust or particles left behind will get into the paint and can ruin the design. The floor must also be completely dry. While you can coat the floor with polyurethane before painting, it is easiest to wait and seal your stenciled floor with it after painting all designs onto the floor.
Step 4 - Paint Away
Make sure to measure your stencil and outline it with painter’s tape if the design is close to the edge of the stencil. This will prevent the stencil from sliding and paint from getting onto the floor around the edges of the stencil.
Use a small roller to paint over the stencil, pushing very lightly and carefully. Use only a small amount of paint at a time, as too much paint can seep underneath and ruin the outline of the design. Be careful to keep the stencil in place, as the design can also be altered if the stencil slides around. Make sure the design is dark enough before removing the stencil and starting in another area. It can be extremely difficult to reposition the stencil for another coat once you remove the stencil. Measure the distance between each stencil so that the pattern comes out evenly and is distributed equally across the floor.
Step 5 - Seal It Up
After allowing your designs to completely dry, protect them with a few coats of clear polyurethane. Be sure that the sealant you choose will dry clear on top of the design, as some will dry in a brownish amber color, which would alter the colors you just painted on the floor. Cover the stenciled designs with a coat or two of sealant, and your floor will take on a whole new look. One that will be sealed, beautiful, and easy to keep clean.