Illuminating Your Wood Floor With Stencil Designs

Faux finishes, a name coined for the artistic effects created by painting on wooden or metallic surfaces, have a colorful history in the world of decorating. Artists have used faux finishes to imitate elements of nature that were either too precious or rare to feasibly be brought into the home. Nowadays, the art of decorating in this manner serves both a creative and a practical function. Even amateurs can create life-like illusions or images of beauty with the help of stencils and appropriate paints.

Supplies for Stenciling a Wood Floor

Latex and acrylic are the paints of choice for most faux finishes. Being water-based, they are easy to clean up with soap and water. They do, however, dry quickly, so paint additives have been developed that can be added to create a paint glaze, which is usually thinner and more translucent. Acrylic paint glazes are also available premixed, and though their range of colors is limited, they can be mixed to create new hues. The additives in such mixtures extends the open time of the paint - the length of time that it can be manipulated before it dries. Mixing latex or acrylic paint with water-based urethane also creates a lustrous glaze.

The wood surface that will be painted should be sanded beforehand until it's completely smooth. Wipe it with a damp cloth, afterwards, to remove any grit. A primer should also be used before the faux finish is applied. Primers seal the surface and provide a layer that paint can more easily adhere to; they can also prevent the original wood from showing through the paint. Various primers are designed for specific surfaces; latex enamel undercoat works best with unfinished wood.

Stenciling Technique

Stenciling is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to add some color and excitement to wood floors. High quality precut stencils are available that can allow even a layman to create realistic and beautiful images. For most designs, you can achieve great results using the stencil itself - chosen for the effect you want to create - along with latex paint, painter's tape, paper towels and a sponge (sea sponges, with their gentle effect, work best).

Begin by taping the stencil over the area you want to decorate. Dip the sponge into the paint and lightly dab it to fill in the cutout pattern. Then, carefully pull the stencil off of the wood. If you wish to continue with the design, clean the paint off with a paper towel and then tape the stencil at the edge where you left off.

Another method of using paint with stencils is called pouncing. This involves applying paint in a quick up-and-down motion that allows for easy blending of colors. Brushes can also be used instead of a sea sponge; and because there are such a wide variety of them, different stencil brushes can be used for each paint color, and their sizes can be chosen in proportion to the sizes of the stencil openings. If brushes are used for the pouncing method, their bristles should be wrapped in masking tape to protect them.