Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I've Got the (Bedroom) Floor

I have only two things to say, up front:

I have no idea what happened to the last three weeks. None. 

On my nightstand there is a hammer, a chalk line, a multi-pack of pantyhose, a self-help book, and a pair of broken sunglasses. And if there's an off-color joke in there somewhere, I'm far too tired to look for it. Be my guest. 

Those two things together might give readers an idea the state of chaos my bedroom has deteriorated to, around the edges of the photos I'm about to show. I'm not courageous enough to reveal those edges, just the dead center where some stuff got done. You can catch my previous discussions about renovating my bedroom here and here

When last I left off I was working on the window, getting it from brown to white:

A week after I got the window finished up, I was able to work on the floor, which in a sort of reverse direction, was going from bare plywood to....brown. 

Just to review, I decided that lacking a budget for a floor in this room, I was going to paint the plywood subfloor and be done with it. 

First, the base coat, which went on a couple of weeks ago. This is Valspar's floor and porch paint, in Brown Velvet: 

Just getting this done helped make the room suddenly look more calm and put together, and that's with something as bare bones as painted subfloor. 

However, it was far from perfect, as this closeup below reveals. That's a lot of construction adhesive and wear: 

I decided that would look even less noticeable with a stencil. I'd been plotting this idea for awhile. Now, over on the blog This Sorta Old Life, blogger Rita suggested in a comment thread here that I take a look at the website Young House Love, because the homeowners there had recently stenciled a master closet and vanity area subfloor as a temporary fix between larger renovation projects. 

I had noticed their project and thought it looked great. But I also have a bad habit of daydreaming and hoarding away ideas and supplies way ahead of when I get to the actual project. Not that it's at all an idea original to me (I've seen it elsewhere too) but I just want to show proof: 

I've been sitting on this idea a long time! But Rita was already guessing exactly the direction I was heading. Great minds, as they say!

I chose Royal Design Studio's large Hollywood Squares. Though I bought this back in 2011, the stencil is still available here. It's a biggie, 18.5 inches wide by 31.5 inches long. That means you can paint big sections of stencil without having to lift and reposition all the time. 

I wanted this to be a subtle, washy, barely there, tone-on-tone stencil, since it was an all-over pattern. I also wanted a little hint of contrast. To get both, I went with a dark gun-metal gray metallic acrylic craft paint. 

Royal Design Studio's website has tons of tutorials and tools, and every stencil they sell comes with thorough directions. However, I have to admit I don't do it with either sponges or stencil brushes because I am as impatient as a toddler and I love my knees too much to spend two days on them. I use a 4-inch wood trim sponge roller (this is the one I use) with barely any paint on the roller. I always do a test run on butcher paper first, but by doing this method, in small areas over each small design motif, and in right angle directions toward the center of each design motif, it moves along so much faster. I knocked a 10X10 foot area out in three hours, including matching those fussy partial stencils around the edges. 

The stencils have registration marks so you can match up the next row of stenciling, but I was having trouble seeing them with the dark tone-on-tone. So I just popped the stencil over on an already existing row (you use so little paint to stencil that it dries very quickly) and used that method to line up the design. 

I didn't really cover any demonstration photos while I was doing this, because, did I mention I'm as impatient as a toddler? 

A few things to keep in mind: 

1. Stenciling a floor in an all-over design requires snapping a chalkline to find the center and square of your floor, just like laying flooring or tile. I was lucky in that my room was pretty close to square, and the design was forgiving enough of the few goofy angles that nothing ended up "off." 

2. Stenciling a floor is actually easier than a wall, because you have gravity working in your favor. I've done complicated wall stencils before where I thought I was going to win some sort of world prize for swearing swears. This was as simple as a few pieces of painter's tape. 

Three hours later, the floor in the bedroom nook was looking like this. I leaned a piece of baseboard molding against the wall to give an idea of the look with trim in place: 

There are a few places that appear to be smears in the photo, but no fear. They are places where dust from the chalk line still need to be cleaned up. They aren't errors. 

And now to go all the way back to our very first "before" photo: 

And now from a slightly closer and different angle: 

The project was in many ways very freeing because....it's subfloor. If I'd absolutely wrecked this? No biggie. Roll another layer of brown and start over. If I'd hated it? Easy enough to just coat over and try something else. Or nothing else. But I like the results, and the balance of a vintage pattern in more modern colors. 

My next step? Baseboard molding. It's something I have to teach myself. So, by the time the next three weeks elapse, there might be an air nail gun on the nightstand. And probably another self-help book. 


  1. That floor looks amazing.

    I've decided to paint some plywood subfloors. I've been wondering about preparation - did you just wash them with TSP or something? Try to spackle in the joins between boards and over the nail heads?

    1. Karen Anne, as you can see from the nasty "before" photo, we had a lot of carpet pad remnants and gunk stuck to that floor. My sister has earned a place in heaven sanding it for me. She sanded, and then we vacuumed multiple times. I damp mopped mine, but it did seem to have a bit of a glaze or finish to it. I'm not sure, if you had different material, if that would raise the grain? In my case the nail heads and joints were very tight and smooth and so I didn't do anything with them. If they were a problem, I think I'd try to sink nail heads a bit and wood putty them. Same for seams. I'd almost ask someone at the home improvement store what product would be best for filling in a floor situation. I would worry that spackle would be too brittle when dry to hold up to foot traffic.

  2. Congrats on getting this done!! I totally understand how random weird stuff accumulates on the edges of projects ... been at this old house renovation thing for a LONG time. In my case, the random small crap ends up scraped into my underwear drawer on cleaning lady day.

    On to the subject of baseboard. Baseboard is EASY! No book necessary. To to my tutorial, soak it in, and get yourself empowered. You can DO this!!

    1. Thanks so much for the link. I'm definitely going to check it out!

  3. Wow! It looks great! I'm now wondering why more of us don't just paint our subfloors. Can't believe the transformation from your before to your in-progress. Seriously love it.

    1. I always get so angsty about these types of projects. The relief of it turning out well is always the best part. I think it looks great too!

  4. That floor is SERIOUSLY amaze-balls!!! I LOVE it!!! Great job!

  5. WAY cool! Gah, I've got to catch up with your posts. Google reader has NOT been sending me any updates. I figured you were just taking a break. I should have checked.