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How to Use Floor Stencils

Floor stencils are a great way to decorate a floor or floor cloth.

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Stenciling floors is a great way to decorate a floor, whether you're doing just a part of it or an all-over stencil design that imitates a carpet, a parquet floor, or a stone walkway. Once painted and dried, the stencil designs are covered with varnish to protect them. To make a floor stencil seem old, you can use an antiquing varnish.

Cleaning the floor for stencils is tedious, but essential. Don't skip this step. You need to ensure that it's free of any dirt, wax, or grease that will stop the paint adhering to the floor. You need to have a clean painting ground (surface). If it's got a varnish on it, you may need to sand this lightly first, then wash it to remove the dust, before painting on it. If in doubt, do a small test in an unobtrusive part of the floor first.

How to Keep a Floor Stencil in Place
If it's a small stencil and you're using just one color paint with it, you should be able to hold it in place with one hand while you paint with the other. But it's far easier to stick the stencil in place using a few pieces of masking tape than to clean up a mis-painted mess. You can also buy 'stencil adhesive' at specialist stencil supply stores.

Painting a Floor Stencil
For painting the stencils, you can use a stencil brush, which has the advantage that its stiff bristles make it less likely that paint will get under the edges of the stencil, or a sponge or foam roller, which will be faster for covering large areas. If you're using a stencil multiple times, remember to wipe it if paint build up on it or you get paint smears on the back. When you're finished using it, always take the time to clean it so it can be used again another day.

If you're repeating a stencil design multiple times, cut out tiny marker (registration) holes in the stencil, near the corners. When you position the stencil, make a light pencil mark in these so that when you then reposition the stencil you're always the same distance from from where you've just painted.

Be sure to allow yourself enough time to finish your floor stenciling without rushing the project. You should enjoy the creation of something that you're going to live with for some time. For an array of inspiring designs, check out the historic designs from Design Village floorcloths.

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