Stenciled Floor Goodness.

One thing I love about our house is the basement. It has a nice big, living area with lots of windows, and I think it will be great hang out space for us (and, especially) the kids one day. However, the previous owners rented the basement out (it also has 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, laundry area, full bathroom and separate entry). The problem with this? It was left in horrible condition – the entire house needed some love when we moved in, but the basement was at a whole different level (we’re talking busted doors, melted wax on the middle of walls, and smells that could break the fourth dimension)!

Top left: Outside basement entry (window to bedroom 3 to left of doors) / Top right: Basement living room (view from bedroom 2 doorway) / Bottom left: living room from opposite view (note closed door to bedroom 1, and stairwell and door to bedroom 2) / Bottom right: Hallway (view from bedroom 2) first door on right is bathroom, hallway after bathroom leads to laundry and kitchen, and bedroom 3 is at end of hallway.
Bedroom 1
Bedroom 2
Bathroom (ironically, this was the nicest bathroom in the house when we moved in and we never used it because it’s in the basement!)
Bedroom 3

The first thing we did was clean every surface, then paint let it sit with unpacked boxes for a over year. Unpacking is the worst, am I right?! Anyway, after finally unpacking all of the boxes, cleaning the basement (again) within an inch of it’s life, and painting every room, I decided I couldn’t start decorating and using the space until I did something with the floor. The entire basement is tiled with the same builder-grade beige, ceramic tile. And with a perfectly functional floor, installing a nice, floating, wood-type vinyl floor (or making any changes) just isn’t at the top of the priority list. Truthfully, the basement isn’t on ANY type of list as far as putting money into it goes. We have too long of a to-do list elsewhere, both inside and outside of the house! So without any kind of budget (outside of paint), I started wondering if I could just paint the tile? I did a LOT of research (started on Pinterest), and here’s the picture that convinced me this might not be as crazy of an idea as my husband thought it was:

Painted floor inspiration via Bright Green Door

Before painting the floors, I cleaned them using a heavy duty cleaner/de-greaser (Simple Green PRO HD Heavy-Duty Cleaner). This step went a long way to getting the tiles clean and smooth, but there was no way cleaning could get that grout looking new again. Then I used an all-purpose, water-based primer (Zinsser All Purpose Primer). Unbelievably, after this step, the odd smells that some of the bedrooms had decreased a LOT! This made me certain that (if nothing else than for the sanitation aspect) painting the floors was the right decision! I followed up with 2 coats of Lowe’s Valspar Porch, Floor and Patio paint in a satin finish. I brought the brochure home to pick colors (some rooms have a lot of natural light and others have zero). The winner was “Concrete Gray” for the base coat, and “Light Gray” for the stencil/pattern color. (FYI: Lowe’s sells the Light and Dark Gray colors in the store, but in my basement the Light Gray looks dark gray, and the Dark Gray looks almost black). So I definitely recommend bringing a brochure of the colors home to decide on colors before buying anything! I cleaned, primed and painted the entire basement in stages, such that I only had to move the bigger furniture pieces once (I started in the back of the basement and moved my way to the living room – the furniture started in the living room, got moved to bedroom 2 after it was painted, then moved to the final locations once the basement was done). One thing to note is that a little paint went a long way – it doesn’t absorb into tile like it will into the walls (obvious, but I didn’t think about it). I used 3 gallons of concrete gray for the entire basement, roughly 1,200 square feet (and will likely only use one gallon of light gray to stencil). Also, at one point I bought an 18 inch roller, tray and pole and it was GAME CHANGING! If you’re painting floor, you need this in your life!

I had to photograph the 18 inch roller! (Top: kitchen after 2 coats of paint / Bottom: laundry area after primer)

To stencil the floors, I had a custom stencil created by Stencils Online. I uploaded a picture of an existing tile I like (we used it in our powder room makeover – I’ll have to share that soon!), and gave the dimensions of the basement tile (15.75 inches by 15.75 inches). I really liked using this company and would use them again. I had a pdf design of my tile within hours of submitting the request, and my order shipped the same day I approved the pdf! I ordered multiple copies in case I need to cut them to work around walls/ doorways (and because our basement is huge, and I wasn’t sure how many rooms I would stencil vs. just paint).

Stencil design

I’ve only stenciled one room so far – bedroom 1. We plan to use it as a workout room, which is great because I love the result SO MUCH that I’m hoping it will help motivate me to use the treadmill once we put it back together! 😀 It took a LOT of time to paint the stencil on (something like 14 hours), so I listened to a lot of podcasts to keep myself sane and make it somewhat enjoyable. I used a small foam roller for the stencil (it worked better than a brush). I also had a package of baby wipes nearby, so I could touch up any bleed-through on each tile after stenciling. The end result isn’t perfect if you inspect closely, but it still looks GORGEOUS – and is an AMAZING improvement from the before! Part of the reason I chose the paint-type was the durability (I figured porches and floors receive a lot of wear and tear and are meant to walk on), but after all of that sweat equity I wanted some extra protection for the stenciled design. Plus, I learned by experience that moving heavy furniture will scuff up the floors…

This happened in the kitchen when moving the stove and refrigerator back into place – yes, I painted underneath them like a weirdo!

I did a lot of research into the perfect sealant to use to protect the floors, and finally emailed a representative from Safecoat to determine their best product for my situation. We’ve used their products in the past and have been happy with the quality. I was recommended Safecoat Polyureseal BP. I got a gallon of it and went through about a quarter of it so far. If you paint your tile floor, I HIGHLY recommend using this stuff! It is WORTH it! It seemed to harden the paint, and gave it a smooth, glossy finish. I also used it in the bathroom (to waterproof the tiles), and I will use it when I stencil the kitchen to protect the finish. I’m not as worried about the living room or bedrooms 2 and 3 because the vast majority of those floors are covered in area rugs. Also, because of the area rugs, I don’t plan on stenciling those rooms either – I think the design would compete too much with the rugs (and curtains), and I really like how they look (will have to do another post to show current progress of those rooms!). I may stencil/seal part of the hallway (or at the very least seal it) – or maybe I will get some runners? I haven’t decided yet… The transition from stenciled to non-stenciled floors from the hallway to the living room might look odd/abrupt (even if in alignment with the stairwell).

Note I used the closet to test the entire painting process before priming or painting anywhere else – it instantly convinced me that the entire basement needed painted tiles, and that the stencil was going to look phenomenal!
Stenciling in-progress! Note the rag on the floor – I went through 3 of them 🙂
Stenciled floors done! Since the living room was the last room I painted, this is a good before/after comparison for the tile floors (that grout – yuck)! I used 2 stencils for this floor – the first started to get gunked up (it took me 14 hours total) and I needed a fresh stencil halfway through – I could have cleaned the first stencil but was too lazy!
Top left: Shows how it might be a weird transition from the hallway to living room if I stencil the hallway / Bottom: living room primed

No area rug going in this room – that floor is WAY too pretty to cover it up… 🙂 (I mentioned a treadmill, but will use thick, foam, exercise equipment squares underneath to protect the floors!)





Anyone else try their hand in painting tile floor? Or am I (and a few others on the internet) the only ones crazy enough to try? I definitely got a lot of strange looks when asking about paint at Lowe’s (one of the employees even told me “Umm… You can’t do that” when I said I wanted to paint my tile floors)! Hah! I figured it is just paint – what’s the worst that can happen? 😉

10 thoughts on “Stenciled Floor Goodness.

  1. Nikki, I’m so glad you started a blog! I was just lamenting the fact that I haven’t seen pictures of your kids in FOREVER! I was also lamenting the fact that nobody’s posted recently in any of the blogs I follow and I had nothing handy I wanted to read. I’m looking forward to watching as you go through the adventure of working on your house. You’re already in my feed!

    Nice job with the stenciling. I never would have imagined!


    1. Awww, thanks, Patty!! I’m so excited you’re looking forward to following along – I have been loving(!) following along with your adventures & getting your family updates! 💘

      And thanks – shocking what a little paint can do! 😁


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