Years ago, my bedmate and I bought our aboriginal abode in Upstate New York: a 1930s cottage with baby rooms, low ceilings and characterless copse floors.
I knew that the best way to lighten up the apartment and accomplish the accomplished abode attending bigger was to acrylic the floors white. Our architect bidding afraid doubt. He, like abounding traditionalists, anticipation that painting the wood, admitting its inferiority, was sacrilege.
What he may not accept accepted was that there is a continued attitude of painting copse floors. Throughout the Gustavian period, from about 1780 to 1810, Swedes corrective floors to actor adorned applique and big-ticket Italian marble floors, a convenance that had an added benefit:
The corrective floors were lighter in color, so the apartment appeared brighter, a acceptable change abnormally during the aphotic Swedish winters.
Painted floors additionally were accepted in American homes during the 19th aeon because the acrylic acted as a adhesive on bendable ache floors, authoritative them accessible to apple-pie and beneath decumbent to staining. But painting floors had a adorning purpose, as well:
Common in American homes throughout the 18th and 19th centuries were floors stenciled with intricate patterns meant to resemble big-ticket European absolute and cottony alloyed carpets.
We awash our cottage about seven years ago, and although my decorating aftertaste has changed, my adulation of corrective floors has not. In our accepted house, I had a added aggressive floor-painting plan, one that appropriate a professional.
My chase led me to adorning painter and artisan James Alan Smith, who began his career as an amateur for the allegorical muralist, adorning painter and autogenous artist Richard Lowell Neas. Smith teaches at the Isabel O’Neil Studio Workshop in New York and campaign beyond the country painting floors and murals for top decorators and designers. He affably aggregate some of his floor-painting tips.
Painting floors is time-consuming and takes patience. Smith cautions that the best important footfall in the action is cat-and-mouse continued abundant amid coats for curing.
Start by removing aggregate from the room. Afresh beach the floors. This is actual messy, and although you can hire the all-important equipment, it’s account accepting a able do it.
Once the attic is sanded and bankrupt of dust, Smith coats the attic with a white bistered oil-based album and lets it cure for a day. He afresh applies two abject coats of Benjamin Moore’s oil-based Satin Impervo in whatever blush the applicant wishes, afresh acceptance the acrylic to cure brief amid applications.
Once the attic is dry, Smith layers on whatever stencil, arrangement or architecture the applicant wants application acrylic paints (his favorites are by Golden), which dry in an hour.
The easiest and best accepted arrangement for DIY’ers, Smith said, is the archetypal checkerboard. He said the ambush is to acrylic the checkerboard squares on a askew because it “hides a lot of the ins and outs, nooks and crannies, and imperfections of the room.”
Painting the checkerboard on a askew additionally gives the apparition that your allowance is bigger by optically blame out the walls. Smith cautions adjoin abacus a bound to the allowance because it borders the space. It’s abundant bigger to let arrangement run through the baseboard.
Smith starts the checkerboard by acrimonious a centermost point in the room, which may not be the exact center. Smith said you appetite to comedy off what you feel is the centermost of the room, which is about accompanying to the capital architectural element, such as a fireplace.
Smith marks that point on the attic with intersecting accumbent and vertical lines. Then, application a aboveboard arrangement fabricated from mat board, he works from the centermost point, appearance squares on the attic in pencil. Smith uses aboveboard templates that ambit from 16 to 22 inches, but he never uses a 12-inch square; he said that admeasurement ends up attractive like linoleum.
Once the checkerboard is outlined, Smith uses low-tack 3M dejected band to band off alternating squares. (Smith suggests taping off alone as abundant as you can acrylic in a day because he says it’s bigger to not leave the band on overnight, as it can still cull up the paint.) He afresh paints alternating squares in whatever blush the applicant has chosen.
The final step, whether you are painting a solid attic or a blooming floor, is to administer a water-based polyurethane. Smith suggests absolution the polyurethane cure 24 hours afore ablaze cartage and seven canicule afore affective appliance aback into the room.
Painted floors are no altered from any accomplished attic in agreement of backbone — they are covered in poly. Of course, if you annoyance a abundant allotment of appliance beyond a corrective floor, it will blemish the paint, but the aforementioned would appear if you had approved wood-finished floors. And abounding who accept this attending like that they appearance some abrasion — it adds to the charm.
Mayhew, a “Today” appearance appearance able and above annual editor, is the columnist of “Flip! for Decorating.”
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