this is a tutorial to do an awesome floorcloth for your porch, or any other room in your house. floorcloths are awesome because they're easy, you can make one any size you want as long as you can find the canvas, they're durable, they're super easy to clean, and you can make them any old colors or design that you want! the only difficult thing is finding a space large enough to make it where it will be dust-free and undisturbed while you're making it. if this is really an issue, you can tack your canvas securely to a wall while you paint with some thumbtacks...just fill in the little holes with a dab of paint and polyurethane when you take it down. ready?
you will need a canvas ( i just buy a cheap dropcloth from lowes or home depot...there are many sizes available ), a sheet of plastic to cover your floor, and old newspapers, gesso, a regular paint roller cover, and a sponge-type paint roller and a pole to attach to the roller, paints ( i use acrylic craft paints and leftover house paints, you can use whatever you like, just make sure your sealer is compatible ),paint extender ( if needed ), compatible sealer ( i used water-based polyurethane ), paper towels and clean rags, a pencil and paper, chalk, old containers for paints ( i use old pie pans a lot ), and for the actual painting, what you need will depend on the design you choose to do...you can use brushes, sponges, stencils, rubber stamps, it's really up to you. i used brushes, sponges, and a stencil that i made. you will also need scissors for cutting up your sponges.
a floorcloth DOES take a bit of time to make depending on how involved you want to get with the design, but most of the time is spent waiting for paint and polyurethane to dry. if you're painting on the floor, you will need to have a VERY clean floor to work on, and you will need to stay vigilant about keeping it that way while you are working. the vacuum cleaner is your friend! i vacuum thoroughly before i start, and vacuum the floor and floorcloth during, when paint is dry. i have dogs, and believe me, their hair is everywhere!
first you will want to sketch out a design for your floorcloth, or find one in a book or magazine that you can copy. take some time to decide what you want your colors to be, and what you want as your background color. don't worry if you're not particularly artistic...anyone can do geometric type designs, or very homespun-looking designs, or you can use rubber stamps and sponges. perceived lack of artistic talent should NOT hold you back from doing one of these...it's just some color for your floor, it's not going to be hanging in the louvre, or anything!
i chose a 6x9 ft canvas. you'll want to open it up and let it relax for awhile before using it because it will have fold marks on it...i give it about a day. i guess you could iron it if you were really itching to get started, but truthfully, the wet paint will relax most of the wrinkling out of it. it's already hemmed, so you don't have to do that ( yay! ) and i don't bother washing it either. i have read that you should, but i never do. oh well! you will want to look at the edges however, and clip any stray threads or "thread lumps" before you proceed.
cover the floor where you will be painting with newspaper and the plastic sheeting. this can be messy, and the paint will bleed through onto your floor. lay out your canvas,wrong side up, and let it rest.
use the regular paint roller cover and the pole, and cover the entire surface of the canvas with gesso. allow to dry. add another coat if you still see bare areas where the gesso did not soak in. allow to dry. turn the floor cloth over. vacuum off any dust or dirt. gesso this side ( the right side ) as well. re-coat this side too, if it needs it. allow to dry...i wait overnight generally. gesso soaked into the fabric can be slow to dry.
i used a design i saw in a book on painting floorcloths with my own little variations. they showed a beige background with white sponged on top, so i sponged on white with a natural sea sponge. this took awhile, as i was having trouble getting the exact look i was after because my paint was drying too fast...it was very hot when i did this! don't add water to your acrylics to slow drying! it sounds weird, but it will actually make them dry faster! use a specifically prepared paint extender or conditioner if you are having this problem! plaid makes a good one.
not what i wanted.
for my border, i used a sponge cut into a triangle shape, and i needed to calculate how many repeats i would need to get around my border, outer and inner border. for my floorcloth, i decided i wanted my triangles to be about 3" wide. my floorcloth was 72"x108". 72 divided by 3 is 24, and 108 divided by 3 is 36. so a 3" sponge would work out just fine for these measurements. i would just do 24 repeats on the short side and 36 repeats on the long side. for the inner border, you just move the lines inward until you can get another multiple of 3 for your measurement. if your floorcloth is a different measurement, you can use a different multiple, you can make your sponge bigger or smaller to suit your measurement, or if this really sounds like too much to figure out, you can go with a more free form design that doesn't require measurements! this is simply what i did...the point here is to have fun, learn to actually MAKE the floorcloth, and have something on your floor that you will be proud of! design considerations are entirely individual...you do what pleases YOU! if you decide on a different design and materials other than what i've used, the basics for doing this are still the same.
once you have your design chalked onto your cloth, cut up a regular household sponge into a 3" triangle ( or whatever size your using ) pour a little paint in a flat container ( pan/tray ), and dip your sponge into the paint. dab excess paint onto a non-paint-filled area of your pan. you may want to do a test print onto some newspaper just to make sure you have the right amount of paint and that you have the feel for it. then just sponge-print all the outer edges first, and then the inner edges. be careful to remain aware of where wet paint is on your cloth so you don't inadvertently stick your foot in it!
making sure they all line up
the inner border with the outer border.
i wanted to have an organic little swirl between each group of triangles in the white space. at first i made a stamp out of some clothesline glued to a block of wood, but it turned out to be too large! so i will use that for another project.
so, i decided to make a stencil. i used some plaid stencil mylar. i laid the mylar over the white area on the floorcloth, and drew a swirl design that fit into the space, then cut it out with a craft knife. then i stencilled around the entire border.
the stencil didn't want to stay down and in place while i painted, so i used this skewer to help hold it down while i stencilled. i used a sponge to stencil on the paint...much easier than a brush!
when that's all done and dry, more measuring! you'll want to divide the floorcloth into blocks if you're using my design. luckily, this is much easier than figuring out the border! since the cloth is 6'x9', you just divide it into 6 blocks widthwise, and 9 blocks lengthwise. the measurements of these dropcloths aren't always true, so you may have to fudge it a little bit. just make sure you measure from the center out, so that any fudging will be less noticeable.
very light, like these...i know, you can almost not see them! my camera didn't pick them up real well either. when you have your squares mapped out, then cut a rectangular shape sponge to make an "X" in every other square. i happened to have an edging sponge for wall corners to use, so that's what i did. i used blue mixed with a little bit of white.
after that was dry, i wanted some free-form stylized roses. i had bought some valspar paint testers for this project. i used the "dreamy caramel" for the border, and i used "hint of cherry" for the roses. valspar paints are awesome! i use them all the time!
i wanted leaves around the roses, so an easy way to do this is to cut up sponges into various sized triangles to make leaves. draw free-form wavy circles of varying size and shape in the empty spaces with your chalk. then print triangle "leaves" using the sponges and at least 2 different shades of green. you can add white or black paint to your green to make a different shade if you only have one green.
you'll want to stagger your leaves around a bit to make it look more natural, and overlap the leaves right into the roses outline on most of them. then take the pink, and using a flat brush, fill in the rose outlines right over the leaves that are extending into the rose borders. you may have to use more than one coat to get good coverage... i did.
very easy and relaxed. just let your brush be "loose"!
this is how it looked at this point...nice, but i thought it needed a little something more. still too blah for me. i have some little swirl rubber stamps that i was thinking about using. i wanted to preview them before i committed to them, though. to do this, i stamped them on paper in the colors i was thinking of, cut them out, and then placed them on the canvas to "audition" them.
well, it turned out i wasn't really thrilled with either one, and i thought, well, i'm already doing triangles, so maybe i'll just do more triangles. so i cut triangle sponges about the same size as my rubber stamps, cuz i liked that size, and i decided to do them in yellow and pink. when i cut the sponges, they were way too small to handle easily. to overcome this, i took an old wine cork, and glued the sponge to the end of it to use as a handle. it worked great!
just load up your sponge with paint and stamp randomly with both colors ( just rinse in between colors and blot dry ) in whatever arrangement pleases you. once the painting's all complete, i like to sign my work in one of the corners, or somewhere inconspicuous ( or you can make it part of the design, if you want! ) it is your own original work of art, after all, and after you put this time into it, you should be proud! i usually use a permanent sharpie marker for this.
you will want to allow your paint to dry and cure for at least a day before you seal it. i guess you could try it sooner, but i don't recommend it. also remember to remove any leftover chalk that is still on your cloth before you seal it!
after it's done, some people like to paint rug latex onto the back of the cloth to keep it from slipping. the rug latex is expensive, and i don't do this, but if it's going to be in an area where someone's likely to slide on it, maybe it would be worthwhile to you. you can also coat the whole thing with wax to make it prettier and sturdier. i have read that bowling alley wax is good...it's available online. i don't do that either. i let the cloth dry for 4 days to a week before i put any furniture or anything on top the cloth to give the poly a chance to harden and cure. your floorcloth will be a joy to live with...it will need to be re-polyurethaned about once a year, and all the care it needs is to be swept and sponge mopped like a kitchen floor. you will need to roll up the edges every so often and vacuum under it. it is all in all pretty low maintenance. i have several, and i love them!
and here are pics of my porch that i love with all my heart, with my beautiful new floorcloth in place! SO totally worth the work! and inexpensive! i only spent about $30.00 for materials i didn't already have! i LOVE that kinda deal! well, i really hope you will try making one. yeah, it's a little involved, but like i said, so worth it! ah, now time to just sit out there in my rocking chair for awhile, with a cold drink and a book!