Stenciled Concrete: Part I

Every so often I do one of those projects that, once it’s done and finished, I swear that I won’t do that again for a long, long, longlonglong time.  Stenciling our screened-in patio floor was one of those projects.  Not pregnant it would’ve been tough and tedious.  Pregnant and carrying a little extra weight while moving up and down and squatting and standing up?  Let’s just say, who needs the gym?

But, all that work was so worth it…aaaaand some of you probably think I’m crazy but just look:
IMG_7753Patterened concrete is so much better than plain, right?  I have nesting and an inordinate amount of motivation to get this outdoor space finished to thank for getting it done.  Picture me with a newborn, chillaxing on the comfy outdoor couch on the screened-in porch with the three other tots playing outside in my view this summer…straight-up motivation, like I said.

Let’s talk details, shall we?  You know, just in case you want to stencil your concrete…you know you do.  :)

Prep.  Before any paint went down, we had a bunch of prep to do.  Because it’s concrete and concrete is somewhat porous, we were getting condensation spots inside which made laying a cozy rug on top of the concrete a no-go.  The rug we had was getting wet and then we’d have to pick it up and dry it and it was all just a big pain in the arse.  Besides that, when the concrete did get wet, it would take forever to dry and also, tiny pieces of rock in the concrete were everywhere because everytime we walked around or the kids rode something on top of it, it chipped a little.  So, I consulted smart Chelsea and her dad, the Today’s Homeowner pro, on what to do to fix all of that and they recommended sealing it.  When I mentioned I wanted to paint it too, they said to seal first, then paint.  And so I did.

First, Anthony and I went out during nap time one day and scrubbed the floor clean; getting rid of any loose particles and dirt.  When it was dry, it was time to seal.  Here’s what I used to seal it:IMG_3097-Quikrete concrete sealer (via my Amazon affiliate link but we actually purchased at Lowe’s where it was about $10 cheaper)
-paint roller on a stick
-paint brush
-paint tray to hold the sealer
-painters’ trim guard (affiliate link) – optional…you could just tape off your edges

To start, I went around the entire edge of the patio with the paint brush since the roller wouldn’t be able to get as close to the edges.
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I used the trim guard against the aluminum walls to make sure I didn’t get any sealer on them.  IMG_3099To me, using the trim guard was easier and quicker than taping everything and usually, I don’t ever tape or guard against trim or walls but since the concrete wasn’t a smooth surface I could easily glide along, I thought it might be smart to this time.

When I was done sealing around the edge, I grabbed the roller and my paint tray filled with sealer…
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…and started at the far end, working in sections and towards the french doors to the living room so I didn’t seal myself into a corner; I could just back right into the house and shut the door.IMG_3101
I did two coats just to make sure everything was nice and sealed (which Quikrete actually recommends per the instructions).

Paint.  Picking a stencil was a tough decision.  First though, I had to convince Anthony that the mere idea of stenciling our floor was a good one (he wasn’t keen on it) so to do that I hunted down pictures on Pinterest of stenciled concrete to show him and came across this one (originally via @songofstyle on Instagram):
10979518_1523984051198042_1944797533_nThe concrete in this picture looks a lot like ours texture-wise and the design was simple and imperfect – exactly what I was going for in my head.  He was sold.  Hoo-ray.  However, I wasn’t completely sold on the design.  I really kinda liked this geometric stencil and even toyed with doing a herringbone brick pattern.

But Anthony didn’t like either of those ideas.  He liked the Pinterest design so, since I had won him over on the stenciling idea, I laid aside my stencil wishes and went with his.  I know.  Sacrificial love, right?  ;)

So began the hunt to find out where that stencil was from so I could buy it.  I searched high and low with no luck.  Dang.  “Well, I guess that means I’ll just have to make my own.”  And that’s how my brain works…if you’ve been a reader long, you probably could’ve guessed.

Thankfully, I still had two big blank stencil sheets leftover from this stenciling project so I didn’t have to buy anything to make the stencil.  Onto making the stencil…  First, I needed to figure out where the center of the blank stencil was so that I could center the design on it.  To do that, I marked out the center of each edge and connected them with a straight line; making two intersecting lines that met at the center.IMG_3113
I had a hard time trying to figure out how I was going to get the stencil made in the scale I wanted it in (free-handing was out because I’m not great at that) but then it hit me one moment while we were all on our way to church (divine intervention?) - if I could get the design projected onto our TV, I could scale it on there and trace it at full-size!  We bought Chromecast with a gift card last year (so I could watch Downton Abbey on tv vs. laptop) and so I pulled up the image on Pinterest, set my laptop screen to a 200% zoom, and casted the whole thing to the tv.  Once I had the image lined up and centered along my intersecting lines on the stencil blank, I used painters’ tape to tape it to the tv and started tracing away.
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IMG_3115(In process shot thanks to Anthony who offered to “take an action shot” while he was cooking dinner.  My right-hand-blogger man, he is.  Just wait, someday he’ll be writing his own posts…)

Once I had the stencil traced, I used my exacto knife on top of our biggest cutting board to cut out the design.IMG_3117
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My tracing of the inner design was a little squiggly, so I went back over it free-hand to make those lines a little smoother before I cut them out.
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Next up, painting the stencil.  But, lest this post traipses into encyclopedia territory, I’ll save that for Part II next week.

Hope to see you then!  :)

3 comments

  1. Looks awesome! Can't wait to read the rest!

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  2. This is me taking in your wisdom! I'm absolutely not dedicated enough to stencil our concrete porch, but it had awful torn up carpeting we had to rip off when we moved in, so now we have horrible glue all over it that we still haven't even tried to wash off... And then I guess we're going to need to seal it? And paint it? Gosh, I'm not sure. Move to Virginia, girl! I need your wisdom!

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  3. Wo! I am so incredibly impressed!

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