Outdoor Floor Projects

That bare floor on your porch, deck, or patio poses plenty of promise. Add color and interest underfoot with these decorative treatments that transform exterior spaces into delightful outdoor rooms.


+ enlarge image A simple design makes a great impact.

A plain concrete floor on this porch paled in comparison to the pretty railing and sunny surroundings. To complement the home's cottage style, the owner embellished the surface with a classic large-scale harlequin pattern painted in unexpected hues of buttery yellow and terra-cotta. A checkerboard pattern could enliven such a surface equally well. Or, where the blocks intersect, add a flower or another design for personality.

What You Need:

  • Concrete-cleaning solution
  • Concrete etching solution
  • Concrete stain (water reducible acrylic) in two desired colors
  • Goggles and waterproof gloves
  • Push broom
  • Garden hose and water source
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Tape
  • Plastic watering can
  • Roller with extension handle and disposable 3/4-inch roller covers
  • Yardstick or straightedge
  • 8-foot-long piece of molding trim
  • Pencil
  • Painter's tape

Instructions:

1. Clean the concrete floor with water, using a push broom to scrub the surface or spraying the floor with a garden hose equipped with a pressure nozzle. Let dry. Apply concrete cleaning solution following the manufacturer's instructions, and scrub with a push broom. Rinse off the cleaner with a garden hose.

2. Etch the surface to make the concrete more porous for accepting the stain. Wear safety goggles, waterproof gloves, and any other necessary protection to avoid putting skin in contact with the acid solution. Following the manufacturer's instructions, mix the concrete etching solution and water in a plastic watering can.

+ enlarge image Illustration 1

3. Evenly sprinkle etching solution mixture on the concrete and scrub with a push broom. Rinse thoroughly three times with a garden hose to remove all residue from the surface and surrounding plants. The surface must dry completely (at least two days) before painting. To test for dryness, tape plastic sheeting to the concrete surface overnight. If the plastic becomes wet underneath, allow the concrete to dry longer. Using a paint roller, apply the light color of concrete stain over the entire surface (yellow was used here -- see Illustration 1.) Let dry 24 hours, then apply another coat if desired. Let dry thoroughly.

+ enlarge image Illustration 2

4. Determine the desired size of diamonds and how they will be placed on the floor. Using a long straightedge or a yardstick and pencil, start in one corner and mark the width of each diamond across one edge of the floor. Starting at the same corner, work down a perpendicular edge, marking the height of each diamond. Note: For harlequin diamonds, the height of the diamonds will be longer than the width. (See Illustration 2.) Make corresponding width and height marks on the remaining two edges of the floor. For a large floor, you may want to make corresponding marks halfway down or across the floor to make connecting the marks easier.

+ enlarge image Illustration 3

5. Using the piece of molding trim as a guide, draw diagonal lines to join the marked points and form the diamond pattern. (See Illustration 3.) Following the marked lines, mask off each alternating diamond with painter's tape.

+ enlarge image Illustration 4

Roll on the darker color stain (terra-cotta was used here). (See Illustration 4.) Tip: Roll the surface of each diamond only once, applying a thick coat; rolling the wet surface more than once will pull up the base coat. Remove tape before stain dries. Let dry. If another coat is desired, mask off diamonds again and repeat.

6. Let the concrete surface dry 24 hours before walking on it; wait at least two weeks (up to 30 days, depending on humidity levels) before placing furniture or heavy planters on the porch or patio.

+ enlarge image Try combing long, straight, and wavy lines on your "carpet."

Like a rug, this painted floorcloth can be positioned anywhere on the surface and rolls up easily for winter storage. And the vinyl provides a durable, outdoor-friendly surface.

Fashioned using a notched squeegee --and painted on the back side of a vinyl remnant purchased from a home center -- this design imitates alternating squares of sisal. Using the same tool, you might want to try for a striped effect, or you can paint any variety of patterns or designs freehand.

What You Need:

  • Vinyl remnant, cut to desired size
  • Squeegee (choose one that's as wide as the bands or squares you want to paint)
  • Crafts knife
  • Straightedge
  • Pencil
  • Painter's tape
  • Roller and roller cover
  • Paintbrush
  • Exterior latex primer
  • Exterior latex paint in desired color
  • Polyurethane
  • Paint rags

Instructions:

1. Roll exterior latex primer on the reverse side of the vinyl remnant; let dry.

+ enlarge image Illustration 1

2. Using a straightedge and pencil, draw a grid of 1-foot squares to fill the floorcloth. Mask off every other square in the first row with painter's tape. Skip a row, then repeat. (See Illustration 1.)

+ enlarge image Illustration 2

3. Make a combing tool by cutting 1/4-inch-wide notches in the rubber blade of a squeegee. To vary the look of your floorcloth, cut larger or smaller notches. Brush on exterior latex paint of desired color (tan was used here) in the first masked square of the top row. Pull the comb through the square while paint is still wet. (See Illustration 2.) Tip: Work in smooth, even motions with a firm stroke. Practice first on a scrap piece of vinyl or poster board. Use a rag to wipe the comb after every stroke to keep paint from accumulating in the notches.

4. Repeat the technique, making combed lines running in the same direction, in each masked square. Remove tape; let dry.

+ enlarge image Illustration 3

5. Mask off every other square in the second row, beginning one square to the right of the first painted square; repeat in remaining unpainted rows to create a checkerboard pattern. Repeat painting and combing technique in these masked squares, making combed lines running in the same direction as the previously painted ones. (See Illustration 3.) Remove tape; let dry.

+ enlarge image Illustration 4

6. Mask off the first unpainted square in the first row. Brush on paint, and pull the comb through the square at a right angle to the previously combed lines. (See Illustration 4.) Pull the comb through the square again, across the lines you just combed. (See Illustration 5.) Remember to wipe the comb with a rag after every stroke. Immediately place the comb in the original position and pull it through the paint again, moving the comb in a zigzag motion. This creates a herringbone pattern. (See Illustration 6.) Remove tape; let dry.

+ enlarge image Illustration 5

Pull the comb through the square again, across the lines you just combed. (See Illustration 5.)

+ enlarge image Illustration 6

Remember to wipe the comb with a rag after every stroke. Immediately place the comb in the original position and pull it through the paint again, moving the comb in a zigzag motion. This creates a herringbone pattern. (See Illustration 6.) Remove tape; let dry.

7. Repeat taping, painting, and combing to create a herringbone pattern in all remaining unpainted squares.

8. Let floorcloth dry thoroughly. Seal with two coats of clear satin-finish, water-base polyurethane.

+ enlarge image You can create a narrow strip to resemble a "runner" down the center of the floor.

What outdoor room would be complete without a "rug" to anchor your conversation grouping? A few cans of semitransparent deck stain freshened this weathered deck with personality and style. This checkerboard design was positioned slightly off-kilter for the relaxed look of a throw rug; the same pattern could be aligned symmetrically with deck sides.

What You Need:

  • Deck cleaner
  • Semitransparent deck stain in desired color
  • Push broom
  • T-square
  • Piece of chalk
  • Chalk line tool
  • Ruler
  • Straightedge
  • Utility knife
  • Tapered-bristle brush
  • Disposable sponge paint applicator
  • Polyurethane (optional)

Instructions:

1. Wash the deck using deck cleaner according to manufacturer's directions and using the push broom to scrub the surface, if needed. Let dry.

+ enlarge image Illustration 1

2. Determine the desired size and location of the "rug." Mark the location of one corner using a T-square and chalk. Snap a chalk line to establish the first side of the rug. Repeat to mark the remaining sides of the rug. (See Illustration 1.)

3. Mark a second set of lines to create a 6-inch-wide (or desired width) border inside the rug outline, using the T-square and chalk line.

+ enlarge image Illustration 2

4. Determine the desired size of diamonds to fill rug. Starting one-half the width in from one corner inside the border, use a ruler and chalk to mark the width of each diamond across one edge of the border. Starting at the same corner, work down a perpendicular edge, marking the height of each diamond. Make corresponding width and height marks on the remaining two edges of the border. Diagonally connect the marks with chalk lines to form the diamond shapes. (See Illustration 2.)

+ enlarge image Illustration 3

5. Score all the lines of the diamonds and the border to prevent the stain color from bleeding, using a straightedge and a utility knife. (See Illustration 3.)

+ enlarge image Illustration 4

6. To apply the stain, use a disposable sponge paint applicator to apply color along the straight edges; fill in color with a tapered-bristle brush. Beginning at the center of the rug, apply the stain to every other diamond and the border. (See Illustration 4.) Let dry. Apply one or two coats of polyurethane, if desired.

More Ideas

  • To create a round rug with a diamond or other pattern inside, tie a length of string and a pencil to a nail. Drive the nail into the center of the design's location to use it as a makeshift compass. Draw two concentric circles to form the border, then follow the directions for adding the diamonds.
  • Make the design bigger if you prefer to cover the entire deck.
  • For a weathered, antique look, allow the design to fade naturally; or, refresh the colors with more stain every two years or so.
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