For centuries, decorative painters have been flooring homeowners with borders or faux bois (false wood)—techniques that replicate exotic wood insets and medallions, and trompe l’oeil touches like feminine slippers tossed on bedroom floors.
Traditionally, painted floors are wood, but concrete and plywood subfloors can be transformed into works of art.
Floors must stand up to constant foot traffic, so prep work and finishing are essential.
Lou Marshall of LouLou’s Whimsicals in Unionville, Pa., starts with floors that have been sanded down to the bare wood. She then builds upward with layers of paint or stain.
“You can achieve a sense of grandeur with faux marble or a country feeling with a simple border,” she says.
Design options include freehand floral patterns, geometric stenciled “rugs,” and classic checkerboard patterns, either all in paint, or half in paint and half with the natural wood .
A coat of polyurethane—in matte, satin or glossy—will protect the finish, with the added benefit of making the floor resistant to water. (Tip: Glossy finishes show scratches and are not good choices in pet-friendly homes.) —Eileen Smith Dallabrida