Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Checkerboard Painted Floor (with strongly discouraged tutorial)

You're probably here because you saw on pinterest that people paint their floors like checkerboards and you want to too. Let me begin by urging you to turn back. Pay for laminate. Use a stencil. Don't do this. Why? Here's why.

There are 2 types of people who might be reading this: detail-oriented perfectionists, and everyone else. Now if you fall into the general population of people who just do things (not an obsessive, neurotic, perfectionist) then you will probably not enjoy this task, and will end up with a floor that looks like a bad Alice in Wonderland acid trip. This entire project is one big detail ridden mess. Prep. Wait. Paint. Wait. Measure. Wait. Mask. Wait. Paint. Wait. Touch up. Wait. You're gonna hate it, and you're gonna mess it up. But, you might just be okay with that. If you are (and you're un/under employed, and as cheap as me, and don't need a floor for a few weeks) go for it! You're not neurotic. You'll be okay with it not being perfect.

For the other half of you, the measuring, planful, tidy types, you're thinking, "I will do this perfectly and it will be perfect." You might enjoy this task. You'll follow every step. You'll do it all as perfectly as can be, and the outcome will NOT be perfect, and will haunt you forever. Just don't do it. Save yourself the money for blood pressure medication...

Alas, some of you are still here. So, here we go.

When I bought my house and my mom said, "Oh, it was built in 1940, I'm sure there is hardwood floor under all that carpet," the relator stayed really, really quiet.
Sure enough, when I tore up one corner of the truly disgusting carpet in my craft room I found laminate tile. Maybe the hardwood is under it? I thought.

I read a tutorial online explaining that modern laminate tile can be "peeled up" with a putty knife. When I tried, though, the tile cracked and underneath was black goo. A quick search on "black goo under 9-inch laminate tile" will tell you that not only is the goo full of asbestos, the tiles probably are too. Stellar. Ugly brown (of course) tile that cannot legally be removed, and also, when cracked is a health hazard. Just what every homeowner wants to see.
So, I (like you, my valiant reader) saw on Pinterest that floors can be painted and thought, "I could totally do that."

Step 1: Tear up the current covering on your floor
Tearing up the carpet was easy, but removing 3 carpet jobs worth of old staples and tack board was less fun. After much trial and error, I found that a crowbar wedged under one narrow end of the tack board could pull up a whole strip easily.

Step 2: Patch/level the floor.
The tiles (okay CDC, don't read this part) on my floor were pretty badly damaged. Some had chipped away large portions and divits. So, I took putty and filled in the holes, then set a blow dryer over the patches to dry the putty before sanding them down. If this is a perminant floor and/or you're a perfectionist as described above, you'll probably want to patch every little hole from staples etc.
I'm not. Good enough.
Step 3: Clean!
After vacuuming and mopping twice, the floor was finally ready for paint.

Step 4: Paint the whole thing your base/lighter color. 
I went with "Ultra Bright White." It took 3 coats to cover the brown, and each coat takes a day to dry. Good luck.
Step 5: Mark lines for checkerboard.
I was lucky enough to already have visible lines from my hip asbestos tile to use as guides for this process. Rather than use the existing pattern, though, I decided to put my pattern on the diagonal, which is supposed to make the room look larger. So, I carefully lined up my chalk line on the diagonal on every other row of tile.While this made a big blue mess, I did feel oddly vindicated for the many times my friends and I got yelled at for playing with my dad's chalk liners when we were little.
Step 6: Mark the squares you aren't going to paint.
I mean it. You think you're smart and you don't need to. You're wrong. Mark them with tape. It only takes a little piece on each one to serve as a reminder.

Step 7: Mask off the squares that will stay the base color.
Using good masking tape (seriously, spend the extra money) and scissors, mask off the squares you do not intend to paint. You can go about this in 2 ways: 1) mask off all 4 sides of each white square, then move to the next or 2) mask off the top/bottom/top/bottom of squares all the way along each chalk line. Although the latter sounds more complicated it goes twice as fast. Work one line at a time all the way across the room.
Step 8: Mop again.
I know, it sucks. You'll thank me later when you don't have blue chalk all over everything.

Step 9: Paint the non-base colored squares your secondary color.
It took me 2 coats to get decent coverage, and I didn't wait for the paint to dry fully before the second coat in the hopes of getting my masking tape off without issue.
Step 10: Peel up the masking tape.
Try to watch your language as the base paint comes up in strips with the masking tape. Also, try not to be too disappointed when the paint lines aren't as clean as you'd hoped. I warned you.
Step 11: Touch up the base color.
Paint 3 more coats over all of the places where the paint peeled up and the darker color seeped under your masking tape. Curse my name while you're doing it.

Step 12: Touch up the contrast color.
Just trust me on this one.

Step 13: Wait a week before using your floor again as usual. 
The bucket says so.

So, if you made it through all that, and now have a very labor intensive and somewhat imperfect floor, congratulations. I do too. But you know what? Total cost was about $70, including the chalk liner and tape. That's about 50 cents per square foot. Take that Home Depot.

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