Painting a Faux Terra Cotta Floor On Concrete

Terracotta tiles. anzeletti/E+/Getty Images
  • 01 of 08

    Preparing The Subfloor

    If you have a concrete subfloor, then it is possible to create the effect of a faux Terra Cotta tile floor using paint and custom cut stamps. This gives you the decorative illusion of a stylish tiling job, at a fraction of the cost of materials and labor. At the same time, you get to maintain the functional benefits of the durable concrete surface.

    Difficulty: Moderate
    Time: 3-4 days

    Tools Needed
    Tape Measure
    Shop Pencil
    Chalk Snap
    Rubber Gloves 

    Materials Required
    Clean Water
    Dish...MORE Soap
    Painters Tape
    Paint Brush
    Gray Enamel Paint
    Graph Paper
    1/2" Foam Rubber
    Flat Cardboard
    2-4 Squirt Bottles
    2-4 Colors Acrylic Paint
    Clean Clothes

    Start by washing the subfloor thoroughly with a soap and water solution, to remove any grease or dirt that might be lingering on its surface. Then rinse the soap away with clean, warm water. Let this dry overnight.

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  • 02 of 08

    Painting a Base Coat

    Use painters tape to cover the bottom of the baseboards. This will protect them from any color treatments going forward. Then use a brush to apply a gray enamel paint to the entire subfloor, creating a solid, even look throughout the area. This will be the canvas across which you will make your tiles. As you work, be careful not to paint yourself into a corner. Allow this to dry overnight as well.

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  • 03 of 08

    Laying Out The Design

    You need to decide how big you would like your tiles to be. Standard sizes are 12”x12” or 16”x16” though you can choose any size you like since you will be making them yourself. You should, however, stay away from anything larger than an 18”x18” as it can be unwieldy during the application phase. In general, larger tiles make a room look more spacious while smaller ones can give bigger spaces a cozier feel.

    Measure the floor, and then figure out how you are going to lay the tiles through the...MORE room. The easiest method is generally to follow the line of the longest wall, and then follow the line of the intersecting wall. You can then fill in the middle, backing yourself out of the space. If you have a more advanced design in mind it may help to graph the project out on paper. Once you make a decision, use a chalk snap to outline the path you will follow.

    How To Lay Out Tile Flooring Projects

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  • 04 of 08

    Making The Tile Stamps

    Measure and mark the size and shape of a tile into the surface of a piece of foam rubber using a ruler and a pencil. Then carefully cut the shape out of the material with a shop knife, making use of the T-square to create a guiding edge. Repeat this process several times to get multiple, slightly varying tiles, for a more authentic look. If desired you can pinch the corners of some tiles to increase this unique effect.

    Cut one of these foam tiles in half diagonally, to make a piece for corners....MORE If you have other custom sizes that you will need, such as pieces to help fill in around fixtures, those can be cut now as well.

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  • 05 of 08

    Cutting The Tile Backing

    Place the blocks of foam onto a flat cardboard sheet, and trace around them with a pencil. Remove the foam and then cut along the traced lines with a shop knife, using a T-square to guide your movements. Extract the matched shapes, and then affix them to the backs of their paired foam tiles using a shop grade adhesive. This creates the backing for your stamps.

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  • 06 of 08

    Creating The Faux Terra Cotta Tile Colors

    One of the great things about this project is that you get to choose the colors that are found in your flooring tiles. While that can be a lot of fun, it is important to select colors which match one another so that they don’t end up clashing in the final effect. If you don’t have an eye for hue then you can use a color wheel as a cheat sheet. The most common options for Terra Cotta would be burnt orange and earth browns, contrasted by bright blues or reds.

    Each paint should be poured into a...MORE separate squeeze bottle so that you can create veined swirls that will mimic natural features. Take a large piece of expendable cardboard and squirt 2-4 different matched colors onto an area slightly larger than a single tile. Then, wearing rubber gloves, take your fingers and gently swirl the mix so that the various paints merge and converge but do not completely blend.

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  • 07 of 08

    Stamping The Subfloor

    Take one of your standard foam tiles and dab it lightly into the paint. Then check to see if the surface is completely covered with color. If not press the tile into the mix again until it is coated. Excess paint should be wiped off the sides with a cloth or some spare newspaper. Bring the piece to the intersection of the first two chalk lines that you placed in step three, being careful not to drip any paint. Then press the tile down onto the floor firmly, and remove it.

    A single dip in the...MORE paint should allow you to get several stamps out across the floor before it has to be reapplied. Place the tiles in straight lines, and remember to leave ¼” – ½” of space between them for virtual grout lines. If any of the pieces look blotchy then you can hit them a second or third time as necessary. Use a clean cloth to wipe up any excess paint that drips or slips aside.

    Refresh the paint as needed, being careful not to get so much on the foam that it becomes drippy. When the paint runs out you can recreate the color trails over the first spot, swirling the lines with your finger once more. Over the course of a large floor, it may be necessary to change the cardboard sheeting periodically to prevent the mix from getting too murky.

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  • 08 of 08

    Sealing The Floor

    When you have completely covered the floor allow it to dry overnight. After a full 24 hours, use a quality polyurethane to seal and finish the paint. This creates a clear protective coat over the floor, so that water, dirt, and other staining agents can’t affect it. Polyurethane is available in liquid form which is applied with a standard paint brush, or in an easy to use spray form. However make sure the area is well-ventilated, and that you use hand and eye protection during the process.