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DIY Checkerboard Flooring

Checkerboard Flooring - House & Home

Spruce up wooden floors with a designer look.

A painted wood floor can really rev up a room. This checkerboard pattern creates an interesting ground for a variety of decorating styles — from hi-tech to country classic. All it takes is a bit of patience and know-how to mark the diamond-shaped pattern on the wood floor. Then paint the geometric shapes in two complementary colours to create a visually striking effect.

Cost: $40-$75
Time: 25 hours (on unfinished floor, including 10 hours drying time)

Materials and Tools

  • Black oil stain (used here: Minwax Wood Finish in Ebony)
  • White latex paint
  • Chalk
  • Protractor
  • Masking tape
  • X-Acto knife
  • Sponge
  • Varnish (used here: Minwax Super Fast-Drying Polyurethane for Floors)
  • Paintbrush
  • Damp cloth

Step 1

If floor is unfinished wood, stain clean surface with coat of black oil stain. If floor is varnished, sand, clean thoroughly and apply black stain. Allow to dry.

Step 2

With a piece of chalk, draw a baseline parallel to a straight wall that spans length of room, down the centre of room.

Step 3

Determine size of diamond desired. Measure vertices (the angle created where two sides meet) of diamonds on the baseline and mark each with a piece of chalk. Halfway between two vertex marks, and near centre of your room, will be the centre of a diamond. Through this point, and perpendicular to baseline, draw second baseline (see diagram). Ensure that each of the four angles at intersection of two baselines are right angles (90 degrees). Measure vertices of diamonds and mark along second baseline.

Step 4

Make grid with chalk by joining vertex marks on the two baselines. Near corners of room, smaller subsidiary baselines may need to be drawn to extend the grid into these spaces.

Step 5

Mark diamonds that are to be painted white and tape their borders individually. Trim taped corners carefully with X-Acto knife to ensure straight, clean angles. Remove any loose chalk from floor.

Step 6

Dip a wet sponge in a small amount of white latex paint and rub colour on. Use a brush to even out colour. This will give the floor a lived-in "distressed" look, but you could also lay the paint on more thickly with a brush. Remove tape as soon as you finish each diamond in order to clean up any paint that has bled under the tape. Clean-up can be done with a damp cloth, or in some cases, a small amount of black latex paint.

Step 7

Finish floor with five coats of varnish. Allow each coat to dry for at least one hour. You'll be able to walk on the floor after the last coat, but varnish takes about one week to truly harden and become furniture- and appliance-proof.

Photographer: 

Michael Graydon

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