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How to Paint a Floor Medallion

A painted framed medallion can enhance the beauty of your hardwood. Here, a pro's technique for adding color to a floor without covering it up

wood floor with painted framed medallion in hallway
Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

When two types of flooring meet, a painted pattern can ease the transition. Here, an existing oak floor abuts an addition's heart-pine floor whose boards run perpendicular to the oak. An open cloverleaf, squared off and anchored by painted borders and solid circles at the center and in all four corners, softens the area's angles and echoes the curve of the arched passageway. In a longer rectangular space, a row of circles or smaller cloverleaf designs would work equally well.


Steps // How to Paint a Floor Medallion
1 ×

Sand the Floor

 
Step One // How to Paint a Floor Medallion

Sand the Floor

hand sanding wood floor in preparation for painting
Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Rough up the floor with 150-grit sandpaper. Measure the area to cover, and draw a pattern to scale on paper, adjusting proportions to make a cloverleaf in a square. The 5-foot square shown fits neatly in a 9-by-6-foot border. The center dot, 2 feet across, is framed by open "leaves" of similar size. Solid 10-inch circles ground the design in the four corners.

 
2 ×

Mark the Design

 
Step Two // How to Paint a Floor Medallion

Mark the Design

hand marking design on wood floor in preparation for painting medallion
Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Mark and tape the inside and outside borderlines. Then make a compass with a small nail, a string, and a pencil. Tap the nail into the center point and draw the diameter of the largest circle so that it touches the painted border. Then draw the inside border of that circle, 1½ inches smaller. Draw the 2-foot-diameter center circle and the smaller corner circles.

 
3 ×

Create the Four Leaves

 
Step Three // How to Paint a Floor Medallion

Create the Four Leaves

hand painting medallion design on wood floor
Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Divide up the remaining space to determine the size of the four open leaves, which will have 1½-inch-wide outlines that touch the largest circle and merge into one line where two meet (see left). Using the string compass, draw the outside lines of each leaf, then the inside line. Use a small paintbrush and oil paint to fill in the borders and center circle.

 
4 ×

Finish the Medallion

 
Step Four // How to Paint a Floor Medallion

Finish the Medallion

hand painting medallion design on wood floor
Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Fill in the outlines of the largest circle and the four leaves. Keep a rag and mineral spirits handy to fix any slip-ups that may occur as you go. Work your way out from the center to the four circles and the thick border. Allow the paint to dry overnight, and finish with a coat of satin polyurethane. Let dry for three hours; then apply a second coat.

Pro Advice
"Don't obsess about perfection—no one is going to get down on the floor and look that closely. Ditto for any small scratches and chips later on. They give it patina, a lived-in look."—Brian Carter, Decorative Painter

 
 
 

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