Stylish outdoor living calls for fresh thinking, and Brian Carter, a decorative painter in Atlanta, knows just where to focus when a front porch, a screened porch, or a sunroom is at play. “Since more thought is going into furnishings and accessories,” he says, “why not look to the floor as a surface that can be treated decoratively too?”
Carter, the mastermind behind these porch-floor designs, says keys to a great paint job include dry, pollen-free weather; paints and stains geared for use on floors; and a soft color palette.
Take the Colorful Carpet design here: Warm gray is the backdrop for a modern chain-link design filled with patches of pale orange, blue, and green. Carter used a single template and worked freehand—and, yes, his legs did get sore. “Be sure, each time you sit, to switch them from one side to the other,” he says.
Porch enamel and a paper template turned a plain concrete slab into a colorful carpet. Here's how it was done.
To soften the look of a porch bound in brick, Carter united the floor and walls with a base coat of gray-tinted exterior stain. Adding wide bands of stain in a contrasting color on the floor adds definition to the space, Carter says. And because the bands cut across the floor’s horizontal grout lines, mirroring the lines of the paneled ceiling above, the pattern also makes this small outdoor room seem larger.
Though the floorboards were scratched and dinged, Carter was glad to have what he calls a built-in ruler. “I’ve learned to coordinate patterns with plank width so that I can count across. It saves time measuring,” he says, “and the rhythm of the planks can reinforce the design.” Here, board width guided placement of two templates: a four-petal blossom the width of six boards, and an oval two boards wide. Carter alternated their placement from row to row, yielding a pattern that contrasts with the window and door grids while warming up the space.
To enhance this concrete floor, Carter blew up a traditional brick pattern. He began with a base coat of charcoal-gray-tinted concrete sealer, then marked off the largest square possible, snapping a chalk line between two opposite corners. He then drew 2-foot squares coming off the diagonal. Each square became two alternating block-like rectangles, which he outlined with concrete sealer tinted pale gray. The pattern’s diagonal orientation seems to stretch the length of the room while contrasting with the organic shapes of the stones in the fireplace surround and the stairs just outside.
The narrowness of this space inspired the octagon-and-diamond motif. “The large scale works well,” Carter says. “And the homeowners also liked the traditional feeling of the pattern,” which is not unlike ones seen in Victorian-era encaustic tile and in floor and ceiling treatments that go back much further. Carter devised a pattern with an octagon across four boards and a diamond the width of one board, all on a single template. He outlined the shapes carefully and used plenty of painter’s tape to keep the geometry crisp.