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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 the porch-floor design in this story (and the others linked below), 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 and on the preceding pages. 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.

Shown: Benjamin Moore's floor and patio latex enamel paint in Copley Gray HC-104 (base coat), Palace White OC-100, Orange Blossom 2168-30, Whipple Blue HC-152, and Georgian Green HC-115.

Download and print out the template here.

Step 1

Prime the Concrete

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Prime the concrete, apply the base coat, and let it dry at least 24 hours. Starting at the center, use chalk and a ruler to measure equidistant dotted lines the length of the porch. Here, they were spaced 12 inches apart.

Step 2

Create a Template

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Create a template using heavy paper or posterboard. The one used here was a 10-by-16-inch rectangle with a 3-by-12-inch patch cut out of its center and 3-by-10-inch tabs at each end. Starting in one corner, align the center of the template with the chalk line, and trace it with chalk.

Tip: To make sure the pattern is the right scale for your porch, draw it on paper, make a dozen photocopies, and arrange them on the floor. Often, larger is better.

Step 3

Move the Template and Repeat

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Move the template up, and continue along the length of the floor. Repeat along every other chalk line.

Step 4

Stagger the Template Pattern

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Along the remaining lines, stagger the template by aligning the center cutout with the tabs to its left and right, as shown. Trace the template with chalk and continue.

Step 5

Paint the Template Borders

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Using a 1-inch flat artist's brush, fill in the tabs and borders with a lighter shade. Let the paint dry.

Step 6

Mark Out the Colors in the Squares

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Decide which cutouts will be, say, orange and mark them with an O in chalk. Using the same brush, fill them in, leaving a ribbon of base coat about ½ inch wide around the colored patch.

Step 7

Paint Inside the Squares

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Alternate two other colors in the remaining squares. Allow the paint to cure for two days, and remove any stray chalk lines with a damp sponge.