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DIY: New England Spatter-Painted Floors

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DIY: New England Spatter-Painted Floors

August 15, 2018

Here on Cape Cod (where I’m lucky enough to spend the summer), splatter- or spatter-painted floors are so common that we take them for granted. I don’t know why our Victorian area ancestors started spatter-painting their floors—perhaps they couldn’t afford rugs, or more likely, they didn’t want to constantly beat the sand out of them—but I, for one, am glad they did. First of all, spatter-painted floors hide a multitude of sins; almost nothing shows up on them. But more important, they are simply beautiful. They’re a wonderful way to add texture and interest while still keeping the overall look minimal and clean.

Creating your own spatter-painted floor is easier than it looks; all that’s required is paint (here’s a chance to use leftover cans sitting in the garage) and a couple of long bristle brushes or plastic forks—anything you can flick, even a handheld broom will do. Gloves are also recommended. Luckily, the important thing is not perfection. For best results, you want random globs and clusters in myriad sizes, not a uniform spread. But be careful not to overdo it. Think small galaxies in the night sky, not Jackson Pollock.

N.B.: To see more, go to The Soulful Side of Old Cape Cod: Justine’s Family Cottage.

DIY New England SpatterPainted Floors First apply the base undercoat (usually in a darker color than the spatters). Allow floor to thoroughly dry for a few days. Then the fun begins. Dip the prongs of your fork or the end of your brush in the paint. Then, from a standing position, gently tap the handle of the fork or brush with another brush of paint stick as you move across the floor. This technique gives you a bit more control and allows you to spread the drips more evenly. Use just a drop of paint to create smaller dots; more for larger ones. Photograph by Matthew Williams from the Remodelista book.
Above: First apply the base undercoat (usually in a darker color than the spatters). Allow floor to thoroughly dry for a few days. Then the fun begins. Dip the prongs of your fork or the end of your brush in the paint. Then, from a standing position, gently tap the handle of the fork or brush with another brush of paint stick as you move across the floor. This technique gives you a bit more control and allows you to spread the drips more evenly. Use just a drop of paint to create smaller dots; more for larger ones. Photograph by Matthew Williams from the Remodelista book.
DIY New England SpatterPainted Floors For character, you’ll also need a few dribbles. For these, coat the fork or brush with a bit more paint and turn it sideways so the paint drips off in the end. Then flick your wrist or move it in a curve.
Above: For character, you’ll also need a few dribbles. For these, coat the fork or brush with a bit more paint and turn it sideways so the paint drips off in the end. Then flick your wrist or move it in a curve.
DIY New England SpatterPainted Floors Allow your spatters two days to dry before moving furniture onto them.
Above: Allow your spatters two days to dry before moving furniture onto them.
DIY New England SpatterPainted Floors A guest bedroom floor painted green with white spatters.
Above: A guest bedroom floor painted green with white spatters.
DIY New England SpatterPainted Floors My kitchen floor is an unexpected shade of pumpkin spatter painted with white and black.
Above: My kitchen floor is an unexpected shade of pumpkin spatter-painted with white and black.

N.B.: This story is an update; the original story ran on November 12, 2015.

For more New England quirk, see our posts:

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