A monthly DIY column by Stacie Abdallah—design blogger, avid DIYer, and busy mom of three. Armed with her trusty pliers and paint, Stacie shares her favorite home projects for creating spaces that work for you (and look incredible!)—whether big or small, rented or owned.
As a mom of three young boys, I basically live outdoors. When they’re not digging holes in search of worms, they’re playing their version of soccer, or climbing everything in sight—they’d sleep in the backyard if we let them. As a result, we spend the majority of our days in the summer, fall, and spring outside.
Thanks to an extended summer at home, I’ve spent a lot of time attending to projects in our backyard, with the goal of making it our own personal oasis. The idea of having a place for my family to retreat, enjoy each other, build memories, and relax really resonates with me. Earlier this year we expanded our raised garden bed area, built a fence around it, built a greenhouse, painted the playset, built an outdoor sectional, and installed floating curtains around the patio.
I waited till early fall to tackle my most recent project: transforming my concrete patio.
For a while, I’ve been feeling less than enthusiastic about the state of our concrete patio, which had a long crack down the middle and sported years of dirt and mildew buildup. I considered many options for this space from building a deck over it to ripping it out completely and having pavers installed. However, both those options were more expensive than needed and time-consuming. So, I decided to paint a design over it using a stencil instead.
Through my planning process it became pretty obvious to me that while this would be a relatively straightforward DIY, it would require effort. Thankfully, the weather in the fall is just right to make a project like this actually enjoyable. For my design, I selected a simple stencil pattern that I felt was both modern and timeless, but you can take things up a notch by using multiple paint colors.
I have broken this DIY project down into five easy-to-follow steps. Read all the way to the end for my lessons learned!
Thoroughly clean the concrete surface. (This stenciling can also be done on wooden floors!) I must admit, this was the step I was least looking forward to, but it was also probably the most important step. I used a cleaner specific to concrete surfaces along with a stiff push broom to loosen up all the dirt and grime. Immediately after, I used a power washer to completely clean off the surface. After ensuring that everything was as clean as possible, I let it dry overnight before moving on to the next step.
Once it’s dry, go ahead and apply your base coat of paint. I chose to go with a black patio and porch floor for a more modern vibe. Using a tele-roller frame with a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick roller cover, I applied two coats of the base paint to the concrete allowing it to fully dry between coats.
Once your base coat is fully dry, it is time for the exciting part: the stencil!
Most stencils come with a placement guide built in. For the first print, I simply placed it at one of the far corners of the patio and secured it to the ends with painter’s tape. Once I had it all secure and even, I loaded my roller with my top coat paint color (white). After loading it in the paint tray, I used a paper plate to remove excess paint. I really wanted to make sure that the paint did not seep through so it was important to make sure the roller was just barely wet with paint. From there I started rolling the paint over the stencil. I repeated this process for the entire patio, making sure to keep the stencil even using the built-in guides.
After my prints dried, I applied a protective top coat. For my top coat, I used a polyurethane sealant specifically designed to protect outdoor projects from the elements. After applying two coats using a roller, I allowed it to thoroughly dry.
What I learned:
- It is easier to correct any errors as you go, instead of waiting until the end.
- Never overload the roller. This ensured that I got a super consistent print every time that did not have any seepage.
- Do not skip the top coat! After all of your hard work, you will definitely want to protect your investment!
- Finally, I would definitely tackle a DIY like this either in the fall or in spring. A project like this in the summer could be tedious depending on the climate where you are located. Besides, you have all of fall to cozy up on your patio.
- Fall Planting! I love, love, love container gardens! If your patio is a little blah right now, consider adding a few containers of easy to grow plants, specific to your gardening zone. You can even get fancy with the containers and use beautiful planters or even DIY concrete or wood planters.
- Install outdoor curtains. I truly believe that your outdoor space should be an extension of your home. Adding outdoor curtains will elevate your patio and add versatility to your set-up. Have a romantic date night in or a fun girls’ lunch.
- Lighting in most situations is a mood-maker! Install string lights, lanterns, or candles and make your patio work well into late fall.
What upgrades are you making to your outdoor space? Tell us in the comments below!
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