Art Nouveaux Stencil Floor

end shot

Here is a stencil floor with an Art Nouveaux stencil pattern in Soho, NYC.

sketch 1

The floor was designed on a computer for client approval.

sketch 2

Then, it was printed larger and with specifications for the laser stencil company.

This is the approved sample.

approved sample

The floor was stained and sealed with a Dura Seal varnish by the paint contractor.  After it cured, we made our measurements with a snap line and chalk pencil.  We received the sticker stencil from the laser company and laid it out in preparation of adhering it.

laying border

When we think we have the section lined up, we removed the protective backing and carefully flipped it to stick in place.  You have one shot to make it right and be sure the stencil is in the correct position.  Also, if it doesn’t go on smoothly, you can get bubbles in the stencil which causes a problem later on.

removing sticky

Most of the outer border sections came out pretty well.  Some sections had some bubbles.  We used a wallpaper plastic blade to burnish the stencil before we removed the protective backing.   The blue part is the stencil.

freshly placed stencil

After the border, the main pattern sections were loosely placed.  We had to do some fudging to get the lines to match up — there’s always an degree of error with these projects.

laying out rest

The main pattern was laid.  The big pieces went down easier than the skinny border with less bubbling.

lay final stencil

Lining up the final elements of the design.


The blue tape are  band-aids for ripped or messed up sections.  It’s important to burnish these areas very well.

placed stencil

Before the staining began, we used Matte Medium to seal every single edge of the stencil pattern.  This Matte Medium trick works incredibly well to prevent bleeding.  And with a low-viscosity liquid like stain, it is more prone to bleeding.

fixing bad areas

We used a custom tinted mixture of a Dura Seal oil stain.  We mostly applied it with the Rondin brush and then softened with a  small, square badger softener as we went along.

first stain

Once dry, we repeated the process with the same stain once again.

first stain

After that dried, we began the tedious process of removing the sticker stencil.

pulling the sticker

pulling sticker

sticker removing

After, we removed any bleeding and remaining chalk lines with denatured alcohol.

alcohol fix

Here is the finished design.  The paint contractors sealed the floor again to complete.

finished floor

finished floor

finished floor



  1. I love it and linked this post as part of a “Best of DIY design style: art deco”- feature. You can find it here:

  2. Pierre love getting your newsletters that point to your blog as I know I am always in for a treat. Love the design and was curious to know did you have to vector the design and put it to a PNG file for the printer before cutting it?
    The blue part of it looks like a mylar but if it were then you would be able to use it more than once. Obviously it’s not the case so my question is what is the “blue” adhesive.
    Thanks for the great post

  3. Great process write-up and photos as always, Pierre. I’ve always wondered about projects like this and durability of the application. Now I know!

    Question, though. Why did you choose to stain on top of the 1st layer of varnish instead of directly onto the raw floor, then seal all afterward?

    • Pierre Finkelstein says

      Katie we did a few samples before we stained the floor and noted that the grain of the wood floor was very deep. Because of this, the stain tended to bleed. We varnished before we stained to prevent the bleeding from happening. It worked great. The floor was then sealed again to protect the stain.

  4. Pierre Finkelstein says

    And thank you for the nice comments everyone!

  5. Love the design it is tip top Pierre.

  6. Nicely done Pierre!!

  7. Marilyn Guesr says

    Beautiful design and execution! I wonder what they put in that space that showcased the flooring.

  8. Nice job!

  9. What a great post! Gorgeous floor.

  10. This is so beautiful!


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