DIY: Faux Cement Tile for under $200

Last year we decided we wanted to paint the concrete slab in our backyard. And because we do everything a little over the top we thought- why don't we stencil a pattern on it? Due to too many house projects, painting got pushed back to this year. But here we are- 2 full hot days of work and it is finally done!

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The most important part of painting and stenciling concrete is the way you prep it. I think we spent just as much time prepping as we did stenciling. But if you don't want your paint to chip, this is the way it has to be done! We actually had a hard time finding information on the internet about doing all the steps to prep, so of course we are going to tell you all about it. Let's get started!

You will need: (these are affiliate links) 
- Concrete and Garage Paint (we used Behr's Concrete Paint in Tea Room) 

For a quick look through the process, watch our YouTube video below.
1. The first thing you have to do is prep your concrete. For us this meant cleaning the concrete really well with a power washer, then using an acid to etch the concrete, cleaning it really well again. You could power wash the concrete again if you wanted. You want to be able to run your fingers across the concrete and have no chalky dust on your fingers. To get rid of this we scrubbed the concrete with a push broom, blew away the dust and then suctioned out the rest with a shop vac.
2. After the ground is prepped, there is one more step before painting and that is using bonding primer. Bonding primer acts like a glue- helping the concrete and the paint become one. It actually looks like glue too. This layer was really weird for us as it looked splotchy. We could not find any information about this situation so we just made sure we applied it evenly. In the end everything was covered and all sections had the sticky feeling that they were supposed to.
We were a little worried that maybe we didn't put the acid down correctly, but we pressed on and are hoping for the best. We will definitely keep you updated on how well the concrete is holding up!
3. Now it's time to finally lay down some paint! For this part we are using Behr Concrete Paint in white. We put down one layer of the white paint for our background color.
The first layer of paint wasn't as solid as you would want if you were just painting it white. Since our second layer was pink, we left the white like this. It definitely gives the concrete a not-so-perfect look which ends up looking more like concrete tile than a stenciled floor.
4. And it's time to start stenciling! Our stencil was sent to us by Royal Design Studio. You can find the exact one we used by clicking here. Before we laid the stencil down we sprayed the back of it with the reposition able spray adhesive. This really helps keep all the details down. You'll have to re-spray this on as it will wear off.

We also ended up using painter's tape to really secure the stencil in place. Make sure that you only use painter's tape on the sides where there is no wet paint. A lot of times this means that you only have two sides taped down.
Using the stencil is really simple. Our concrete has lines that cross right in the middle so we used that as our guide. You'll have to find the middle of your floor and snap a perfect straight line as a guide. Then you line your stencil up and start painting.
It is very important that you use a high density foam roller and nothing else. We actually started out with a different roller and it laid the paint on way too thick and we had to start over.
Apply the paint as lightly as possible to get a feel for it. You can always make it darker but you can't make it lighter.
Once you have one stencil painted down all you have to do is move the stencil down, line up the registrations marks, tape it down, and you'll be ready to paint again.
Pro tip: Clean your stencil off as you go. When we first started painting we had to clean the stencil off  because we were painting too heavily and it was seeping underneath. We really should've kept cleaning it off every now and then because it started building up and then we were in a situation where the lines were thicker in certain places. So do yourself a favor and clean it off every 10 stencils or so.
Our space is about 480 sq. feet, so the painting took a full two (and very long) days.
But we love how the concrete turned out- it really looks like we have tile down.
Here is the space in full. You can see how the paint is lighter in places than in others. If this is something that would bother you, you might try to paint two layers of white paint or be really focused on applying the same pressure on every stencil. For us, this is exactly what we are going for- and it's a good thing or else we would be spending two more days painting a second coat.
This is probably our favorite DIY to date. While the process was tedious at times, the the end result was absolutely worth it. The floor really looks like tile and it drastically changed the way the space looked. It's the perfect addition to our Tulum-esque pool area. 

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  1. Amazing! This looks fabulous. I appreciate the clear and honest instructions.

  2. How is the paint holding up? We're looking to re cement our back yard cause we have aggregate right now and I want to paint it like this!