Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My New Painting Trick...

  I love the look of painted checkerboards or diamonds but have always dreaded doing it and haven't been happy with the results.  A short while ago I thought it over and had a huge "aha!" moment.  I decided it would be a snap to lay a piece of Contact paper down, use an X-acto knife or other blade to cut along all the lines, and then lift away the parts you want painted.  I may have over-simplified here, so I'll each step with photos below.  This technique creates nice clean lines and it's MUCH faster than painting each individual square or diamond - give it a try if you like to paint furniture - or even floors or walls!

And, without further ado, my furst "how-to:"

First, paint the background color evenly across the surface where your design will go.  When it is thoroughly dry,  lay a piece of Contact paper down to cover slightly beyond the area where the design will go.  If you need added width, just lay down another piece of Contact paper next to the first, slightly overlapping.  Smooth all the Contact paper down to make sure it's securely attached across the entire surface.  I've used white Contact paper, which is easy to draw your lines on, here on this small table top.

Draw your design.  In this case, I wanted diamonds.  I started with the lines going from corner to corner and then I drew lines from the middle point of each edge to the middle point of the other edge.

Once I was happy with the lines I'd drawn, I used a single-edged razor blade to cut gently through just the Contact paper.  It won't be the end of the world if you cut into the surface slightly but it's better not to.  I would have used an X-acto blade if I'd had one handy.

I then began lifting the pieces covering the areas I wanted to paint.

If you accidentally pull up a wrong piece, you might be able to lay it back into place, otherwise, just use another piece of Contract to cover that area and re-cut.  Once all the areas where you want paint are exposed, make sure the edges are sticking well and won't allow paint underneath.  Then, start applying your paint over the entire surface.  I usually use chalk paint and, so far, have only needed to apply one coat.  If I needed a second coat, I would just leave the Contact paper in place.

Cover the areas that need it with paint. On any project, I tend to remove my masking tape or Contact paper as soon as the paint surface paint is barely dry.  That way, all lines are crisp and the paint doesn't have time to develop a skin that can pull up paint you don't want to lose.    I do tend to let it dry ever so slightly, though, to keep it from being too messy.   I use the same blade I cut the vinyl adhesive paper with to carefully start lifting each piece at a corner.  Here I've removed the first piece.  Check out how crisp those lines are!

Continue to remove all the Contact paper.

Next you'll see that all the Contact paper has been removed.   It took me less than a minute to paint in the areas I needed to on this table.  If I had painted each diamond by hand, it would have taken me an hour or more.  Applying and cutting the Contact paper took about 10 minutes.  This technique is a huge time-saver!  AND the results are excellent!

I painted French blue "coins" (dots) at each corner of the diamonds and used masking tape to create 1" x 1" squares along the edge of the table top.  Once it was all dry, I lightly distressed all surfaces with sandpaper, wiped it down,  and then covered it all with my tinted wax finish.  I also painted diamonds on the front of the drawer using the same Contact paper technique.  Here's the final result, ready to sell in my space at the Rustic Sparrow.

I've also used this for a cute little table I decided should have a checkerboard on top.  I'll have to share that one later.  This technique could be used with free form designs, also.  Or stencil letters onto the Contact paper and cut them out for a quick, easy project.  The possibilities are endless.  Now - go paint something!

I'm looking forward to teaching this and other painting techniques at a workshop on March 10 at the Rustic Sparrow in Downtown Escondido, California.  Maybe I'll see you there!

Copyright 2012 by Carol Rea


  1. Love love love!!!! Nice work girl..... A painting class.... Sounds wonderful! Keep up the great, wonderful, super, amazing art!!!

  2. Wish I was in town for your class!!! I'm sad I'll miss it... LOVE those aha moments when you realize how smart you are and wanna shout it from the mountain tops! Great work here!