Say goodbye to those boring grey concrete slabs and say hello to a super cool new look! With a stencil and some masonry paints you can totally transform your garden patio, all on a budget too. We had paints left over from my Moroccan Courtyard Makeover so it only cost Jasmin the price of a stencil...kerching!
WHAT WE USED
Large paint brush*
Decorator’s masking tape
Large stencil brush*
*if your slabs are pretty smooth you can use a roller for applying paint and a small dense foam roller for stencilling.
ORDER YOUR STENCIL
First things first, choose a design. We have so many designs to choose from - modern geometric, Moroccan, Indian, Scandi and Mediterranean...whatever you style, you’re sure to find something you like!
Next, you need to MEASURE YOUR SLABS. It’s important to get a perfect fit so measure to the nearest mm (or 1/8”).
We have a super duper useful PATIO SIZING GUIDE to help you determine how to approach your patio if you have staggered slabs, mixed slab sizes, flat concrete....whatever your patio type we can help you work it out!
Just purchase the size nearest to your measurements then put a note on your order at checkout. If you struggle adding a note, just send us an email and we will get this sorted for you.
Jasmin went for our Turin Tile design in size XXL (to fit her 60 x 60 cm slabs) for £47.98. We shrunk the stencil pattern slightly to 59.8 x 59.8 cm for a nice clean finish.
PREPARE YOUR SLABS
Now don’t go cutting corners or skip this step guys! Thorough preparation is the key to a good finish. Paint will not adhere to any dirty surface and you don't want all your hard work flaking off do you?!
I know it’s the most boring part of any project but trust me, don’t scrimp, it’ll be totally worth it.
Power wash those flags and get rid of as much dirt, moss and grime as you can. What a difference it makes!
Jasmin set me a challenge to power wash a ‘Dizzy Duck’ onto one of the flags to demonstrate how much of a difference cleaning actually makes...hmmm...(would you believe that this is even the second attempt!) I think I'll just stick to designing stencils, free lance art clearly isn't my thing! ✌
APPLY THE BASE COAT
Before starting to paint your first coat brush the flags thoroughly to remove as much dust as possible.
Before you even pick up a brush, read the tin, then read it again! Follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter. Pay particular attention to temperature, weather conditions, recoat times and curing times. Improper application means the paint may not adhere and may peel off, which we certainly don't want!
For the base coat we used the left-over ‘Jasmine White’ Dulux Weathershield Ultimate Protection Masonry Paint from my Moroccan Courtyard Makeover. Jasmin’s flags were very cracked and rough textured so we applied the paint with large paint brushes, pushing paint into all the cracks for a full coverage.
If your flags are relatively smooth you could probably get away with a roller to speed up the job and save your knees and arms. Good workout though!
Two coats later and we were ready to stencil. Drying time was 4 hours so we were able to get the base coat done in one day without too much stress. Now for the most exciting and fulfilling part of the project...the stenciling!
POSITION YOUR STENCIL
Align your Patio Stencil onto your patio slab and use decorator’s masking tape to hold the stencil in place. If the tape doesn't stick well try using something small and heavy on each corner to hold it in place.
If you bought one of our Faux-Tile Stencils it will have registration marks (repeat parts of the pattern for repositioning) cover these up with some masking tape if you are stencilling slabs. These repeat markers are used when stencilling a flat flush surface, better for stencilling non-slabbed patios.
Here we go, time for the best part...stencilling! We used left over Ronseal Garden Paint (Charcoal Grey) for the stencilling. Total freebie money saver!
So...to ROLLER or to BRUSH, that is the question?!
If your slabs are relatively new and smooth then you can try using a small dense foam roller to stencil with. If, like us, you are dealing with old cracked and rough concrete then it’s a good idea to invest in a large stencil brush. Don’t be tempted to use a normal paint brush as you need flat ended bristles to allow for a stabbing motion. Whatever you do, don’t brush the paint on as you would when painting a wall. The paint will bleed under the stencil and you’ll get uneven blotchy stencilling!
Usually when stencilling indoor projects you hardly use any paint although on a rougher texture such as concrete you can get away with a heavier coverage. But you still have to be careful not to use too much paint or it will seep under the stencil and we don’t want blotchy lines do we peeps?!
Always experiment first in an area that will not be exposed and can be easily covered up with furniture or plant pots if you do mess up. Failing that, just paint over and start again, easily solved!
As the paint coverage is heavier you may need to stencil alternative flags so you aren’t laying the stencil on top of wet paint.
UNEVEN SHAPED FLAGS
Dilemma time! Jasmin’s slabs weren’t all square; there was a row of rectangular slabs next to the house. Well we are Dizzy Ducks by name but not by nature - we had it covered! All the square slabs were stencilled first then we just lined up the tile pattern onto the rectangular slabs.
Erm...what rectangular slabs? Now you see ‘em, now you don’t!
EDGES AND CORNERS
Always leave edges and corners last and use a stencil brush for more accurate stencilling. Fortunately we didn’t have too many awkward spaces.
You’ve got two choices...either bend your stencil into the edges where the slab meets the fence/wall or cut your stencil to fit.
All our Patio, Tile and Faux-Tile Stencils come as a 2-pack to help speed up your project and you can cut one of the stencils for tighter spots too!
We cut our stencil to make it easier to mange and bent into an edge and a corner where some slabs met the wall.
CLEANING YOUR STENCIL
Your stencil will probably need cleaning mid-project. When too much paint builds up on the stencil it causes the paint to bleed under the stencil making ugly blotchy lines.
Fortunately for us Jasmin’s patio is only teeny weeny so we never needed to clean our stencils.
For indoor projects that use emulsion and chalk paints we recommend soaking the stencil in very warm soapy water until the paint rubs off easily. However, masonry paint is a lot more robust and is a lot more stubborn to clean.
You could use wet wipes throughout the project and wipe clean as you go along. Or you can clean the stencil in warm soapy water at intervals. But be careful not to scrub too hard or you’ll damage your stencil. You don’t necessarily need to remove all the paint from the stencil, just make sure the edges of the pattern are free from the build up of paint.
TO SEAL OR NOT TO SEAL?
It is a question we get asked a lot. Some of our customers have sealed and others haven't. There is no evidence to suggest that sealing actually protects the surface as a good masonry paint applied correctly should suffice.
So, it is personal choice if you want to use a sealer. A lot of our customers have used Screwfix No Nonsense Patio & Driveway Sealer.
We chose not to seal our slabs as we want to test the paint durability and report back to you guys.
(Update July 2021) 2 years down the line our patios held up under all the torrential rain we have here in Northern England!
If you want to see more about paints some of our customers have used that have lasted well read our Most Durable Paints For Patios blog.
So that’s all folks! You are now equipped to go and stencil your own patio slabs. But don’t forget, if you need any more hands on advice don’t be shy, just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our social media. We are friendly little ducks and are always happy to help where we can! 👍