Use stencils to incorporate any theme into a room.

How to Paint Concrete to Look Like Tile Using a Stencil

by Eric Jonas

If you’ve grown tired of the cold and impersonal concrete on your basement floor, you can warm up the area and customize it to coordinate with the room’s decor with an inexpensive faux tile paint makeover. Start by making the floor look just like you’ve laid down brand new tile and then personalize it with your favorite stenciled decals and designs for a one-of-a-kind floor transformation. You’ll look like the most crafty and creative gal in the neighborhood.

Cover the entire floor with a layer of primer, allow it to dry thoroughly and then apply a layer of the light-colored paint with a paint roller. Start at the farthest end of the room and work toward the doorway. This layer of paint will resemble tile grout lines when you’ve finished the project. Let the paint dry for a minimum of 36 hours.

Create the outline of each of the faux tiles on the floor with 1/4-inch painter’s tape. Using the 1/4-inch tape will cover up the light-colored paint beneath, creating your grout lines.

Combine the medium-color paint and the polyurethane to make the paint mixture for the tiles. Mix 3 parts paint to 2 parts polyurethane and stir thoroughly. Pour the dark paint and the ivory accent paints into shallow dishes.

Apply the polyurethane paint mixture to one “tile” at a time with a paint roller. Dip the sea sponge lightly into the dark paint and then the ivory paint -- it’s OK if the two paints end up mixing in the dishes a little. Pat the freshly painted tile with the sponge to add texture and the realistic inflections in tile.

Apply the polyurethane paint mixture and then the accent paints to the surrounding tiles and then remove the painter’s tape that is covering the grout lines around the first tile. Continue creating the faux tiles, working from the farthest end of the room toward the door and removing the painter’s tape as you work. Allow the paint a minimum of 48 hours to dry.

Make the stencil. You can use a store-bought stencil or create your own with cardboard instead. Just draw the outline of the design or decal you’d like on the cardboard and cut it out with a utility knife.

Lay the stencil in the center of one tile and secure it in place with painter’s tape. If you would like to create several small stencil designs in each tile, measure out the distance you’d like between each decal and secure the stencil in the first spot.

Mix any paint color you would like for the stencil with the polyurethane. Combine 3 parts paint to 1 part polyurethane and stir thoroughly.

Use a paint roller or paint sponge to apply the paint within the stencil. Remove the stencil as soon as you’re finished and move on to the next tile.

Items you will need

  • Concrete primer
  • Satin acrylic floor paint (light color)
  • Paint rollers
  • 1/4-inch-wide painter’s tape
  • Satin acrylic floor paint (medium color)
  • Acrylic polyurethane (low luster)
  • Satin acrylic floor paint (dark color and ivory)
  • Shallow dishes
  • Sea sponge
  • Stencil
  • Satin acrylic floor paint (any color you like)
  • Foam paintbrush (optional)


  • Cover up the floor trim with painter’s tape before you begin. Use a wide tape to prevent any splatters from making it onto the baseboard.
  • If paint gets onto the underside of the stencil in between tiles, it might mar the next stencil design. Wipe a plastic or metal stencil with a clean rag in between each use, or create several cardboard stencils and change them out as needed.


  • Paint Style: The New Approach to Decorative Paint Finishes; Lesley Riva, et al.
  • Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love; Sherry Petersik, et al.

About the Author

Eric Jonas has been writing in small-business advertising and local community newsletters since 1998. Prior to his writing career, he became a licensed level II gas technician and continues to work in the field, also authoring educational newsletters for others in the business. Jonas is currently a graduate student with a Bachelor of Arts in English and rhetoric from McMaster University.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images