The following information is meant to aid the artist in developing a floorcloth. This is by no means an ideal use of an acrylic artist's paint. Floorcloth application is perhaps one of the most physically demanding situations for which any paint can be used. We suggest limited use of a floorcloth as a functional item, or that the purchaser of such an article be made aware of its limited life span in everyday situations.
Measuring the life expectancy of any functional item directly relates to the amount of use and abuse it is exposed to during its life. Even the finest, most well-made furniture cannot be expected to survive in a harsh environment. Refinishing is not an option for a floorcloth, and even using the finest materials available will not ensure that it can last a lifetime if daily use imbeds grime into its surface, if it is cleaned with harsh abrasives, or if it is rolled and unrolled frequently.
Before getting started, consider the demands of such a system
The support and paints must be soft and flexible for purposes of rolling/unrolling and transporting the piece; yet they must also be hard and tough enough to stand up to being scuffed, kicked and walked upon on a daily basis. In most cases, the floorcloth will not remain pristine for very long.
Most art materials made today, including acrylic and oil paints, are high quality products that are made to be lightfast and permanent when used for fine art. They are not, however, designed to stand up to the physically demanding requirements of flooring material.
As with quality furniture, it is extremely difficult to determine how long a functional floorcloth will last. Make it clear with clients the nature of the material, and the care that is required to make this art form a lasting treasure. Guarantees regarding the lifetime of finished floorcloths should be avoided.
Cotton canvas or other suitable heavyweight fabric material. The best material is #8 cotton duck canvas, due to its thickness. Lighter-weight materials are less durable and more fragile. Raw canvas should be at least 4-6 inches larger than the intended dimensions of the finished floorcloth.
GOLDEN White Gesso with GAC-100 added (ratios of 4:1 to 1:1 of gesso to GAC 100). GAC 100 is added to increase the flexibility and resiliency of the gesso. GAC 100 has proven to be best suited for this application due to its flexibility; however, GOLDEN Polymer Medium or Soft Gel can be used for this purpose as well.
Golden Artist Colors Heavy Body, Matte, or Fluid Colors will suffice. As it is difficult to know how the many different brands of acrylics available today will react under these extreme conditions, we recommend our products. Flexibility and water and chemical resistance should be tested before using another brand.
Adding GOLDEN GAC 500 (a hard, yet flexible acrylic medium) will give the paints a physically tougher film that is more resistant to abrasion. This should not be regarded as the final step, as even adding the GAC 500 will not provide adequate protection against everyday, functional wear. This level of protection can only be provided by a varnish designed specifically for flooring purposes.
Once the painted surface is sufficiently dry (1-4 days), an appropriate sealer varnish or topcoat needs to be applied if the piece is to be functional. This final coating must be hard enough to withstand the rigors of everyday abrasion from traffic, and able to be cleaned on a regular basis with standard cleaning materials. It must also be soft enough to remain flexible without cracking or peeling off when the floorcloth is rolled or moved.
Golden Artist Colors, Inc. does not recommend one particular brand of sealer/varnish over another. We suggest contacting a reputable local hardware store or furniture/flooring specialty store that can provide a product that is non-yellowing, will remain hard and durable and most importantly, flexible. Polyurethanes and urethanes are most likely the best types of products, but there is a great deal of difference between each manufacturers' products. We suggest that you not only consult local professional store personnel, but also contact the manufacturer of the suggested product and test thoroughly for appropriateness before actually applying onto any floorcloth intended for sale.
Steps for preparing the support:
- Staple the canvas to a rigid support and brush apply 2 coats of GAC-100. This will be the back side of the floorcloth. Allow to dry. The next several steps will serve to minimize shrinkage and buckling of the finished floorcloth.
- Flip the canvas over and again staple the canvas to a rigid support (GAC-100 side down). Apply 2 more coats of GAC 100.
- Lay out the outside dimensions of the finished floorcloth. Apply 1 inch masking tape along these edges, followed by painters tape (slightly overlapping the masking tape). This allows for application of the primer directly to the very edges of the floorcloth, but not beyond these edges (see edge finishing section below). This tape should remain in place until the time for finishing the edges.
- Apply the first coat of gesso/GAC 100 mixture (see Materials section). Allow to dry.
- Lightly sand the first coat of gesso/medium, if desired, and then apply a second coat. Allow to dry.
- Transfer design onto the primed surface and begin painting.
Once the painted surface is dry (1-4 days), apply the varnish/sealer to protect the floorcloth. The following are suggestions/guidelines for applying this topcoat. These are just general guidelines and are not intended to replace specific instructions provided by the varnish manufacturer.
- Apply in thin layers to minimize shrinkage and buckling.
- Allow 4-8 hours between coats, or as per manufacturer's directions.
- Apply no more than 2 or 3 coats.
- Final curing time is 4 days to 2 weeks, depending on film thickness and atmospheric conditions. High humidity (>85% RH) and/or low temperatures (<60oF) will retard curing.
- DO NOT walk on or roll for storage for 2 weeks after topcoating. During this time, it is best that the piece remain stapled to a rigid support.
- If a piece is rolled before the topcoat has cured, the results may be severe buckling and an inability to lie flat.
Once the Topcoat is completely cured, you are ready to finish the edges
It is important that the edge of the canvas to be turned under is the exact border between the primed/painted/topcoated area and the raw canvas. That is to say, the crease should occur at the very edge of the painted area, but not through any painted areas.
We recommend the following order of steps:
- Remove all tape from the perimeter of the floorcloth.
- Trim the edges of the floorcloth leaving 1/2 to 1 inch border of unpainted canvas. Cut the corners at approximately 45o angle to the corner (for rectangular pieces), so that when all edges are turned back there is no overlap of canvas at the corners.
- The flaps created will be "glued" back leaving smooth, painted edges. Fold the flap over and gently but firmly press down to indicate where the crease will be. This area will need to be completely gessoed in order for the gel to adhere permanently. Pencil a light outline as to where the gesso will need to be applied.
- Gesso the raw canvas of the back of the floorcloth and let dry.
- Apply a layer of GOLDEN Soft Gel (Gloss) and press the surfaces together. Remove any excess gel seeping out from the edges. Once together, these surfaces must stay in contact until dry. We suggest putting a flat, heavy object on top that will not damage the floorcloth. Wait at least one day to dry. If the gel isn't completely dry after the weight is lifted, it can cause permanent buckling of the floorcloth.
- Continuing with the opposite flap, repeat this step for all edges.
- Seal all cut seams (that are now turned under and adhered to the back of the floorcloth) by brushing on a thin layer of GOLDEN Soft Gel (Gloss). This is to protect against any frayed edges or unraveling of the canvas fibers. Allow to dry.
Shipping floorcloths should be done with extreme caution. We advise making sure the painting is at room temperature (60ºF and above) for several hours before rolling. Allow several more hours (at room temperature!) for the floorcloth to adjust to being rolled up before transporting. This will allow the floorcloth to relax and adjust to the space inside the tube. This is especially important when exposing the painting to temperatures below 50º Fahrenheit.
Pieces can be shipped/transported in cold conditions, but must be physically stabilized and protected from any bending motions.
- During colder times of the year, we suggest attaching a "Read First" envelope to the outside of the shipping tube. This should state that upon receiving the floorcloth, a waiting period of 24 hours at room temperature should be allowed for the floorcloth to again adjust to the different conditions. This provides a safeguard against handling or unrolling while the floorcloth is cold, which can cause cracking or topcoat delamination.
- Consider that the floor is typically the coldest point in the room, and use caution whenever handling pieces that have been on the floor.
- When rolling floorcloths, use a tube with a minimum diameter of 8 inches, and be sure the tube extends beyond the ends of the floorcloth by 2-4 inches.
- All paints recommended for use in this application are thermoplastic polymers, which become brittle at cold temperatures. Hence, do not bend, roll or unroll floorcloth at temperatures below 50oF.
- Store finished floorcloths flat whenever possible. Storing rolled pieces runs a greater risk of developing problems in getting the piece to lie flat on a floor.
- Clean with a soft damp mop and mild soap solution. Do not use ammonia cleaners or any other harsh cleaners or solvents. Use minimal force to decrease risk of damaging (scratching/marring) the surface.
- We suggest frequent and routine cleanings to reduce risk of dirt becoming permanently embedded in the surface.
Whenever possible, permanently mounting the floorcloth onto a rigid support (i.e. plywood, masonite) will enhance its durability. This will prevent curling of edges and may reduce cracks from curls being bent over when walked on.
The above information is based on research and testing done by Golden Artist Colors, Inc., and is provided as a basis for understanding the potential uses of the products mentioned. Due to the numerous variables in methods, materials and conditions of producing art, Golden Artist Colors, Inc. cannot be sure the product will be right for you. Therefore, we urge product users to test each application to ensure all individual project requirements are met. While we believe the above information is accurate, WE MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, and we shall in no event be liable for any damages (indirect, consequential, or otherwise) that may occur as a result of a product application.