- One thing holds true for most floor covers and that is you should always apply the flooring AFTER the dollhouse is assembled, so that you can take into account the different twists and turns of a room and achieve the perfect fit for your flooring. Covering your floors before assembly will make slots inaccessible causing an ill fitting dollhouse. You also do not want to glue walls to covered floors as the extra thickness will hinder a tight flush fit, that a dollhouse needs, for successful assembly.
- If your staining the dollhouses kit floors, do so before you wallpaper but if your adding a floor cover, do so after wallpapering. This will help minimize damage to your flooring or wallpaper.
- All interior doors must be modified, if you plan on hinging them, so they will fit with the new floor height that added flooring will create.
1. Floor Preparation
Your floor covers are only as good as your orginal floors so make sure that you sand your floors and make them as smooth as possible so that your flooring covers lay flat and even. You should also paint your floors a matching color to your floor coverings in order to insure color quality and evenness.
2. Flooring Versus Trim Work
The most challenging aspect of dollhouse flooring, whether staining the original floors or covering them, is the possible difference between hues of the flooring stain and the staircase, window and door trims.
Remember that your dollhouse is made of varying wood sheets and this will affect your interior trim and staircase, which are comprised of all these parts. Your window trim can have a completely difference hue than your flooring. Your staircase can have a different hue than your interior trim and your flooring. These varying hues of wood can look beautiful together, giving the dollhouse an authentic look since real houses are also made up of different woods but some people may not like this outcome.
Make sure you inspect your kit well, when it arrives, to identify if this is an outcome you will not like. The hue and grain differences in trim, floor and staircase are easily observed before staining so a decision can be made beforehand. You can always paint your trim and staircases to hide these different hues, rather than staining them, if you want to avoid variations in hue stain and wood grain throughout your dollhouse.
3. Making A Template
Templates will help you to apply many popular flooring covers to your floors. Templates are required for the application of carpet, fabric or polystyrene plastic flooring sheets.
You can use any kind of paper to make a template. I use printer paper because it's easily available and inexpensive but you can use anything, including old magazines or postal paper. Just make sure that you do not use any paper that might transfer ink like printed newspaper, as you can accidentally stain wallpaper or the flooring you use it on.
Place the paper in your room and crease it around walls to transfer its shape to the paper. If your room has extra twists and turns you might have to join strips of paper with masking tape in order to get the right shape.
Once you have your floor impression transferred to paper, you can then use it to cut out your flooring cover with.
If your dollhouse is small and has only one room per floor, you can trace the flooring onto paper before you assemble the dollhouse, saving you the time of creasing paper around walls afterwards. Just keep in mind that your template might have a slight discrepancy in size as sometimes walls sit over the edges of floors. After your dollhouse is complete, modify your paper template's size by fitting it into the finished room and trimming any excess.
4. Baseboards And Trim
No floor is complete without baseboard trim. You can choose real miniature baseboards in a variety of styles for your dollhouse or use your own economical alternative.
Tab and slot dollhouses have true to scale, unique measurements that can make choosing and applying trim difficult. There are many twists and turns in their interiors so you must be familiar in making miter cuts if you plan on using real miniature baseboards. Here are two tutorial links for making miter cuts for baseboards. These are for life scale houses but they work the same way for miniature dollhouses.
Outside Corner Baseboard Miter Tutorial
Inside Corner Baseboard Miter Tutorial
Because of tab and slot dollhouses true to scale designs, you might find that real miniature moulding, in the one inch scale, is quite large in proportion to your dollhouse. This is especially true for smaller cottages. You might want to use the half scale version of these mouldings instead.
Aside from real miniature baseboards, great baseboard trim can be found in the wood craft section of your local craft store and works very well with tab and slot dollhouses. There you will find easy to cut strips of wood of varying widths and lengths for your conveniance. These strips usually cost less than a dollar each and one strip is long enough to trim up to three rooms. You can also find fancy wood strips in the framing department for a more ornate look to your baseboards.
Wooden skewers can be used as simple baseboards and even fabric ribbons can be painted and made into flooring trim to match fabric floors.
5. Clamping Baseboards
Trim is not the easiest thing to clamp down as the glue dries. The easiest to use and most effective clamp I have found is hot melt glue sticks and masking tape.
Just butt the glue stick up to the trim and hold it in place by taping it to the floor with masking tape.
If your floors are paper, carpet or fabric and you do not want to risk using masking tape on them, you can buy the long glue sticks and pry them between the trim and the opposite wall. These long sticks can also be pryed beween the floor trim and the ceilings to clamp stubborn trim downwards towards the floors.
Glue sticks can be cut to size so you can pry them between narrow hallway walls and other tight spaces. They are flexible and smooth so they will not damage wallpaper but still strong enough to be effective clamps. They are also reusable so you will not need to buy more for future projects.
Popular Flooring Options
Staining The Dollhouses Original Floors
Hard Wood Floor Covers
Carpet And Fabric Floors
Plastic Flooring Sheets
Stone Veneers And Brick Floors
Stencils And Detailing For Floors
Staining The Dollhouses Original Floors
This is the most economical finish chosen for flooring by dollhouse enthusiasts and usually the first choice for beginners. It is also the finish with the most versatility when it comes to application and product selection.
First, let's begin with the products available for staining wood. You can use a real wood stain or you can use a faux stain. Both will work on wood and have similar outcomes.
Real wood stain comes in a variety of hues. Some even come with the polyurethane already blended in and some are water based. They also come in a variety of containers, from your average cans to sprays and even pens. Regardless of the type of stain or the container you get it in, they all work the same way on wood. Real wood stain can be found at your local hardware store and there is a limited selection in craft stores as well.
The advantage of a faux stain is that it has no fumes and can be used in a non-ventilated area. You also have more control with the color selection because you can basically use any acrylic craft paint to make a stain with.
There are several methods that can be used to create faux stain. All you have to do is dilute your choice of acryllic craft paint using a Gel Stain Medium, Acryllic Varnish or plain water. I have tried all three but Acryllic Varnish works best. Gel Stain Mediums and Acryllic Varnish can be found at your local craft store.
Gel Stain Mediums can be expensive and they tend to streak the paint a little, making it difficult to achieve a nice even finish.
Acrylic Varnish has the right consistency to dilute craft paint and will apply evenly to your floors. I suggest a Gloss Interior Varnish. The gloss will add extra shine to your floors and because it's an interior varnish, you do not have to worry about it getting on your hands as it cleans up with water.
Though water is readily accessible and will dilute paint, I do not recommend it because it streaks, dulls the paint color and you really do not want to add too much moisture to your wood.
When making a faux stain, acrylic craft paint is the preferred paint to use. It is thick and mixes well. Latex paints are very watery so it might be harder to achieve a vibrant stain color with them. You should also check with the manufacturer to see if they can be made into stains using Acrylic mediums, as I've never tried myself.
Left over faux stain can easily be stored in a sealed disposable storage container for future use.
Whether you use real wood stain or a faux stain, they both have to be sealed after application to achieve a nice smooth and shiny finish. They both also have to be lightly sanded between coats to achieve maximum shine.
Real wood stain is sealed with polyurethane and faux stain can be sealed with Acrylic Gloss Varnish, though they can be used interchangeably. You may also use a matte or satin finish for your sealant, if preferred.
Just like polyurethane, Acrylic Gloss Varnish is clear and will add shine to your floors. If you used varnish to make your faux stain, you still have to give your floors two coats of varnish after the stain is dry. Always allow for varnish to completely dry between coats. If the varnish is not allowed to dry, it will develop a white film that can not be removed.
Real wood stain has an oily consistency so it can compromise your glues ability to adhere. Also remember, that stain needs to penetrate the wood in order to achieve its hue. Stain is not like paint and will not cover mistakes on your floors. Areas on your wood floors that have been previously sealed or have any type of glue on them, will not stain properly. Wood glue does not dry clear, so it will be visible over or under stain. Even though faux stain is more forgiving when it comes to penetrating glue, you should always be careful and sand off completely any glue or paint that may have dripped on the areas you want to stain.
Usually a foam brush is recommended for applying stain. This may be true with real wood stain but faux stain can be applied with a regular bristled brush if desired.
Apply stain to all flooring evenly, and without overlapping stain. Do not apply fresh stain to previously dried stain or in separate sections. Plan to finish staining what you start for best results.
Now that you are familiar with the materials for staining it's time to figure out what you want to stain. Usually when you talk about staining, your talking about your dollhouses original wood floors. But, your dollhouse's flooring can present its set of challenges.
Your first challenge is the grain of the flooring. The grain can run in different directions between floors and/or rooms.
Your dollhouses original floors can also be different hues between floors and/or rooms. When you apply stain to these different hues, you will get a different color outcome even though you have used the same color stain throughout your dollhouse.
You can clearly see both of these potential problems on the floor of the Garfield Dollhouse.
Even though I used the same stain on the entire floor, one side of the floor is much darker than the other. Of course, these two floors were divided into two different rooms once the dollhouse was assembled but you should keep this in mind regardless just in case it's not the look you would like for your dollhouse.
It is not often that you come across a dollhouse whose floors stain evenly between rooms and floors. You can see how evenly the wood stained on the Lily Dollhouse, Westville Dollhouse and Coventry Cottage Dollhouse.
Do not assume that your dollhouse kit will have this good fortune. The reality is that most tab and slot dollhouse kits are made of a variety of wood sheets, all with different grains and hues.
Tab and slot dollhouses are not the only dollhouses whose original floors can have potential problems when stained. Even cabinet-grade dollhouse can experience the same outcomes.
The Strawberry Patch Dollhouse's stained floors had plenty of grain detail, even on the staircase. Some people may prefer less grain showing in their wood for a more even look.
Staining your dollhouse's floors will also not hide certain inconsistancies in the wood like the dark pattern running along the side of the attic floor of the Emerson Row Dollhouse.
Maybe this is something you wouldn't mind seeing on real life scale wooden kitchen cabinets but they could be an eye sore for some when it's on their dollhouse floor.
Not all dollhouse floors can be stained. Some have water or burn marks that would be too unsightly to leave exposed.
Stained dollhouse floors will also have some exposed tab and slots that have to be sanded, filled with wood filler and then re-stained. The only wood filler that stains well is Minwax Stainable Woodfiller. Even though you may do a great job trying to hide the tab and slots on your flooring, they will never be truly invisible so this is something you will have to decide to live with.
Taking everything stated above into consideration, you should always inspect your dollhouse floors when your kit arrives, in order to make a determination if they are suitable enough for you to stain or if your better off applying a flooring cover.
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Hard Wood Floor Covers
A wood floor cover is the most popular choice with dollhouse builders.
Wood floor covers are sheets of thin real wood veneer, cut to look like wood planks and applied over your dollhouse's existing floors. The veneer is thin enough to be easily cut with scissors. They are laminated to a special paper backing so they can be glued to your dollhouse floors easily. You can use tacky glue or double sided carpet tape to adhere this flooring. They can be purchased in the right scale to match your dollhouse. More often than not, this flooring is already stained and ready to go, you just choose the hue your looking for.
The easiest way to apply this flooring is to make a paper template of the floor you want to cover and then cut your flooring sheet to match.
Wood look flooring does not have to be necessarily made of wood. You can get the same look using inexpensive vinyl floor. Vinyl wood floor comes in 12" long strips, cut to the right scale for your dollhouse. You peel and stick the planks to your dollhouse floors. The floor is easily cut with scissors.
I applied this flooring to the Aster Cottage Dollhouse. It is best to first paint your dollhouse floors with a similar color as your floor coverings. This will hide any areas around your flooring cuts and between your floor planks.
Though it is a peel and stick floor, you should always use tacky glue to adhere each plank regardless, for a long lasting hold.
You should stagger your plank joints around your floor for realism. Butt your planks as close as you can to each other and start from the back of the dollhouse (closest to you), working your way to the front wall (farthest from you). You can also use these flooring strips as matching baseboards for your floor.
As you can see, this flooring has a beautiful and realistic finish. This flooring does not require any sealant.
You do not have to settle with just a plain wooden floorboards look. You can use miniature wooden flooring in a variety of ways. You can learn how to create your own wooden floor designs by following this Parquet Flooring Tutorial. Once you have mastered how to create parquet, you can use the same technique to create any design with wooden flooring or strip wood. Quilt patterns make great templates for designed wood flooring and/or to create your own floor medallions. I have several links posted in the Links section of this blog for quilt, mosaic and stone templates.
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Carpet And Fabric Floors
Carpeting comes in a variety of textures and color but regardless of the style, it is always more difficult to apply than other flooring choices. Miniature carpet is expensive and easily damaged if cut wrong. You only get one chance to cut it right because most miniature carpeting comes in one sheet per package and are only large enough for one room.
You must make a paper template of your room to use as a cutting guide for your carpet. Place your paper room template face down on the back side of your carpet sheet and using a fabric pencil to trace it on your carpet. Then cut the shape out with sharp scissors.
Depending on the backing of your carpet choice, you can adhere it with double sided carpet tape, spray adhesive or a thin and even coat of tacky glue. Be careful you do not use too much glue. If glue bleeds through your carpet or causes a colorfast reaction, it will be ruined.
Carpet does not patch well so make sure you cut a piece large enough to fit your entire floor.
You do not have to use miniature carpet on your floors to have carpet. There are many economical fabrics available at the fabric store that will give you the look of carpet. You must make a template of your room to trace onto your fabric, just like you would with carpet.
As with carpet, colorfastness will have to be determined and fabric can be applied with a spray adhesive, double sided carpet tape or thin and evenly spread tacky glue. Depending on the thickness of your fabric, you might have to flatten it down and even it out throughout the floor.
Choosing your own fabric can allow you to make matching runners or carpet for your staircases as well.
You do not have to worry about frays in carpet or fabric because baseboards will cover the edges. For the back floor edge, run a little bit of tacky glue or fabric glue, along the fabrics cut edge, to prevent fraying.
Remember that you can find many products at the craft store than can be used for dollhouse carpeting. Peel and stick felt and fabric textured scrapbook paper are some other popular choices.
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Individual tiles are likely to achieve the realism you may be seeking for your dollhouse. They also give you the freedom to create your own patterns like mosaics or murals.
Tiles come in solids or patterns and can be made of real ceramic, vinyl, plastic or wood.
The most common way of applying tiles, regardless of what material they are, is by using a Standard Flooring Guide. This flooring guide is courtesy of Greenleaf Dollhouses and even though it was made for their peel and stick vinyl floors, you can use this guide for any type of tile flooring.
You can use lightweight spackling compound as "grout" for any type of tile. Lightweight spackling compound can be mixed with craft paint to make it any color "grout" you want just be careful when using a painted mix with wooden tiles as you can end up staining them by accident. You should seal wooden tiles first before applying painted grout.
Ceramic tiles can be adhered to your floors using tacky glue.
Vinyl and plastic tiles usually come on a paper backing so you can peel and stick them. Regardless of this, you should always use tacky glue to adhere them for longevity. Plastic peel and stick tiles usually look like real "glass" tiles and are great for back splashes, bathrooms or to add other architectural details to your dollhouse.
Wood tiles are very versatile and can be stained or painted to match any decor. These tiles are made of thin real wood veneer. The variation of grains and hues between each allow you to leave the tile natural, with just a sealant, for a beautiful effect.
I used them to make terra-cotta "tile" floors on the spanish style Loganberry Dollhouse and a rustic handmade ceramic "tile" look for my mediterranean inspired Haunted House Dollhouse.
Always sand your wood tiles after application, so they lay as flat on the floor as possible. The best glue for wood tiles is hot melt glue. It will not warp your tiles and your pattern will not shift while drying.
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Plastic Flooring Sheets
Many styles of flooring will come in polystyrene plastic sheets. These sheets can resemble brick, stone and many different patterns of tile. Some sheets even come clear, so you can paint them yourself in any color you wish, on the underside. When you flip the sheet over, you have perfectly painted, shiny tiles.
These plastic flooring sheets are inexpensive and easy to install. They eliminate the hassles of positioning tiny individual tiles. The sheets are easily cut with scissors.
The best way to apply these sheets is to first sand your floors and make sure that they are smooth. Bumps or small hard areas on your floors caused by glue or paint drips will show through your plastic sheet. They are also easily damaged if something pokes them. You want the sheet to lay on your floors completely flat with nothing bulging anywhere.
After your floors are smooth, paint them in a neutral light color. This will prevent dark areas from showing through your floor sheet. Though the sheets are plastic, they are quite thin and uneveness in your floor color will show through. Even if your tile sheet is a dark color, you should always use a neutral light base because chances are that your grout lines will be white and you won't want to darken them by placing the flooring over a dark floor.
After your floor has been prepared, make a paper template of it and then transfer it onto your plastic sheet. This will help ensure that your sheet is nice and even throughout your room.
You can adhere these sheets with double sided carpet tape or tacky glue. No sealant is required for this flooring. It already brings all of the shine it needs.
You do not want to patch this flooring as it will not patch well so always cut a piece large enough to fit your entire dollhouse room.
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Paper has to be just about the most versatile and inexpensive flooring method available for dollhouses.
Flooring paper can come printed to look like wood, tile and stone and in just about any design you can think of. They can even be recreations of real historical patterns. It comes in multiple scales to match your size dollhouse.
You can buy miniature flooring paper from your miniatures dealer but you can also print them or even buy real life scale wallpaper or contact paper in the right pattern.
Flooring paper can be patched as easily as wallpaper. Just make sure that the overlapped seam is facing away from you so that it is invisible. You also do not need to make paper templates of your floors in order to install paper flooring. You can simply use the paper flooring itself and crease it along walls to make the template. Always paint your floors first with a light neutral color for evenness and to enhance the flooring paper's hues.
Flooring paper from your miniatures dealer is usually a high quality, thick grade paper. The patterns have been printed to be in perfect scale to use with miniatures. It can be applied with a spray adhesive or thinly spread tacky glue. You could use the same adhesive as with wallpaper but I find that the thinner the adhesive layer the better and wallpaper paste tends to be thick.
You have to be careful with the amount of glue and how you spread it on the floor. Blobs can wrinkle the paper or even cause tears from excessive moisture. Glue should be spread thinly and evenly with a foam brush on the entire floor before applying your paper. Stay away from quick grabbing glues, like those used for scrap booking, because you want to be able to have enough time to move your paper around, after it's been laid down, for an exact fit.
Depending on how thick the paper is, you might see a little buckling and bubbling but just as is true with wallpaper, it will flatten out as the glue dries.
Be sure you determine how colorfast your paper is. Most miniature flooring paper from your miniatures dealer is colorfast and good quality but others may not be. The moisture in glue could change the color hue of your paper if it is not colorfast.
Flooring printed from your home printer is most susceptible to ink loss, streaking and not being colorfast. You also will loose details in your flooring like wood grain effects or tiny flowers on tile. Bottom line is that if it's printed from your home printer, you will not get a nice crisp, professional print. It is also not as cost effective as you might think, considering that it takes a lot of ink to produce a high quality print out and printer ink can be expensive. I printed a large size flooring design for the Vineyard Cottage Dollhouse from my printer. The one and a half floors worth of paper caused me to run out of color ink.
If you do find a beautiful design online that you just have to have as your flooring, take it, in PDF format, to your local office supply store and have them print it out for you. You will get a high grade paper and sharp image from their printer at just pennies per sheet.
Contact Paper or real life scale wallpaper in a semi-solid pattern can be used to create a marble effect on your floors. Contact paper or shelf liner paper is a peel and stick paper so you will have to make paper templates of your room and transfer them onto the Contact Paper. Even though it's peel and stick, I still suggest spreading tacky glue on your floor for a stronger, more lasting bond. Contact Paper can be quite thin, it is not as thick as it use to be, so you have to be sure your floor is nice and smooth or you will see rough parts on the surface. I used a marble look Contact Paper for my Gloucester Dollhouse.
Sometimes, depending on the look your trying to get, it might be easier to apply the flooring paper before the dollhouse assembly. This is especially true for smaller scale dollhouses that have very limited visibility and accessibility once assembled. Flooring paper is thin enough to not interfere with the assembly of the dollhouse. I had to apply the paper tile flooring to my Fairfield Dollhouse before assembly.
Always seal your paper flooring after it's dry. My favorite sealant is Acrylic Gloss Varnish but you can also use a satin or matte finish depending on the look your trying to achieve.
Test your sealant in a small area first, preferably a scrap of paper that's away from your dollhouse. You want to see how colorfast the paper is. A sealant on a non-colorfast paper can actually streak and/or lift the ink from the paper. It can also cause a change in hue color. Never brush the varnish on too long in one area. You want to move along the paper quickly, to prevent tearing the paper with the moisture of the varnish.
Never sand between varnish coats when applied to paper flooring because you can accidentally sand off some of your paper. Use a paper bag instead to rub the dry varnish with and then apply the second coat.
You can spray seal your flooring paper before application but make sure you only seal the printed side as the paper will not adhere if you accidentally seal the glue side.
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Many people completely dismiss painted floors but there is a lot that can be done with paint or pencil.
You can make your own tile flooring using masking tape and paint.
Paint you flooring one of the colors you would like to use. Then draw a grid on your floor with pencil and use masking tape to cover the grid lines you don't want to paint over. Once the paint is dry, you remove the masking tape and you are left with a checkerboard tile pattern on your floor. Apply Gloss Varnish over it for a shiny look.
Using paint, you can create a faux marble or stone look.
You can also stain your floors and then draw plank boards with a pencil. An Emory Board Fingernail File is the perfect template for the plank widths. You can even use a sharp utility knife to score the planks in for added texture. Stagger your board joints for realism.
Painting should be done before the dollhouse is assembled for easier access to the entire floor.
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Stone Veneers And Brick Floors
Stone veneer is made with high density casting plaster. They can be cut with a craft knife and adhered with mortar mix. They come in a variety of styles and give a very realistic look. They are perfect for porches and driveways.
Clay bricks are also adhered with mortar mix and made of real clay. They would make a perfect rustic kitchen floor. You can also use Dollhouse Stucco as mortar.
You can certainly seal your stones or bricks with varnish. I'd recommend a mattee finish.
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Stencils And Detailing For Floors
You can use stencils to create details on your floors for visual interest.
I used temporary tattoos to create a unique floor design on the Buttercup Cottage Dollhouse.
Use Gloss Varnish over your stencil designs to seal them in place.
You can print wood inlays from your computer and glue them to the middle of your floors for a nice focal point. I decided to do this for the Orchid Dollhouse.
Stencils and printed decorations for flooring should be applied before dollhouse assembly. Make sure your aware of how the walls will sit on your finished dollhouse so you can position your decorations on the floor properly.
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Keep In Mind
You don't have to limit yourself with traditional flooring materials. You can certainly think outside of the box and create flooring using a variety of other methods.
Craft sticks, skinny sticks and birch veneer siding can give you a variety of ways to finish your floor. Craft sticks and skinny sticks can be used as wood planks to create your own hardwood floor. You can create your own wooden inlays using birch veneer siding, which is easy to cut into different shapes. Corkboard can be a unique flooring choice as well.
Don't forget Creative Paperclay. This modeling clay can be stamped with a variety of stone or brick finishes and adheres very well to wood. You can even use the back side of a polystyrene plastic sheet, in a stone or brick pattern, to stamp the clay with for perfectly scaled designs.