Dolls' Houses Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern. Plus furniture and accessories.

Stained Checkerboard Flooring by Shanni Schafer

I've built a Tudor dollhouse which I've posted in the DHPP photo gallery (Shanni's "Bashed" Country Tudor).  I made it from a pre-fab kit, the Real Good Toys' Country Tudor CC15, and bashed it up quite a bit I would say. 

I decided to try some staining experimentation on the wood floors. I wanted a checkerboard on the diagonal pattern. Creating the checkerboard pattern is trickier than it looks I discovered! My first try I didn't score the lines, so the squares blended into each other. It made for a very subtle effect which I will show you at the end of the article.

Here is the technique that I found that worked best for a lovely, stained, checkerboard floor.   


Step 1


Step 1: Scoring the lines (I used 1/2" painter's tape to evenly space my lines. The width of the tape is the width of a square). You'll have to figure out your first diagonal so you'll have squares or elongated diamonds. Don't draw lines, let the width of tape be your guide and start with a tape spanning each end of your first and only diagonal markings. 


  1. Lay out the tape on your first diagonal on your prestained board. This should be the lightest of your stains, I used 3 stains, 2 contrasting for the squares/diamonds and the 3rd an ebony color for the border. 
  2. Lay the metal straightedge just a smidgen past the tape edge. Hold down tightly!
  3. Using the back edge of a butter knife, press to score a line between the straightedge and the tape (I taped off the border and scored it too). Score a couple of times to insure a good indentation.
  4. Lift the tape and place it up against the "fresh" score line. Continue scoring until all the "warp" scores are made.
  5. Perform the same scoring technique for the "weft" lines. They will be 180° to your previous lines.


Step 2


Step 2: Staining the squares - remember, 3 stains total for this. I used the stain color "pine" for the prestain, "provincial" for the 2nd stain and "dark walnut" for the 3rd.  (You could use 2 - the initial board prestained, the 1st set of squares' stain and the 2nd set of squares' the same stain).

  1. Every other line of squares, tape off between the scores. Do this for both the warp and weft of the lines of squares so that there is a crisscross of tape with little open squares in between.
  2. Stain this first set of squares with your second color. Blot the stain on, gently.
  3. Remove the tape.



4. Tape over these stained rows of squares, both the warp and weft, between the rows' scores. Only your prestain background color should be seen (with a bit of bleed over of course!) between the strips of painters tape.

5. Stain this second set of squares with your third color (or if you want the alternating squares to be all the same color, use the same stain as your first set). Blot gently.

Remove the tape and voila! Let dry and polyurethane the whole board (you can use waterbased poly).



Here is the floor that I didn't score before taping and staining (I used it as the bedroom floor)….



…and here is the floor of the living room...



Happy doll housing!!!


You can see more of my Tudor build on my blog, as well as in my photo album.

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