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How to Create a matching wall and wood floor shot setup | Newborn Mentoring Photographer

Posted on Mar 23, 2014

Bianca Hubble is a Newborn Mentoring Photographer. Bianca has three newborn studios which are located in Toccoa, GA, Flowery Branch, GA and Athens, GA. Her newborn photography is sought out from clients near and far. Find out more: Travel Information, .

I have been receiving a lot of questions about my newly created bone wall and wood floor shot setup at my Toccoa, GA studio.

I’m going to give you a step by step guide on how to create a similar setup. If you have any questions, just ask. I will use them to help improve these instructions.

I do use paper backdrops as well, but I like for my favorite set ups to be permanently integrated into my studio so that I can have better control of the look and so that I can quickly utilize the set up in a safe way. The beauty of this setup is that it is a real wall and a real floor, so other floordrops and backdrops can still be used as needed in the same area.

Picking the color

The first step is to pick out your color. I chose to find a color that is close to the color that is commonly referred to as “bone”. Most projects will only need about 2 gallons of interior latex paint. Make sure that the sheen is flat. I used Glidden brand paint from Home Depot.

Preparing the Wall

Your seam between the drywall wall and the wood floor, doesn’t necessarily have to be too perfect, but if you want it to be perfect, you will need to remove your baseboard, install metal j-channel to protect the edge of the drywall, and do the drywall finishing work. (a drywall installer/finisher can do this part for you, if needed)

The metal j-channel protects the fragile bottom edge of the drywall (in the absence of baseboard) and allows you to have a clean edge that matches with the overall thickness of the drywall (instead of possibly tapering slightly)

Most drywall does not directly touch the sub-floor. The bottom of the finished drywall (after the j-channel is installed) should closer to the sub-floor than the thickness of the wood floor you will be installing. This will allow the wood floor to touch the drywall when it is installed.

Paint the Wall

Perform any standard preparations that are needed prior to painting (such as: patching nail holes and priming if needed).

You will more than likely need 2 coats of paint. I recommend lightly sanding in between coats (but do not sand your final coat).

An 8′x8′ area is a great starting place to paint unless you know you will need it to be bigger or if you don’t have that much space available.

Picking out the Floor

I used tongue and groove unfinished heart pine flooring. Here are some factors to consider when selecting your flooring:

  • Select an unfinished wood… because you will be applying the finish yourself
  • I selected pine because it is significantly cheaper then any other type of wood that is typically used in flooring
  • I selected heart pine. It is more expensive than more commonly available pine, but it is significantly more durable.

Installing the Floor

As stated previously, I decided to integrate this area of my studio permanently. This makes things safer and faster to use. If you are going to permanently install the wood into your studio, you will ideally be installing it onto a wood subfloor by finish-nailing each board into place on the tongue of the board. I’m on a concrete slab and I wanted the thickness of the floor the be similar to the rest of the flooring in my studio. Therefore, I made the difficult decision to GLUE the heart pine to the concrete slab.

Details/Warnings about Gluing Solid wood to concrete

Solid wood floors are not meant to be glued down to concrete. I justified it because the drawbacks of gluing solid wood to concrete will actually help me achieve the rustic look I’m looking for. If you decide to glue heart pine to a slab, you can use a high-grade of wood floor glue that is meant for 3/4″ bamboo flooring. The glue will bond to the wood and the concrete and create a sponge-like structure that flexes with the gradual expansion/contraction of the wood. I recommend that you etch your concrete and install drylock prior to gluing down the wood flooring.

Please also note that if you are gluing solid wood to concrete, it is impossible to correct wood that is warped… so you will have gaps between the boards or you will not be able to use about 1/3 of your material. I wanted gaps!

An 8′x8′ section of flooring should work nicely… unless you have a reason why you would need it to be bigger or you don’t have room for it to be that big.

White-Wash the Floor

With the left-over paint, create a white-wash mixture of 50% paint and 50% water. Stir the mixture thoroughly. Next use a brush and paint the white wash mixture onto the boards, quickly, going with the grain. Make sure to brush out any drips immediately. Each coat should dry enough in about 1.5 hours to do the next coat. The goal of a white-wash is to give wood a color but allow some grain and knots to show through. With a 50/50 white-wash mixture, I think 4 coats would be a good starting point. You may find that you want more.

Protect the Floor

The final step is to add a protective finish to the floor. Matte water-based polyurethane is probably the best way to do that. Matte polyurethane is an obscure product… but it is essential to pulling off the look that you want. Most polyurethane will give your floor a high-gloss finish. Here is an example of a matte polyurethane: Varathane Matte Soft Touch Polyurethane.

In general, you will need to follow the instructions of the product that you use. If you decide to go with a matte polyurethane, I’m going to offer the suggestion that you shake the product very thoroughly (even though it might say not to shake it on the instructions). It will be almost impossible to fully integrate the component that is responsible for the matte finish if you don’t shake it thoroughly. NEVER touch the brush to the side or bottom of the can or try to use up the very last of the polyurethane. If you touch the bottom of the can with the brush and then brush it onto your wood, you will most likely get very cloudy results in that area. 1-QT Should be enough to do about 3 coats on an 8′x8′ area. I would do 4 coats if you have the patience.

In-Use

These are just two quick examples of the versatility of the end product depending on how you configure a single studio light. If you want to see an example of a whiter floor fading into a white background (all done with lighting), just let me know in the comments!

16 Comments

  1. wonderful tips and beautiful work! Do you use editing software to create the faded look from the floor to the wall? If so, can you share?
    Thank you!
    Annemarie

    • Yes I do… and I might share my technique for doing that in an upcoming how to article.

  2. Lovely information and examples, thank you! I would also like to know about the fading in editing! Thank you!

  3. Very nice! I was just wondering what lighting you use for newborns?

  4. TFS!

  5. Thank you Bianca – you are always so helpful & sweet!!

  6. I have just gone through your page and I am in love with your work and wished you were in the UK as I would certainly take advantage of your 1 on 1 mentoring program. I would love it if you could have a quick look at my new website and any feedback would be most welcome.
    I would also like to ask a question about the blurred/bokeh/depth of field you get is that by using a prime with a high aperture or is it done in processing?

    Thanks very much and I hope you get the chance to see this and reply.
    Great work

    Your new fan

    Toni (Scotland)

    • I use prime lenses with large apertures.

  7. would love to know how you get the skin tones and that beautiful coloring you use on newborns is it a get , an action , I just love the shading

  8. What a beautiful job! Thank you for the instructions! Detailed and easy! Would love to know your camera setting and lighting types to get such a well lit subject and softness. :) Thank you in advance!

  9. Yes please I would love to see an example of a whiter floor and background as you mentioned at the end of this post. Thanks for sharing. Lovely work!!

  10. Where did u purchase the pine younger & groove I’ve just been to Home Depot and they have nothing like that. All they had was 4 wall panelling with a v groove and some nasty pine planks.

    • I’m not sure of the best place to purchase in Canada. In the United States you can buy it from lumber yards who are able to do special orders OR through flooring companies who can do special orders. I purchased mine from a local to me lumber yard called Yoders.

      • Thanks Bianca, I will try some lumber stores around here.

  11. Beautiful, thank you so much for the tips and I would love to see an example of a whiter floor fading into a white background :-)

  12. I would like to know if you use presets for the background and fade it with them or how you do it? I love your photography. I have a great grand to be born in a few months and I want to do some good shots of him. Thanks.

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