Painting Wood Floors – How to do it Properly

Painting Wood Floors

Painting Wooden Floors has become a trendy and affordable way to improve and freshen up your old wood floors. You can choose from hundreds of trendy colors and give your floor a unique cozy/modern/rustic feel while matching your furniture. In addition, you can paint multiple different types of wood floors such as your typical hardwood flooring or even your sub-floor which is often made of wooden planks.

Now, while a lot of people assume you can just pick up any type of paint and just wack it on your old floor, that is simply not the case. You need to apply the right floor preparation methods and use the right paint to prevent paint from peeling off and to achieve a durable finish.

This is why we created this article. Here you can find a Step By Step DIY Manual for Painting Wooden Floors and all the Frequently Asked Questions about this project. Let’s get right into the manual starting from the tool list needed for this DIY project.

Table of Contents
    Trendy Painted Wood Floor
    Trendy Wood Floor

    Step By Step Manual to Painting Wood Floors

    Tool & Material List

    Tools needed for Painting Wood Floors include;

    • Frog Tape or Masking Tape
    • Paint (Primer and Finish)
    • Large Paint Roller and Tray
    • Paint Brush
    • Mop and Vaccum
    • Sandpaper or Sander (not always needed)
    • Paint Mixer (Stick or Drill Attachment)

    If there is no need for sanding, then, of course, sandpaper or sander are not needed. Read the preparation section for more information on this. Also, the paintbrush is sometimes needed to access areas which the roller can’t reach such as gaps in planks.

    Paint Roller vs Brush

    When it comes to applying paint on your Floor, you can use a wide brush or a paint roller. There are benefits to both methods. We prefer to use a large roller for easy and fast application leaving a smooth finish. We only use the brush for painting hard-to-reach areas.

    1. Step 1 – Floor Preparation

    Floor Preparation is one of the most important steps to achieving a good-looking durable finish. You need to make sure your floor area is suitable for the paint to stick to. Also making sure that it’s free from dirt. Below you can find the key points to floor preparation.

    • Sanding, If Needed – If your floor doesn’t have a stained finish such as polyurethane or wax, you don’t have to sand the floor. If it has polyurethane on it or any other stain or gloss, you must lightly sand the floor just enough for the primer paint to stick to it. To do this you should use fine sandpaper (at least 120 grit or more) and lightly sand the floor either by hand or by using a power sander. If you are unsure if the paint will stick paint a small patch with primer and see if there is any peeling after a day or two.
    • Clean the floor – The next step in preparation is to clean the floor throughout, make sure you both sweep and mop the floor. Leave absolutely no dust or dirt, make sure the floor is spotless before applying primer.
    • Tape the edges – Use either ordinary masking tape or frog tape. Tape all the skirting boards that connect to the floor. This prevents your skirting boards from getting dirty and makes it easier to paint the edges as you don’t have to be careful.

    If your wood floor is very uneven and was most likely always used as a subfloor you can use a power sander to make it leveler. When doing this make sure to sand in the opposite direction to which the planks align.

    Now that the Prep is done, the next step is the Primer Coat.

    2. Step 2 – Apply the Primer Coat

    First of all, make sure you use good quality white primer paint. We recommend using farrow & ball primer paint which is specifically designed for painting wood cabinets and floors. There are also other primer paints on the market. Make sure you pick one suitable for wood and always check the reviews. Now, let’s go through the primer coat stage.

    1. Mix your paint – Paint can often set while sitting in storage. Make sure you mix your paint throughout either by using a mixing stick or a drill attachment. Prepare a clean tray and a large roller.
    2. Paint the edges – Apply masking tape to the skirting boards. Then, using your roller, paint the edges of the floor first, you should be able to cover all areas with the role however if you find some tricky spots use a paintbrush.
    3. Paint the rest of the floor – Make sure that when you apply the primer you paint in the same direction as the direction of your planks. Don’t leave any paint lines, if you see some roll them flat with a nearly dry roller.
    4. Let Dry – Once you have applied a Primer Coat, let the floor dry. Follow the drying guidelines stated on your paint tub to see how long it needs to dry before applying a second coat. Leave the masking tape where it is.

    3. Step 3 – Apply your main paint.

    Now that your primer coat had dried your floor is ready to be painted with the paint color of your choice. There are many different paint brands that you choose for your floor paint. We recommend using Farrow & Ball paint but there are many other options on the market. Alright, it’s time to paint!

    1. Mix your paint – Again, make sure you mix your paint well before emptying it onto your paint tray.
    2. Paint the edges – Exactly the same process as painting primer, paint your edges first.
    3. Paint the rest of the floor – Paint the rest of your floor using a large roller. Make sure that you paint in the same direction as your planks without leaving any excess paint lines.
    4. Let Dry – Let your paint dry, follow the guidelines on the back of your paint tub.
    5. Paint Second Coat if Needed – After your paint has dried fully you will be able to see if you have achieved the desired effect. If there are still some bad spots where the primer paint shines through paint the floor a second time using the same method.

    4. Step 4 – Finishing

    Congrats, now you have finished painting your floor. After painting it is a popular choice to seal and protect your floor, especially crucial for high traffic areas. However, most wood floor paints don’t require a floor finish to be applied although the floor paint is less durable than if it was sealed.

    Floor Finish Types:

    There are many options for finishing your painted floor, some more expensive and durable than others, but there are 4 main popular choices;

    Water-based polyurethane – One of the best choice for high traffic areas, available and different gloss types. Water Based Poly provides a low-maintenance and good looking finish. Very tough and scratch resitant.

    Oil-based polyurethane – Oil Based Poly is the traditional floor finish, it’s less expensive than water-based poly and higher maintenance. Most Pros say its less durable than the more modern water based poly and can often give an amber hint to your floor color.

    Wax – Wax is a great option for people who prefer natural finishes without any chemicals. Wax gives a warm finish and enhances natural wood grain and color. Only bad side is that it’s often easy to damage with low scratch resistance however it’s fairly easy to repair.

    Floor Varnish – Searching on google for floor varnish will result in lots of different water and oil-based varnishes which are often mixed with wax and other substances. These can be a good and cost-effective solution but make sure to read the reviews. Check if the product is suitable for painted floors.

    Application of the finishes is usually by using a brush but you should read the manufacturer’s instructions for each product.

    Varnished Floor
    Varnished Floor

    Frequently Asked Questions on Painting Wood Floors

    Here are some Frequently asked questions about Painting wooden floors that we have found to be popular in this topic.

    Which Paint Should I Use?

    There are many different paint brands on the market. We have found that farrow and ball paint has a good reputation and offers many different shades of paint made for painting wooden floors and furniture. There are also other paints you can use. Always make sure to read the reviews online about any paint brand you may be interested in and whether it’s suitable for flooring.

    Can you Paint wood floors without Sanding?

    If your existing floor already has a gloss finish such as varnish or wax then you must roughen up the surface. You can do this by sanding the floor with 120 grit sandpaper using a sander or by hand. If your Floor is bare wood and fairly smooth then yes you can paint without sanding. Uneven wooden floors can be sanded to level the floor prior to painting.

    Can I Paint over Polyurethane?

    Polyurethane is a type of glossy floor finish so as mentioned above yes you can paint it but only if you sand it to roughen up the surface before paint application.

    How can I Protect my Painted Wood Floor?

    There are many ways of protecting your painted wood floors, first of all to improve general durability the best things to do is to apply a coat of water based polyurethane. Two coats of water based poly will improve durability even more.

    Additionally, it is a good idea to add foam pads to the legs of all your furniture to prevent scratching. You can buy these foam pads at most local DIY stores. Rugs can help in very high traffic areas such as the lounge, however, most importantly you should use the right mop and avoid using cleaning machinery that can damage your floor. Avoid wearing shoes, socks are your wood floors’ best friend.

    How Well do Painted Floors Hold Up?

    Most Painted Wood floors are not very durable, after a few years, the paint can start to crack and chip away. We found that this start to usually happens after 2-3 years. Adding a seal after painting such as water-based poly can add an additional lifespan of up to 5 years to your floor. The good news is every 3-5 years you can simply repaint the floor and give it a new life so it’s not the end of the world in terms of durability.

    Should I Paint my Wood Floors White?

    If you search painted wood floors on Pinterest, the most popular DIY platform. You will find that painting wooden floors white is a very popular option as it creates a fresh modern look which can often lighten up your room. On the other hand, white floors are notorious for getting dirty very easily and regular cleaning is a must.

    Can You Paint a Wood Floor with Wall Paint?

    Painting wood floors with regular wall paint is something which you should avoid. For best results, you should use paints specifically designed for floors such as Farrow & Ball or any other paints designed for floors. Cheap wall paint will most likely quickly start to chip away and crack on your wooden floor.

    Overall Cost of Painting Wood Floors

    Assuming you only need paint and painting equipment for painting your wood floor the overall cost is usually below $100 dollars. This makes Painting Wood Floors a very affordable option compared to installing new floors. If you additionally need to buy an electric sander, this can set you back another $30-$100 depending on quality.

    Painted White Floor
    Painted White Floor


    To Conclude, we must say that Painting Wood Floors is an affordable and trendy way to refresh your old floors. Moreover, it is something DIY enthusiasts can do themselves without any expert skills, just our Guide.

    Painted Wooden Floors are not as durable as bare wood-stained or varnished floors. However, they are still a viable option often lasting more than five years with the right protection.

    What do you think of Painting Wood Floors and How they look? Let us know if you found this guide helpful and feel free to give your general opinion in the comments section.

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