Painted Wood Floors, Everything You Need To Know

Picture of painted wood floorsTrying to improve the appearance of your hardwood floors can often feel rather daunting, even downright scary. After all, they often cost a fortune and the thought of painting them can make most people nervous, especially if you mess it up.

But, don’t despair! I will teach you how to paint your wood floors without any issues and I promise to help you every step of the way. By the end of this article, you will have the confidence (and the knowledge) to get it right the first time. Excited to learn an entire plethora of tips and tricks? So am I, so let’s get this show on the road!

What Types of Hardwood Floors Can Be Painted?

Most wood floors can be painted (yes, even expensive teak flooring, if you dare). However, you shouldn’t never paint directly onto a glossy finish as this usually comes out looking bad.

Your best bet is to test the wood that you wish to paint. This can be broken into three easy steps (each outlined later in more details). First, prepare a small area of the wood floor (in the corner or under a couch). Secondly, apply a small amount of paint to the wood and let it dry properly and finally, check the results (within 24 hours) and look for any cracking, peeling, streaking or bubbling. If it looks good, then you can proceed with confidence. If you do experience issues, I invite you to leave a comment at the end of this article and I will help you myself.

Why Would You Even Consider Painted Wood Floors?

    White colored paint for wooden floors

  • For the look: Some people prefer the look over the naked hardwood look, especially if the wood has been re-stained. Paint also allows you to express your creativity by adding designs and patterns to your floor. You could also go with a simple solid color throughout. Painting allows you to add a unique look that bare wood cannot replicate.
  • To cover up cheap hardwood material: Even if the floors are brand new, your wood planks could be low quality (especially if you have used pallet wood for your floors) and simply not look good. You may even be considering pulling them out and replacing them. Before you do that, it’s worth giving them a fresh coat of paint in a style that fits your house. You will be happy with the results.
  • Revive old and worn floors: Over time, your hardwood flooring will start to show its age. While this sometimes shows character, this deterioration often looks horrible. Tell-tale signs are usually visible scratches, scuffs or color loss. Even if you try repair the damaged hardwood, a coat of good paint can easily bring them back to life.
  • Saves you time and money: Instead of replacing the entire floor, painting wood floors is super easy on your wallet and looks great. It usually takes only a single weekend, even if you only spend a couple hours per day on the project.

What Type of Wood Paint Is Best For Your Floors?

Traditional oil-based enamel wood paintNew latex based enamel wood paint

  • It can withstand regular foot traffic without fading.
  • It is highly scratch and stain resistant.
  • It usually lasts longer than other forms of paint.

  • Requires solvents to clean up during application.
  • Interior use is banned in some states due to emissions.
  • Takes a fairly long time to dry.

  • Fairly eco-friendly due to minimal fumes
  • You can use water and soap instead of solvents
  • Dries a heck of a lot quicker

  • Not as durable as oil-based paint (rugs or mats can help with this)
  • Sometimes produces dull colors (although this does depend on the quality)
  • It’s chemical formation is fairly new and time will show its effectiveness

I personally prefer oil based paints for my wood flooring projects, mainly due to its durability. Of course, if the U.S state prohibits the use of it (due to high VOC emissions), then I will use the second option. However, please don’t think that you have to copy me. Both have their pros and cons and it’s really your decision. When you are applying oil based wood paint, just ensure that you have plenty ventilation, wear a fume mask and let it dry sufficiently.

Green paint on wood floors looks greatPRO TIP #1 Try get a paint that contains polyurethane. This chemical adds strength and is great for slightly humid environments. If you can’t find one, you can always apply a coat of polyurethane afterwards so don’t worry about it.

PRO TIP #2 Be careful of purchasing paint that’s not meant for floors (especially when choosing latex paint). If it says “acrylic” on the tin, it’s not a suitable choice for floors. To eliminate guesswork, choose your color and then just tell your local retailer that you plan to have painted wood floors. They are usually able to assist with specific products that work well.
PRO TIP #3 It’s important to buy quality paint. The cheaper paint might look attractive, but it often compromises on the raw materials used in its formulation. Quality paint contains many activators and solids (unlike cheaper options) and will last longer. Always look for a good deal but be careful when the price is super low.

Some Popular Paint Colors and Styles For Wood Floors

While the color choice is completely up to you, check out this Pinterest board on wood painted floors for some ideas. It’s important that the paint color of your wood floors match your various interior design elements. While it is possible to start over, that won’t be necessary if you spend some time doing some research beforehand. This can actually be rather fun, especially if you do it with your significant other or a friend.

  • If you have a dark wooden floor and want to keep the natural wood look, get a paint that matches the same color to make them look brand new.
  • If you are feeling creative, you can add checkered designs and other patterns on your top coat of paint.
  • If you use vertical stripes, it can a kitchen, bedroom or even a bathroom look longer.
  • You can also use different colors to draw attention to specific elements in the room (such as furniture).
  • Diamond shapes can even make a room look larger than it actually is. The sky is the limit.

Bedroom painted planks from wood

What Sheen Best Suits Painted Wood Floors?

Sheen is the reflective quality of the paint. Although most floor coatings (varnish, etc.) have a sheen value, I will keep this guide focused on colored paint. There are four levels of sheen for wood paint and each has a different reflective quality defined by the percentages below. Starting from the shiniest, they are glossy (75%), semi-gloss (55%), satin (40%) and matte (20%). House logic has a great article on this so check that out.

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Gohaus has kindly offered to provide free floor samples to my blog readers. Although this is not a paint based solution, check out this generous offer by clicking here and ordering a few samples that match the color and tone needed. You won’t be charged a cent! 🙂

PRO TIP #4 The shiner you go, the more those little dings and scratches will show (awesome rhyme right?). While useful, don’t focus too much on the percentages as they are textbook values. I suggest looking at real world examples (in person) to help you make a final decision instead of browsing through images online. Simply visit your local retailer and look at their stock, no guesswork involved.

When people ask me for my honest opinion, I usually recommend either satin or semi-gloss. I personally think that full gloss doesn’t fit well in most homes and the matte/flat sheen looks a bit dull (most of the time). On that note, here are their pros and cons:

  • Satin: Definitely the most popular kid on the block! Satin finishes strike a good balance between reflectivity and practical day to day use. The reason why so many people love this option is because it lasts ages and little dents and scratches are not too visible. Families or people with pets also choose this paint sheen for that same reason and usually end up being happy with their floors.
  • Semi-gloss: While not as “shiny” as full gloss, this paint is pretty damn reflective. This is not a bad thing though, a lot of people adore the look and specifically go out of their way to buy it. It does show the dirt easily and some people suggest that you mop at least once every two days. It’s also more susceptible to accidental scratches but rules like “shoes off” or “pets outside” can easily resolve this.
PRO TIP #5 I have left out “full glossy” and “matte” options because only a small percentage use it for their home. I personally feel that the high gloss looks like shiny plastic and the matte or flat sheen looks dull. That is my opinion though and I encourage you to choose what works for you.

How Much Paint Is Needed For Your Wood Floors?

The amount of paint that you will need will depend on 3 factors: Amazing painted diamond shapes on wooden floors

The thickness of the paint: If you are using oil-based paint, you will need a larger quantity than a thinner water-based paint. The thicker the paint, the more is needed but on a positive note, you won’t need as many coats of it so it can even out in the end.

The area of the floor: If you have large rooms, the simple truth is that you will need more paint to cover them sufficiently. As a general idea, you’ll need about a gallon to cover around 350 square feet for your painted wood floors so keep that in mind.

The number of coats: If you need to apply two coats, then you will need to double the amount of wood paint. If you want a third coat for some reason, then times the initial amount by three and so on.

PRO TIP #6 If you buy a high-quality paint, this can eliminate the need for a potential third coat, thus saving you money in the long run. Ask your local hardware store clerk to point out their “premium” floorboard paint and run the math. If you are unsure, just ask if it will remove the need for a second coat and they should be able to advise you.

Should You Use a Primer On Your Wooden Floors Before Painting?

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to applying a “primer” to wood floors, especially when you are using paint. Let me help you understand this clearly and hopefully you can share this with your friends.

Simply put, if your floor still has its previous coating and there is no bare wood exposed, you don’t need to use a primer. On the flip side, if wear and tear that has stripped away parts of the previous finish, you need to apply the primer to these areas. This might mean that you need to prime the entire floor but don’t do it unnecessarily.

PRO TIP #7 There are two main types of primer that you should use on hardwood floors – oil-based primer and latex primer. You should always match the type of primer with the type of paint you are using. Also, try matching the primer color with the finishing color that you will use. Doing this (when possible) can potentially save you the time of applying a second or third coat of paint in the end.

How to Paint the Wood Without Screwing up Your Floors

As long as you are careful, this can be a great DIY project. However, due to affordable local contractors in the U.S, sometimes it’s not worth the time and effort so don’t forget that Pro Floor Tips can help you request a free quote if you prefer to go that route. If you are going to try this yourself, you will need the following tools and supplies for your painted wood floors:

Sandpaper (150 grit)Vacuum machineBroomCouple rags
Water (or solvent)Paint brushesPaint rollersPainters tape
Sufficient floor paintCorrect primerPaint trayDust pan

Preparation Steps:

Step 1 - SandingStep 2 - CleaningStep 3 - PrimingStep 4 - Primer scarifyStep 5 – Tape it up
Use the 150 grit sandpaper and scar the surface of the previous finish (varnish, etc.) in a circular motion. If you are redoing previously painted wood floors, just make sure you partially remove the previous layer of paint, especially if it’s darker. If the surface is uneven, you also want to smooth it out. NB: You don’t usually need to completely remove the previous layer.
Sweep up all the dirt and leftovers from the previous task. I usually just use my vacuum to suck it up but a brush and pan work fine as well. Next take a cloth rag with some warm water and proceed to wipe the entire area down, leaving no area untouched. You are welcome to use a detergent mixture, just read the instructions on the bottle beforehand. At this point, you should have no dust in the room.
Provided the floor is completely dry (usually it’s a good idea to wait at least 24 hours), apply the paint primer where needed. Remember, you only need to apply it to bare, exposed wood, not to your scarred finish that you used the sandpaper on. This means that you might not even need to apply any primer at all, which will definitely save you money.
Please note that this step is only necessary if you applied primer, otherwise move on to the next part. Take your sandpaper and repeat step 1 on the dry primer. Although its not a necessity, 220 grit sandpaper works better than 150 grit for this task. Remember, you are not trying to remove the primer, you are just lightly sanding it, using the same motion. You also don’t need to apply a lot of pressure while doing it.
This is important as it will help you keep paint off the moldings and other parts of the room. While most painters tape will work, I recommend using “frog tape”, if it’s available locally. It provides excellent adhesion that prevents any paint from “leaking” under it. If you want to create shapes and patterns, you can use the same tape. Just remember that these are typically done after your first layer is down (depending on the design).

Please don’t rush this step, it could mean the difference between a successfully painted floor and a botched one. Once the entire wooden surface of your floors has been worked, move onto the next step. Also, make sure that you use the correct primer, whether it be oil or latex based, otherwise you will have less and desirable results. Allow your floor to dry overnight. Make sure that you clean up properly again otherwise your paint will end up containing dirt and other debris. If you used a wet cloth (recommended), leave it to dry overnight. Hopefully, you can see how important the preparation steps are. Even if you were a pro, the correct preparation is critical and I encourage you to complete all the steps thoroughly.

PRO TIP #8 When you are cleaning, priming or painting the wooden planks, start from the back and finish at the exit. If you don’t, you will end up trapping yourself in the room which is a noobie mistake. Instead of taping the moldings, you can also remove them completely or simply paint over them (when it makes sense). Lastly, before starting, it’s a good idea to block the space under the door to keep the dust out.

Painting Steps:

Step 1 - Cut the edgesStep 2 - Roll the paintStep 3 - Apply another coatStep 4 - Layer of glossStep 5 - Finishing the job
Use a paint brush to cut the edges of the floor with paint. I usually paint about 2-3 inches of the wood floor (from the wall) around the entire room. This makes it super easy to use the roller to finish the job a little later on. If the moldings are in place, make sure that the painting tape is secured properly. If the moldings have already been removed, I sometimes just use the roller exclusively but that decision is up to you.
Pour your paint into a paint tray and apply it to the floor. Try and keep your angles straight and spread the paint along the grain of the wood so you have a uniform coating throughout. After “painting yourself out”, leave it to dry for the duration that’s specified on the paint tin. Usually, this is around 24 – 48 hours, depending on the brand and a couple environmental factors. Basically, when it’s dry enough to walk on, then it’s ready.
If your painted wood floors are looking a little dull (or you want to add some additional durability), simply roll another layer on, following the steps from #2 again. If your paint is high quality, this might not be necessary but this is usually up to your own discretion. I have had people from my community tell me that they applied three layers of paint on their wooden floor planks!
This is not usually necessary, since the sheen is usually in the paint you choose in the beginning. However, if you mistakenly chose a dull matte finish and now want a slightly more reflective look on the wood, you can add a nice layer of gloss. This will add an additional cost to the project but its usually worth it, especially considering that the alternative would be to repaint the entire floor.
Provided everything is dry, either replace the moldings or remove the tape. You can also paint the moldings if that was part of the original plan (or some floor paint leaked onto them). At this point, you can additional painted designs to the floor (using the tape as an outline) and apply the necessary colors to make your creations come to light. Just work carefully, you don’t want to mess up at this point.
PRO TIP #9 When you are painting the corners of the room (next to the molding), position the brush so that your stroke moves away from the wall. This little trick will ensure that paint doesn’t have any way to get under the tape like it might if you painted towards it.

In conclusion, painted wood floors usually look absolutely gorgeous and can really bring life back to your old floors. Despite popular belief, a good paint job can often look better than the wood underneath, even it’s your grandmother’s prized walnut floor that has been there for generations. The key to success depends on sufficient preparation, especially when it comes to cleaning, priming and scarring. If you manage to get all that right, the actual painting process is usually fairly easy.

Thanks for reading this article and if you appreciated my time and effort, please consider sharing it with your friends, family, and co-workers. Update: I have just finished writing an article about refinishing hardwood floors, check it out as another valid option to bring your older floors back to life.

Last modified: May 3rd, 2018 by Bill Reed
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Bill Reed

Bill Reed

Hi, my name is Bill and I would like to thank you for reading this article. If you want to thank me for my time, please share this post with your friends. Comments are usually answered within 48 hours, looking forward to hearing from you.

139 Comments

  1. Thanks Bill for your informative article! I’m getting ready to paint my floor and I have 1 question that you might be able to answer for me.I have always loved the look of painted wood floors that have been coated with a clear hard floor wax. Do you know anything about this process and how it is achieved? I’ve heard that the wax can make the floor very durable. I’m thinking that a matt paint might be the way to go…and then add the wax, dry and buff. Thanks again for your helpful article. I’d appreciate any helpful information if you have any. Sincerely Nanette

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Nanette! It’s a pleasure! You can use a wax but make sure it’s not place on a urethane finished floor otherwise it can become rather slippery. Waxing a floor finish can also void your finishing warranty (if you have one). Other than those two pointers, if you can get a high quality wax that’s suitable for indoors, feel free to do so, it definitely looks good if it’s done properly by an expert.

  2. Hey Bill,
    I am living in a house that has wooden floors. These floors were painted by the previous residents in lime green, glossy paint. I know your article is about painting wood floors but I was wondering if you happen to know of a way to remove paint from wood floors, so I can restore the floors to their former glory?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Tom Lee! Yes, it is possible to remove the paint but it is going to take quite a bit of time and effort on your part. Don’t even attempt to do this by hand, you will preferably need a belt sander that can usually be hired if you don’t want to purchase one. However, on a positive note, you will get to bare wood and once the entire floor has been done, you can proceed with a decent finish, etc. and they will look great. Hope that helps! EDIT: I know you are asking about removing the paint but if you want, you could also sand it a little bit and then apply a wood colored paint, that will also work.

  3. Hi Bill,
    What do I have to do to my old wood floors that I painted with a high quality high gloss paint. It still looks pretty decent after 6 yrs. but I would like to refresh them. They are a very light color that I really like. Can I just paint over them with another coat? They seem to have dried out in spots and are cracking and starting to peel, so I don’t know how to handle that.
    They are very old floors (1890) and the paint seemed to strengthen them. Appreciate your help.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Carol, yes you can. However, I definitely suggest prepping the floors first (usually this involves a light sand, etc, not to bare wood though) as this will make sure it turns out well. Hope that helps, thanks for the comment!

  4. Hi Bill! I never comment, but this is a great article.
    i have a couple of questions…
    but, first of all, i have an older home that I chose to rent out 6 yrs ago. unbinounced to me, they were very very dirty and had bad hoarding issues. the entire house needed to be gutted of everything! all plumbing, bathrooms etc. we live on a “shoe string” and were not prepared to deal with anything like this horror.
    We finally “found” the old wood floors in every room
    I borrowed a floor sander and went to work- learning as i go. (I wanted to paint the floors, but hubby wanted them natural- he thinks painted floors will always look dirty). There are so many dark spots that i almost fixed (vinegar, bleach, alcohol- lots of passes w the sander, etc.)
    Now I painted the stairs going to bedrooms with gray floor paint and they look dirty most of time (construction & sanding elsewhere), but i tht a runner on the stairs would improve that, both upstairs and downstairs hallways look the worse, they all have concentrated areas of blackened wood that I am lost on. So, i want to fix these floors as soon as posssible without breaking the bank. I finished the upstairs hall and caveman husband thinks its perfect but with the blackened area in front of bathroom (all sanded, stained, poly, shiney) is an eye sore! shd i sand down to bare wood and paint that hall?
    downstairs i have worked w darker stain, but it is not helping. should i take the oil stain off and follow your directions or can the stain take paint??
    is there a way to make the floors look like they are not painted. and are wood? like blending paint? just on the bad spots? still have dining room with horrible doorway floor horror- so prob paint that too. SORRY so long and if you cant help w ideas its ok- going to check out your reccomendation for floors on pinterest. thanks for reading this. also had the bedrooms looking great untill i did a light sanding after 2 polys- and they turned white- and contradicting advice said keep addind more coats. floors have a light white film- husband says its fine- but i think i shdve washed w denatured alcohol between- maybe i will redo the 4 bedrooms w stain or paint. i have been working to fix this for over a year and need to get it rented or sold asap. any advice appreciated

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Maryann! Thanks for your comment, glad you enjoyed my article. To answer your question, it is possible to sand it down to the bare wood, thus removing the stain, paint or any other blemish on the wood floor but it will take time and effort. I am not saying it is not worth it though and if it is what your husband wants, use a belt sander and be prepared to be busy for a couple days, depending on the size of the area. After doing this, you can get someone (or you can do it) to refinish the wood and that will result in that natural wood look. Alternatively, if you decide to paint it, there are some wood paints that look like wood so that might be an option. Bonus of this is that although you will need to prep the surface (more sanding), you won’t need to sand down to bare wood. I suggest you go to your local flooring shop and look at the wood colored paints before making a decision because painting is definitely easier. Hope that helps, please share my blog on social media if you appreciated my help 🙂

  5. I painted my Wood floors about a year ago. They looked good for about 6 months but then after that the paint started chipping off. Do you have any tips for me to touch this up or should I strip it all off and follow your steps?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Joel! If the paint is chipping off in fairly remote corners of the room, you can definitely do a light sand and touch up job. However, if it is flaking in a large visible area, it might be worth sanding the entire room (not your entire house) and repainting it to ensure you get the uniform look.

  6. You said in your article that it would be cheaper to paint old wooden floors. I’m trying to convince my wife that we should paint our floors rather then have them redone, as I can’t afford it. Could you help me win her over, by giving me a cost difference in painting rather then refurbishing.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Robert! Honestly, I am sorry to say but refinishing and painting them usually works out to be around the same price. Of course, there are many variables (such as the type of paint you buy, how many coats you need, etc.) but yeah, costing is fairly close. However, if your current wood floors are made up of cheap wood or you are looking for a specific color, then most certainly, paint can bring some luxury to them. Hope that helps!

  7. Such an informative article, its exactly what I needed now that I have decided to paint my wood floors. Was wondering tho, if I use traditional oil-based enamel wood paint, how long on average will it take to dry? As you mentioned that it takes a fairly long time to dry.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Luca! Thanks for your kind words! It varies on a product by product basis. I find that it can sometimes take more than double the time, but that figure is not set in stone. Just make sure that oil-based paint is the best option for your wooden floors though, the alternative is very popular and might actually be your only option, depending on where you live. Hope that helps!

  8. Loved your article, I painted a wood floor and sealed with a water-based polyurethane. Once it dried there are some awful spots where the poly was thicker. They are discolored and look horrible. The floor was painted gray with white stenciling. How do I fix this AND Do you have a colorless recommendation for a sealer over light colored paint. The “crystal clear” sealants (I have tried 2 different brands on 2 separate floors & had the similar results) are not actually clear. Also, is there one that is not crazy expensive. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi E! Oh dear, that sometimes happens when either the floor is not properly prepared (sanded, etc.) or when the actual paint application is not done in a uniform manner. Anyways, you can try sanding the thicker areas with a fine grit and then touching it up with the paint. As for the sealants, check out the Winmax range (they have a website). You can give them a call for future advise, I am sure they will be happy to assist you with their product range.

    • Bill, just came upon your article…….excellent, thank you. I have a staircase in my garage that is regular, run-of-the-mill pine. As such, I decided the wood wasn’t of high enough quality to stain so I decided to paint the treads black and the risers white. I used a water-based Sherwin Williams satin finish. For the treads, I wanted to apply a clear top coat to toughen them up a little. I emailed Minwax’s help page and they said that they do not make a product to top coat over paint, only over stain. Could this possibly be true? My take away from your article is that a polyurethane could be used as long as I use water-based over my water-based paint. I’ve seen that opinion on other sites as well. Your thoughts?

    • Bill Reed

      Hi David, appreciate the kind words. You are correct, I am not sure why they said that, maybe it has something to do with their specific range? In that case, go with another brand, as what you have researched is right.

  9. Can I put varnish on paint on shed floor design to seal?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Denise, yes you can. Just make sure that you do all the necessary preparation (sanding, etc.) to ensure that there is a strong bond between the varnish and the wood, and that you choose a varnish that is suited for outdoors (even though it is inside a shed, it probably will still take a bit of a beating). Hope that helps, thanks for popping by!

  10. Hi Bill,
    I really enjoyed your article. My h easier to read than others I’ve looked at. ?
    I have some old Cyprus Pine floorboards throughout my old house. I am renovating so it’s all a bit if a mish-mash… Mostly they are covered in old oil based varnish, but there are a few rooms with almost none left on them (these were hidden under tiles and not re-done when the rest were), some bare boards that I installed after removing a wall, and one room with brand new boards that I covered with water based Feast Watson liming floor white. I loved the look of the White, but feel like it’s too perfect for what I want and doesn’t wear well (pets and kids and renovating are a great test). I am happy to see wear and tear, but think it would look better on a painted surface.
    My plan was to sand back the entire floor and paint. However I noticed you mentioned only a light sand is needed.
    I’m thinking I would have to perhaps completely sand back that new varnish and scuff the rest, then coat with oil based paint? I would rather use water based (nowhere to go to get away from the fumes ?). Any thoughts or ideas you could give me would be much appreciated.
    Thanks again for your article. ?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Emma, thanks for your kind words! Your plan sounds good! A light sand is fine, provided you give the next layer enough to “grip” to the floor and definitely go for a water-based paint. However, when purchasing it, make sure it is specifically for floors as it has more resistance against foot traffic. Hope that helps!

  11. Hi Bill: I just moved to California from Michigan and bought a condo. The master BR and living room have bamboo flooring. Different colors but light colors with the stupid dots on them. I cannot stand them and cannot afford to replace. I was going to try to sand and restain but I will never be able to match the colors so I thought about painting them a medium to dark grey. They are not laminate and are in excellent shape. Should I sand with a machine to take the poly off, Kilz them, 2 coats of paint with primer and then maybe 2 coats if poly or varnish? Would this work. I have to have this condo ready to move into in 1 month. Living with kids with all my stuff in storage. Any help you could give me would be beyond appreciated. Thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Sharon! Yes that sounds like a good plan! Make sure that all the poly is removed before you start. Good luck, let me know how it goes! Also sorry for the delayed response, I have been off sick. Cheers!

  12. Hey Bill, just read your excellent article. I’m feeling confident to repaint my floors now that I have all the information that I need. I have a question though, you mentioned polyurethane. What is polyurethane?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Joey! It is a pleasure! Poly is basically a finishing product that can add strength or even a gloss (depending on the sheen quality you are looking for) to your paint layer. Hope that helps!

  13. Hi!!! Great article. I have one question. I’m going to paint wood floors that are in my attic. They have never been finished. They have no paint on them, just bare wood. Do I HAVE to sand them first? Thanks!!!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Dom, thanks for your kind words. Yes, I would still recommend sanding them but only lightly, won’t take long.

  14. Bill I loved your article. It’s encouraging and I’m gonna go for it. OK so I have old pine floors (craftsman home) the floors were refinished 15 years ago and have a lot of wear. They are natural in color and I want to paint them a much darker brown. There are bits of finish left here and their too meshed together to spot prime or sand. Can I prime the whole floor? Also can I use wood filler where needed. I want a deep tone brown that won’t look whimsical. Any suggestions?
    Thanks for taking time to read my questions.
    Rosina ☺

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Rosina! Thanks for your kind words. I suggest that you first fill those holes and then the entire floor properly. If you go to bare wood, use primer in those areas. If the entire floor has been sanded to bare wood then yes, you will prime the entire floor. I love the darker look (check my article on dark hardwood floors) so maybe a teak looking color would look good, your choice though. It will look great, best of luck and please share this article on Facebook if you appreciate my response as it really helps me. 🙂

  15. Hi Bill, Thanks for the tips! I am wanting to pull up old ceramic tiles and lay new (cheap) wood floors and paint them white for that old farmhouse feel. Doing LOTS of research before I do anything tho. lol Wish me luck!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Debbie! Sounds great, I am sure that it will turn out great! Let me know if you need anything and I will try help you!

  16. Hello Bill, and Happy New Year. My name is Marie. I just bought a house that is over one hundred years old. One of the wooden floors’ is painted a turquoise color. There is no gloss/poly on the painted floor. I want to paint the floor a darker color. Can I follow the steps, and just paint over the colored floor? Do I have to use a primer on the floors before painting the new color? Do I have to strip the old paint color off first? Thinking of using a latex paint.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Marie! Provided that there is no exposed wood, you won’t need to use primer. Also based on your description of the existing paint, yes you should be able to paint directly over it. Just make sure that you get flooring paint, not just any paint. Also make sure its quality, do not buy cheap rubbish!

  17. Love your article !! I pulled up the carpet in our “cats” room, yes, they (13 of them) have their own room. There are pee stains on the floor, along with dried paint, uneven stains, worn spots, the floors are scratched, a real mess, the house is 1940’s. I tried sanding the spots & reapplying stain, but to no avail, so I thought I would paint the floor, laminate would be too expensive ( hubby wants to do it) So I sand the floor & go to a DYI store & tell them I want paint to paint a hardwood floor & also get a primer. Right? Do paints come with primer in them already? Then seal it with polyurethane, unless that is already in the paint. Thanks for any help Bill.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Kim! Thanks for your kind words! Yeah I suggest you sand down to bare wood, prime the entire surface and then paint it according to the instructions listed here. Sounds like you understand it clearly, you will be fine 🙂 Good luck!

  18. Can I use an oil based poly over latex painted floors?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Kelly! If latex has any gloss or shine to it, you will need to sand it first. Not saying you need to get to bare wood, but you cannot just paint over it. However, provided that there is no gloss or finishing product on the latex painted floors, you can paint directly over it. Hope that helps!

  19. Hi Bill. I had new solid hardwoods installed and wanted painted antique white in bedrooms(pretty low traffic) I followed these steps including priming unfinished wood with Zinnsler shellac based primer. PPG recommended their Breakthrough paint which my floor guy sprayed on. It perfectly matched after first coat of paint. Next day he put 2 coats Duraseal Water Based “poly”. The floor seems to be yellowing more as it dries. What do you think went wrong?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Lyn! That is very strange, honestly, that shouldn’t happen. It should have dried by now, what does it look like today?

  20. Hi Bill. I would like to know your thoughts on dry brushing an old hardwood floor to give it a faded washed look. Maybe in a dark color.Marianna

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Marianna! I haven’t done that in recent memory but I think it will work out nicely, maybe check some guides on the net before you start and don’t forget to send me some pictures 🙂

  21. Thanks for your article. It was very helpful! I have a question about sanding. I painted my floor with latex porch and patio paint in a diamond pattern. Now I want to seal it with polyurethane. But I worked hard to get sharp lines on the diamonds and I’m afraid sanding will ruin the design. Can I get away without sanding before applying the polyurethane?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Kim! Yes, that will be fine. Just make sure that you match the type of finish to the latex paint you used. Send me some photos when you are done, sounds like it is going to look great.

  22. Bill,thank you so very much for your very informative instructions! I Checked out several sites but yours was the most detailed. I appreciate you time and effort in making my up and coming project seem achievable. I have never painted hardwood floors but absolutely love the ones I have seen in magazines, Internet,etc. I am a lot nervous! Not a little nervous about painting my new wood floors that were laid last week. The wood is of high quality and it is white oak. I am wondering if white oak is different than painting, let’s say hemlock or red oak? It has, of course, not been stained before so just making sure that all I need to do is sand the whole floor. Is that a light sanding or do I need to use 250 grit and go to 150? After that I think I got it. I was wandering if I screwed it up just how big of a mess is it to resand and put a stain on it? Thank you very much for any comments!!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Cha! Appreciate your kind words 🙂 It won’t be much different honestly, so don’t worry about that. If it has a finish, you will need to LIGHTLY sand it, then apply the flooring paint (make sure its a quality brand and specifically for floors). It is a major job to undo this but it is possible. Hope that helps.

  23. Hi Bill. My question is about adding a stencil design to wood floor and not painting the whole thing. Do I need to apply poly of something after stencil is completed?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Thornton! Yes, I usually recommend that, for the entire room (not just the stenciled area). But do the design and see how it looks without it first.

  24. Thanks for the useful tips ?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Pier! It is a pleasure!

  25. Bill,
    Thank you for the floor help. We can’t afford to re-do our master bath yet & we just pulled the carpet out. Can we paint directly onto plywood sub floor & stencil & seal it? Until we can afford to do the bathroom properly?
    Will this ruin it for future tile?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Stephanie! Yes, but if there is any bare wood exposed, don’t forget to add a primer first. No it won’t affect your future tiling plans. Good luck!

  26. I have hard wood floors that have never been painted. They had carpet over them do I need to put a primer on first before painting

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Debbie, if the hard wood still has its old finish and there is no bare wood exposed (from damage, etc.), then you don’t need to use a primer. Hope that helps you!

  27. Our kitchen has wood pergola flooring about 10 years old. Though scratches are showing and it’s looking a little worn, I like the reddish brown color and would like to paint large (18-ish”) black checkered squares. What kind of preparation would I have to first do? I can’t imagine sanding my wood floor if I want to leave it partially exposed between the painted squares? What about using polyurethane after all is finished? Just not sure how to go about it all. (!?) Thanks for your suggestions in advance.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Paula! I suggest that you a very light sand in the areas that you want those black checkered squares. Then apply the designs to the floor, and depending on how it looks, potentially refinish the entire floor to give it consistency. Hope that helps you!

  28. Hi Bill,
    I article is very informative. I have a question for you once. I have stained the steps what is the best thing to apply on them, that will keep them from beening scratch?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Winnie, a quality finishing product will not only improve the appearance, but also give the wood some protection. Hope that helps!

  29. Hi! Great post! I had a question that Lowe’s couldn’t answer and was hoping you could. I painted my floor with oil based enamel that’s meant for metal. Is this really bad?? I’m concerned it won’t stick or will create paint dust. I wanted to pain the floor silver and they didn’t have floor paint in that color.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Hanna! Honestly, I have never done that, but I suggest that you leave it for now and see how it holds up. Also, if you don’t mind, keep me updated. I am sure that others in the community would like to know the result as well.

  30. Great article! I bought a home that someone painted the wood floors reddish,i want to paint black. it will be high traffic as it is the living,dining and kitchen areas. I really would prefer water based and finished with a poly.Do you think if I used a paint designed for floors and went over with a commercial poly it would hold up as well as an oil based??

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Shelby, thanks for your kind words! Yes, it will. Go for it.

  31. Hi Bill!
    First of all, great article! I’ve spent a lot of time trying to piece together information on how to re-paint old wood floors, but you did an excellent and very thorough job educating me on the process all in one article. We want to re-paint old pine floors in little beachside cottage. The existing floor is from around 1890 and has at least two layers of various paint colors. My questions are the following:
    1) Is it safe to assume that the old layers of paint are indeed lead? I am only thinking this because of the age of the painted pine floorboards. If so, any recommendations to safely sand and wipe down? I have small children and want to make sure it is safe. I thought painting the floors was the least disruptive in kicking up dust, but knowing I now have to sand the floors to give it “teeth” has me wondering.
    2) it will be high traffic, wet, sandy feet and in a variably humid environment (New England summers and no A/C). Any recommendations on type of paint to use? I prefer a more matte look.
    3) how long before the floor is gereally safe to walk on after painting?
    Looking forward to your reply. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Armen! Thanks for the comment! I suggest you sand that paint right off, as I personally wouldn’t take the chance. Any high quality floor paint will do the job, just make sure you mention the environmental factors to the sales rep and you will be fine. It will take about a week, but I suggest you put on more than one coat. Hope that helps!

  32. Hey Bill this article has been great. I’m painting old oak floors and I have tried to do everything by the book…sanding from 150 to 250 two coats of SW paint and primer (not by the book) 24 to 72 hours dry time,sand between coats vacuum and removed all dust then 3 coat oil fast dry poly for floors same dry time 24-72 and 250 sand paper…the finish is pretty but the satin dried like a Matt after a day or so and the semi gloss dried like a satin…talked to two paint stores and they thought it might be moisture in the paint (or air) that with the quick dry oil floor poly dries too fast to let the moisture evaporate. Kinda frustrated with the finish. I’ve tried new poly and a dehumidifier, one room the paint dried for 6 month in the winter…still same result with the poly sitch…any thoughts

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Karen! Thanks for your kind words! Hmm, that is strange, I think it might have to do with the quality of the product, what brand are you using? I know that those things do affect it slightly, but not to the degree you are talking about, hence my question. Let me know!

  33. Hi Bill, Great, great article. I want to paint my 100year old fir floors and am looking to use Behr Porch and Patio paint which is an acrylic/latex. I believe you said not to use acrylic but can I use this acrylic/latex? Will that work. Sand first to rough up polyurethane finish (that I put on over 10 years ago) I will primer with Zinns and then 2 coats of paint.
    What do you think?
    Thanks,
    Sharon

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Sharon, that should work nicely, go for it. Let me know how it works out, would love to see it.

  34. Hello Bill,

    When we had our house built, we had unfinished pine flooring placed in a bedroom to be used by our grandchildren. I painted the floor with a whitewashed finish, but my husband really just wants a regular painted floor. We purchased SW Porch and Patio latex due to wear and tear from the children. Your article was well written and very informative. Do I need to sand the floor before painting and finish with polyurethane, or what?

    Thank you,
    Judy

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Judy! Thanks for your kind words and apologies for the late response. Yes, but you don’t need to go down to bare wood. Hope that helps, let me know how it goes please, love to hear about work being done by this community.

  35. This article is great! I followed these steps and have painted my stairs today, a dark black oil-based enamel. I’ve only done one coat so far and I love the way I can still make out the wood grain a little. Is it alright to do just one coat Or will it scratch much easier? It isn’t necessary to put anything over it, right- like wax or polyurethane? Again, thank you for the great article!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Kristin! I usually suggest two coats, but if your product is very high quality, you might get away with just the one. Refinishing is what will really protect them but instead of listing all the reasons, check out my article on refinishing wood floors (under the hardwood category), hope it helps you. Thanks for your comment and kind words!

  36. Hi Bill,
    Thanks for the tips. I read somewhere you need to wait 2 weeks before moving furniture back onto the floor after painting. Is this really necessary? I want to paint my floors with oil based paint but I’m not sure I can spare them for that long. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Amanda! Two weeks does sound a little excessive, but I suppose it will depend on things like humidity and how long it takes to dry. If your floors are bone dry, I see no reason to wait two weeks, just because someone says that you should. I do recommend that you place your furniture carefully though, don’t want to scratch anything 🙂

  37. Hi Bill, Thanks for your informative article. I have a question for you. Is it feasible to lay and screw down plywood planks, fill in the gaps and counter sunk screw holes with wood filler, sand those down flush and then white wash or paint the plywood flooring? Will the plywood accept the paint or will it be absorbed? Also, after white washing or painting, can you apply a varnish to the floor?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Karen, it might be a little soft for flooring, but yes, with a good sand, primer, paint and finish, it will look good and work. However, my recommendation is that you go with a harder wood.

  38. Great article, thanks. Question – our house was built in 1878, original wood floors in some rooms. We had these “buffed and coated” a couple years ago (light sanding + polyurethane) and within 6 months, some of the polyurethane coating began to bubble and if you scratch it lightly with a fingernail, it will flake off. If we wanted to paint the floors, do you think the paint would stick if we just lightly sanded, cleaned and applied a primer first? Or do you think it’d be likely to flake given that the under layer of polyurethane is flaky? Thanks for your input.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Laura! Goodness, that shouldn’t have happened. If you are set on painting them, then you will need to sand them as you mentioned. However, if you don’t go down to the wood, you don’t need a primer. But definitely got ALL that lifting finish off the floor, otherwise it will ruin the paint job. Hope that helps.

  39. Hey Bill thanks for the article and tips!I just moved into an old rental house with my girlfriend and she wants our bedroom floors painted. They are in descent shape but does need some prepping with sanding. When I sand my floors, can I use an electrical drum floor sander with 150grit to start off? Are there even 150 grit sand papers made for the drum floor sanders? All the ones I’ve seen online to rent have all said that they are made for 20 to 80 grits. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Keifer! Yes there are, but they can often be rather difficult to find. Either way, if you sand to the bare wood, just remember that you will need to prime the floor (please don’t forget hehe). Hope that helps!

  40. Hi Bill,
    We have an 1970’s random with oak floor with v-grooves in the dining room. It was painted at some point and the previous owner had it sanded but the white paint remains in the v-groove. But not in a good way – chipped, uneven, etc. How do I remove that old paint? Tried scraping buy the paint is very tough to get off. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Nan! Unless you want to keep those v-grooves, you could always just rent a floor sander for a day to get the floor down to bare wood (or hire someone to help you). Then it will be a fairly painless process of applying a primer, refinishing and bam, you will have floors that will look fantastic (better than before, given their age). Hope that helps!

  41. Hello! I wanted to thank you for your very helpful article. With your help, I have just finished painting the wood floors in my smallish NYC bedroom. The floors had previously been (very poorly) painted brown, and earlier, black. Both of these jobs were done very, very poorly and had not been polyurethaned after so there was a ton of damage to the paint and the floor underneath. The floor is original to the building, so late 19th / early 20th century. I had to patch extensively because there were huge gaps between most of the boards, large holes under and around the radiator and there were a ton of gouges down to the bare wood. Once the patching was finished (took several coats in some areas), I sanded (again) and finally put down two coats of a white latex floor paint (came with a primer). After letting that dry for at least 24, I did three coats of a latex polyurethane with a satin gloss. Unfortunately I didn’t get the floors as completely level because I was doing it all by hand, so there are some yellowy patches. There is only one tiny area I will go back and try to sand away, the other areas are in the corners. It was a lot of work, but it is truly amazing how much better it looks, and how much calmer and happier my room makes me now! So if you’ve been thinking about it, I recommend pulling the trigger and going for it! Especially if your floors are already pretty crappy and you aren’t in a position to replace them. Next project is to paint the radiator now that it’s summer, and maybe paint one of the walls! Thanks again 🙂

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Katey! Thanks for the kind words and for the great detail you put into your comment. I appreciate it and I am sure that the community will as well! I am also very happy that it looks better, and that I could help you, even if it was in a small way. Have a good one and enjoy your room 🙂

  42. I want to make sure that I get the right floors for my dining room. The regular colors of wood don’t match the theme I’m going for. I didn’t know that certain hardwood floors could be painted! It would be great to paint them and have it coated. That way it would last long!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Branden! Yep, paint is a great way to match the floor to your decor, without the wood itself doing too much in terms of color. Hope it all works out!

  43. I would appreciate your thoughts on my situation. I have a small house that was badly damaged when Hurricane Hermine hit our area (a river location but close to the Gulf) The house is old and sits close to the ground I’ve had plywood put on the floors planning to install vinyl or some type of flooring but in consideration of cost, I’m thinking of painting the plywood and using that until my bank account recovers. Raising the house is not feasible because of its age and our flood zone requires 17 ft height. Don’t want to sell it either! Have you had experience with painted plywood ?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Alice! I have some experience and I don’t recommend it. I know that you are in a bit of a predicament but yeah, don’t do it. Have you tried some wholesale retailers for hardwood planks? You can sometimes pick up some really affordable stuff! I can send you some information if you like, just let me know! Have a good one!

  44. Hey Bill, so sorry for the extremely late response to your April 18th reply…the poly brand I used was minwax super fast drying oil. To refresh your memory I had the painted floors that the satin poly went Matt and the semi gloss went satin…everyone I talk to in Ohio said it might be due to moisture being trapped in the finish. I left Ohio 1st of May ( double duty between Nashville and Ohio) and heading back next week to put final coat on floors, with everything that has happened to the finish I’m actually thinking about using a gloss finish hoping it might turn out semi…any thoughts
    Thanks, Karen

    Reply
  45. This article was fantastic. Thank you for taking the time to educate us. I am doing a 12″ wide plank plywood floor. If I do as the article suggests and prime with an oil based primer (prob original Kilz) and then paint with an oil based wood paint would I need to put a poly coat over it? Or will the oil based paint be tough enough? The final color will be very very light almost white. Also not much traffic. It’s me, two dogs weighing 10 and 15 pounds each and a cat. Her weight is TBD. Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Delta! Thanks for your kind words! I still recommend that you apply a poly, will ensure that it lasts longer (and looks better). Just make sure you choose a sheen that suits you eye. Otherwise, yes, everything you have said is correct, in terms of matching the type of primer with the type of paint. Have a good one!

  46. Bill: Thanks for the great article. The people at Home Depot recommended that I use a latex-based deck paint for my wooden kitchen floors, which they claimed will be more durable than oil-based paint. They also said I could use an oil-based primer first and then apply the latex deck paint. Does that sound right to you?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Chris! No that doesn’t sound right. Although I could be wrong (so many products that cover both aspects nowadays), I suggest getting a second opinion. Let me know what you find out, I am curious.

  47. Can bamboo floors be painted? I have some on an enclosed patio that need to be updated. It will have some wet traffic from the pool. Do you think the paint will stand up to wet traffic?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Christina! Yes it can, you will just need to ask your local retailer for outdoor floor paint that is very durable. Let me know how it goes!

  48. Our hardwood floors have started to look older because I am not good at keeping them clean and I am wondering what my options are to help them last longer. It is good to know that painting wood floors can help you to revive old and worn floors. I like what was said about how visible scratches, scuffs, or color loss are great reasons to paint the flooring to bring it back to life. http://www.timbertopfloorscairns.com.au/services

    Reply
  49. Hello—one of the best explanations out there. Thanks! I have a question. I want to paint 3 bedrooms and hallway floors. The house is 1900 but I believe the floors are only 20 years old or so. Good condition. They are yellow pine, 6″ boards and in good condition.

    They most likely have a typical polyurethane finish.

    My question is do I have to ‘remove’ the finish with a serious belt sander or just rough it up?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Beverly! Thanks for your kind words! Yes, you will need to rough it up, but not completely remove the previous layer. If you do get to bare wood (either by mistake or whatever), you will need to use a primer on that area. Hope that helps.

  50. Hi, Bill!
    Thank you for all the detailed information. Like others, I am in a dilemma w/my floors. Budget is tight. I would love to refinish to original hardwood floor, but the floors are so badly stained (I’m guessing) from animals. I am at a point where I need a quick fix. In a previous comment, you mentioned that refinishing and painting might be same cost. I was hoping that painting would be cheaper and faster. I hate to cut corners, but if I choose to use a patterned tool brush to paint, would I need to try to remove the dark stains as much as possible or do you think that they will be too evident even with a pattern on top? THANK YOU for your time and advice!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Monica! Either way, you will have to sand the floors a little, otherwise the paint will not stick. Honestly, the effort and money involved in painting, is not much cheaper than getting it refinished. It is completely up to you, but maybe weigh up the costs. As for that stain, paint should hide it, and you can apply another layer of paint (once its dried) for the pattern.

  51. Hi! Thank you for this easy-to-read and very informative article. I can’t begin to tell you how many articles I’ve read about painting worn out hardwood floors, but yours is definitely the first one that made complete sense to me. Thank you for that! I’d like to know if you can recommend a water-based floor paint for me. We live in very humid North Carolina and painted our dining room floor about 2 years ago with an oil-based paint. It took about 3 weeks to get “cured” enough to put furniture back in. This is with about 1 to 1-1/2 weeks of leaving the windows open and running fans. I would prefer to not deal with that again. Any recommendations for a simpler way???

    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Suzanne! It is a pleasure, glad you like it! Yeah, that is the issue with oil, sure its hardy but damn, it is difficult to live with for awhile lol. Latex based floor paint will be fine, just get a very high quality one and apply 2-3 coats, it is much better honestly.

  52. Hi Bill, I just painted my floor inside a commercial space. The floor is a laminate wood floor. We sanded first and then used two coats of a floor paint for the base, then added a design on top using a sign painters painting enamel. What would you suggest we use to seal the paint? I’ve heard of osmo poly-x, and also masterclear supreme clearcoat in matte finish, but not sure if either is right for the job. Appreciate any help you can provide!!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Ryan! Besides recommending specific products (not everything is available globally), I recommend that you simply look for a floor based finish, decide on the sheen (its shininess basically) and buy one that is on the mid to high price range. That will ensure that its a quality product (generally speaking) and it will come out perfectly. Hope that helps!

  53. Hi Bill, great article! I have old pine boards (12″) that have been treated in Beeswax for year. I am thinking of painting them white now, can I paint directly over them, or do I need to re sand? Many thanks for any advice! Joe

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Joe! Thanks for the kind words! You will need to sand that previous finish off, apply a primer and then paint. A little more work perhaps but it will ensure that it comes out right. Hope that helps!

  54. I read a bunch of posts on this topic and yours is by the far the most comprehensive and informative. I had linoleum in my kitchen which my contractor ripped up, then inserted wood planks to form a continuous floor extending from my living room, where I already had wood flooring, into the adjacent kitchen. He then sanded the old floors, did I’m not sure what to the new planks, then stained the floors the same dark color throughout. A year later the floors still look great, except for the area in the kitchen, where the color is badly fading even though the area doesn’t get much traffic. Why would the new planks have not held on to the stain? In any event I was thinking of painting the area of the floor in the kitchen and leaving the rest as is. I assume I have to sand? There is no getting around that? It’s a very small kitchen but should I rent a sander if I do have to stain? Thanks. 

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Ezra! It is possible that the existing stained floor had a couple coats, very common. It is as easy as applying another coat to the new planks, and if the current stain is intact, you shouldn’t need to sand. Maybe just a little little bit with some super fine sandpaper, but nothing else. Hope that helps.

  55. Hi Bill. I bought a portable building that I am making into a house. The floor is treated plywood. I want to keep it instead of putting in new flooring. I have used wood putty to fill any inconsistencies. I will be sanding it to a smooth finish. Is it okay to sand, prime, paint and then polyurethane? I’m trying to do this on a budget and don’t want to mess anything up and have to start over again. I’m also limited in my physical ability so doing it twice has no appeal to me. lol. Thank you for any advice you can give me. I’m so glad I found your site. Very helpful!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Allison! Yeah that will be fine, go for it. Let me know how it works out for you and thanks for the kind words!

    • Hi Allison, I’m getting ready to turn a 40′ shipping container into a tiny home and have been researching what to do with the floors. Your comment caught my eye because I was considering filling all of the scratches and gashes with wood putty and then painting, like you. I was hoping you could let me know how it worked out for you and if you are happy with it. Pictures would be awesome!!!

    • Bill Reed

      Hi Robin, I have emailed Allison on your behalf as I am also interested in seeing some photos. Let’s hope she responds, thanks for your comment!

  56. Hi Bill,
    I painted a kitchen floor white with porch flooring latex paint recommended by a hardware store. I painted 3 coats and the knots of the wood are coming through. Since then, I painted another floor using an oil based enamel and love the hardness of it. Can I repaint my kitchen floor using the oil based enamel? Thank you in advance for your expert advice.
    Kind regards,
    Kelly

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Kelly! Oil is great, but I am surprised that the latex didn’t hold up. Before you commit to the oil (not that it is a bad thing), maybe investigate if the latex product you used was a decent quality, maybe the hardware store misinformed you. Hope that helps.

  57. Hello there! So grateful for your article. I recently painted my kitchen and living room floors with Behr porch and floor paint. The coverage is great and I like the color. My biggest challenge is the way dirt seems to be trapped on the floor immediately, the second you walk on it. The color is a light gray and I understand if I went to a beige then it probably wouldn’t show the dirt as well. But I don’t have an option to repaint the color. I am wondering if I can talk this with a polyurethane water-based coat. I am hoping that that would keep it from attracting so much dirt. Do you have any suggestions? I am assuming that to put the polyurethane on there I would need to do a fine grit sanding. Thanks so much for your help!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Kendal, if you dont have a finish at the moment, yes, that will definitely help, just choose a sheen that isn’t too “shiny”. Yes that is correct, let me know how it goes!

  58. Hi Bill……thanks so much for the great article!! My question is, I guess I’m a little confused……we want to paint our kitchen hardwood floors….heavy traffic area. Is oil-based or latex recommended for heavier traffic? Thanks in advance!!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Maggie! Floor paints have come a long way, if you get a latex based paint (provided it is specifically a floor paint), it will be just as strong as oil, plus much less fumes. Hope that helps.

  59. Hi Bill…..Love this article and all of the comments and your responses. I don’t believe I ever read what kind of primer to use………….will Kilz or Bins for walls be acceptable?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Judy! Thanks for your kind words 🙂 I havn’t used that (not saying it is a bad product though), just choose a quality product that is specifically used for hard woods. Hope that helps!

  60. hi Bill

    what wood would you recommend to use on top of a cement floor. we have been struggling with our cement floors that has been painted. so I want to change the look but putting wood on top of the cement.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Carmen! You can use any hardwood (or even laminate), it is really up to you. Just make sure that the company that you use is trustworthy, and installs a decent underlayment 🙂

  61. Bill, such great replies a feedback. Thanks for your diligence. My dilemma is that, during sanding, the previous painted areas if my floor “gum up”. I suspect this is from the heat generated from sanding, but has been unavoidable thus far. Will this show through my final finish? Any suggestions to avoiding this headache altogether? Thanks fir your input.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Todd! It is a pleasure! Are you using a decent orbital sander? If you have the correct equipment, it should blast through the paint without any issue. Hope I understood your question correctly, please let me know!

  62. Hi Bill
    Thanks for your fantastic article.
    I’m in England and am renovating a Victorian terrace. I pulled up the (scary) old carpets to reveal pretty good and clean pine floorboards. There is a vague darker boarder in each room where the the floors would have once upon a time have been lacquered around the carpet. I’ve decided to go ahead with the first bedroom and paint the floor white. I washed the floors well with sugar soap and then primed with (Albany ) solvent borne wood primer and then painted two coats of white Coo-Var floor paint (must be oil based as it require thinners to wash brushes). The finished result seems to have a green tinge which isn’t so attractive and now I’m worrying that it’s the start of yellowing effect that often happens with oil based white paint already coming through (after a few days). What do you think? Or could it be the paint that’s a strange colour when it dries? If so can you recommend a good white white? Also I was naughty and didn’t sand the floors…. will it all be peeling off in a few months time!? Ek?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Bowen! Yeah you definitely should have sanded lol, but don’t despair, it doesn’t necessarily doom the floors, just hope that it all stays down hehe. That tinge is strange, my suggestion is to apply another coat of the paint. As long as it is a good quality brand (don’t choose the cheapest, this third coat should do it). RE the one that you are using, I don’t have any experience with that brand, but ask at your local shops, they can advise you based on what is available in your area 🙂

    • I’ve had a little experience with white oil based paint. Sadly it did yellow. Maybe that’s the issue you’re seeing with your floors. I got tired of it and just painted over it with latex white. Yes, I know that’s not the ‘go to’ method and all logic says it’s wrong. But it worked for me.

      As to specific brands, I’m in the US so couldn’t recommend an English brand to use. However I’d go back to the store you got your paint from, tell them the discoloration issue and see what they say.

    • Bill Reed

      Hi Anna! Appreciate you helping out Bowen, I am sure that he will appreciate your advice.

  63. Hi Bill, Love, love, love your blog! I am getting ready to repaint my kitchen floor which gets heavy traffic (yup, dogs, too). Pine floors dating back to 1840 that were oil based painted over thirty years ago with some spots showing original stained floor boards. I need to fill in one area with putty (termites long gone but one board still presents slight damage). I dont think I need to prime but I plan to smooth over the entire floor with sander to even out where paint has worn off, and was going to use some oil based paint I have hoarded for years as the base and then spatter/splatter paint over it. Questions: 1. must I use the exact same oil paint (in different color) for the spatters? 2. what do I seal all of this work with? My husband feels McClusky (used on basketball courts) would be ideal but I wanted to get your thoughts, too. Will send photos after, if you like, but I do want this to last for another 30 years so need your best advice. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Judith! Thanks for your kind words! You don’t have to use the same brand of oil paint, but it should be of the same quality. You can use any floor based sealer, as long as it’s for oil based paint (this is very important). I havn’t personally used McClusky but I feel it might be a little glossy for your home? Up to you. 🙂

    • Thanks again, Bill. You are right – I don’t want a glossy finish so will use best high quality polyurethane in oil, yes oil as the paint is oil, I can find. You rock!

  64. Great article Bill! I have tried to paint the floors in my bedroom with a floor paint as the previous tenants painted the floors with a dark cranberry colour. (I’m painting them white for a cottage feel) I put on 2 coats letting them dry for at least 49 hours between coats. However, only a couple of months later, the floors are flaking and the paint is coming off, revealing the old colour again.The previous paint was non-washable, which made keeping the floors clean nearly impossible – the floors are wide plank pine by the way. Your article says a primer shouldn’t be necessary on previously painted floors. What did I do wrong?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Jo-anne, the primer is not necessary, unless bare wood is exposed. I think the issue is the sanding done prior to your paint job, did you do that part properly?

  65. Hi Bill,
    Excellent Article and continuing responses, obviously helpful as the thread continues into late 2017!

    I’ve gathered a lot of good info. here, so thought I’d contribute by sharing a couple of things I’ve learned over the years rehabbing a few old places.

    If pets were part of the home then dark stains on wood floors are commonly from the ammonia in urine. Ammonia is used as a staining agent in woodworking, and it can stain the wood a permanent black. It can go pretty deep if left long enough, which can be for many reasons, such as hidden by carpet or other mostly permanent furniture or otherwise, re-offending pets, etc…. You can try sanding the area minimally, then cleaning with oxalic acid or wood bleach. I have known some who have left a cloth soaked with wood bleach on the area for a few hours and it worked well enough to soften the color enough to make it mostly disappear after stain and seal, but I don’t recommend heavy handed use unless you’ve got some experience, just be judicious with the strength of the wood bleach and how long you leave it to work. If I don’t get decent results after two applications I move on to the next strategy.

    Which is, oftentimes the only remedy is to replace the individual floor boards that are blackened, and, although best done by a professional, it is easy enough to do once you are aware of how it’s done and the caveats of doing a good job with your particular floor. Which is why a professional is a good choice, they’ve seen and done enough different floor jobs to do the right job for a particular, specific floor.

    Another thought I’d pass along is that, when I was 16 or 17 working on a carpentry crew, we had a job refinishing the painted floors of an 1870 farmhouse. The high white paint was sanded down, but then the old timer on our crew came in with a tool that had a small ‘t” shape on one end of an 8 or 9 inch piece of steel. He spent the day pushing the paint that was in the crevices between the boards down into the void underneath, or compressing it back, at least, and, of course, some of it came out altogether. After he stained and sealed the floor there was no paint to be seen anywhere, in any crevice or junction between the walls and floor boards. Pretty amazing to me as I was convinced there was no way that much white paint, on that much floor, was not going to show up in a natural stain wood floor, one way or another.

    Thanks for your good work, hopefully these are helpful comments,

    KWL

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi KWL! Goodness, what a fantastic contribution to the comment section of this article, you have my sincere appreciation! Great tips, and I am 100% certain that they will help the community, thanks again!

  66. Excellent article. We took up carpeting in our master bedroom. Hoped the oak hardwood floor would be OK ‘as is’ but it wasn’t. Hubby said “Didn’t you always want a white painted floor?” So off to the store for latex primer & porch and floor paint we went. We LOVE the result. It’s holding up well and will be 3 years next month. A few dings (that’s gonna happen with any floor), a few dog’s nail scratches (if you look just right at certain times of the day) but overall it’s holding up exceptionally well.

    We followed all the right steps. Now we’re planning to remove carpeting from our LR and install higher grade plywood floors that too will be painted. Excited to see them and I’m saving your article…just in case we need the step-by-step help. 🙂

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Anna! Thanks for your kind words and for sharing your experience. It warms my heart to hear things like this! Appreciate the comment!

  67. Hey Bill! So glad to have found your article! I’m getting ready to paint my hardwood floors and solidifying my plan of action! I want a light color with a low sheen for a cottage look. I am planning to rent an orbital sander to rough up the finish and then apply 2 coats of latex floor paint (I have small kids so I need something without all the fumes). I’ve been reading reviews of various brands of floor paint and I’m having trouble finding one that gets good reviews. Do you have a particular brand that you recomend? I have a big fear of the paint scratching off easily once I’m done and also a fear of it staying “tacky” for weeks. Thanks again for posting such a great article!

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Drew! I recommend that you go to our local hardware store and ask for a “premium grade latex floor paint”, and buy something that is obviously better quality than the rest. If you sand to the bare wood, don’t forget to add a primer 🙂 Good luck and thanks for the kind words!

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