Painting Wood Floors

Looking to make a BIG change?  Ready to stir things up a bit?  How about painting your wood floor?

For me, this fits the category of “I’d love to do it, but don’t think I can gain spousal consent.”  Yes, it’s a bigger job than painting a wall, or even a ceiling.  But if your wood floors have seen better days, a bit of creativity might just do the trick.

The look can range from warm country with classic diamonds on a wood floor to playful contemporary with a bold color and high gloss.  And for the artistically bold among us, the possibilities are endless.

First, a little visual inspiration…then at the end of this post I’ll share the how-to’s, and a few helpful tips to keep you out of trouble. 😉

Lets start with one that most of us can relate to (from Coastal Living Magazine).  Yes, it’s a bold painting maneuver, but it’s done in a classic way that screams “I’m traditional, but I’ve got some unanticipated sass in me!”  Imagine what this can do for your tired kitchen floor!  Works well with black or brown diamonds too.

Diamonds on Wood Floor

Photographer: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Or, if you prefer stripes over diamonds, here’s another simple design that plays safely in the background using a staining technique.

Cottage Living Striped Floor

Source: Cottage Living

Angling stripes adds a bit of whimsy to an otherwise symmetrical living room.  Love the punch of orange, by the way!

striped floor


Here’s a simple example of infusing color into an otherwise uncomplicated room.  It gives it just enough personality without being in your face.

blue floor


Now if you’re of the bolder persuasion, why limit your love for color to the walls and ceilings?  I love the energy in this photo (Coastal Living Magazine).  Granted this may look odd in a New England colonial, but if your house has the bones for it and you’ve got the kahunas…go for it!


Photographer: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Here’s another one from Coastal Living magazine that turns an otherwise ho-hum floor into a work of art and adds just the right amount of beachy feel to this room.  Love the chalkboard and lime green doors too!


Photographer: Richard Leo Johnson

If you’re not ready to commit to painting a floor, why not start with the stairs? This is a simple example from Real Simple magazine that shows what a nice pop of color can do to spice things up.  Toys on the steps are optional (a bit of a hazard, actually).

Painted Steps

Source: Real Simple

Ready to go one step further? (Sorry, pun intended).  Paint your stairs then make them your own with a bit of verbal flair.You could also just number the stairs going up.  Great way to teach kids to count!

stenciled stairs

Source/Designer: Alexandra Rowley,

Make a dramatic statement by painting a red runner down the stairs.  It’s a simple yet elegant décor element that really pops against a white canvase.  LOVE it.

Painted Red Runner

Source: Living Etc.

Or, if you’d rather tone it down a bit, how about painting just the tops of the steps?

Pink Painted Stairs

Source: Mary Ruffle, Tumblr

Ok, as promised, here’s a handy how-to guide – a compilation of all the advice I’ve researched (remember, I haven’t actually done this yet).


  • Painters Tape
  • ¼ inch rollers
  • Trim brush
  • Sander (can rent one for large spaces)
  • Primer – Depending on the condition of your floors, you may want to first roll a coat of wood primer before you paint.  Suggestion? Try Zinsser 1-2-3 Plus Primer.
  • Paint – Use a Latex Enamel porch and floor paint. Suggestion? Try Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio Latex Enamel.


  1. Sand your floor – either just the part you will be painting, or if the whole kit and kaboodle are getting the treatment, do yourself a favor and rent an orbital sander.  And please, wear protective goggles and a face mask!  And so you don’t have to do it again, seal off the room as best you can.
  2. Now it’s time to clean like you’ve never cleaned before!  Mix one part bleach with three parts water and mop your floor – that will kill any mildew that might be lurking about (especially important if you’ve ripped up carpet to do this).  20 minutes later, mop it again with warm water and detergent.  Resist the urge to eat of the floor…you’ve got work to do!  Let the floors dry thoroughly (about 12 hours)
  3. If you’re painting a design, tape your pattern and fill the areas in with a small roller.  Be sure to remove the tape before the paint is completely dry.
  4. Trim the edges with your trim brush, then use a ¼ inch roller and apply two thin coats – and wait 24 – 35 hours between coats.
  5. If you used the right paint, you should not need to seal it.  But if it’s a high-traffic area, you might want to finish it off with a coat of clear water-base polyurethane to protect it.


  • Don’t paint on a rainy day – Set the heat (or air) to 70 degrees for ideal drying conditions
  • Don’t apply thick coats
  • Keep windows open while painting

There ya go!  Now that is doable, right?  If you could paint any floor in your home, which room would it be and what would you do? And if you HAVE done this before, any other tips we should add?

I love reading comments and yes, I read every one!


  1. says

    Awesome pictures – very inspirational! I love the blue bedroom floor photo the best, that is something I can picture in my home. The others are real eye candy too, but I think they would get old for me pretty fast.

    I just wanted to add that when you paint a design, sealing is not optional, it’s a MUST! Without it, the edges will chip off, no matter what paint you used.

    Happy New Year to you! :)


  2. says

    Hi Yelena,

    Yes, the blue room is by far the most practical! Although I really want to try the first one w/the cream diamonds.

    Thx for the professional advice to SEAL! Afterall, with that much work, who would want to have to redo it! :)


  3. says

    These are such fun, but I’m like you, spousal consent definitely would not be forthcoming. In fact, I just showed Beloved Husband that pic with the purple ceiling and turquoise wall; his response definitely is not printable here!!

  4. says

    Ha ha ha, what is it with men not wanting to paint wood! I agree the purple room is a bit far out – the first two in the kitchen are very tame. Men!!!! 😉

    • Meb says

      Some men, maybe. My other half is fine with me painting the whole stairs and upper floor of our house – in a neutral colour, but then our living room is deep purple. Guess I just got lucky with a sensible bloke…

  5. says

    Hmmm. Not sure about that purple painted ceiling. My partner and I have this ongoing debate about whether or not we should paint our wooden ceiling white. I say no but he says yes. The entire neighborhood has an opinion!

  6. says

    Hi Designer – I’m partial to the stripes as well!

    Hey Moon – never go with neighborhood consensus! What color is your wood ceiling now? If it’s natural wood color, my vote is to paint it white, but then again I just told you not to listen to your neighbors – lol!

  7. says

    Okay, very interesting. I was almost shocked to hear that you would paint a beautiful hardwood floor, but after looking at the great photo’s taken by the photographer I quickly realized it could be very fun to paint the hardwood floors. A Dust Free sander is recommended for sanding purposes. Having a professional come and and sand your floors is not to terribly expensive. I will have to make this a discussion in the office about painting floors. The input from the craftsman and the boss should be extremely interesting input. Great photo’s and informative do it yourself information.

    Thanks Happy Blogging.
    .-= ProSand Flooring Construction´s last blog ..Audio Solutions =-.

    • Meb says

      Thing is, mostly they are not “lovely hardwood floors” but bog standard pine floorboards and if they are old enough, tend to be orange. No loss there.

  8. Julia says

    So I am contemplating ripping up the carpet and doing this…just one thing. Our house is very old and the floor has white paint on it….most likely lead paint. What special precautions should I take? Also, I have four little boys who would probably find their way into this room. Can I use a shellac over the paint so I won’t have to evacuate the house after I put the poly down?

  9. Bonnie Fuller Snair says

    Just started painting floors in my older home. On my third room and decided to paint it a darker color but may have to do it again in a lighter color as I feel the room looks way too dark. Any suggestions how I can lighten this up without repainting the whole room. I already painted the walls a chocolate milk color so painting the walls is not a option. Help!

    • CJ says

      You can lighten it up with either light colored area rugs or paint the floor with some stencils, or diamonds or some other design, with a lighter paint!

  10. says

    I love the picture from ‘Real Simple’. The blue paint surprisingly went well with the red hardwood stairs, in fact – the contrast makes it look even better. I wonder if candy pink would look great with maple flooring.

    • says

      Candy pink would look fabulous, IMO. But I’d never get consensus to do it here…so go for it! I’m in the process of painting mine espresso and white…will post about how I did it soon…

  11. Heather Murphy says

    Thanks! My husband has been wanting to paint out hardwood floors that we discoverd under the carpet in the home we are remodeling. Now I will say yes!

  12. says

    There are many sure fire ways of making floors interesting in a creative way. The flooring industry has a lot of products available and floor service providers are within reach if you lack time to do-it-yourself. Floors are an investment and every possible solution in making the flooring become better is definitely welcome.

  13. Kathi J says

    We bought a house about four years ago; it’s now 107 years old, and has of course been updated in various ways. The people who sold the house to us had put some inexpensive carpet upstairs, which I wanted to tear out, but we had other priorities first. Now the carpet is looking atrocious, but when we pulled it up around the edges, we learned that there is plywood underneath it. We cannot afford to buy quality hardwood flooring at this point in time, and I like the idea of painted wood floors. Would there be any was to apply some sort of surface to the plywood that could then be painted?

  14. Philippa W says

    I painted and sealed a kitchen floor about 10 years ago. After several years the polyurathane wore through in small areas where we walked often. This meant the paint was exposed and then this wore though so you could see the wood. You could see that the polyurathane had yellowed so it was impossible to recoat the wood to match the polyurathaned surface.
    I have recoated the polyurthane with a special undercoat that sticks to shiny surfaces. I’m going to paint the floor with 3 coats of gloss paint and not seal it. When it starts to look worn in places I will touch up the worn areas.
    Has anyone tried this?
    Also don’t use a waterbased polyurathane. My sister tried it and it lifted off the floor when she washed it.

  15. says

    Wow! I never thought of painting my wood floors. I have a rental with some hardwood floors that are in rough shape (animal stains and who knows what else) and I figured I was gonna be due for sanding and re-staining the floor. This looks to be ideal.

  16. says

    Hi there,
    I don’t have wood floors in my office, I’ve tried to contact you before via email but could not reach you. I need to know if these paints are easily cleanable, if that is so then I need to know what you offer me for my office and floors.

  17. Toni says

    I noticed that my back porch wood floor paint was holding up remarkably well- three years old and there is not a worn spot or chip on the entire porch, even the steps. So I decided to use the very same paint on my interior hardwood- Sherwin Williams latex porch and floor paint.
    I rented a sander, sanded my living room, dining room, and hallway and painted it. I will use no poly- if I have any issues anywhere I can sand and repaint in no time. I LOVE it. I am so over the worship of hardwood that I had to do this to make a statement and am so happy I had the nerve to do it!

  18. Missy says

    A few years ago, I saw Lisa Laporta on “Designed to Sell” use a dark deck stain on hardwood floors. They didn’t have time to sand, stain, and seal. The floors looked really nice in the end. Has anyone ever heard of doing this?

  19. Barbara says

    I did this in a dining room about six years ago. Have since sold the house. It was an unexpected accent to a new builder-stock house. Gave the room instant age which we loved. Like everyone else has said, you must seal the paint. My floor chipped in several places requiring us to fix it a few times. Next time I will use a stain instead. Think it might be less prone to chipping.

  20. says

    These projects are fantastic and they really showcase just what floor paint can do you for your rooms and your house. What an enviable look.


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