Are you a thrifter? Grab my free tips! Click Here!

How To Paint An Old Wood Floor

June 28, 2022

This post may contain affiliate links.

Our old wood floor was damaged and stained. Instead of replacing it, we decided to paint it and turn it into a charming feature for our cottage style home.

It was an easy DIY and much less expensive than our other flooring options.

The first time we decorated the hallway in this tiny little cottage, patterned wall to wall carpet was all the rage.

Our kids were babies and we wanted something snuggly under their feet as they ran from the bathtub to their bedrooms on chilly winter nights.

And we were so burnt out from all the other room renovations and the kitchen addition, that we couldn't deal with the damaged wooden floors we found hiding underneath the the wall to wall seafoam green shag the previous owner had installed.

So, to make them disappear, we covered them with a fleur de lis version in burgundy and called it a day.

Well, this spring, almost a full 20 years later, with grown kids and during a period when patterned wall to wall carpet is making a resurgence, I decided I was done with it.

And it had to go.

Of course, that still left the issue of those unsightly wood floors...and the question of what to do with them.

Damaged and Stained Wood Floor Before Paint

Too badly beaten, stained, chipped and water damaged to be refinished, not that my lungs could handle that process anyway.

Damaged Wood Floors

Too time consuming, messy and expensive to replace them with real wood.

(We hadn't yet put down the laminate floor in the family room, so we didn't even consider that option.)

And too tired of carpet to ever cover them with wall to wall again, I decided that paint was the way out. 

(We hadn't yet put down the carpet tile squares in the basement yet, to consider that option either)

While my husband wasn't originally onboard with my solution, after many, many, long conversations, I finally convinced him it was the way to go.

And he's just as smitten with the results as I am.

Now, this wasn't our first foray into the world of painted floors.

A few summers ago, we painted our concrete patio with great success. So I knew we could handle this job.

Here's the detailed DIY and the answers to a few frequently asked questions I received when I posted about the hallway renovation before.

Painting A Wood Floor With A Brush

How Do You Paint A Wood Floor?

This is just the way we painted our very old, very damaged wood planked hallway floors. Be mindful that there are really two separate processes here.

First we had to clean the hardwood floors underneath the old rug. Then we painted it.


Paint - we used Benjamin Moore Aura Satin in Antique White 
Roller and Pan 
Painter's Tape
Water Based Polyurethane

1. How To Clean Hardwood Floors After Removing Carpet

We started by ripping up that old carpet and the padding underneath it. Then we pried the tackless that was around the edges of the room up and all those miserable staples.

It was a tedious process.

Then we had to sand a few spots where the old carpet padding literally melted to the floor. Not fun.

Hallway With Wood Floor

Once the physical debris was removed, we vacuumed the floor well, mopped it with vinegar and water, just like I clean the hardwood floors all over my house, and waited for the floor to dry.

a bottle of vinegar

We didn't fill any holes or patch any of the boards, we left all the rustic charm intact.

Then we moved on to the painting process.

2. Tape 

Next up, we had to figure out how to paint the floor in pieces, since that hallway is the only way to our bathrooms and bedrooms.

Taping Wood Floor For Painting

Eventually we settled on a plan to paint the floor in sections, made a path, using tape to mark it up.

Then we put more tape down to create lines between the hallway and the adjoining rooms.

3. Cut In The Edges 

We began painting the perimeter of the floor with a brush.

Painting The Perimeter Of A Wooden Floor

That was an easier way to cut in around the freshly painted mouldings. We would've taped them off as well, but frankly, we got lazy.

We also didn't want to take the chance of ripping off some of the trim paint when we removed the tape.

We know...painter's tape shouldn't do that, but with recently painted mouldings...ones that had multiple layers of paint underneath...nothing was guaranteed. 

4. Grab A Roller

When that was done, we grabbed the roller and applied the paint in even strokes, in the same direction as the wood.

We made sure to use a roller pad that was made for stains, as well as paint, because we didn't want to leave marks on the floor. 

We wanted a very tight nap.

Using A Roller To Paint A Wood Floor

5. Let It Dry

The next day we went back and painted the strip we'd left to walk on.

How To Paint A Wooden Floor

We devised a way to mark what was wet and dry with a few index cards. That was very helpful, as you can imagine.

Marking A Wet Painted Floor

6. Add A Second Coat

On the third day, we went back to the original area and added a second coat to the entire floor, since it only took about an hour to dry.

7. Seal It

And then we waited a solid week to allow it to fully cure before adding the polyurethane with a roller as well.

Once it dried it was a tiny bit slick for a day or so, if you were wearing socks, however that slippery feel disappeared quickly.

Varathane Polyurethane Water  Based

Even though we used a water based product, I'm not going to lie, it still smelled a little for several days.

The plastic tarps we used to isolate the hallway did help my allergies during this part of the renovation.

But I was thrilled when the smell was gone and all that remained of the process was a fabulously refinished, light, bright, carpetless wood floor.

Cottage Style Painted Wood Hallway Floor

The difference was dramatic.

Those damaged boards were super charming with their new finish.

The entire space appeared so much larger, especially with the addition of a few painted white mirrors.

Painted Hallway Floor DIY

Cozy and cottage styled.

Just what I'd been craving.

Wall to wall perfection.

Painted Floor FAQ's.

Cottage Hallway Makeover Ideas Braided Rug, Console Table, Milk Glass and Flowers

What About Resale?

This was a big question and one I can honestly say that I didn't even consider.

Which is ironic, since several years ago, I wrote that there are only three things I would never do to my home in the name of resale.

And painting a wood floor was one of them. However.

In that post, I referenced covering damage like my bedroom floor, which is just a bit discolored. It could easily be refinished and look brand new. I still don't think I would paint a floor like that.

Or one that was in perfect condition.

These floors were bad, way worse than they look in the photos. A future buyer would have to rip them up and replace them if they wanted useable wooden floors. Paint or no paint. 

Since the wood in the hallway was already trashed, it was a no brainer for me.

Plus, times change, painted floors are very in style right now, so some could argue it's a selling point.

But clearly this is one for the never say never file. 😉

What Paint Did We Use On Our Wood Floor ?

We did a little bit of research before we got started, consulted the pros at our local shop and ultimately decided against using a traditional floor paint.

Here's why.

I knew from experience that the floor paint had a nasty odor and the wall paint did not.

I knew that the floor paint was supposed to be used without a top coat. That was one of the benefits of going with a floor product.

I didn't like that. I use a lot of paint, many that say they don't require a top coat. 

And they all chip. So no top coat wasn't a selling point for me.

I also knew that there was going to be a variation in tone when moving from one paint formulation to another and I wanted our floors to match the hallway walls exactly.

Lastly, I knew that no paint was going to last forever on a floor. 

SO. I went with my gut and we used the same latex paint we put on the walls. Benjamin Moore Aura in Satin.

And then we coated it with a water based polyurethane to protect it. Perfect.

How's The Painted Floor Holding Up?

The floor is about a year old. It's used every single day, in a busy house full of people, and so far, so good.

No chips, dings, scratches or marks. Only time will tell how well it will hold up in the long term, but honestly, I'm a fan of the weathered/ worn look, so I'm not concerned.

Besides, the poly is very strong. That's the key.

It's been protecting both our wooden countertop in the bathroom and our kitchen table for years and they both look brand new.

The only complaint I have is that the light color paint does show a lot more dirt than that dark carpet ever did. That should've been clear before I started, but sometimes the design dream clouds common sense.

Food for thought. Choose your color wisely.

Would you paint a wood floor?

How To Paint A Wood Floor The Complete DIY and FAQs

Kim Signature

Post a Comment | 28 Comments

Hey~ before you go, let me know what you think!

I love comments and respond to them all.

*Please refer to our privacy policy if you have questions regarding your profile and note that comments with links will not be published.

  1. Looks
    Fabulous. kris@junkchiccottage

    1. Thanks so much, Kris! We love the look now.

  2. It's something I've always said I'd never do either. But, I'm seeing more and more of it and it really is charming! I really like your look and it fits your cottage!

    1. Thanks Mari! We love it, too. It does fit the house and makes that space feel so much larger and brighter. Funny isn't, I always say never say never and yet I said never. Ha! Live and learn.

  3. These look beautiful. In the pictures the hardwood didn't look bad. But I know you don't exaggerate. Big job that is done!!! How's ewverything elsew coming along?

    1. Thanks Cindy! Yes, the photos don't really show the texture of the boards. There was a flood in this house before we moved in, the pipes burst under the floor in the winter when the summer residents weren't here. They replaced most of the floors, but not this one. As far as the rest of the renos go, they're coming along. I'm going to start sharing more very soon!

  4. Yep- Sure would and have done so long before it was a 'thing'. lol. I love painted wood floors-providing the wood is not beautiful to begin with. I would probably not paint a perfect wood floor. You did a great job- it looks wonderful! xo Diana

    1. Diana, I just know your painted floor was gorgeous. You were ahead of your design time. I also agree though, if the floors were in great condition, I never would've touched them. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, as my mom used to say! Thanks for the visit and the comment my friend.xo

  5. They look amazing! I painted a floor in the bedroom one time but it was a disaster! I didn't follow the steps I should have :/

    1. Thanks Susan! I've seen your projects up close and personal and they're all fabulous. I bet your floor was, too...

  6. They look wonderful! I would paint a wood floor! The way I feel about lighter colors showing more dirt, is that it gets cleaned more often. You still had the same amount of dirt with your dark carpet, but didn't see it, so maybe it didn't get clean as much? LOL.

    1. Thanks!! And I like your thinking, Penny. You’re right, I’m giving that floor a daily once over now, instead of a weekly one. I’m also looking at it a lot more. It’s so pretty I’m fixated on removing every little ball of lint! We’ll see how long that lasts! 😉

  7. Kris, yes I would and I did! You might remember I showed the entry with navy and white checkerboards. I loved it as that was back in the late 90's and they were all the rage then.. I am not surprised at all that they are making a comeback now. However, as many of the dumb mistakes I have had over the years, we used acrylic craft paints and with humans, multiple dogs and being in a high traffic area they didn't hold up. Looking back at pics, I wish I had repainted them with the right paint or, surprise, left them pretty and chipped but we covered them with tiles and now there is no going back! Yours came out beautifully(of course I am a big fan of patterned carpet too) you did a great job. I think you will enjoy them for a long time to come and sounds like you did them right..Happy Tuesday..xxoJudy

    1. Thanks so much, Judy! We really love the look. I do remember your floors and loved them. I get the chipping thing though, that wasn't really in style back then was it? Today that chippy look is all the rage. I was in an antique store recently and the painted floor was worn and chipped and my husband said, take a look, because this is what you might end up with in a few years and I said, good!! I don't think that was the answer he expected!! Happy Tuesday! xo

  8. I like it. I have seen other painted wood floors in some recent decor magazines. I think if done right, they look great and that is just what you did. :-) Well done!!!

    1. I never considered painting a wood floor until I started seeing them pop up all over Pinterest and Instagram in recent years, too. I really do like the look...and thank you!!

  9. I love it, Kim! It's simple and didn't cost a fortune. I did the same thing with a garage apartment I had behind my house years ago. Tore out the ugly carpet and just painted the floors white. I loved that little slice of heaven.

  10. It looks so fresh Kim! I'm glad you went ahead and painted the floor. I wish I could do the same but I'm afraid I'd be cleaning all day! I think it is a wonderful solution for the hallway!

    1. Thanks so much, Mary...and yes, it definitely shows more mess. Next time I should paint it navy!! Hahaha!

  11. I would paint a damaged wood floor! Your floor turn out just right! Perfect for your cottage!

    1. Thanks so much! It was the perfect way to mitigate the damage and get a cottage look at the same time.

  12. I wouldn't know the first thing about how to paint a wood floor, and my mother's floors could use some serious TLC. I'm usually the type who wants to fix it and forget it, so I'm not sure the future maintenance of painted floors is for me, but refinishing wood floors is not for the weak of heart! That being said, I HAVE considered pulling up the vinyl in the bathrooms and painting the concrete...

    1. Oh...we've painted concrete and loved it. Ours was outside, the patio, and it lasted for a good long time. I know that inside it would do very well...and look fantastic.

  13. Wow, Kim, it certainly is a dramatic change, and looks FANTASTIC! And based on your results, yes! I would definitely paint a wood floor!

    1. Thanks Amy! It was really the most cost effective (and more importantly, charming) way to go with this mess of a floor!

  14. Very nice job - and I totally agree and emphasize regarding breathing fumes; I suffer from lung asthma and lung problems too; love the way you taped off the walkway; good to know about using wall paint opposed to floor paint; I plan to paint the floor in my sunroom because it has several water stains from the "jungle" of plants kept there. Enjoy your floor - and incorporate the "no shoes" rule to make it last - ha ha.

    1. Thank you, Aprile! We really do love the floor and yes, we have a no shoe rule in this house. It saves all the floors...and saves me a lot of vacuuming! I'm sorry to hear you suffer from lung issues, too. It's not fun. The Aura paint really does dry quickly and the fumes are minimal. The poly smells, even though it's water based, but the plastic does keep it contained. Good luck and I hope the paint tames your jungle!!