How to Paint Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are a desirable feature in any home because of the natural wood beauty they lend to your rooms and hallways. While it may seem counterintuitive, painting your hardwood floors a solid color and/or using paint and stenciling to create patterns or borders can add interest while giving you more options with your interior color and design palette.
Whether your hardwood floors are too worn and torn or you just want more color and design options from your floors than plain “wood”, paint your hardwood floors this weekend and reinvent your indoors.
Before you start, visit your local True Value hardware store for all the tools, products and expert advice you need to paint your hardwood floors correctly, right from the start.
Paint the Floor
Step 1. Prepare the Room
Start by removing every item from the room in which you’ll be working. Remove furniture, rugs, decorative items and fixtures. This will keep paint spill and splatter as well as dust and debris from causing any damage to them.
Seal off the room as much as possible so that dust from sanding doesn’t spread throughout your house. Cover the room's doorways, vents and electrical outlets with plastic sheeting and use masking tape to fasten the sheeting in place. Every opening should be closed or covered to avoid spreading dust throughout your home. Open windows in the room to ventilate and remove some of the dust and residue that will be in the air.
Check the floor for any nails that may be protruding. Sharp objects such as these can destroy the sandpaper on a sander, forcing you to change it out. This will make the job longer than it needs to be. In addition, these protrusions can be a safety hazard. Using a hammer or nail setter, pound any protruding nails below the surface of the floor as far as you can get them. Thoroughly sweep and mop the floor before starting any of the work. Apply painter’s tape to baseboards to protect them from accidental touches of a paintbrush or roller.
Step 2. Sand the Floor
To get the best painting results, you need to strip the floor’s surface of any varnish, sealant, etc., and roughen the surface so that your paint will adhere better. Sanders strip the wood of its old finish and smooth the surface for painting. While you can sand your floor with an electric hand sander, old-fashioned palm sander or pole sander, you're only adding to the overall time of the project, not to mention the amount of tough work. Rent an upright electric orbital floor sander to make the job easier and faster to complete. Read all instructions carefully to be sure you know how to use the machine. Ask for a demonstration at your rental location.
Attach a medium-grit sheet of sandpaper to the sander and begin sanding slowly and evenly with the wood’s grain. Move the sander in straight, even strokes. Start in the middle of the room and work your way across one half of the floor, overlapping each pass by a couple inches. Repeat the process on the other half of the room.
- Remember to always keep the sander moving when it’s on or you will risk sanding too deeply and causing non-repairable grooves in the floor.
- Do a practice-run where a piece of furniture will be placed to get a feel for the sander and to see what it does to the floor. If you make a mistake, the furniture will cover it.
- Always turn the sander on with the sanding pad off of the floor. Slowly lower it onto the floor to begin.
- Sanding your floors will kick up a lot of dust. Wear safety glasses and a dust mask or respirator while you work to avoid breathing in the dust or getting it in your eyes.
- Sanders operate at high volume. Wear earplugs to protect your ears.
Eventually, you’ll start getting too close to the walls and risk potentially bumping your baseboards and damaging them. When this happens, you can give the upright sander a rest and use an electric edge sander or palm sander to sand the rest of the floor near the walls. Be sure you use the same grit that you used when operating the large sander.
Clean up the sanding dust with a shop vacuum and a tack cloth. Mop if necessary. Remember to let the floor dry before proceeding.
- Be sure to remove as much dust and residue as possible from all surfaces in the room. Besides the floor, check the walls, windowsills, etc.
Step 3. Painting the Floor
There are a number of paints formulated for porches and floors that can withstand heavy traffic longer than other paints. Most of these are oil-based, polyurethane enamels that are self-priming. You can also choose from a wide range of color options by using an interior paint such as True Value EasyCare® PLATINUM Paint and Primer In-One. You should apply a topcoat of polyurethane sealant over the coats of paint though to make the results last in highly trafficked areas.
Apply the paint first around baseboards, painting out a few inches from the wall to a point where it will be safe to continue using a roller applicator and an extension pole. Pour the paint and primer in-one into a paint tray and start at the farthest corner from the door and apply the primer smoothly and evenly with the grain. Don’t paint yourself into a corner. Work your way back towards the door until you’ve covered every inch of floor space.
Let the coat dry completely (dry time varies for each brand and each type of finish). This will usually take anywhere from three to eight hours but read the product label and follow the specified instructions for best results. Apply a second coat if need be.
If you used EasyCare® PLATINUM to paint the floor, you must apply a sealer over your work to protect it and make it last. Use a clear polyurethane floor sealant, applying it the same way you did with priming and painting. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions on the label to make sure the sealant is compatible with the type of paint you used and so that you know how to properly apply it. You may want to do two coats. Allow the first coat to dry for the manufacturer‘s recommended time before applying the second.
Remember, if you will be also using stenciling and paint to create borders or patterns on top of your new coats of paint, you need to do that first, before applying sealant. See the next section.
Create a Design for a Unqiue Floor Finish
You can create custom designs, borders and patterns on your hardwood floors using paint as well. It doesn’t matter if you have painted the entire floor with a base color or if you are just adding splashes of color to your regular hardwood floors. You just need to take some time to plan out your design so that it is done right.
Step 1. Choose a Design
Begin with a plan in mind. Draw it on graph paper with a pencil so you have an outline from which to work. If you’re doing a checker pattern, for example, you need to be sure the pattern is symmetrical so that it looks right. If you need ideas, go online and find patterns that appeal to your taste and that will work with your existing room design. One of the easiest ways to create a cohesive pattern is to use stencils. You can create your own or buy stencils from craft and hobby stores or other retailers.
Step 2. Sand the Floor
Floors finished with varnish or sealant can’t be stenciled or painted upon without removing the topcoat first. That topcoat of varnish or sealant will make it difficult for paint to adhere properly. This finish needs to be partially removed so much that the “sheen” is gone. By lightly sanding the floor, you can remove the very top layer of finish just enough that your stencil paint will adhere but also make it possible to remove the paint because it won’t absorb all the way into the wood below. Remember though, that you must fix any mistakes quickly; don’t let them set in. As you would in the above Step 2, Paint the Floor, remove the existing floor finish by sanding it with an upright electric floor sander. Attach a medium-grit or medium/low-grit sheet of sandpaper to the sander and begin sanding slowly and evenly with the wood’s grain. Move the sander in straight, even strokes. Start in the middle of the room and work your way across one half of the floor, overlapping each pass by a couple inches. Remember to always keep the sander moving when it’s on. Repeat the process on the other half of the room.
- Wear safety glasses and a dust mask or respirator while you work to avoid breathing in dust or getting it in your eyes.
- Wear earplugs to protect your ears.
Use an electric edge sander or palm sander to sand the floor near the walls. Be sure you use the same sandpaper grit that you used when operating the large sander. Clean up the sanding dust with a shop vacuum and tack cloth. Dust is your enemy when you add paint and sealant later on.
Step 3. Apply Stencil/Design
Use a tape measure to measure out from the wall where your first stencil or masking (to create borders) will be placed. This will help keep your design straight and/or consistent. If you’re creating a line for a border, use a tape measure to measure out from the wall in intervals to keep the line straight. Apply painter’s tape along the line, periodically checking that it is straight. If you’re stenciling, place your stencils on the floor in your desired pattern/design. Use the tape measure again to ensure that they are equally spaced so that the design is symmetrical. Once you have the stencils in place, tape them down with a piece of painter’s tape in each corner so that they won’t move or let paint bleed underneath, marring your work.
Create your border with a small or medium-sized, angled paintbrush and True Value EasyCare® PLATINUM Paint and Primer In-One, carefully painting within the lines you made with painter’s tape. Let the paint dry and then carefully remove the strips of painter’s tape at a 45-degree angle so you don’t accidentally remove any of the paint.
Paint within stencils using a small paintbrush or foam brush and EasyCare® PLATINUM Paint and Primer In-One. Fill just the tip of the brush with paint and lightly paint into the cut-out area of the stencil, making sure that you paint a little bit over the cut-out edges to create a crisp outline of the stencil image. Once you’ve filled in a stencil with paint, carefully pull the stencil away from the floor. If you didn’t achieve the results you wanted, wipe away the paint with a rag and start over. Repeat the process until you’re satisfied with the results. Continue in this fashion until you’ve completed your design. Let the paint dry for the recommended amount of time on the paint can label. Once it’s dry, you’re ready to begin sealing the floor.
Step 4. Seal the Floor
Seal the floor using a clear polyurethane floor sealant, applying it the same way you would primer and paint, using a roller applicator and extension pole. Follow all manufacturer instructions on the label. You may need to do two coats. Allow the first coat to dry for the manufacturer‘s recommended time before applying the second. After the second coat, allow the floor to dry for about 48 hours before you move furniture back into the room or let normal traffic resume.
Nice job! Now your wood floors are painted and colorful. For the rest of your paint projects, visit your local True Value hardware store for the tools, products and expert advice you need to start right.