How to Paint Flooring
It takes a lot of time and work to paint flooring, but the end result can be absolutely stunning and totally amazing. Put the time and effort into painting your floors the right way with the right materials, and you’ll be pleased with the results.
Types of Flooring
Though a coat of paint can fix a lot of things, it’s not suited to all types of floors. Before you paint your floor, become very familiar with it. Find out how your floor reacts to paint, and what you need to do to get it paint-ready.
Real hardwood floors can be painted, and it's more affordable and less labor-intensive to paint hardwood than to refinish it and stain it. Use polyurethane-based oil paints on hardwood to get smooth, even coverage that will stick to the wood.
Concrete floors are very easy to paint, though you may need to scrape or sand off existing paint before you apply new paint. You can use oil-based or latex paint on your concrete floors. Before you paint concrete floors, however, make certain they have been properly sealed. Unsealed concrete floors will simply soak up paint, rather than being covered by it. Conduct a simple test by getting your concrete floor wet. If water collects or certain spots of the floor seems prone to dampness, seal the floor before you paint it.
Laminate floors aren't so easy to paint, and they are so varied there is no one answer for them all. Before attempting to paint your laminate floor, test an unnoticed section of the floor by painting a small patch of it. Check it in 48 hours. Oil-based floor paint is best for laminate flooring.
Varnish or Lacquer
Floors that have varnished or lacquered finishes can be the hardest to paint. Test the floor by painting a small section, and then see how the paint reacts. If you notice bubbling, flaking, or cracking, the finish on the floor will not accept paint. You will need to completely sand away the finish and prime the floor before it can be painted.
Painting Floors Step-by-Step
Step 1 - Clean the Floor
Before you paint your floors, clean them. Vacuum or sweep to remove debris, then scrub the floor to get rid of all dirt and grime. Use a stain treatment if necessary, and remember it's okay if you end up scrubbing away some of the existing floor color or finish. After all, you're painting over it.
Extra Step: Remove the Finish
Some floors—whether they're hardwood, laminate, or any other material—may have a polyurethane or similar finish. If your floors are very glossy and smooth, they probably have such a finish on them. Finishes like these prevent paint from sticking, so you will need to destroy the finish before you begin priming and painting. Do it with sandpaper or a wire brush. Rough up the finish everywhere. You don't have to remove it completely or make it look nice. Just make sure the floors no longer look glossy anywhere. Dull floors are ready-to-paint floors.
Pro Tip: Fill in any cracks or chips in the floor with caulk, then sand it down to get a smooth surface.
Step 2 - Protect Your Floorboards
Before you begin painting, line the entire room with painter's tape. Place it all around the base of your walls on every wall in the room. Otherwise, some of your paint will inevitably end up on your floorboards and then you'll have a whole new DIY project on your hands.
Step 3 - Paint a Coat of Primer
Cover the entire floor in a coat of primer, painting it on with a roller as you would with paint. It isn't strictly necessary to use primer, but this is the best way to get good, clean coverage and paint that will look better, longer. Let the primer dry completely before proceeding.
Step 4 - Begin Painting the Floor
Apply thin coats of paint to the floor, one at a time, letting each dry before you apply a new coat. You may need multiple coats to get the coverage and the color you want. It can be tedious to paint floors, but if you're patient, the end result will be as stunning as you imagined. Let at least 24 hours pass between each coat you apply.
Extra Step: Smooth the Paint
If your paint looks rough or bubbly, smooth it down. Use sandpaper to buff away any area that isn't smooth, and then reapply another thin, even layer of paint.
Pro tip: Turn the heat on in the house to at least 70°F to make floors dry more quickly.
Step 5 - Leave the House
Do not inhabit your home and sleep in it 24 hours a day while your floor project is ongoing. Paint fumes can be very dangerous. Be sure your home is well-ventilated, and leave windows open to let the fumes escape. When you can, get out of the house and away from the fumes.
Step 6 - Seal the Paint
Finish the floor by painting on a final coat of polyurethane. This will keep the paint color looking richer for longer, and it will prevent flaking and cracking that occurs from daily wear and tear. Remember that no matter what, all paint will fade, crack, and stain over time. Eventually, it will need to be repainted.
Step 7 - Let the Floors Fully Cure
Though it dries within a day or two, paint doesn't fully cure for a couple of weeks. Until this process is completed, be gentle with your floors. Don't drag heavy objects or use strong cleaning products on the floor until it has completely cured, and then you can resume all your normal floor activities.
A coat of paint works wonders in home design, and painting your own floors is a completely doable DIY that you can manage on your own. Take your time to do the project the right way, and you’ll have gorgeous floors that look exactly the way you want.