How To Paint Hardwood Floors

We are closing on the beach cottage tomorrow afternoon!  I just cannot believe it.  We won’t be taking possession for another week, but my mind has already died and gone to decorating heaven . . .

 via Coastal Living

You might remember from my last post that the beach cottage has original wide plank hardwood floors underneath carpet and one of the first projects we plan to tackle is to pull up the carpet and paint the hardwoods.  I have been researching how-to’s for this project.  I can’t imagine the mess it would create if we did things the wrong way or used the wrong paint . . . yikes.  Here is what I have found out, for anyone who has some beat up old floors that could use a dose of cottage charm:

What You’ll Need

  • One gallon (for a 12-by-12-foot room) Pratt & Lambert Withstand Oil Gloss Floor Enamel (or similar floor enamel product)
  • Orbital sander ( can be rented by the hour from Home Depot or Lowes).
  • Paint roller with 48-inch extendable handle
  • Paint tray
  • One two-inch-wide roll blue painter’s tape
  • One pack 100-grit sandpaper

How to Do It

Step 1: Before beginning to sand the floor with an orbital sander, dust and mop to remove any oil and dirt. Next, close all the windows and doors. Seal the cracks under doors with painter’s tape to keep dust from traveling through the house; to keep it out of your lungs, wear a dust mask. Now you’re ready to sand (if you don’t, the paint won’t stick to the smooth finish). As you go, touch the floor occasionally to check your progress. When the glassy surface is gone and you feel bare wood, stop sanding immediately. Tackle corners and tight spaces by hand with sandpaper, then damp-mop up the dust. Let the floor dry completely. (It will take an afternoon to do a 12-by-12-foot room.)

 Step 2: Mask off the bottom of the baseboards with wide painter’s tape.

 Step 3: Starting at the wall farthest from the door and working with a paint roller in the direction of the floorboards, paint in sections from one side to the other until you’ve painted yourself out of the room. After at least 24 hours (nothing must touch the floor while it dries), apply a second coat. With paint that’s specifically formulated for floors, there’s no need to seal afterward.

{Instructions courtesy of Real Simple.}

I personally think that paint looks best on wide plank or old floors with a bit of groove between the boards so that the entire surface does not end up looking like a bright shiny linoleum.  

What are your thoughts?  Has anyone taken on this project and lived to tell about it?  Would love to chat with you in the comments!

{images with original sources via my cottage heaven pinterest board}


  1. I saw Sarah Richardson’s floors on “Sarah’s Beach Cottage”, and she did say that new floors looked like a gymnasium with the paint. She fixed it and it looked wonderful, of course, and I can’t wait to see how wonderful your floors will look. I miss your decorating posts! So excited for this new chapter in your life.

  2. So exciting! Can’t wait to see what you do with the floors. I love painted floors. We painted our back staircase and it has held up beautifully!!

  3. Did you come across anything talking about water-based floor paints? The oil based ones are SO terrible for fumes. We painted our wooden stairs and our first coat was with an oil-based floor paint. The fumes were so awful that I had nightmares about it and just could not continue with it. The next day we re-primed and switched to a water-based, low VOC paint – thank goodness! The stairs have held up reasonably well despite heavy traffic. Since you are going for a cottagey look, I expect that a few nicks and scratches wouldn’t bother you anyway. Looking forward to seeing how it all turns out 🙂

  4. We are getting most of the wood floors in our house professionally re-done (stained a dark chocolate color) but since the kitchen is a different type of wood we are going to paint stripes on it for fun until we can afford to replace it to match the rest of the house.. But if it turns out great and we love it, even better to NOT have to ever replace it! good luck, can’t wait to see pics!

  5. we painted the floors on our 2nd story, and i love it! i cleaned, did not sand, primed & did 2 coats of porch & floor paint. the only problem we’ve had is shoe scuff marks when people wear sneakers up there- it’s a ‘no shoe’ zone now, because those suckers are hard to clean off! you’ll love having painted floors- it’s so inviting & home-y! : ) looking forward to reading about your new home adventures- good luck!

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