Friday, October 12, 2012

Paint a wood floor? Why not?

So in March of 2010, we happily moved into our historic 1920's bungalow and I, in my high excitement at having a house I could call my own, immediately began feverishly plastering and painting the walls of each room as if I had a deadline.

 In hindsight, I realized we probably should have started with the floors.
The hardwood floors in the living room, dining room and front bedroom of this old house are in pretty bad shape and really need to be stripped, sanded, stained and varnished. The floors should have been our very first project when we had the extra cash, as the floor sander costs over $100 a day to rent.  Add the chemical stripper, the wood stain and a couple of coats of varnish and that's another $150 or so. Oh, well...'live and learn', right?

That was the good for the bad news:
The kitchen and hallway floors are rotted in several areas (this part of the house was built around the turn of the century) and some sections have been replaced---obviously,  with whatever the previous owners had on hand, ie: sheets of plywood in one area and some kind of lumpy underlayment in another.  There is nothing but sub-floor on one side of the kitchen and the other side has a couple of layers of chipped, peeling linoleum we couldn't even scrape up! What to do?

 First of all, the kitchen of this great old house is quite large (approximately 200 sq.ft) and, since I had pretty well wiped out my remodeling budget on drywall mud and paint, we couldn't afford another $250-$400 on flooring--even inexpensive linoleum costs that much.
So, considering I have been known through out the past 30 years or so as someone who would paint anything that possibly can be painted, I decided to paint a design on the kitchen floor! 

 Since we weren't sure exactly how it would turn out,  my husband suggested I experiment on the hallway floor. I have always wanted a vintage-look black & white tile floor, but he nixed that idea right away.
 (For some reason, the man really dislikes black!)  Anyway, since I had painted the walls in the hallway a bright sunny yellow, I decided to continue on with that color scheme and paint 'tiles' in yellow & white. Not having extra funds for special floor & deck paint, I used the interior wall & trim paint I already had on hand.

Tip: When you begin your painted floor project, I would strongly suggest asking the helpful sales associates at your local Home Depot, Lowes or ? for their advice on which type of floor paint to use in high-traffic areas such as a kitchen or hallway. Interior house paint doesn't wear as well when walked on day after day.

Back to the design idea for my hallway--I had discovered a couple of linoleum peel-n-stick tiles the previous owners had left under the kitchen sink, so I used one of those tiles as a pattern and painted my hallway floor in a tile pattern. It took me a week, but it turned out fairly nice. Here is a photo of my 'tile' hallway.

   I really liked the way the floor looked when I was done,  but then I had a brilliant idea---how much better would the hallway look if there were throw rugs in front of each door way...!?
   Yes, I decided to paint faux 'rugs' on top of the faux 'tiles'.
 I searched for some designs online, sketched out a few of my own ideas and then made some stencils to use on my rugs.
   The first rug I painted was in front of our bedroom door. I love Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau, so I picked a couple of stencils that reflected that style for this rug. As my son pointed out and you will notice, the rug is 'under the wall' but I wanted a good-sized rug in this spot, so had to design it this way. I like's unusual.

Next I painted a rug in front of my husband's study. I chose a Celtic design for the center, made my stencil, painted it and added a simple border. I thought it looked rather masculine and he was quite pleased with it.

   The last rug I painted in the hallway was the one in front of my computer/craft/guest room. The theme of this room is Hawaiian, where we lived for just over 11 years, so I wanted a rug in front of that door that fit in with the room's island decor.
   The flowers that grow in abundance in the Hawaiian islands are all very beautiful and each one is very different. So it was hard to decide which one would look best on my faux rug. I eventually found a nice photo of a plumeria (frangipani) online and made a simple sketch of it, then copied it onto the floor. This is my favorite of all of my rugs, perhaps because I didn't use any stencils, but drew it by hand.

This painting project seemed to have worked out well... So, after rolling on 2 coats of varnish over the 'tiles' and 'rugs' in the hallway, I started searching for ideas for the kitchen floor design.

     I was a teenager in the mid-60's and loved the crazy poster designs that were so popular at the time. So, when I saw a photo on of the design one woman painted on her plywood floor, I knew I had to base my kitchen floor design on hers! Check it out.... Cool, isn't it?

      I drew a picture of this design, changed several aspects of it, not being especially fond of geese...;-) and then started picking out colors that I wanted to use. I loved the colors she chose, but, as I mentioned before,  I had already painted my kitchen walls and cabinets, so I had my own color scheme to follow.
   After I had a plan, I decided where I was going to start--the center of the room directly in front of the kitchen sink--and began drawing my design onto the floor.  It did evolve several times over the next month or so as I continued painting....Here are a couple of early designs:

   It took me about a month of kneeling, sitting and lying on the floor painting my 'masterpiece'. Notice the reference to another artist who had even more difficulty painting a ceiling...;-) I don't think I would attempt that feat!
   Here is the completed design I painted on my kitchen floor...

Did I mention that my kitchen is huge....? I realized I could not continue this design all the way across because of the shape of the room. Also, the other half of the kitchen floor is where most of the problems were located.
So, since the 'tile' design worked so well in the hallway, I created a more complicated pattern for the rest of the floor to hide the many imperfections. This is how it looks:

  A couple of coats of varnish and it was finished.
 Tip: Ask the sales associate about a heavy duty polyurethane varnish.
My painted floors still look good, but they are getting that shabby, not really 'chic' look, after just 2 years. I like the way it looks with the style of the kitchen, but you may want a more professional look to your painted designs.
 So...paint a wood floor? If your floors are in bad shape and you can't afford expensive flooring, why not?
Go can do it!


  1. Great work, I have found good content on your blog and I like the design and posting on for that particulate topic.

  2. Thank you, Australia!
    I appreciate positive comments from experts such as yourself. It was a learning project, but I am pleased with the results.

  3. This kind of post is always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content so I happy to find much good point here in the post..
    Flooring Timber

  4. Thank you, Jerry! That's exactly why I started this blog---for people who would say to me, 'I could never do that!' If you follow each step in the process correctly, you can do it.

  5. That is SO cool! We bought a ramshackle house in South Africa - and under not one but two layers of (revolting) carpets we found a wooden floor. We struggled for months to get the glue off - tried everything from diesel, solvents, household cleaners, heat guns and hired a sander and eventually gave up and started painting the walls instead. Nobody talks about the floors. The cost of replacing them made me feel light headed and after 4 years we have walked off almost all of the glue - a serious source of depression. NOW I am going to paint them! Thank you for the post :)x

  6. Thank you for your comment, FFP!
    I am sure you will like your painted wood floors much better than what you have now, which is why I decided to paint mine. I have found out that almost anything can be improved upon with a little paint...;-)
    Here's a tip--if you have residual glue on your floors in spots, giving your floor a rough texture, paint a complicated busy pattern in that area. The imperfections will be less noticeable. There are areas of my kitchen floor that are lumpy, bumpy and cracked, but you can't tell at a glance because my design camouflages it.

    Also, if you don't want your painted floor design to be worn off by foot traffic, use my suggestion from the blog above---When buying your varnish, ask the sales associate about a heavy duty polyurethane varnish.
    Please keep in touch and let me know how it turns out!

  7. Thank you for the tips! I will definitely post my pics when we are done :)Thank you for the lovely, creative site.xx

  8. I will be looking forward to seeing the photos of your completed design! Don't forget to have fun with it!

  9. Floor painted can give a beauty looks and art design to our wood flooring that can bring a blooming looks. hardwood floors