Should You Paint Hardwood Floors? What to Consider

  • While you can paint hardwood floors, it might not be the best home DIY option.
  • Painting hardwood floors is the type of personalized home renovation that takes time and preparation.
  • Painting could be a good option if your floors are too damaged to be sanded or stained.
  • Visit Insider’s Home & Kitchen Reference library for more stories.

Adding a pop of color can help give a room a captivating flair. Take a quick scroll through any TikTok or Instagram feed, and you’ll likely find dozens of aesthetically pleasing painted accent walls and floors. Painting wood is generally pretty tricky, but painting wood floors presents an even bigger challenge (despite what some influencers might have you believe).

And while it can be done, Mallory Micetich, a home expert at Angi, says there are quite a few factors to consider before you even put your first coat down.

“Before you take on a project like this, ask yourself: is my inspiration attainable for my lifestyle?” Micetich says. “Because you saw something on TikTok or Instagram that looks really pretty in a still-photo, it might not actually work best for your life.”

Before you begin

A man painted into a corner

 

Floors in high-traffic areas will wear more quickly.

Peter Cade/Getty Images

Before you head to the hardware store and stock up on rollers, take some time to consider if this project is right for you and your home.

How long will it take?

Painting floors isn’t a quick weekend DIY. When you factor in the time it takes to thoroughly clean and prep your space, the painting, plus the amount of dry time per coat of paint (Micetich recommends at least three to five coats and each should have 12 to 24 hours to dry), it could stretch over quite a few days. Think about if you have that time available and also if you can take the space out of commission for that long.

How much foot traffic does the room get?

The type of room the hardwood floors are in will greatly influence the longevity and durability of the painted floors. If the space sees a lot of foot traffic, like a hallway or playroom, or can get humid, such as a bathroom or laundry room, then you shouldn’t paint the floors. Humidity and moisture will cause the paint to peel, while lots of people walking on the painted floors can result in chipping or discolorations, especially if you’re painting your floors a light color, like white.

How long will you stay in your home?

“This is a very personalized and customized solution,” Micetich says. And while paint isn’t the most durable on hardwood floors, it’s also really difficult to get rid of once you’ve painted. “It’s not something that is easily undone,” Micetich says. So, if you’re not planning on staying in your home for a long time or if you’re a renter, Micetich says that painting your hardwood floors probably isn’t the home improvement option for you.

When painting wood floors is a good solution

  • If your floors are damaged: If you have especially damaged floors that will prevent you from adequately sanding the area, then staining likely isn’t the option for you. “Over years and years of [sanding], the wood gets thinner,” Micetich says. “So paint can be a good option where you might not have the ability to do as much sanding, prep, and removal work needed for the staining process.” Adam Varano, owner of Wood Vitalize in New York, also says that the painting can help mask any water or stain damage.
  • If you want a solid color for your floors: According to Varano, people will often paint their floors for a solid color that doesn’t show the wood grain. This then helps make the floor’s color look even and consistent. “They’re worried about there being too much [color] variation if you just go with a natural stain,” Varano says. “Some wood is naturally darker than others, and stain still shows that. But if you paint, it makes it a little more universal.”

Hardwood floor painting FAQs

A closeup of a hand painting wood red

 

Sanding before you start will help the paint adhere more evenly.

krisanapong detraphiphat/Getty Images

If you’ve decided you’re willing to dedicate the time, dedication, and commitment needed to paint hardwood floors, then there are some things to keep in mind as you go forth into your project.

Will I need to sand the floors?

Some floors might have a finish meant to help protect from scratches, scuffs, spills, and water damage. If the floors have a wax or peeling finish, which helps make wood floors more durable, Varano says you’ll need to at least do a light sand to remove it before you begin painting. Micetich and Varano recommend renting a mechanical sander (along with a few different grit papers for the sander) to get the job done quicker and more efficiently.

Once you’ve finished, vacuum the dust and thoroughly clean the area before painting. Varano recommends using a professional-grade hardwood floor cleaner and a buffer with a maroon pad that will also help strip the floors, and remove any dirt, grease, and films on the floor.

What materials should I use?

Generally, you’ll want to have on hand a large paint roller, a cutting brush to get any edges or corners of the floor, primer, plenty of paint in your desired color, a finish, and an anti-slip topcoat.

When it comes to the primer, which will help fill in any especially raw areas of the floor before you start painting, Varano says you should tint it to the color of the paint you’ve chosen (which can easily be done by the paint store).

Varano typically recommends water-based paint, which contains fewer chemicals than oil-based paint and is the paint more standard for indoor projects.

Layering on an anti-slip polyurethane as the final coat will also help to ensure safety and a bit more longevity.

How many coats will I need?

The final amount of coats you apply will depend on the starting color of your floors and the paint color you’ve chosen — the darker the wood, the more paint you’ll need to apply, especially if you’re using a lighter color paint. Micetich says to use at least three to five coats.

What’s the long-term maintenance?

No matter how many coats of paint you apply, the finish you use, or if you add an anti-slip coating, painted floors will still pick up a fair bit of wear and tear over time and you’ll begin to notice imperfections. Micetich says you should retouch painted hardwood floors at least once a year and possibly more if the paint chips very easily.

Insider’s takeaway

Painting hardwood floors is a highly personalized DIY project that might seem simple in execution but actually requires extensive preparation and consideration. Before you start, be sure to account for how long you’re putting a room out of commission to see the project through. Once you reach the painting stage, consider factors such as sanding the floors, the necessary materials, and the number of paint coats needed.

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