How To Paint An Old Wooden Floor (Well Maybe…)

by projectbuddy


This weekend I painted the floor of my bathroom and renovated linen closet. It was a two day job (that required a real “giant step” to reach the porcelain tiled section with the plumbing fixtures while everything dried) but was worth it. Most importantly, painting helped unify these two spaces.

The paint is “Protective and Marine Coatings Industrial Enamel” from Sherwin-Williams. This is good paint. Actually it is amazing paint. I had originally used it on the untiled portion of bathroom floor (before I really knew what to do with the closet that was turned into an awkward hallway).

That was seven years ago, and the paint has held up to all sorts of wear, soggy towels, and wet feet. The parts that didn’t hold up particularly well were the gaps between the boards that I had filled with a wood filler product. Seasonal changes are just naturally inevitable.

First I painted a “base coat” of a warm neutral gray, SW #7046 “Anonymous.” It’s sort of like the color of dirt. (It could be great in the sunroom where I’m always tracking in stuff from the garden.) This layer was applied generously after masking the baseboards with duct tape.

After thoroughly drying, I used a “top coat” of a warm neutral taupe, SW #7508 “Tavern Taupe.” This was applied in varying thicknesses. Everything was covered, but in occasional random spots, some of the gray underneath was able to show through slightly, almost like a glazed effect, but very understated.

I’m pleased with the results. Before, the floor color had been very close to the wall color, and therefore too monochromatic for me. The paint had been applied thickly and evenly with no variations, and so even though the actual amount of space covered was small, it was boringly consistent.

In my bathroom and kitchen demolition work, I found that those floors had originally been painted a chocolate brown color, and so painting again for part of the bathroom floor seems very appropriate. This particular paint treatment compliments without trying to disguise the worn down spots and gaps between boards.

Quick Tip: When painting a floor with this type of alkyd paint, I have found that inexpensive bargain brand duct tape works well when masking the baseboards. Try in a sample section out of the way first to make sure this will work in your application.

Another Quick Tip: Use accent objects when selecting a paint color. These could be objects that inspire you in some way whether you intend to use them in the space or not. I’ve used an old “Air Pak” suitcase and a storage box that my mother gave me when cleaning out her house. Equally useful would be my favorite sports coat and tie or my favorite flannel shirt.

The background and “After” photographs were taken February 2014. The “Before” insert photograph is from a previous post Renovating Small Spaces.