Please do a post about painted wood floors. If you do, I’ll be your best friend forever and ever. And I’ll have you over for Christmas too! I’ll even have a rickshaw service come and pick you up. Pretty Please?
I love the look of painted wood floors but am scared to go for it.
I mean, if I don’t like it, it’s going to be an awful bitch to put them back the way they are. Right? Except the way they are is pretty awful.
Also, do you have to paint all of the wood floors in every room?
So, what do we do here. How is this accomplished? Help me please.
What kind of paint?
And do you need to put a poly over the paint?
Will it hold up to my 4 children, 3 dogs, 2 cats and a swarm of cousins, aunts and uncles?
Oh, and how do I convince my husband that this is a good move?
We live in Cincinnati in a sixties split level in a neighborhood of similar homes.
Does the rickshaw service also cook and clean? Just curious.
But I can appreciate Penny’s quandaries/questions and will do my best. But, I’m going to be straight with y’all. I live in a conservative area. (not that a painted floor is radical, but not the most conventional) We did a painted floor ONE time about 17 years ago.
Well, it wasn’t exactly painted. We called it pickled, but the floor guy bleached the floors and painted a translucent off-white paint with a slight green undertone to counter-act the red tones in the wood. And then he put 3 coats of clear acrylic poly over it. Gorgeous, it was!
So, while I can’t call myself a bonafide painted wood floor expert, after a good amount of research, and stuff I’ve learned a lot over the years will tackle this extensive subject. At the very least, hopefully have gathered some good resources in one place and good inspo.
First, a little Painted Wood Floors Primer so that we can get our terms straight
- Of course, there’s straight painting.
- White Washed
- Limed – This is a technique that In the past was created by mixing calcium hydroxide and chalk, but let’s not go there. There are easier ways to get the look we want.
The last three terms are often used interchangeably but the techniques are different.
Whitewashing and pickling are techniques that allows you to lighten your wood without hiding the wood grain.
The original pickling and lymed floors used harsh caustic chemicals to create the pale floors. But we’re not going to do that.
Minwax makes a whitewash pickling stain, but here’s the difference.
Whitewashing is best suited for pine.
Pine doesn’t have deep pores so the pickling stain needs to be applied with the grain of the wood.
I love this dining room. The floors only have a very light stain, but it could be heavier.
Pickling is a technique best used on oak
The whitewash pickling stain is applied across the grain so that the color will seep into the deeper pores of oak.
Please enjoy this short video which explains pickling. (sorry about the cheesy music)
For a truly beautiful low-maintenance white floor, you might want to consider having them bleached before applying the stain. The best woods for bleaching include oak, beach, ash, and gum; but no pine.
Loi Thai of Tone on Tone wrote a beautiful post about his gorgeous bleached and white-washed white floors.
And Bob Vila has written another great article which explains the pros and cons and techniques of different methods of bleaching
Her information is great if you’re a pro; but I do not think that THIS IS A DO-IT-YOURSELF anything.
For example, in one of the steps, she writes:
Warning: The cloths can ignite, so make sure to soak them in plenty of water and keep them in a metal tin or the likes until you can dispose of them in the proper manner.
I see… I don’t know anything about this, but it’s something that I would do but only if the place was EMPTY and I had tripled checked that the house insurance was paid up!
But let’s go now into straight painted wood floors.
Below is a very pleasant video produced by an English chap which explains his technique for painting wood floors.
And Another excellent article about how to paint wood floors from Bob Vila.
Careful consideration needs to be given to what technique you use because there are so many variables.
But here’s what I think is always a bad idea in terms of painted wood floors.
Doing it yourself. In most cases. UNLESS, you really, really, really know what you’re doing and know what you’re getting into.
Floor work, is an exhausting back-busting job. And to do it properly, requires many steps of prep, paint, sand, paint, sand, paint, paint, paint, paint, paint…
But, Before hiring someone I would also be sure to get tons of references and make sure that this person has experience doing the type of technique you’re interested in. If he looks any way but overjoyed at the prospect of doing a painted floor, then he’s not your guy. A good place to ask for recs is at your trusted hardware store that sells paints and stains.
IMO, There are areas in interior design where one can do it themselves or save money, but this isn’t one of them.
I did find a lass who not only did her own painted wood floors, but videoed pretty much the entire process. If you have an old funky floor and really do not mind getting down on your hands and knees for hours on end, you could try it out. (see, all rules can be broken!) There are great comments and then a follow-up post about how it held up.*
What else to consider if deciding to do painted wood floors?
Lots, of course. And here are some frequently asked questions with my answers.
Are there certain situations where this could be a big mistake?
Well, first of all, I don’t think it’s ever a mistake to do a pickled/white washed-type floor. One can still see the wood grain and it’s not completely opaque. But the number one thing I would consider is resale.
If you’re planning on being in your home less than ten years, unless it’s a rustic farmhouse or at least a home built in the 19th century or earlier, I would consider painting the floors very carefully. But it depends where you live, too. Lots of things. My feeling is that if your home looks amazing, then you will have no trouble selling it.
People sometimes don’t know what they like UNTIL they see it. Like Albert Hadley’s fabulous home he created for Nancy Pyne.
The only exception would be that you’re someone with this kind of skill.
or today, the young, fabulous William McLure.
But Williams’s painted floors are in old, rustic converted factories. The floors are inherently old and funky. So, paint is a perfect solution!
If I paint the floors in one room, do I have to paint all of the floors?
It depends on the room and the layout.
For instance, in an open plan layout, I think that you really need to paint all of the floors. If you need to make a change, I would use a different material, like a stone, for instance in the entry. But of course, it depends on the configuration.
In a traditional layout with completely separate rooms, a logical place to paint one floor is the kitchen.
Or, you could paint just the stairwell, but it needs to make sense within the over-all design scheme.
And entry with a painted wood floor to resemble faux stone.
If I pickle the floor or white wash, will I get that horrible pinky stain so prevalent in the eighties?
You might. What I recommend is experimenting before you jump in and pay a lot of money for something you don’t want. But you can make a translucent paint wash with any latex paint, simply by adding water to the paint. AAMOF, about 20 years ago a friend of mine made a wash of latex for her son’s room walls and I liked the effect so much that I had my painter do it for a client and even helped him out to make sure that we had the right effect.
But getting back to the painted wood floors, this is where bleaching can help. And/or using a paint color which will counteract the natural pinkish tones of the wood. Please bear in mind that there are two types of oak. There’s red oak which is the most common and white oak which you see more in older homes. Obviously, the red oak is well… redder, thus pinker.
Here is a great article that talks about making a wash from latex paint.
What if I paint the floors and I hate it?
“Make it work!” Please remember that it’s an empty room and you’re not used to seeing the pale floor. If you start with a cohesive plan, then you should be okay.
How difficult is it to turn them back into a stained floor?
I think that it depends which method you use. I would stay away from anything oily if there’s a chance that you do want to turn them back. And also if the paint seeps deeply into the wood it might not be possible. But definitely talk to a professional. Or if anyone has experience with turning a painted floor into a stained floor, please let us know how it went. (or any other experience good or bad)
What about doing a pattern on a painted floor or a border?
Absolutely. I adore the painted border that William McLure created with the white painted wood floor in his old place. and below are stripes that he painted on his kitchen floor. That one is actually an old linoleum floor!
Does a painted wood floor have to be white?
No, it does not. I’ve seen beautiful painted wood floors that are blue or green or even red. And of course, millions of patterns. There are some wonderful painted floors here.
Do you put a poly finish over a painted floor?
For anything water-based, if you want it to hold up– yes! Three coats! If you use the paint specifically for porches, you might not need to. Whenever I don’t know something, I either call the company or speak to the guys selling the stuff, or look it up. But like a doctor for an illness, it’s wise to get more than one opinion.
Okay, how does it hold up?
See above* :]
How do I convince my husband that painted wood floors are a great idea?
But semi-seriously. I know that I’m always creating sweeping generalizations about male behavior
You know, of course, that I’m only half serious. It’s like the well-known difference in guys and gals giving directions.
Guy giving directions:
drive 343 feet and then make an 80 degree turn right and drive 3.5 miles…
Gal giving the same directions:
drive a short way and you’ll see the Gap on the left and next to it is Ann Taylor and then there’s a light, so you’ll need to be in the right lane and then you turn right and you’ll go past a horse farm and then another one with a broken paddock. A little further down you’ll see a white church with the most gorgeous hydrangea bushes out front… keep going… and just when you think you’ve gone too far… you’ll see the prize of our town, a 400 year old oak tree…
So ladies. Please listen up. The ones who insist that their husbands will leave them if they dare even mention such a thing
Because, when you say:
Honey, I was thinking how cool it would be to paint all of the floors white.
This is what he sees in his mind:
And that is when he freaks out and you have the biggest argument ever except for the time that he said:
“Honey, do you really need to dye your hair brown? Who are we kidding? I can’t believe that it costs $185 to have your hair colored every month.”
“And that is when you need to dip a grilled cheese into the cake.”
Because there’s no way on this freakin’ good earth that you are giving up your hair dye! What is wrong with him?!?
So, you need to arm yourself with plenty of fabulous visuals. Like this post, hopefully. ;] And then you can convince him. However, you have to be very clear on exactly how it’s all going to look and make the house feel so much brighter and stylish. Good luck. :]
Let’s finish off with a few more beautiful painted wood floors
This is a bedroom from the same home as the Gustavian dining room at the top by Mona Nerenberg
For a big post about stained wood floors please click here.
But there is a lot coming up on the horizon. Big stuff. Lots of great things to look forward to and that I can’t wait to share with you!
But most importantly, I am grateful for all of the kind love and support I get from you guys. I appreciate your suggestions for posts, too!
Here’s to a healthy, successful, prosperous, joyful new year for all!
PS: If you’re interested in some fabulous sales, you can find some great deals here.