Painting Wooden Floors White [How-To]

I think it’s safe to say that I have a serious aversion to carpets. We don’t have a single carpeted room in the house. I don’t know what it is about it- perhaps trying to hoover the hairs of an ever shedding Labrador out of them every day has fuelled my preference for wooden floors.

When we moved into the house there was a very worn out, muddy brown carpet in the hallway, up the stairs, and on the landing. Until recently we had left it there while we painted the walls and ceiling, using it as a makeshift dust sheet. Once this was finished, we thoroughly enjoyed ripping up the lot!

Underneath, the stair treads and floorboards were in fair condition. There were however hundreds of staples and nails that needed pulling out, and the holes they’d left behind needed filling. Hours were also spent with a hot air gun, scraping away at the glue left over from the underlay beneath the carpet. Lastly, any protruding metal was hammered flat.

After this we lightly sanded the lot with a mouse sander. Not the quickest way of doing it, but it got the job done! Wearing a mask is essential for this step, as is masking off any other rooms, unless you want a chest and house full of dust.

Once sanded, the floors needed a very thorough hoovering, and a scrub with a bucket of sugar soap to remove any residue. We then left them for 24 hours to dry out thoroughly.


Finally, after what felt like months of prep, we were ready to paint the floors. For this we used Rustoleum’s Chalky Finish Floor Paint in White. This product promises to leave a low sheen, hard wearing finish on wood and concrete floors, and can be applied over old paint and varnish. We found it easy to work with, and applied it with a large brush to push it right into the grain of the wood.

And here is how our floors currently look. The stairs have had three coats in total, and we left at least two hours between each coat. We’ve found them easy to wipe down, and the paint doesn’t chip or scratch easily. The floorboards have had one coat, and we plan on adding at least another two coats when time allows.

Overall, for the sake of a little (ahem, a lot!) of elbow grease and a £25 pot of paint, our floors have turned out beautifully. However, there were some rookie errors we made along the way:

  • Our floors are made of a very knotty pine, something we should have taken into consideration before painting. We didn’t think to seal the knots, and so over time some wood tannin has seeped through the paint in several places, meaning we’ve had to sand back, seal, and repaint the wood. Sealing is important.
  • Paint every other stair tread/half of your floor at a time, and plan your exit route to avoid being trapped in your bedroom for two hours. I literally watched paint dry!
  • Make sure your brushes are sparkling clean. White paint and the remnants of the green paint you used to paint your walls do not make a good combination.



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