How To Paint A Wooden Floor

Painting wooden floors, especially white, has become popular as people look for a laid back country style for their homes. White floors create the illusion of space reflecting light. We’ll show you how to do it right.

Painting a wooden floor entails sanding with a belt sander, cleaning with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits, painting with primer, fine sanding again then applying two or three coats of final paint fine sanding between each coat. Painting a timber floor is a lot of work.

What Tools Do I Need To Paint A Timber Floor

Socks to prevent oil from your feet staining your clean floor Krud cutter cleaner
Straight edge putty knife Painters tape Newspaper
Vacuum cleaner Gloves, face mask, goggles Paint stirrer
Roller with ¼” to ½” nap 2 ½” – 4” Paint brushes X 2 Rags for cleaning
Roller tray coveralls Water bucket
Pole handle sander with 100 grit sand paper Sanding machine with 120 grit sand paper
Roller cage with extension handle Ear plugs Knee pads


  • Painting a timber floor is difficult to reverse so be sure that you can live with the color and finish you choose before you proceed.
  • Use purpose floor paint. Unlike walls, floors are flogged! Use the wrong paint and it will look old very quickly.
  • Gloss floors are more likely to show scratches.
  • How much natural light enters the room?
  • How much traffic? A hallway will have a lot more wear than a guest room.
  • Dark colors make a room seem smaller and show dirt and scuff marks more readily.
  • Painting a floor will naturally require you to empty the room completely and you will need dry weather for the paint to cure completely

How To Prepare A Floor For Painting

Tip: Pet stains that have soaked through the carpet and stained the timber beneath can be treated, once the carpet is pulled up, with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide will bring the stains and the smell right out of the wood. Apply twice on heavy stains.

Step 1.

Punch any lifted nails with a hammer and nail punch then plug the nail hole with purpose filler. Replace termite damaged boards.


(Thank you to eHow)

Step 2.

Sand existing floorboards thoroughly to remove the old finish and provide a clean surface for the new paint. Without this step, your floor will not absorb the new paint.

A heavy drum sander is difficult to handle. A handheld belt sander can do heavy sanding and is much more manageable: knee pads and earplugs are essential.

Heavy sanding will be required for worn boards or boards tacky with glue residue from previously laid linoleum.

Start with 80-grit sandpaper. Sling the power cable over your shoulder to keep it and you out of harm’s way.

Lock the trigger to ON so that you don’t wear your finger out keeping the sander going. Do not apply downward pressure on the sander, let the weight of the sander itself do the work; just guide it.

Vacuum as you go with your free hand or have a helper on hand. You need to see whether or not the imperfections are coming out. The sawdust from the sanding will cover imperfections. Keep it clean so that you can see what you’re doing.

When you come to a trouble spot like a buckled board or tacky and gluey board don’t work it like steel wool on a pot. Instead, work the whole area gently and allow the trouble spot to resolve evenly with the rest of the floor. Too much focus and pressure on the trouble spot might make it worse.

Use a sanding block with 80 grit sandpaper and hand sand trouble spots, vacuuming and feeling as you go to get that smooth finish. Vacuum the sanding block to keep the sandpaper unclogged.

(Thank you

Always sand with the grain for an even surface. Painted or clear sealed boards will require light sanding.

Step 3.

Sand the inch or so of floorboard that’s inaccessible with the belt sander with a sanding block by hand.

Graduate from 80 grit sandpaper to 110 grit in order to close the pores in the timber or the finish will not be smooth. Use a pole sander to save your back and knees.

Step 4.

Clean off with a rag dampened with mineral spirits; be sure to remove all dust and allow to dry thoroughly before painting or staining.

Step 5.

Mask off the skirting boards with painters’ tape and newspaper as protection from flicked paint from the roller or brush.  Mask the gap underneath the doors to ensure dust doesn’t get on to your new paintwork.

How To Paint A Timber Floor

Floor paints and stains have to be very tough to stand up to the sort of intense wear and tear walls and ceilings escape.  The key is to apply thin coats of purpose timber paint. Thin coats will wear longer and better because they dry harder.

(Thank you Rob Gardner)

Stir the paint carefully allowing no air bubbles with a 1’ paint stirrer.

Step 1.

Apply the primer coat with a 4” synthetic brush or a roller with a ¼” nap: A brush will give a smoother finish but a roller is faster.  Allow to dry overnight.

Step 2.

Lightly sand the floor with 220 grit sandpaper.

Step 3.

Wipe the floor with a rag dampened with mineral spirits.

Step 4.

Apply the first of two or three thin coats of paint (depending on the manufacturer’s instructions)  with a brush or roller. Allow 24 to 48 hours between each coat.

Step 5.

Go over the floor again with 220 grit sandpaper then clean again to remove the dust.

Step 6.

Apply the second thin coat of paint.

Step 7.

Apply a coat of clear polyurethane sealer on high traffic areas like hallways.

Step 8.

Allow 28 days for maximum curing and hardness before moving heavy furniture back into the room.

(Thank you to

Tip: look after your newly panted floor so that the finish will endure. Clean spills and scuffs as soon as they occur so that they don’t cure into the finish.

Related Questions

How long before I can apply a polyurethane sealer? Don’t be in a rush to cover the final color coat with a sealer. Paint takes time to cure meaning hardening and giving off gas. If you seal the paint before it’s finished curing, blocking off the required air and moisture, the paint may well peel.

Why do I have to remove wax and oil before painting? Wax and oil will make its way to the surface through the paint and cause the floor to feel tacky.

What would better for the finish between a brush and a roller? It would depend on what you’re after. Otherwise, we recommend our article Paint Rollers Vs Paint Brushes here.

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