Painted Hardwood Floor DIY Details

Hello, all!  I hope those of you here in the U.S. of A. had a great three-day holiday weekend!  I did something I haven’t done in a very long time.  I actually took a good chunk of time off from working on the house.  🙂

It’s true.  And it was glorious.  And I definitely needed the break.  I ate good food, spent some time outside relaxing in the sun before the rain storms moved in, spent an unreasonable amount of time watching an embarrassing number of shows on Amazon (we prefer Amazon to Netflix — I highly recommend it!), and other than taking about an hour of time on Saturday morning to apply two coats of polyurethane to the floor, I didn’t even give my kitchen (or any other room in my home) a thought.

I did finish my kitchen floor, and then I immediately covered it with paper and completely forgot to take pictures of it after I put the polyurethane on.  Bummer.

But even without the picture, I thought I’d go ahead and answer some questions about the DIY details of this floor painting project.

painted striped hardwood floor - version 2 - 1

1.  Sanding

I painted this floor with a different design, and then decided I didn’t like it.  So I ended up sanding off the first design using my 6-inch variable speed orbital sander with 80-grit sanding discs.

After everything was sanded, I vacuumed and swept the floor, and then began painting.  It wasn’t until I had painted about 1/4 of the floor that I realized I had never done any fine sanding (using 120-grit or 150-grit discs), so the floor was a bit rough.  I thought, once again, that I had messed up.

As it turns out, I think that really worked to my benefit.  The rougher texture of the wood seems to have helped it soak up the paint more, rather than having the paint just sit on top of the wood.  So I’m actually glad I overlooked the fine sanding step.

2.  Painting

I painted the floor using Behr interior flat paint in two colors – Oyster (the darker color) and Polar Bear (the white color).

The reason I chose flat paint is because I knew I wanted to put several coats of polyurethane over the top of the painted floor, and it seemed to me that polyurethane would adhere better to the more porous surface of a flat paint than the slicker surface of a higher sheen paint.

I did not paint the entire floor in one base coat and then go back and tape off stripes of the second color.  Instead, I taped off the darker stripes, and then went back and taped off the lighter stripes.

I had two reasons for doing this:

  1. Taping off the different colored stripes individually allowed the floor boards to be seen, and those are what I used to tape off the stripes.  The darker stripes are four boards wide, and the white stripes are two boards white.  This way, there was no measuring and marking required.  I simply followed the lines of the floor boards.  Had I painted the entire floor in a base coat, I would have visually lost the lines of the boards, and then I would have had to measure and mark every single white stripe, which would have taken quite a bit longer and would have been very tedious.
  2. I wanted to avoid a build up of paint on the floor when and where possible.  I figured that a build up of paint on the floor would make it more susceptible to chipping, so I didn’t want any unnecessary layers of paint.

It really seems to have worked.  About two hours after painting the darker stripes, I used my fingernail and scratched pretty hard trying to scratch the paint off, and I couldn’t.

3.  Sanding…again

After the paint was dry (and it dried very quickly!), I sanded the floor again.  This time I did it by hand (no electric sander on this step) and used 220-grit sandpaper.  I didn’t press hard enough to really affect the look of the paint, but it did smooth the floor beautifully and minimize any build up of paint that happened along the edges of the painters tape.

4.  Polyurethane

I used a total of three coats of Parks Pro Finisher Water-Base Polyurethane in a satin finish.  I found it at Home Depot.  It’s a Rust-Oleum product, and it comes in a white one-gallon jug rather than a metal can.  Keep in mind that you’re not supposed to apply polyurethane with a roller, as it will cause bubbles in the finish.  Instead, you’re supposed to use a brush or an applicator pad.  I chose the second option (also available at Home Depot).  Just be sure you choose the applicator pad that’s appropriate for water-based products, and you need to have an extension pole (I used a broom handle) to screw into the applicator pad base.

I applied the first coat on Friday, and then left it to dry overnight.  On Saturday, I sanded the first coat with fine sandpaper by hand (again, no power tools), and then applied the second coat after sweeping and vacuuming the dust thoroughly.  Then I waited about four hours and applied the third coat.

One thing I did notice is that even though I was using a water-based product, and it said on the container that it’s a “crystal clear” finish, it did change the color of my floor ever so slightly.  It’s not enough that it really makes a difference in the overall look, but it definitely added the slightest warm brown tone over top.  But again, it’s nothing at all even remotely close to what I would have gotten with an oil-based finish.

Final Notes:

After I painted the whole floor, I noticed that some of the boards were a different color.  This was especially noticeable on the white stripes.  Unfortunately, all I have is an awful phone picture, but you can see what I’m talking about here.

after one coat of polyurethane

Obviously this was due to the fact that I didn’t use a primer under the paint, and some of the natural color of the wood was bleeding through more on some boards than on the rest.

On the really noticeable boards, I ended up sanding them down a bit by hand, giving them a coat of shellac, and then repainting.  It definitely helped.

So if I were to do this again, I might choose to shellac the entire floor first before painting so that I wouldn’t have any natural wood tones bleeding through and distorting the color.  I’m not too concerned about it, and for any of the boards left that are slightly discolored, I’ll just chalk it up to the charm of a painted wood floor.  But had I shellacked in the first place, it would have saved some time and frustration with those really noticeably discolored boards.

FYI — The reason I would have chosen shellac instead of primer is again due to the fact that shellac is much thinner than primer, and so it soaks into the wood better.  Primer pretty much just sits on top of the wood.  Also, because shellac is so thin, it fills in wood grain much less than primer, and I really wanted the wood grain to show in my final floor so that it’s obvious that it’s a painted hardwood floor, rather than looking like I painted some super smooth, unidentifiable material.

I think that’s it, but if you have any questions, or I’ve left out any details, just let me know and I’ll be happy to give more info where needed!

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  1. I think your floors turned out beautifully; so classy! 🙂

    I am wondering why you didn’t Waterlox the floor first and then paint your stripes? And why didn’t you use Waterlox to seal after painting?

    (I so hope that we will have a place of our own before I am too old to physically do all these kinds of loverly “make it ours” things. :::sigh::: )

    1. Waterlox is a oil-based product, and you can’t use latex paint over an oil-based product (with the exception of an oil-based primer). Shellac is alcohol-based, so it doesn’t cause the problems that an oil-based product does underneath latex paint.

      And I didn’t use it over the top because oil-based products turn an amber color, and will often get darker over time. I wanted my stripes to remain light and bright.

      1. Ah. Of course. Either I’d forgotten it was oil-based, or I knew caught that info. Carry on. 😉 lol 😛

  2. Glad you took a well deserved break…..not that I didnt keep checking every 10 min to see if you had posted….


  3. Looks lovely! I’ve never had luck with taping when I paint. Either the paint bleeds under the tape if I take it off while still wet or the paint peels with the tape if I wait until it’s dry. What am I doing wrong?

    1. I have tried several different methods. The method I have the most success is as follows; 1) Paint the entire surface in the base color.
      2) After the paint dries, apply the tape.
      3) Rub the edges of the tape with your fingernail or a putty knife.
      4) Repeat step 1.
      5) After the paint dries, apply the second color.
      6) Remove tape BEFORE the second color dries.
      Works every time! 🙂

    2. Janet, I almost never have trouble with paint bleeding underneath painters tape. I just make very sure that I burnish the tape very well before I paint. On the floor, I used a dry washcloth to burnish the tape, pressing down quite hard, to make sure it was stuck to the floor very well before painting. When I took the tape up, I had absolutely perfect lines with no paint bleeding underneath the edges.

      I’ve heard of the process that Victoria described, and I’ve seen other bloggers write about doing it that way, but I’ve never personally done it, as I’ve never seen a need for it.

  4. I used Bin 1-2-3 and two coats of Sherwin Williams floor/porch paint (very thick paint) on my floor. I still have bleed through on my pine floor.

    1. I’ve had issues like that with some primers, especially the water-based ones. I think either shellac or a shellac-based primer would stop that from happening. Even an oil-based primer would probably do the trick.

      When I painted my table base just a few weeks ago, I used water-based Zinsser primer and had three spots on the wood that kept bleeding through the paint. I finally sanded those spots, applied oil-based Zinsser primer, and repainted. It took care of the problem.

      But shellac is what is traditionally used on wood to keep it from bleeding through paint.

      1. Thanks. I should have used the oil based primer. Your comment reminded me that it was more durable for floors.

  5. I also kept checking your blog and Facebook to see if anything new popped up. LOL But I am so happy you took a well deserved break. This blog is your job and you put many long days and weekends into it. You need down time with the hubby! Oh, and the floors a beautiful!

  6. I think I see the wood grain peeking through the color? ? I really like that. How did you achieve that with paint instead of stain?

    1. Yep, the polyurethane really made the wood grain more pronounced. I love it! I think it’s just all about not building up too many layers of paint that will fill in the wood grain. Since I used only one coat of the darker color, and two coats of the white, the paint really soaked into the wood and settled into the wood grain rather than building up on top of the wood. So when I put the poly on and the light caught the satin sheen, it brought out the wood grain.

  7. Hi Kristi, glad to hear you took some time for yourself. These last few weeks have been filled with some really heavy lifting, and it was time for you to chill out for a bit. Now your floor is finished and you can focus on the next line item. Not sure if you are going for the cabinets or working in the breakfast room before that, but whatever you decide, try to take it a little bit easier. You were going like Mighty Mouse there for a while. Get the sink in since that is a priority for you. I wanted to ask about your fridge. I saw one in a kitchen on Houzz and I am not sure it is the same as yours or not. I did ask about it in the comments but have not received an response. Is yours new? What kind is it? This one sort of looked like yours, but I am not sure that it is the same, but maybe the same manufactuer. Have a good week, I too have had a great holiday weekend, my husband is home so I don’t have to think about anything. I had breakfast in bed every morning around 7 took my meds and went back
    to sleep till noon almost every day! I love it when he is here, knowing someone has my back. Once I get up I am ready to go. I have totally rearranged all the furniture in our bedroom and sitting room. I am quite happy with the way it has worked out. Not only did I manage to find a place for the two antique mahogany dressers but I was also able to make room for a new bedside table and bring my desk into the bedroom (it’s a big room). I put one of the antique pieces in the sitting room and move a chair and ottoman and table so the room is balanced. I love when a plan comes together. I have also been purging closets, drawers etc. We end up with so much clutter in our lives, I do not know how we do it! peace and blessings~

      1. Thanks for the info, I will check out the line, maybe the one I saw is part of it! Blessings~

  8. Glad you had a good relaxing down time,you certainly would have needed it. The floor looks great. Thanks for the information.