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Painting Hardwood Floors (even if they’ve been painted before)

painting hardwood floors in a historic home

It’s Week Three of the 555 Room Challenge and I’m back with the easiest flooring update you’ll ever see! Today I’m showing you how we rejuvenated the hardwoods in our daughter’s room in just two days and for free, using leftover project paint we found in our basement! It was a quick DIY project that’s made a huge impact in her bedroom. Let’s take a look …

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Historic Home with Painted Floors | Flooring ideas for old houses + how to paint wood floors that have been painted before

As I’m decorating my kid’s bedroom, I’m also thinking ahead to the future of this space. I’m making plans based on how I anticipate her life to evolve over our time in this home. Since I know she’s going to be a teenager one day and will probably no longer want a bedroom doused in pink and rainbows, I’m using caution to fill the space with finishes and furnishings that can grow with her evolving tastes. That’s why I’ve chosen simple and modern furniture (like these bedside tables I showed you last week).

In that vein, I’ve decided to forego carpeting over her hardwood floors. As a child, I had carpet in my bedroom. By the time I turned 12, I hated it. It was brown and kind of gross. So I single-handedly removed the carpet to expose the hardwoods underneath and, much to my parents’ credit, was allowed to have the only bedroom in our home that rocked the original 1970s wood flooring.

My daughter’s room has original 1920s hardwood throughout. It’s in rough condition and may some day be replaced. For now, however, we’re keeping it to save money until we know exactly how we want to renovate this home down the line.

historic bedroom - painted wood floors before

Her biggest gripe about the flooring? It’s painted brown. Very brown and very boring. To appease her desire for new flooring without spending a dime, I decided to paint over the brown using leftover paint I found in the basement when we moved in.

blue and white striped painted hardwood floors

The catch? It’s not floor paint. I found two cans of flat interior latex paint; one was white and the other a pale blue hue. So how did I paint flooring to withstand kids’ rough play using a paint not made for flooring applications? Here’s how:


How to paint wood floors that have already been painted before.


interior latex paint – flat or matte finish
paint brushes (I used this one for painting + this one for the wax finish)

Before you start, you want to thoroughly clean your wood floors. I used vinegar and water to wipe down the entire surface after a complete vacuuming and dusting.

how to paint stripes on wood floors - step one: cut in

STEP ONE: Cut in around base moulding.

Working in one by one foot sections, begin painting your floors by cutting in around the floor trim. Then carry the paint line in the direction of the boards.

painting striped floors

STEP TWO: Determine the width of your painted stripes.

If you plan to paint stripes, like I did, choose the width of the stripe you want and work in sections using just one color at a time. I chose to make my floor stripes three boards wide for a thick presentation.

You can get totally creative here! For more complicated stripe patterns, you can add additional colors, vary the widths of each stripe, or even dilute the paint color with white as you go down the line for an ombre effect.

painting striped floor

STEP THREE: Paint second color.

Once your initial color has been applied, allow to dry and then you can add your second color. Use the same technique to cut in at the wall and then slowly paint each plank of wood, moving into the center of the room.

If you’re painting multiple stripe colors, repeat steps one through three as needed until your entire pattern is filled in.

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dry time for painting floors

STEP FOUR: Allow first coat to dry.

Allow the first coat of your paint to dry at least two hours before moving forward with additional coats.

how many coats of paint do you need to paint a floor?

STEP FIVE: Apply additional paint coats.

Once the initial coat of paint is no longer tacky (sticky to touch), you can move forward with applying additional coats.

For my floors, I used only two coats. Since I applied the paint very liberally to fill in the cracks in the wood, my brushstrokes were no longer visible after two coats. Depending of the quality of your paint, you may find you’ll be happier with three coats.

Since flat paint dries faster and adheres better, you should find that liberal coats are beneficial to your process.

painting wood floors with flat paint

STEP SIX: Allow paint to dry 48 hours.

In the next step, you’re going to finish the floors to make the paint permanent and reduce chipping / wear. In order to get the best adhesion of the wax used to protect the paint, you’ll want to allow the painted floor to fully dry for 48 hours.

That said, you can walk on the floors in socked feet within 8 hours of applying final coat. I recommend removing shoes and waiting to reinstall furniture until final application of wax and dry time is allowed.

amount of wax needed to finish painted floors

STEP SEVEN: Dip your wax brush into wax.

This wax coating is thick and it appears opaque in the can. You don’t want an opaque finish, so you’ll want to apply it in a very thin coating. When you dip your brush into the can, cover only the bottom 1/3 of the brush with a light dip.

waxing painted wood floors

STEP EIGHT: Apply wax to floor.

Begin applying wax by running the paint brush in a straight line between two planks of wood. You’ll want to apply as much of the wax to the floor as possible in this first stripe.

how to thin coat finish wax on painted floors

STEP NINE: Spread wax.

Working outward from your initial stripe of wax, drag the excess in 1×1 foot sections until the entire floor is covered. Although the wax is transparent, you’ll be able to tell the places where you need to add wax by looking for the glare under a light.

I chose a satin wax finish which will appear shinier when wet. Once dry, the glare will be less obvious and the floor won’t be as shiny. However, the wax will give the paint depth and durability without making it dangerously slippery for socked feet.

wax finish on painted hardwood floors

I’ve completed this hardwood painting project, figured out how to stain fake wood furniture, and a super quick and cheap can light installation, as part of the 555 Room Challenge. During this home decor challenge, I’m joining a group of talented bloggers to complete one room in five weeks!

Painted wood floors in a kid's bedroom - How to repaint wood floors that have old floor paint.

The goal is to spend less than $500 and show you 5 different DIY projects that you can incorporate in your own home. For this project, I’m overhauling the first room I should have focused on in our new home: Our daughter’s bedroom.

Click the images below to see what projects all the other bloggers are up to this week:

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

We still have two weeks to go in this challenge and I have a slew of DIYs coming up. These new floors provide a neutral but fun base for the colorful decor I’m putting in my daughter’s bedroom.

Easy DIY: Painting Hardwood Floors The Easiest Way Ever!


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