Q&A / 

Painted Floors

DEAR TIM: I know this sounds crazy but I want to paint my floor. It is an older linoleum floor in very good condition. Is it possible to paint this floor and have it look good for a number of years? Do I need special paint? What else do I need to accomplish this? My dad used to paint our outside porch floor with great results. Do you have any paint design ideas? Paula D., Ludington, MI

DEAR PAULA: Shucks, it isn't a crazy idea - it is a brilliant one! Painting floors is a very economical way to refresh the look of a room. It is one of the few flooring jobs that is do-it-yourself friendly. Painting linoleum is not a bad idea at all. In fact, you can paint just about any flooring material except for carpet. If you or a friend are artistically inclined, you will have a floor that is the talk of the neighborhood.

Painted floors are everywhere. If you watch basketball on television or go to school gymnasiums, you know exactly what I mean. Professional and school teams have their logos painted in the center of the court. The boundary lines are painted as well. You will often hear announcers mention a foul that happened, "in the paint." These floors are subject to immense abuse as the players use them during practice and for games. Since I doubt that you intend to play basketball inside your home, your painted floors will look superb for many years.!

Porch floor paints have been around for years. As you mentioned, they are very durable. When used outside, these paints are subject to much greater wear and tear than they would ever see inside a climate controlled home. Most, if not all, outdoor porch paints are oil based. You don't have to restrict yourself to porch floor paints, as any high gloss oil based paint will work as you create a masterpiece of a floor.

The second step to success - the one very few know about - is coating the paint with multiple coats of a non-yellowing urethane. The urethane protects the painted finish just as it protects the beautiful stains and natural wood grain of hardwood floors or the natural beauty of cork flooring. Without this all-important urethane coating, you would rapidly scuff and scar the beautiful painted surface.

The painting process starts as you would any paint job. Surface preparation is key. The floor must be free of wax and be completely cleaned with soap and water. Rinse the floor with clear water to remove all traces of soap and dirt. If the floor has any type of gloss, you should sand it with medium sandpaper. The sanding process produces more surface area and small grooves that maximize paint adhesion. Be sure to vacuum the sanding dust before you paint.

It is a good idea to use an oil based primer. Feel free to tint the primer if you decide to use darker colors. Apply the finish coat of paint as soon as the primer instructions allow you to do so.

Pollution laws have been passed that have changed the way oil paints are made. The laws restrict the amounts of volatile organic compounds. In the past, some oil paints would dry rapidly and you could urethane the next day. Because of the changes in paint chemistry, some deep colors like purple and green often require a minimum of 48 hours drying time. If you coat the fresh paint with urethane too quickly, the paint may remain soft. To insure a good bond between the freshly painted floor and the protective urethane, you need to let the paint harden (cure) and then lightly sand it with fine sandpaper. Do not use steel wool if you intend to use water based urethane. You could end up with minute rust flecks in your floor.

I think the coolest painted floors are the ones that have geometric designs in them or are stenciled. You can also introduce multiple colors by painting a border in the room. I have seen vines or floral patterns that flow from wallpaper onto hardwood floors. Want to have some fun? Let your kids paint the floor of their playroom. Supervise them closely so their enjoyment doesn't spread to the hallway!

Becky sent an email about painting her floors. CLICK HERE to read her email.


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