A few weeks ago when we shared our freshly plastered and painted fourth bedroom (which we finished on the day our visitors arrived) I’m sure that you noticed that we painted our new plywood floor, too!
We’d always planned on painting the floor, but it was still a tough decision when it came down to it. We’d honestly never expected the floor to look as good as it did without paint and we really loved the texture and look of the plywood.
I guess it will always depend on the quality of the plywood you use, but we totally think that a plywood floor would work in unpainted (although it would need varnish or some other kind of finish to seal it).
Painting a floor white is obviously not for everyone and we were (and still are a bit) worried about how the finish would hold up. Wanting to keep the floor white, pristine and chip-free, we did a lot of research into what kind of paint to use to paint the floor in order to achieve the best possible finish.
As always there’s so much information and advice (sometimes conflicting) available on the internet and from various paint manufacturers.
After comparing a lot of options, this is our guide to on how to paint a wood floor.
The finish you achieve when painting is always only as good as the surface you are painting. It’s really important to make sure that it’s smooth, clean and dust free. Any bits of dust or dirt make it impossible to achieve a good finish.
Paint the floor once with slightly watered down primer (we used Farrow and Ball Wood Floor Primer & Undercoat). Being lazy as usual, we didn’t bother to mix the paint with water, but just used a wet paintbrush (that we occasionally dipped in fresh water) instead. Yes, this probably isn’t the recommended way to paint, but it worked and saved time.
3. Prime again.
After priming the floor with watered down primer and of course letting it dry, we then primed the floor again with a full coat of primer. We chose white paint for the finished floor which is why we used a light primer. If you’re planning on painting your floor with dark paint, you’ll need an appropriate primer for that.
After letting the primer dry it’s time to get out the paint. We personally like to use a paintbrush rather than a roller because we find that it’s easier to achieve a smooth finish, but it’s really personal preference. (We love our Purdy brushes – this is one that we used to paint the floor) Our room is also really quite small, so in our case, a roller probably wouldn’t have speeded things up anyway.
5. And finally paint again. And again. And again!
Depending on the coverage of your paint you’ll have to apply a few coats to achieve a solid coverage. All in all, we applied six coats of paint (two primer and four thin coats of paint). Alternatively, you could apply a thin coat of paint and have the texture of the wood show through. We painted the floor with Farrow and Ball All White Floor Paint.
Because we installed the new plywood floor on top of the existing floorboards, there’s a small threshold between the bedroom and the hallway floor. We purposely chose very thin plywood so that we wouldn’t end up with a step into the bedroom and because the difference in height is just a few millimetres, we didn’t bother to install a specific threshold.
After painting the floor it was time to add the skirting boards. You could, of course, add the skirting before you paint the floor and paint everything at the same time. Our order of things was purely based on timescales and the rush of getting the floor painted before our guests arrived.
First, we measured each wall and cut the length of skirting to size before adding the necessary angles at each end. Over the years, we’ve learned not to fuss too much about getting a perfectly mitred joint, as a bit of caulk can hide a multitude of sins – although it’s good to get it to fit as tightly as possible!
To attach the skirting to the wall we used our nailer which made the process super quick and easy. This is definitely the method that we’d recommend. It worked much better than any glue we’ve ever used as the fixing is much stronger and you can push (and slightly bend) the skirting against the wall which is great if either the wall or the skirting are slightly bowed or uneven. When nailing the skirting into place you, of course, have to watch out for any cables or pipes that may be in the wall behind it.
Adding the skirting obviously made a huge difference, but caulking the small gap between the skirting and the wall is really finished everything off. I guess it’s the difference between an okay looking or a more professional looking finish.
We had considered stripping, sanding and repainting the existing skirting, but as we could get like for like skirting to match what had been there and because we were in a rush to get the room finished, we for once decided to make things a bit easier for ourselves and install new skirting instead.
Another reason for replacing the skirting was that we had already removed it for plastering and laying the floor anyway, so for us it didn’t make a difference if we installed new skirting or the old skirting.
Up till now, the floor is holding up really well. There are no chips in the paintwork and it’s still really white. If there’s one thing I’d suggest though, it’s to wait till the paint has thoroughly dried before furnishing the room. We rushed because we had visitors coming and ended up marking the floor – luckily nothing that a bit of touching up couldn’t solve.
I know that having a white floor isn’t for everyone, but it’s in an upstairs bedroom and we also don’t usually wear shoes in the house, so think that it should stay looking this good for a long time.
Do you prefer the natural floor or the painted floor? Do you have a painted floor – if so, how is yours holding up?