painted floor inspirations. I ended up going with a solid color (SW Repose Gray). I really wanted to use a stripe or check, but was limited by an existing pattern on an adjacent floor.
My painted floor project started back in April, I knew I was going to have to do this in 2 parts. Here is where I revealed my finished dining room floor. 6 months later, I am still happy with my decision and have also completed the living room floor as well as our stairs. You can see more details on how I managed that in my Painting the Stairs post.
Granted, 6 months is not a long time, but it has given me enough time to reflect on the process of painting my sub-floors as well as living with them. I know when I was considering doing this, I was hard pressed to find information on how people liked them and how they held up. I am going to attempt to do both here.
Here are some things to consider before you go ahead and take out your carpet and paint your sub-floor. I am sure there are other things, but this will get you started.
- What material is your sub-flooring? Mine was plywood. I am sure you can paint cement or particle board flooring, but have no actual experience with it. (Disclaimer: what I have done may not work for you).
- Can you live with a "not so perfect" look?
- You will need to sweep, a lot. But I am guessing this is no different than if you put down hardwood.
- If you live in a colder climate, your floors will be colder, you will need to put down rugs at least in the winter. Again, similar to hardwood.
- And, if you do not have a lot of soft fabrics in your room, it will be louder and may echo. Can I say the same with hardwood.
- The wood is softer, so you will get divots and dents.
Vacuum and take up your carpet. Be careful of the tack strips and staples along the edge.
Time for the most important step, prepping the floor. I was not able to find a definitive way to do this, it is going to be up to you and what you want the out come to be. I did 2 different prceedures, and in the end I would combine them.
When I took up the carpet, there were some rather large gaps between the boards and it was not completely level (this is something you will need to work around). Process one, in my dining room, I used a wood filler to fill in the cracks. It worked great for leveling and filling the gaps. However, over time hairline cracks showed up. See below.
In process two, I filled the gaps with caulk, to avoid the cracking. I did not get cracking, but instead I got a dips. I was also able to see where all the joint lines were. see below
I was less pleased with this out come. It may be that I simply needed more caulk. If I was to do this project again, I would combine the two. I would first fill the gap with wood filler and then put caulking over the top (disclaimer: I have not actually done this, so I don't really know how it would work, it is just what I would try next).
So about wood filler. I recommend it, highly.
Again, I did one floor with wood filler and the other with out. The floor that I used the wood filler on has a much smoother finish. The floor without the filler is wavy and in my opinion not as nice. Here is an extreme close up of the floors.
Working with the filler was easy. You just trowel in on in a thin layer. It is very watery and will fill in the cracks. It takes about a day to dry (longer if you are filling cracks). After the filler dries you can move on to sanding.
(floor partially covered with filler)
Sanding the floor is the worse part of the project. It is messy and the dust gets everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Try and seal off the area you are working in as much as possible. I am guessing you can rent a big sander if you have a large area, however, I just used a hand sander. My one suggestion in to use one that plugs in and one that has a bag to collect the dust (it won't collect it all, but will collect some). Check out my sander review. Here is my daughter giving me a hand (with proper supervision)
Here is what I found nice about the wood filler. I found it quicker and easier to get a smooth finish when the floor had been prepped with the wood filler. In the unfilled areas I never really got a smooth finish, the wood is just to rough and the grain too large.
Once you are done sanding you will need to clean up all the dust. Remember to change you filters as well. This may take a day or two as the dust will start to settle out of the air.
Now it is time to prime your floors. I recommend a good stain hiding primer, I have started using Zinsser and have been very happy with it. I put down 2 coats for good measure. I used a brush around the floorboards and then a roller on a broom handle for the bulk of the floor. Make sure you do not back yourself into a corner.
Meet the Bee and see how I added that detail.
The paint I used was Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor paint. They are able to tint it to any color. Again, I painted 2 coats, and then put down two coats of a waterbased Polyurethane for floors. I highly recommend the poly for ease in upkeep. In the living room there were a few areas that did not get the poly. Those areas got dirty faster than the polyed areas, and were not as easy to clean. Also, I believe the poly helps in the durability of the floor.
After you paint the floor, the other crucial part is the curing of the paint and poly. It takes 7 days for the paint to harden. Try to keep furniture off the floor during this time. I planned it so I was on vacation during the curing time.
The very last step is to install quarter round to fill the gap left by the removal of the carpet.
I waited until the floors were cured before I installed mine. I used a simple miter box to make the cuts and finishing nails to attach. Then I filled the gaps with caulk and painted.
So the inevitable question on durability. I find the floors are very durable. Soon after I painted the dining room I dropped a rather larger rock from a considerable height (purely an accident, I swear) and I did not get any denting or chipping. However, I did get a scratch in my living room. I think that came from a 100 pound footlocker. I just sanded that area, re-painted and re-polyed and it is as good as new.
I have also noticed that since the wood used in sub-flooring is softer, there is a tendency for denting. I notice it especially in the dining room with my dining table and chairs.
In the end, I am very happy with the decision to paint my sub-floors. I do see it as a temporary fix until we are able to do hardwood throughout the house. For us it was the right solution. Let me know if you take the plunge. I would love to see how yours turns out.