DIY: Painting Wood Floors

Replacing an old wood floor can be a time-consuming and expensive home project.

If you don’t have the bandwidth or budget to refinish old wood floors, try updating them with paint.

All you need are the right tools and a favorite paint color, and maybe a great pattern idea to create a custom design that will liven up any drab surface (see below for our favorite ideas for home).

Interior designers such as Illinois-based Jeannie Balsam like to use this paint trick for a custom look.

She’s executed the technique in several spaces, including her own design studio.

“An inexpensive and easy update is to paint an old stairwell, treads, thresholds or trim with glossy floor paint,” says Balsam. “The space immediately feels fresh and modern. To add a little interest, you can also incorporate numbers or words on the treads.”

Whether you want to paint wood floors, stairs or trim, consider this DIY home decor project to give any surface a dose of personality.


Approximately three days


  1. Sanding sponge
  2. Sponge
  3. Painter’s tape
  4. Paint roller
  5. Paintbrush
  6. Pencil
  7. Ruler
  8. Porch or floor paint
  9. Polyurethane


Step 1

Give the wood floor surface some traction and even out rough spots by grazing over them with a sanding sponge.

With a damp sponge, wipe away sanding residue and allow it to dry.

Step 2

Tape off all the areas you want to protect from the paint, such as baseboards.

With a paintbrush, begin by painting your base color a few inches around the perimeter of the painting area.

With a roller, fill in the rest of the area. Let dry and paint another coat if needed. Let dry overnight.

Skip to step 6 if you’re painting a solid color. If you’re painting a pattern*, follow steps 3 through 5.

Step 3

Measure and tape off your chosen design (remember to measure twice and paint once!).

Using painter’s tape, mark the areas you don’t want to paint with an X.

Next, rough up the areas to be painted with a sanding sponge.

Then wipe away sanded areas and stray pencil marks with a damp sponge (a pencil eraser can damage the base coat).

Let dry.

Step 4

With a paintbrush, paint your pattern.

Clean up any drips or spills right away with a damp sponge.

Step 5

Before the paint dries, carefully peel away the tape from the floor at an angle.

Step 6

Let paint dry for a day.

Once the floor is fully dry, apply a coat of polyurethane with a paint roller to seal in the new design against heavy foot traffic.

Brush These Patterns On for Size:

Preppy Stripes: Aside from a solid color, this idea requires the least amount of tape. Go broad and bold with two colors for a classic look. Or add funky texture to a kid’s playroom with skinnier strips of three or more colors.
Checks: Don’t think gingham or chessboard — unless that’s your intention. This pattern is about as versatile as it gets. Two-tone squares magically make everything else in a room seem more cohesive.
Faux Rug: Skip area rug hunting and bring on the double takes by painting one instead. Rather than tape off the whole floor, focus on one area of the room, or just leave a border of unpainted floor around the edges.

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