Design Ideas: 7 Ways to Paint Wood Floors

    A custom wood floor by Wallstreat Studio, an Atlanta custom painter.  See more: Kasswilson.comWhen asked what is the single thing one can do to change the look of a space, the answer invariably comes back, “Paint!” And it’s true, a fresh coat of paint will not only clean up tired, scuffed looking walls but a snazzy new color will completely transform a room altogether. But, have you thought about going one step further? And by “step,” I do mean what you’re stepping on.

    Painting the floors is a time-honored staple of interior designers and home decorators and in America, dates as far back as the 18th Century. Homeowners of average means could not afford to buy rugs or marble tile for each room in the house and took to painting their wood floors as a way to not only preserve the wood, but to decorate it as well. Classic black and white checkerboard floors were seen in many homes, mimicking marble tile floors in grander buildings.  A talented painter could  re-create in paint the look of multiple wood species seen in intricate inlaid marquetry designs. Contrary to the notion that floors were painted to merely hide wood that had seen better days, it was, in fact, a true artistic pursuit from then till now.

    In addition to checkerboard and marquetry floors, there are many other ways one can spruce up the hard- (and soft) woods using paint, a little creativity and some sweat equity.

    Pickled wood floors: Pickled wood floors mimic the feeling of an old bleached floor. It is accomplished by basically white-washing, or white-staining, the floor so that the underlying wood comes through.

    Bright whites and pastels for a beachy look: A fresh, beach cottage look can be accomplished by painting the floor a bright shiny white, soft-gray or pale blue. Using a “barely there” color will always feel crisp and clean, like a bright sunny day at the beach. And, contrary to popular notion, these floors are very easy to maintain because you can easily see the dirt and clean it up before it sets.

    Black floors for modern decor: Black, or deep mahogany, floors have a sharp sophistication that pairs well with modern design styles as well as classic Colonial design.

    Patterns: Bold geometric patterns such as stripes, zig-zags, diamonds or even plaids are accomplished with a lot of planning and painter’s tape. These can be complicated to plan and take time to execute, but the end results can be sure showstoppers.

    Painted area rug: Create a painted “area rug” in the center of a room in any pattern or style. These trick of the eye techniques can be so good, you’ll wonder if there is a real rug there. But this one you won’t trip over!

    Stenciled floor: Just as they are on walls, stencils are most definitely the floor painter’s friend.  For those whose artistic skills are more limited, a great stencil pattern such as a white snowflake design painted on deep blue floors will be quite eye-catching. As with any stenciling, the work is all in the planning. The execution should be fairly easy, except perhaps on knees and back!

    Painted floor border: If painting a pattern across the whole floor is daunting, try just doing a classic border around the perimeter of the room. This one small detail will punch up the entire space.

    Linda Merrill is a - - writer.  Read more articles like this one - - or get help with your home projects on

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