floors are sometimes looked at like an extra wall in a space! Adding Painted Floors into a space is a beautiful way to give an extra element to your interior design! We have both been threatening to paint some of our floors for WAY too long.we both finally took the plungeSo LET's dive into the process for both painted hardwood and cork floors and how they are holding up!
Why We wanted Painted Floors
For years, both girls had been admiring painted floors from some of our favourite ladies on Instagram like Liz Marie Galvan and Karin Buitenhuis. Painting the floors a lighter colour seemed to make the home require less home decor... both Britt and Deb love minimizing and felt like white floors always helped make this style easier. Every detail that goes into a room with white floors almost becomes amplified thus making it even easier for LESS is MORE!
It also seemed bizarre for Britt that she was willing to paint her exterior patio floors white but not her interior floors??? Seems a little backwards right? But she loved her white painted patio pavers. So she figured it was time to bring the white inside!
For Deb, she had already painted her backstair case when she moved into the house years earlier and had almost pulled the trigger on painting her attic floors white years ago but in a last minute decision, kept the natural instead! She has painted other flooring in her home and rentals in the past as well, including linoleum, so deciding to paint some of her hardwood on the second level didn't seem like such a stretch.
Choosing the perfect flooring
Let's chat quickly about the type of floors. For Britt, her husband and her moved around a lot in the few years leading up to building her home. She was constantly learning what she DID and DIDN'T want in her forever home.
Deb is a hardwood girl at heart, she loves the look and feel of hardwood and brought back as much of the original hardwood flooring in her 115 year old home as possible. Hardwood floors are resilient and long-lasting. They are also very easy to clean and maintain.
Both girls have lived with carpet ... and NO THANK YOU, sorry for you carpet lovers but the amount of germs and mites that live in carpets is to much! Please, if you have any indoor pets carpets is just simply not a good choice. Have you every pulled old carpet out of a home before?? It's sooooo gross!
Laminate flooring can be an affordable option if you are on a budget but both Britt and Deb aren't huge fans of it.
The worst floor type for a large space would be TILE! Cleaning the grout is tedious and the hardness of the floor can have negative impact on some people's bodies. If you stand a lot...having tile flooring can cause serious back issues to worsen.
Both girls have also had cork flooring in the past and loved it! Before Britt's Vintage Society career, she had a yoga studio and when they renovated it, they put in cork floors! Insert angels singing! The softness and its ability to handle some water without swelling she knew she had to have it in her home! One thing about cork is that the options are not so various. Usually as it fades and ages it can generally pull orange, red and pink tones so you have to be careful about selecting colours.
Britt have never regretted choosing cork flooring but she always thought her floors would fade to a lighter shade. Almost 5 years later and they were the exact same colour but her style had changed a bit so bring on the paint!
How We knew Painting Our floors was an option
The moment Britt discovered painting her floors was an option was when she was painting her walls and some paint got on the floor that she didn't notice and it dried on. When she went to try and get the paint off the cork... nothing worked!! Paint remover, steam mopping, every cleaning solution you can think of...nothing worked. To get the paint off, Britt was literally removing the top veneer of the floor off. This had her start to wonder what it would look like if she painted the floors.
Deb had looked at multiple heritage homes to purchase before they finally go the one they are in! A lot of these older homes, had the floors painted at some point along the way! She loved the look of the painted floors and the way it looked with wear overtime. She always knew she would paint the floors somewhere in her home at some point.
WHere do you start?
Both girls recommend starting with a smaller area first and making sure you are happy with the look and the wear and tear of the area before committing to a large space.
When Britt redid her office, she thought she would paint those floors. However by the time she finished the shiplap she was just ready for the room to be put back together. During this time she had purchased a can of Benjamine Moore Tapestry Beige (the colour Liz Marie used on her floors) to put on a sample piece of cork. While the paint adhered to the cork well, Britt didn't love the colour.
Fast forward 6 months and she was ready to commit to painting the floors in her master bedroom (this room has a small hallway off the main living space so it wouldn't be so obvious if the painting was a flop).
Picking the Perfect paint colour for your floors
Now that she had committed to painting the floors it was time to pick a colour. Britt is kind of infamous for customizing colours (almost every colour in her house is a custom colour she has created). As much as she tends to lean towards warm shades of white she knew choosing a cool tone white would be better.
Britt got a sample of Revere Pewter by Benjamine Moore but Mr. WhiteFamhouse actually thought it was too dark (I was shocked). She picked out her favorite light grey colours and headed to the local Benjamine Moore paint store.
If you want more advice for picking out the perfect paint colour you can check out our blog on selecting the perfect paint colour for your home.
To create a custom colour get as close to the colour as you can find on a sample. Then ask your paint mixer what colours and the amount of each colour go into making that colour. The closest colour she could find to the desired paint colour was Gray Owl by Benjamine Moore. Britt wanted to take out some of the yellowish tones to make it a true grey without having it be a blue-grey colour. She mixed up a can of this new colour and honestly, it is so amazing!!! We think Benjamin Moore should let us make paint colours... girls can dream right!
Deb had found a couple solid stain colours from the Beauti-Tone line that she liked but in the end she wanted something that would be right between Benjamin Moore Grey Owl and White Whisp. She had used White Whisp in her home on the walls in the past and loved it! In the end, she decided the colour Britt came up with was right where she wanted it to be.
The Perfect Colour For Painted Floors
The custom colour the perfect light shade of grey! Here is the custom formula in the Benjamine Moore Solid Stain.
Test before you commit
Cork floors are naturally porous the paint partially absorbed into them. No need to worry about creating a surface that the paint would have to adhere too. We HIGHLY recommend getting a sample piece of flooring similar to your own flooring before you fully commit to your actual floors.
Harwood floors are very easy to paint, but the key is completely in the prep!
Check out another beautiful painted floor by our friend Mysha, Remington Avenue
Painting floors is how Britt updated her bedroom! Check out how Marci Schneider updated her bedroom!
Painted floor process
Tools used for painting floors
- a Brush to go along the edges
- a small 6" Roller to do the rest of the floor.
- a Primer
- Solids stain. This worked best on both cork and hardwood floor
One of the biggest pieces of advice is to keep a vacuum nearby. You almost vacuum as you go because pet hairs and dust seem to continually appear throughout the entire process.
STEPS TO PAINTING Cork FLOORS
Painted Cork floor prep
The only prep Britt did was giving her floors a good steam clean. She hasn't used any kind of chemicals on my floors. Having only steam mopped for years she didn't have to worry about getting any residue off. If you have been using floor cleaners we recommend washing your floors with a diluted vinegar solution prior to painting.
After a paint spill happened in the front entrance of Britt's home she was quickly forced into painting the main area of her home! The paint that spilled was an oil based paint. Before the spill, Britt was considering trying the oil based primer on her floors so this was the perfect jumping off point!
Priming a cork painted floor
Two coats of the Zinsser Oil Based Primer were used on the cork floors.
The Colour Coat
Then instead of using the FLOOR & PATIO floor paint that she used the first time round in her bedroom she wanted to try a solid stain. Britt used this solid stain on her patio pavers outside and loved it!
Britt allowed about 1 hour after the first coat before applying a 2nd coat. Then I left it for about 12 hours between the 2nd and 3rd coat. Then I applied the 4th and final coat about an hour after the 3rd coat.
Solid stain paint has a matte finish which Britt loves. She applied 2 coats of this paint on top of the Oil Based Primer.
This method for her painted floors has held up extremely well!
Steps to Painting Hardwood Floors
Step One - Lightly sand the area using a belt or orbital sander and 60 grit sandpaper. If it is a very large area, you can use a drum sander. When painting a floor, it doesn't need to be sanded down as much as a floor you are refinishing with stain and poly.
Step Two - Clean the area throughly! Vacuum the surface and wipe it down with hot soapy water and a damp cloth. If you are refinishing an old floor, make sure you try and get everything out of the cracks in between the boards, otherwise the debris will stick to your paint brush or poly brush!
Step 3 – The Primer Coat - Apply a coat of primer to the surface. Deb also used the Zinnser Shilac based Primer. She was sure she would need to apply more than one coat on the old floors because they would bleed, but this product was amazing and only require one coat.
Step 4 – The Colour Coats - Apply 2 coats of solid stain in the colour of your choice. You can use a paint brush to cut in on the edges and corners then a roller for the main part of the floor. Make sure to allow the stain to fully dry before applying the next coat. Deb waited about 8 hours in between each coat!
Step 5 – The Polyurethane Coat - Apply a thin coat of poly to the surface. Deb uses an outdoor, water based, non yellowing clear coat to the surface with a stain brush! Make sure to use a brush that is no bigger than the plank size for the best results! Again, make sure to let the coats of poly dry thoroughly before apply the next coat. The product Deb uses dry’s quickly but it should still be given ample time to dry before applying the next coat. Make sure to do at least 2 coats of poly for proper protection, if you are painting a floor in a bathroom you can do even more coats.
Letting the floors cure
For the cork flooring process, it is important to be as gentle on the floors for the next week or so as possible. While Britt was painting, it had been getting a lot of rain and so the humidity was higher than normal. The floors felt a bit tacky but they still walked on them. Britt was a bit nervous that she had painted the coats to close together or that I had chosen the wrong paint.
But after about a week I could feel the paint harden and they started feeling more durable!
For the hardwood flooring process, the cure time is much quicker and the poly dries to a hard finish right away! In fact, you have to move quickly while applying it to make sure it doesn't harden while you are still working with it!
Caring for your painted floors
Caring for painted hardwood verses painted cork is quite different. After 2 weeks of having the floors painted, Britt steam mopped her floors! While she was nervous the paint would just peel off it held up perfectly fine!! Any scuffs that my steam mop won't take off have wiped away easily with a Magic Eraser! Over the weeks, the paint on Britt's cork floors absorbed into some of the pours of the cork giving it a more textured appearance. She is so excited and in love with how these floors turned out!
Deb's painted hardwood on the other hand, was ready to go the next day! She allowed a full 24 hours for the polyurethane to harden but then it was back to biz as usual! Any wear and tear over the next few years will be just the patinated look that Deb is wanting and she uses a double strength vinegar with essential oils and a mop to clean it.
Have you dreamed of having white or painted floors? Let us know what kind of flooring you want to paint! Also feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about painted floors below!