Painting an Antique Wood Floor
Do you hear it?
If you can’t I’m sure you can imagine it.
Creak… creak… creak…
That’s the sound of a wooden floor that’s over 120 years old. I know it might drive some people crazy, but I absolutely love that sound.
Painting an antique wood floor is a big job, so I thought I’d share how I did it.
I can’t even tell you how thrilled I am that we removed the carpeting in the master bedroom. If you missed it you can read that post here.
I can’t wait to finish this room so I can move onto the hallway, but I’m getting ahead of myself here… one room at a time.
This floor had been painted by previous owners, but because it needed some repair work it needed to be repainted too.
I wanted to leave as many lumps and bumps and nicks and gouges as I possibly could.
They’re a part of this old floor and this old house, and imperfection is always more interesting to me anyway.
I’m sure the floor boards were tight when originally put down in 1890, but over time gaps have developed in some areas… some larger than others.
So I used some wood patching stuff (Elmer’s Carpenters Wood Filler) that I found at the Restore, but I only patched up those spots where you could see through to the space beneath the floor.
I don’t want any nasties coming out of there. lol
I didn’t worry about patching the staple and nail holes from when we removed the carpet and under pad. They’re so small and will easily get filled in with the primer and paint by the time I’m finished.
We don’t have the luxury of moving everything out of a room for a redo so we have to move it all to one end, and then the other.
This makes for slow going, but at least it’s going.
The exception was the bed. I had absolutely no interest is taking it apart to remove it from the room so I painted around it, and we just lifted it and moved it slightly when I needed to paint beneath the feet.
You can see there was a closet at this end of the room at one point. Whoever painted this floor painted around it. The closet was already gone in 1998 when we moved in.
That’s another reason why the floor needed to be repainted.
The first thing I did was give it a very good vacuuming, not just the floor but also the gaps between the floor boards.
This is not much fun, but it’s one of those prep steps that’s super important. Unless you want painted crap in your gaps for all eternity.
Thankfully the finish of the floor was pretty worn so I didn’t have to do any sanding. This saved me a ton of time, mess, and sweat.
The first thing I do with a can of primer or paint is hammer some holes into the rim so there’s drainage back into the can. I usually do about 5 holes around half of the can.
I always line my paint tray with a plastic grocery bag for easy clean up. If you use this tip make sure to turn the bag inside out so any dyes from logos won’t affect your paint.
You can see more of my painting tips here.
Here’s a large gap that I found when we removed the carpeting.
It’s too creepy, but the floor board was still solid.
I simply screwed a spare piece of masonite over the gap, making sure to push it under the baseboard molding a bit.
No nasties are coming through there now. Whew!
This spot is behind the bed so it won’t be seen.
So I started with the priming.
I used Beauti-tone Acry-lok Primer Sealer. It’s a heavy duty primer/blocker that’s water based. No more yucky oil primers for me. I stopped using them years ago because that stuff is nasty, and I have an aversion to oil paint/primer of any kind because of the fumes they give off, and can continue to give off long after the project is done.
I have sinus sensitivity issues so I will never use oil for interior jobs, but that’s a personal choice. There are many water based products these days that are just as effective as oil for most applications.
Every old floor finish may be different so I would suggest checking with wherever you buy your paint before you choose your primer/sealer. There are even different water based formulas. All I can say is that this one works great for me.
When I’m painting an old floor I usually spend most of the time on my butt. It’s just easier for me that way. I start by going over the gaps with my paint brush. This is the best way to be sure that there’s enough to cover the gap, but not so much as to fill it up.
Too much dried primer and paint in your gaps might cause cracks to happen over time.
Where there were larger gaps a criss-cross technique works great to work in the paint.
When I was finished a section with my paint brush I used my paint roller to finish it off, and then I moved on to the next section… and so on until I was done.
This primer only required 8 hours to dry, but I waited a full 24 because it was pretty humid when I was doing this. The second coat was done completely standing up with my paint roller, and it went much faster.
Above is the floor with two coats of primer.
This is what you might get when there isn’t enough primer or paint in the gaps. This pic is after the 2 coats of primer. Dust and dirt will collect in those little open spots if they don’t get filled in so when doing the painting it’s important to check carefully to make sure there’s enough coverage.
Once the second coat of primer was dry I applied two coats of paint using the same process as explained above. I used the same Behr Rattan Cream paint/primer combo that I used on the walls because I had enough to do the job, and the floor actually looks like a slightly different colour because the light hits it differently than the walls.
It’s extremely durable, and we’ve been living with the painted floor for about 2 months now and it’s holding up great… especially because it’s being used as the work area for other projects for the room.
In the photo below you can see the stages… the original floor, the white primer, and the new paint, which is a little less yellow than the original colour.
I’ll be sharing the finished floor when I show you the treatment I’m doing on it, but first I have to get a few other projects done.
Like these freebie dump finds… bi-fold doors that I’m repurposing. I was super excited when I found 3 pairs of these doors at the same time. They’re stained dark on one side and untreated on the other. I’m in the middle of this project right now.
Here’s an example of a before and after just in the heat vent area. It gives you some idea of what a big difference it made to repaint this floor.
So after all that work I’m still thrilled that we removed the carpeting in the master bedroom. We both love it and it’s made me fall in love with this perfectly imperfect house all over again. It’s reminding me of why we bought it in the first place 16 years ago, and it makes me wonder why we put the carpeting down in the first place.
Often times the practical thing is not what makes our hearts sing.
Thanks so much for reading.
Do something to make your heart sing today… and smile.
Wow!! Now that's an ambitious project! You and Suzan and your floor painting. Looks like it's going to be gorgeous Tuula! YOu go girl!
Looking good, Tuula! Yay for old houses! Can't wait to see the finished room! You are really multi-tasking on wonderful projects! I'm disliking that we had carpet installed in our bedroom and parlor, and we've only been in this house three years. Too bad we can't just pull it up cause there're just noisy floor boards underneath. Yes, the builder didn't do a very good job in laying the boards. They creak and unlike you, I hate the sound. Replacing the carpet with hardwood is on our list of things to change . . . maybe one day.
I absolytely LOVE a painted floor! My bedroom growing up had one, and I loved that floor so much!
The floor looks great, Tuula. I love my creaky floors also.
I am exhausted just looking at it…but the payoff was so worth it! I wish I had an old house to do this in. It looks so good!
Looking good girl!
Looks really good. I wish i could do that
Thanks so much Liz! It is a big job that's not all that difficult… it's just tedious. The most difficult thing is waiting for the primer and paint to dry between coats. lol. I hope you get to try it someday. Thanks so much for stopping by.
I see we have the same painting procedure – move furniture over, move furniture back. LOL! I reallly love old painted floors – great job!
Wow, you really did a great job freshening up the floor. My apartment is only 40 years old and the floor is squeaky. I had never in my life lived in a place where the floor squeaks and this makes me very nervous. I have this irrational fear that I'll one day fall through the floor, while walking or while I'm still sleeping on my bed…
Oh my… I'm sorry that the squeaking in your floors makes you nervous, but as long as the structure is sound it doesn't mean its anything serious if a floor creaks or squeaks. Most of the time it's just age. I know my knees creak a lot more than I used to.Thanks so much for stopping by.
Great tips and perfect timing. We have 2 rooms that need carpet replaced and I've been thinking about painting the floors instead.
Thanks Susan. We're so happy we didn't put in more carpeting. We have 4 cats and it's just easier to keep things clean with bare floors and throw rugs. Good luck with your floors.
They are gorgeous Tuula! I LOVE old wood floors! So much history there. Your room is really coming together. I can't wait to see what kind of treatment you're doing and what you're making with those bifolds. TGIF!
It's been a long week. And a busy weekend coming up. Hope you have a good one!
Okay, you have talked me into painting my bedroom floor when I get around to painting the room. I already know the hardwoods underneath the carpet are a disaster since I have refinished most of the downstairs. I thought the little mouse hole was sweet – it's a shame you could not save it. Love that color.
Huge job, but it looks great. Looking forward to seeing the finished product, and what you have in store for the bi-folds as well.
Have a great week-end,
Thanks Diana. It was huge all right, but so worth it. As I write this I'm between stages of the bifold door project. I'm looking forward to getting it done soon.
Hope you have a great weekend too.
AMAZING!! It looks fantastic. You really put a lot of time into this project Tuula and it shows. Now what are you up to with those doors???
It looks gorgeous! I love that sound, bested only by the bang of a screen door.
I am so glad you brought your painted floor over to share on Make It Monday!
I'd rip out my carpeting tonight if I had old wood to reveal…nothing pretty about a slab floor. I love your gorgeous painted floors!! This was a real labor of love and so well worth the effort. Thanks so much for sharing and VIP.
Love, love that floor! It has the perfect amount of rustic charm. You did a great job! I have had shutters or bi fold doors on my list for a while. Had to pass up two pairs that were too far away from home and couldn't get them in my vehicle. Boo hop! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
I would kill for painted floor boards it's going to be beautiful!
It came out beautiful and thanks for the great tips! I have painted floors that need a new coat and your tips are great! – Karen
Thanks so much Karen! I hope my tips work for you.
Tuula, your floor is looking great!!! So fresh and new and those are some really handy tips. I'll have to click over to the rest of your paint tips, too. It has to be an adventure sometimes to live in such an old house. All those creaks and noises are definitely worth the history.