Is It a Terrible Idea to Paint My Aging Wood Floors?

Adding a coat of paint to pine floors can give them new life, but if you want a good result, do not skimp on the preparation.

Is It a Terrible Idea to Paint My Aging Wood Floors?

Credit…Nadia Pillon

Is It a Terrible Idea to Paint My Aging Wood Floors?

Q: I live in a house with a finished attic, which has old pine wood floors that are unattractive and in pretty rough shape. We’d rather not spend the money to install new floors yet. To get a few more years out of them, is it a reasonable solution to paint the existing floors instead? What do we need to do to make sure it looks nice and not worse than it looks now?

A: With the right color and preparation, a fresh coat of paint could brighten up the attic and give it character.

“Painted floors can look chic. They can look really, really smart,” said Patrick O’Donnell, the international brand ambassador for the British paint company Farrow & Ball.

The floors may look terrible now, but pine can be sanded many times, giving it new life. (Engineered or manufactured wood, however, cannot withstand nearly as much sanding, so make sure you know the material you’re working with before you start.)

Few of us enjoy preparing a room for paint, but if you want a good result, do not skimp on this step, as grueling as it may be. A good paint job all comes down to “preparation, preparation, preparation,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “It’s a tedious thing, but it’s essential.”

After sanding the floors, vacuum up any dust, particles and wood chips, and mop the surface clean. Once the floor is clean and dry, paint it with one coat of primer followed by two coats of paint.

Tammy Connor, an interior designer based in Charleston, S.C., recommended using an epoxy paint, which has a shiny, durable finish that’s good for floors. Most paint brands offer a line of paints appropriate for floors, including some with eggshell finishes, which won’t appear as shiny if you want a more matte look.

As for color, it depends on the style you’re hoping to achieve. A lighter shade will brighten up the room, giving it fresh, crisp look. A darker hue will be more forgiving and hide dirt and imperfections. A neutral tone can create a backdrop for a bold area rug.

You could also use this project to take a creative risk by, say, playing around with patterns. “We will often put a checkerboard or some other sort of pattern in attics,” Ms. Connor said. “It’s really fun to do.” If you don’t like it, you could always paint it again.

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