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You paint your walls and your ceilings. You paint your furniture, too. But somewhere along the way, the idea of painting the floor has gotten lost under all those layers of carpeting and hardwood varnish. If you’re looking for a little whimsy, a touch of color or just something new and different, break out the brushes!

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Painting hardwood floors: Sacrilege?

Hardwood floors, especially those that are made of true hardwood, are often treated with kid gloves. It’s understandable: Hardwood is expensive, and the pristine look is one of the reasons homeowners choose to install it in the first place. A scuff mark or dent or burn in the hardwood can ruin the effect of the whole room.

The idea of actually putting paint on them — of marring them on purpose — can make most homeowners cringe in disbelief!

But as more and more homeowners look for a way to make their homes stand out without breaking their budget, painted floors are making a comeback. If you’re thinking about this old-fashioned look for your home, here are a few tips that can help you make the most of your weekend painting skills.

Consider your  painted floors option wisely

Painted floors have just as many endless options as painted walls. You can choose to paint a decorative runner down your hallway, cover the whole floor in a bright pop of color or choose a subdued design that mimics that of your favorite furniture. With the floor as your canvas, anything is possible.

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Plan before you paint

If you are going to create a pattern on the floor, accurate measurements are essential. If there will be very small details, such as when painting a runner, use a dark pencil to follow a stencil for perfect placement, then paint in the area with a fine brush. Larger details, such as a checkerboard floor, can be painted in stages with painter’s tape to mark off the blocks.

Use the right paint

Your painted floor will be subject to a great deal of traffic, and that means that everyday paints you might use on your walls or ceiling won’t do for your floor. Choose a heavy-duty paint specifically intended for use on floors or porches. Use a primer, too.

Use proper prep for your painted floor

The floors should be scrupulously clean before you paint. If you will be painting the entire floor, remove the baseboards if possible; you will want to extend the paint underneath them if you can. The floors do not need to be completely smooth; rather, they should be just slightly roughed up with sandpaper, so as to make the paint adhere much better.

Take your time

Thin coats of paint work best, as they wear more evenly than heavy coats do. You will want to apply several coats, allowing them to dry completely between applications. You will also need to remember that the paint takes time to cure — up to 30 days in some cases — so don’t move in that heavy furniture just yet.

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Any hardwood floor can make for a lovely painted masterpiece. Don’t be afraid to experiment! You might discover that a bright spot of color on the floor brightens up the whole room better than any new furniture or other home decor possibly could.

 

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.