How to Paint a Damaged Wood Floor

I want to preface this post by saying I would normally not be in favor of painting wooden floors, especially in an older house. In fact, I lived with these floors in a pretty horrible state because it took me a long time to admit to myself that they were past the point of refinishing. Now, however, I can say that I am so glad I decided to paint them. It was one of those projects that required a “here goes nothin” attitude but it turned out beautiful and really dressed up some heavily damaged floors.

Let’s talk about those floors. When I bought my house, it had been empty for a little over a year and was in a pretty horrible state. One of the worst parts was the stained and disgusting carpet in both bedrooms. It had to go. I ripped all of the carpet out to reveal some fir floors underneath. They were spotted with paint, stains and gouges but I washed them and then, as stated above, lived with them as I pondered what to do next. Not only did I have damaged floors, but I also had to think about matching two types of wood flooring. The previous owner had laid a floating wood floor over the original fir throughout the living room and hallway. If I simply refinished the fir floors, they wouldn’t match the wood flooring in the hallway. I had to find an alternative. I thought about carpet again, but I honestly hate carpet. That left me with, you guessed it, paint.

Painting a floor with porch paint.

Painting damaged floors.

The two types of wood flooring that were competing in my house.

Prepping Wood Floors

I had to do quite a bit of prep work before the floors were ready for paint. I started by scraping the bigger, raised paint stains off of the floor. If the paint wasn’t raised, I didn’t worry about it because the floor paint would cover that up. I just started on one side of the floor with a scraper and worked my way to the other side. I then made sure to thoroughly sweep and vacuum up the loose bits of dried paint.

How to paint wood floors.

Painting wood floors.

Michael came over to help scrape the floors. Piccadilly (my cat) was much less helpful.


Once the floor was scraped, I needed to fill any deep gouges and holes in the wood. I used Durham’s Rock Hard water putty to patch the floor. This stuff is the best. It fills the wood and then becomes, as it’s name suggests, rock hard. It doesn’t shrink or give like many wood fillers. Because of this, it’s perfect for patching floors. It comes in a powder. Simply follow the directions on the container to mix it with a little water and then use a putty knife to apply it to the floor. You can sand it smooth once it has dried.

How to repair a damaged floor before painting.

After all the scraping and patching, it was time to sand the entire floor. I used a jitterbug hand sander and lightly sanded the floors to just make them able to grip the paint. Most of the floor was raw wood with no poly, but some parts had a little of the old finish left. I made sure to sand those parts with a little more gusto to even out the consistency of the floor. I then vacuumed the whole space thoroughly, making sure to use the hose to get bits of sawdust that had settled into cracks in the floor or the trim. Finally, I scrubbed down the entire floor with tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) to make sure that it was clean and ready for paint.

How to prime wood floors for paint.

Painting Wood Floors

I started with a primer before adding the porch and patio paint. I used Glidden Gripper because it seals stains and I wanted to make sure any floor damage was properly sealed before painting. If your floors aren’t too damaged, I don’t know that you would need this step, but it is something to consider. I started by cutting in around the edges of the room with a brush. I then applied the rest of the primer with a roller, making sure to work from the far side of the room across to the door.

After the primer had set, I applied my floor paint. I went with Behr Porch and Patio glossy floor paint in Polar Drift. It’s a really pretty blue-gray color that’s still fairly neutral. It is also light enough so that the room still feels open and roomy. I applied the paint in the same way as the primer, by cutting in around the edges with a brush and then rolling a thin coat over the rest of the floor space. I waited at least a day in between coats of paint just to make sure that it fully set up and wasn’t too tacky. I only applied two coats and it covered extremely well.

How to paint a wood floor.

How to paint a wood floor.

Using patio paint for a floor.

Finishing the Look

After the paint had set, I needed to give the floor a finished look by applying some quarter round trim. I measured and cut the trim that I needed and then laid it out to make sure that it would work. I then lightly applied some semi-gloss white paint to the trim and allowed it to dry before tacking it in place with some trim nails (QUICK TIP: blunt the end of the trim nail by tapping it with your hammer. This helps to prevent the trim from splitting when you nail it in). As you can see, I also had some gaps and notches in the current trim so I made sure to apply white painter’s caulk to those areas, as well as the gaps where the new trim was applied. Whenever I apply painter’s caulk, I always dip my finger in a little water and then run it across the seams to create a smooth transition.


Lay out your trim before painting.

The cut trim before paint and caulk.

Caulked and painted quarter round.

The finished trim.


Once you have finished the trim, you can stand back and admire your new room. I personally love the way the painted wooden floors turned out. It finally gave this room the finishing touch it needed. We also added some Ikea Arstid lamps to the built-ins I constructed last Summer and then dressed up the room with some curtains and simple artwork. It’s like a little cottage oasis now.

Glossy painted floor.

The finished painted floor. I love the soft blue Polar Drift color.

Refinished bedroom floors with paint.

How to paint a floor.

Rewired ikea arstid wall lamps.

Adding a few finishing touches to the room like rewired Ikea Arstid lights.

Staging a bedroom.

The room fully finished as a relaxing bedroom retreat.







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