How to Paint a Distressed Wood Floor

Replacing your wood floors can be a costly, noisy and dusty undertaking. Unfortunately, if the floors are old and distressed they probably can't be refinished. Most wood flooring is thick enough to withstand about one to three refinishing projects. Luckily old wood floors are beautiful and charming with their distressed appearance. And painting your wood floors is a great way to maintain their historic authenticity, preserve the floor and give it new life at the same time.

Thoroughly vacuum the floors. Use a slightly damp rag or mop to pick up any unseen hair or lint.

Prep the distressed floors well. Caulk in large cracks and holes. Use a putty knife to fill the crack and allow the caulk to set up for two to three days. Use pliers to remove any nails that are exposed. Sand the floors to eliminate splinters and rough patches.

Choose a paint. Because flooring is subject to a lot of abuse, oil based floor paints are the best choice for long-term durability. They take longer to dry and are considerably messier than latex floor paint, but will resist scratches and wear much better.

Edge the room using a trim brush. Work around walls, radiators, and cabinetry. Use a good quality brush. Apply enough paint to create a solid brush stroke but not so much that you create a puddle of paint.

Roll paint onto the floor working with roughly one board at a time. Roll the paint on going with the grain of the wood. Working in small areas will eliminate the need to go back over a spot, which creates an uneven finish. Allow the paint to dry for three to four days.

Sand the floors very lightly using 220 grit sand paper. Sanding will remove any particles that got trapped in the paint and will even out brush strokes and roller marks. Vacuum up the sanding dust.

Apply a second coat of paint using the same technique used on the first coat. Handle your floors gently for 30 days. Oil based paints will take that long to completely set. Walk on the floors with socks only and avoid putting any furniture on the floors until the 30 days have passed and the floors are completely dry.


You can test the hardness of the drying paint by using your fingernail to create an indentation in an inconspicuous spot. When you can no longer make an indentation in the paint, the paint is fully cured.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Caulk
  • Putty knife
  • Paint
  • Trim brush
  • Roller
  • Sand paper
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About the Author

Lisa East Hunter is a consultant and freelance writer in Phoenix. Her background in marketing and technology led her to explore all avenues of writing. She is currently dividing her time between freelance writing and her consulting business. Hunter has a Bachelor of Science in management information systems and marketing.