Do your wood floors look old and dull? Are you ready to paint them and add some new life to your home, but don’t know what type of paint to use?

The best types of paint to use on wood floors are latex or acrylic enamel wood paints. These paints produce very few fumes, are durable, and are eco-friendly. In the past, oil-based paints were recommended but are now banned in many states due to their negative impact on the environment.

Below, you will learn about the ideal types of paint to use on wood floors, the recommended preparatory work before painting, and the painting methods you should use to achieve optimal results!

The Best Types of Paint for Wood Floors

For years, traditional oil-based enamel wood paint was the top choice when painting wood flooring. It is highly durable, so it can withstand a lot of foot traffic without wearing out. It is also stain and scratch-resistant, which are ideal characteristics for floor paints.

However, in 2005 oil-based paints were phased-out in the U.S. because they aren’t environmentally friendly. Oil-based paints release a lot of fumes into the air and require heavy solvents, such as turpentine or paint thinner, to clean them up. 

Today, most paint companies only sell oil-based paints in a quart-size or as “specialty paint.” If you want to use oil-based paint, you’ll need to look up what the regulations are in your state. 

Nowadays, the safer and more popular paint option is latex-based enamel wood paint. Latex-based paints are the way of the future. They are environmentally friendly, release fewer fumes, and can be cleaned up with just soap and water. They also dry much quicker than oil-based paints.

In the past, they were known to be less durable and to produce a duller color than oil-based paints, making people reluctant to use them.

However, latex-based enamel paints have advanced over the years. Now many latex-based paints are extremely durable, don’t yellow over time, and are resistant to peeling, flaking, and blistering. Today, many perform just as well as oil-based paints without the negative environmental impact.

Another great option for your wood floors is acrylic-based enamel wood paint. Acrylic paint is very similar to latex. The main difference between the two is that acrylic paint is chemical-based, while latex paint is water-based. Also, acrylic paints tend to be slightly more durable than latex. Because of this, acrylic paints tend to be more expensive.

Latex-based and acrylic-based enamel wood paints are great options that will make your wood flooring look spectacular in no time!

Best Paint Brands for Wood Floors

Sherwin-Williams’ Porch and Floor Enamel

Sherwin-Williams’ Porch and Floor Enamel is a latex-based paint, so it doesn’t have heavy fumes, and it is very easy to clean up.

Sherwin-Williams’ Porch and Floor enamel is high-quality, yet it is considerably cheaper than other paints of the same caliber. This is a great option if you are on a tight budget.

This paint is also highly dirt-resistant and can handle a lot of foot traffic. It can be tinted to become a variety of deep colors, providing you with tons of color options!

INSL-X Tough Shield Acrylic Floor & Patio Coating

INSL-X Floor and Patio Paint is a highly rated acrylic-based paint that will work well on your wood floor.

This paint is very durable and is built to withstand different weather conditions. It is also resistant to abrasion and can handle a lot of wear and tear.

It comes in three different colors on Amazon, including Gray Pearl, Light Gray, and Tile Red.

KILZ Over Armor Smooth Wood/Concrete Coating

Over Armor is a great option for your wood floors. It is a durable acrylic-based paint that is resistant to cracking and peeling. It is also easy to clean up since it only requires soap and water.

This paint dries very quickly, allowing you to put on a second coat without having to wait for too long. After you are done painting, Kilz Over Armor cures within 72 hours, which is much faster than most other paints!

On Amazon, it comes in Chocolate Brown, Slate Gray, and Redwood.

Varnish for Wood Floors

Polyurethane is the best varnish to apply to your painted wood floors. It will protect and seal your floors from scrapes and general wear and tear.

It works by creating a barrier over the wood flooring, which helps protect the paint and finish. It is fairly resistant to water exposure, high humidity, different temperatures, and fungus or mildew, making it a great varnish for your wood flooring.

Polyurethane requires re-finishing every 10-12 years. You’ll need to sand your floors before you apply a new coat of varnish. This can be a pain, but it’s worth it for the added protection!

How to Prepare Your Wooden Floor for Paint

Follow the steps below to get your floor ready before you start to paint!

Sand the Floor

If you are painting a floor that already has old paint on it, you’ll need to sand it or remove the paint in another way.

If you decide to sand it, you should use 60-grit abrasive paper. Don’t forget to get knee pads and a dust mask to make your sanding experience more comfortable!

When you are finished, sweep and vacuum the floors to get rid of any dust. To remove very fine dust, you may need to use a slightly damp towel or a tack cloth.

Prime the Floor

Some experts recommend doing something called spot priming on your wood floor before you paint. Spot priming means that you’ll only apply the primer to areas where there is no finish. If you don’t have any exposed wood, then you won’t need the primer, and you can move onto the next step.

If you need to add primer, Pro Floor Tips suggests that you sandpaper the primer after it dries to get it ready for paint application. They recommend using 220-grit sandpaper. Remember, you are just trying to slightly roughen the primer, not take it off, so don’t use too much force!

Add Painting Tape

Make sure to add painting tape to protect your moldings and other parts of the room where you don’t want paint. For the best painting experience, check out this ScotchBlue Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape that is available on Amazon. It comes in a variety of different widths and yard lengths, so just pick the one that’s right for you!

Painting the Floor

Cut the Edges

Use a paintbrush to cut into the edges of the room to avoid getting paint on your moldings/walls. Cutting in about 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) from the wall should do the trick!

Apply the Paint

Pour your paint into a paint tray and then roll it onto the floor. Make sure you start away from the exit to “paint yourself out” instead of trapping yourself in the room!

Add Another Coat

Wait 24-48 hours until the first layer dries, then apply another coat.

Seal Floor With Polyurethane

You’ll want to use polyurethane in high-traffic areas, where you expect there will be the most wear and tear. Adding this to your flooring will create an extra layer of protection. For the best results, you should apply at least two layers.

Allow the Paint to Cure

Try to avoid doing too much on your newly painted flooring until it fully cures. Curing usually takes about two weeks, depending on the paint you choose. However, in less ideal conditions, it can take up to 30 days. Follow the curing instructions on the paint can for the best results.

Final Thoughts on Different Types of Paint for Wood Floors

The best type of paint to use on wood floors is latex or acrylic enamel wood paint. It is eco-friendly, durable, and produces fewer fumes than traditional oil paints. While oil-based paints used to be the top choice, they are banned in many states and are bad for your health. Some good latex and acrylic paint options are:

  • Sherwin-Williams’ Porch and Floor Enamel
  • INSL-X Tough Shield Acrylic Floor & Patio Coating
  • KILZ Over Armor Smooth Wood/Concrete Coating

You can apply a polyurethane varnish onto your floors after you paint them for added protection.

Related: How to Clean Unfinished Wood Floors

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