How to Paint and Varnish Wooden Floors

A wooden floor makes an attractive feature in itself, but it can take on a whole new dimension when you experiment with colorful paints, stains, waxes and varnishes. Bare floorboards in pristine condition cry out for innovative treatment. If you prefer traditional treatments, look at oak, mahogany, or beech stains coupled with varnish or a clear wax finish.

Essential preparation
Prepare the surface by vacuuming up all traces of dust, then clean the boards with a lint-free cloth moistened with white spirit (paint thinner). If the boards are already painted or varnished, the floor will need sanding. A hardboard floor will look more attractive with a painted finish. Use a primer first, then apply two coats of paint. Allow each to dry thoroughly, sand lightly and finish off with two coats of varnish.

Wooden Floors

Wooden Floors

The most important rule when treating a floor is not to paint yourself into a corner. Start at the corner farthest from the door, then work back toward the doorway so that you can make a safe exit while the floor dries.

Limed boards
Liming is an easy technique and a good one for beginners to try. It can be used ill conjunction with colorwashing – the colorwash goes on first, then the liming paste – to produce an effect known as pickling.

Strip back any worn or grimy floorboards and apply a coat of shellac to seal the wood. Allow the shellac to dry, then use a wire brush to expose the grains and provide a good surface for the liming paste.

For a very attractive finish, try using pastel shades such as pale green or blue for the background color.

Wood dyes
For modern schemes, consider colorful wood dyes. These must be applied to a clean, sound, grease-free surface. If the preparation is not thorough, the result will be patchy and unattractive. Wood dyes penetrate deep into timber, but they do not provide a protective surface and must be sealed after application.

It is advisable to test the dye on a similar piece of wood before you start work on the floor as the dye will give varying results on different woods and can change significantly as fresh coats are applied. Finish the test with a coat of varnish.

If you are happy with the finish, apply the dye with a 100mm (4in) brush in the direction of the grain, working rapidly so that hard edges do not spoil the effect. Alternatively, you could use a soft cloth.

Wood stains
These do have a protective function and come in a wide choice of colors, in water- and solvent-based versions. The former dry more quickly, but this may not be an advantage when covering large areas, as patchy sections could develop. When staining a newly stripped floor, seal the surface with a thinned polyurethane varnish first.

Use a brush to apply up to three coats of stain, using the product sparingly and working with the grain. If, at some point in the future, you wish to over-paint a stained floor, you will need to strip the surface back to bare wood, then apply a primer and undercoat.

Floor paints
Specially formulated floor paints give a particularly durable finish, but m practice, many ordinary paints will suffice. The latter will need one or two coats of varnish to protect the surface. Although paint will conceal the natural grain of the wood, it can produce an attractive, hardwearing finish, which requires less preparation time as floors do not need to be stripped back to bare wood, although they must be clean and grease-free.

These are available in oil- and water-based versions, and in satin, gloss and matt (flat) finishes. Colored varieties, a mixture of stain and varnish, give you the option of transforming pale floorboards into a rich spectrum of colors, ranging from light honey pine to deep mahogany.

If you are applying a solvent-based product, ensure that the room is well ventilated. Stir the varnish well and use a wide brush to apply it. Apply a minimum of three coats. Rub the floor down with a fine abrasive paper before applying the final coat of varnish. On the minus side, varnish will crack with time. Every two or three years, you will need to sand the floor back to bare wood and treat the boards again.

Practical tips

– Colors that work well in wood washes and stains include yellow ochre, blue, Indian red, violet cream and pale green.
– If you use a solution of artist’s oil paint and white spirit (paint thinner) to make up a thin wash, make sure you only use a small amount of oil paint, as the pigment produces intensely strong colors.

This post was written by Tom, who is the owner of the best vacuum cleaners 2016 blog.

Dec 16th, 2015 | Posted in Home Improvement
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