What You Should Know About Painting Floors

Person painting wooden floor

Here’s what you should know about painting floors: it’s more challenging than painting walls. You’ll need durable paint, a steady hand, and patience. This could transform your space, but prep work is key to long-lasting results.

Why Paint Your Floor?

Black painted surface
Photo Credit: Solo Shutter / StockSnap / CC0 1.0

Paint makes an impact in any room, but on a floor, it’s even more dramatic. Going the extra mile and painting the floor gives you something uniquely your own. Here are a few of the advantages:

Aesthetic Appeal

  • Revitalizes Old Floors: Over time, floors can wear out and lose their original luster. Painting can breathe new life into them, making them look brand new.
  • Personalizes Living Space: Painting allows homeowners to infuse their personal style and preferences into their living space. From bold colors to intricate patterns, the possibilities are endless.


  • Shields Against Elements: Painted floors are more resistant to water, dust, and other external elements. This is especially beneficial in areas prone to moisture, such as basements.
  • Resist Wear: High-traffic areas can benefit from painted floors as the paint provides an additional layer of protection against daily wear and tear.


  • Budget-Friendly Makeover: Painting is often cheaper than other renovations, like installing new flooring or tiles. For example, garage floor painting costs $1.80 to $3.60 per linear foot, while new flooring costs $3 to $21 per square foot. Paint offers a significant visual impact without breaking the bank.
  • Increases Property Value: A well-painted floor can enhance the overall appeal of a property, potentially increasing its market value.

The Challenge with Painted Floors

Painting floors, while offering a refreshing change in aesthetics, presents unique challenges that you don’t get with other painted surfaces:

  • High Traffic: Floors are constantly subjected to foot traffic. This continuous wear can lead to quicker degradation of the paint, resulting in scuffs, chips, and fading.
  • Heavy Objects: Floors often bear the weight of furniture, appliances, and other heavy objects. These can cause dents, scratches, or even gouges, especially if moved without proper protection. The paint underneath can easily get damaged or scraped off.
  • Spills and Stains: Gravity is a real thing, so floors are ground zero for spills, be it food, drinks, or chemicals. These spills can stain or eat away at certain paints.
  • Temperature and Humidity Fluctuations: Especially in areas without climate control, the expansion and contraction of floor materials from temperature and humidity changes can affect the integrity of the paint.
  • Substrate Variability: The underlying material of the floor, whether it’s wood, concrete, or tile, can influence how paint adheres to it. Some materials might be more porous, while others could have a smoother surface that paints struggles to stick to.

Types of Floors and Their Affinity for Paint

Wood floor painted white with furniture and rug on it
Photo Credit: Nicolás Boullosa / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Floors are composed of various materials that react differently to paint. Here’s a look at each material:

  • Wood Floors: Wood’s natural texture holds onto paint quite well. But remember, moisture is its nemesis. Ensure it’s well-sealed.
  • Tile Floors: Their shiny finish means paint might need a bit more coaxing to stick. But with the right primer paint and a dash of determination, they can be transformed beautifully.
  • Concrete Floors: They’re porous, which means they soak up paint well. Just ensure they’re clean and free from any moisture.
  • Vinyl and Linoleum Floors: Their non-porous nature can make painting a challenge. However, with a good primer and the right paint, they can pop and lock in a fresh new look.
  • Laminate Floors: Painting them requires a bit of finesse since their surface is designed to repel stains (and, unfortunately, paint too). A thorough sanding and a bonding primer can make the paint adhere better.
  • Natural Stone Floors (marble or granite): Their natural patterns are beautiful, so if you’re painting, consider a translucent stain to let that natural beauty shine through.
  • Cork Floors: The spongy nature of cork absorbs paint well, but it’s essential to seal these floors afterward to maintain their resilience.

Choosing the Right Paint for Different Floor Types

When it comes to painting floors, selecting the right type of paint for each floor type makes all the difference. Using the wrong paint can lead to chipping, peeling, and other unwanted problems. Here’s a deeper dive into the options:

Epoxy Paint

A garage floor with epoxy paint partially applied
Photo Credit: Brian Hart / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Epoxy paint is a two-component product: one part epoxy resin and one part polyamine hardener. When mixed together, they undergo a chemical reaction, resulting in a hard, durable surface. This paint is known for its robust nature, making it a favorite for areas that see heavy use. Check out our dedicated guide on epoxy floor paint application if you want to use it.

Best For: Garages, stone floors, workshops, industrial spaces, and basements.


  • Durability: Known for its long-lasting properties, epoxy can withstand heavy foot traffic and resist chipping.
  • Chemical Resistance: Perfect for areas where chemical spills might occur, such as workshops.
  • Finish: Dries to a glossy finish, giving floors a polished look.
  • Water Resistance: Prevents moisture penetration, making it ideal for damp areas.

Porch and Floor Enamel

Porch and floor enamel is a versatile paint designed to protect and beautify both wood and concrete surfaces. Its unique formulation ensures it adheres well and resists the wear and tear typical of floors, making it a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Best For: Wooden floors, porches, and patios, laminate, vinyl, and linoleum.


  • Versatility: Designed to adhere to a variety of surfaces.
  • UV Resistance: Protects against the fading effects of sunlight.
  • Finish Options: Ranges from matte to glossy, allowing for customization.
  • Wear Resistance: Formulated to resist daily wear and tear, making it ideal for high-traffic areas.

Concrete Stain

Concrete stain on a basement floor
Photo Credit: Decorative Concrete Kingdom / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Concrete stain is not your typical paint. Instead of forming a layer on top of the surface, it penetrates the concrete, reacting chemically with it. This results in a translucent color that showcases the unique characteristics of the concrete, giving it a rich, mottled finish.

Best For: Concrete floors, both interior and exterior, and stone floors.


  • Translucency: Offers a unique finish where the natural texture of the concrete is visible but with added color.
  • Penetration: Rather than sitting on the surface, concrete stains penetrate, reducing the chances of peeling.
  • UV Resistance: Protects against the harmful effects of sunlight.

Latex Floor Paint

Latex floor paint is a water-based paint that’s known for its ease of application and flexibility. Its quick-drying nature and resistance to yellowing over time make it a preferred choice for many homeowners.

Its environmentally friendly properties, such as low VOC content, make it a safer option for indoor use.

Best For: Both wooden and concrete indoor floors, vinyl, linoleum, and cork floors.


  • Quick Drying: Dries faster than its oil-based counterparts.
  • Flexibility: Less prone to cracking, especially on wooden surfaces that might flex or shift.
  • Easy Cleanup: Being water-based, cleanup is a breeze with just soap and water.

Acrylic Latex Paint

Acrylic latex paint is a versatile option that combines the durability of acrylic with the easy cleanup of latex. It’s known for its flexibility, making it less prone to cracking on surfaces that might expand or contract.

Best For: Vinyl and linoleum floors.


  • Adhesion: Acrylic latex adheres well to vinyl and linoleum, ensuring a smooth finish.
  • Flexibility: Perfect for floors that might have slight movements. This paint won’t crack under pressure.
  • Easy Cleanup: Being water-based, you can bid goodbye to stubborn paint stains with just soap and water.
  • Eco-Friendly: With lower VOC content, it’s a breath of fresh air, quite literally, for indoor spaces.

Stone Floor Sealers

While not traditional paint, sealers for natural stone floors like marble or granite enhance the stone’s natural beauty while providing protection. They come in both glossy and matte finishes.

Best For: Natural stone floors (marble, granite).


  • Enhancement: Amplifies the natural patterns and colors of the stone.
  • Protection: Shields against spills, stains, and minor scratches.
  • UV Resistance: Protects the stone from fading due to sunlight exposure.
  • Wear Resistance: Formulated to resist daily wear, ensuring the stone’s longevity.

Cork Floor Finish

Cork floors have a unique texture and require a specialized finish to maintain their natural look while offering protection. Water-based polyurethane is often the go-to choice.

Best For: Cork floors.


  • Natural Look: Enhances the cork’s texture without overshadowing its natural beauty.
  • Durability: Provides a protective layer against daily wear and tear.
  • Water Resistance: Shields the cork from moisture, preventing it from swelling or warping.
  • Non-Yellowing: Ensures the cork retains its original color over time.

Laminate Floor Sealant

Laminate floors, with their multi-layered structure, benefit from a sealant rather than traditional paint. This sealant provides a protective topcoat without altering the floor’s appearance.

Best For: Laminate floors.


  • Protection: Offers a shield against scuffs, scratches, and minor dings.
  • Transparency: Retains the original design and color of the laminate.
  • UV Resistance: Ensures the floor remains fade-resistant, even with sun exposure.
  • Easy Application: Designed for DIY enthusiasts, it’s easy to apply and dries quickly.

Prepping the Floor for Painting

A mop cleaning a wood floor
Photo Credit: Michal Jarmoluk / StockSnap / CC0 1.0

The success of your painted floor largely depends on the prep work. Different floors have their quirks, so let’s break down the prep steps tailored to each type.

Hardwood Floors

  • Cleaning: Start by sweeping away dust and mopping up any grime. For older wood, consider a wood cleaner to remove old residues.
  • Sanding: Lightly sand the surface to remove any old finish and to roughen up the glossy surfaces. This ensures better paint adherence. Check out our wood sanding guide for tips, tricks, and tools.
  • Priming: Use a wood primer to seal the wood and provide a base for the paint. This step is crucial to prevent the wood from absorbing too much paint.

Tile Floors

  • Cleaning: Tiles often have a layer of grime or wax. Use a tile cleaner to ensure the surface is spotless.
  • Sanding: Lightly sand the tiles to remove the sheen. This creates a better surface for the paint to adhere to.
  • Priming: A bonding primer will ensure the paint sticks to the tiles and doesn’t peel off.

Concrete Floors

  • Cleaning: Remove any grease or oil spots. A good scrub with a concrete cleaner can work wonders.
  • Etching: For new concrete floors, an etching solution will help open up the pores of the concrete, allowing the paint to adhere better.
  • Priming: Use a concrete primer to seal the floor and prevent moisture from seeping through.

Vinyl and Linoleum Floors

  • Cleaning: A thorough wash with a pH-neutral cleaner will remove any residues.
  • Sanding: Light sanding will help roughen up the surface, ensuring better paint adherence.
  • Priming: A high-adhesion primer is essential for these types of floors to ensure the paint sticks and lasts.

Laminate Floors

  • Cleaning: Begin with a thorough sweep followed by mopping with a laminate floor cleaner to remove any residues.
  • Sanding: Gently sand the laminate surface to remove its glossy finish, ensuring better paint adherence.
  • Priming: Use a bonding primer specifically designed for non-porous surfaces to ensure the paint adheres well to the laminate.

Natural Stone Floors

  • Cleaning: Clean the surface with a stone cleaner to remove any dirt or residues without damaging the stone.
  • Sanding: Lightly sand the surface to enhance paint adherence. Be gentle to avoid scratching the stone.
  • Priming: Use a stone-specific primer to ensure the paint adheres well and lasts longer.

Cork Floors

  • Cleaning: Vacuum or sweep the cork floor to remove any dust or debris. Use a damp mop with a mild detergent for a deeper clean.
  • Sanding: Lightly sand the cork surface to ensure the paint adheres well.
  • Priming: Apply a primer suitable for cork to seal it and provide a base for the paint.

Maintenance and Care for Painted Floors

Hand applying a felt pad to a chair leg
Photo Credit: Marina / Adobe Stock / License

Whether it’s the daily hustle and bustle or the occasional mishap, here’s how to keep each floor type looking its best.

Wooden Floors

  • Regular Cleaning: Use a soft broom or vacuum to remove dust. When mopping, use a damp mop and avoid excessive water.
  • Protective Measures: Use felt pads under furniture legs to prevent scratches. Avoid wearing high heels or cleats.
  • Touch-Ups: If you notice any chips or scratches, touch up with the same paint and finish to keep the floor looking fresh.

Tile Floors

  • Regular Cleaning: Wipe up spills immediately. Use a mild cleaner and avoid abrasive tools.
  • Protective Measures: Place mats at entrances to catch dirt and grit. Avoid dragging heavy objects across the floor.
  • Touch-Ups: For chipped or scratched tiles, touch up with the same paint. Consider sealing the tiles to protect against moisture and stains.

Concrete Floors

  • Regular Cleaning: Sweep or vacuum regularly. For deeper cleaning, use a concrete floor cleaner.
  • Protective Measures: Use protective mats in high-traffic areas. Clean up spills immediately to prevent staining.
  • Touch-Ups: If the paint starts to wear in places, consider a fresh coat or touch-ups as needed.

Vinyl and Linoleum Floors

  • Regular Cleaning: Use a soft broom or vacuum. When mopping, use a cleaner designed for vinyl or linoleum.
  • Protective Measures: Place non-slip mats in high-traffic areas. Use felt pads under furniture legs.
  • Touch-Ups: Due to their flexible nature, these floors might show wear faster. Touch up with paint as needed, and consider a sealant for added protection.

Laminate Floors

  • Regular Cleaning: Use a soft broom or vacuum. For mopping, opt for a gentle laminate cleaner.
  • Protective Measures: Place protective mats in high-traffic areas. Use felt pads under furniture legs to prevent scratches.
  • Touch-Ups: Laminate can be sensitive to moisture. Address any chips or peeling areas promptly with touch-up paint.

Natural Stone Floors

  • Regular Cleaning: Wipe up spills immediately to prevent staining. Use a stone cleaner for regular maintenance.
  • Protective Measures: Place mats at entrances to catch dirt and grit. Use coasters or mats under items that might scratch the surface.
  • Touch-Ups: If the paint gets chipped or scratched, touch up with the same paint. Consider resealing the stone periodically to protect both the stone and the paint.

Cork Floors

  • Regular Cleaning: Sweep or vacuum regularly. Use a mild detergent for deeper cleaning, ensuring the floor dries quickly to prevent water damage.
  • Protective Measures: Place protective mats in high-traffic areas. Cork is soft, so use felt pads under furniture legs to prevent indentations.
  • Touch-Ups: Cork’s spongy nature might show wear over time. Touch up with paint as needed and consider resealing to maintain its resilience.

FAQ About Painting Floors

Can you walk on painted floors?

Yes, you can walk on painted floors. However, it’s important to wait until the paint has fully dried and cured. Walking on them too soon can lead to smudges, scuffs, or damage to the paint. Always refer to the paint manufacturer’s recommendations for drying and curing times.

Does paint last on floors?

With proper preparation and the right type of paint, painted floors can last for several years. However, high-traffic areas might show signs of wear sooner and may require touch-ups or a fresh coat over time.

Can you paint over painted floors?

Yes, you can paint over previously painted floors. Before doing so, it’s essential to ensure that the existing paint is still in good condition and adhering well to the floor. If there are areas where the paint is peeling or chipped, they should be sanded down to create a smooth surface.

Is it easy to paint a floor?

Painting a floor is a straightforward process, but it requires preparation and patience. The actual act of painting isn’t particularly challenging, especially if you have some experience with painting walls or other surfaces.

DIY or Hire a Pro

DIY projects have a charm of their own, don’t they? The joy of creation, the thrill of seeing your vision come to life. But here’s a little nugget of wisdom: don’t shy away from expert advice. Sometimes, a blend of personal touch and professional insight is just what you need to elevate your home decor game. Local painting pros can help you achieve that perfect balance between your dream and reality.

Main Photo Credit: Abigail Batchelder / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Adrian Nita

Adrian Nita, a former marine navigation officer, has transitioned his precision and attention to detail into the world of painting and color. With over four years of writing experience, he brings a unique perspective, specializing in painting techniques and innovative color trends. When not exploring the latest hues and painting techniques, Adrian enjoys annoying his wife with new painting projects in their home.