Floor painters- please advise

16 Replies

So we just moved our first tenant out of our first rental. (We have three rentals now.) After removing all of the carpet and pad due to odor and stains from smoking and cat pee- I refuse to put carpets back in. I discovered hardwoods underneath, but a larger corner of the living room (where you first step into the house) is covered in floor leveler, which was needed at some point in the past where the floor had sunk. There is also a lot of paint on the floors, and the hallway has a lot of glue on it from old peel and stick tiles. I have decided to sand and paint all the hardwood, including where the floor leveler is (I will put a rug by the front door anyway to wipe feet on). So here are my questions for those of you who have painted the flooring of your rentals before.

QUESTION 1: OIL BASED or LATEX BASED? We already bought some latex based Valspar porch and floor paint (satin finish), but it won't be as shiny as if we go with oil based (glossy), and I'm not sure how it will hold up. However, from what I've read the oil based paint takes so long to cure- I don't want to wait too long to get this rented.

QUESTION 2: Best color? We tried Valspar's Fired Earth, which is a nice dark dark brown. (Inspired by this post: http://www.todayshomeowner.com/painting-wood-floors/ )

Not sure if it would show dirt from shoes more easily though.

QUESTION 3: What do you tell your tenants to use to clean it? Just a normal wood floor cleaner?

I would recommend the brown color. Paint the floor and then put a clear lacquer coat over it. I get all my recommendations from Sherwin Williams. Even if I do not buy there paint, they are pros at helping find a solution and quality color and finish. Find someone there who has been around.

With the lacquer, make SURE your get one that is non-yellowing. I painted a wood floor and put on a lacquer with out checking, and it dried yellow. Looks like crap :)

Oils based is always better and more durable, but they do make some good quality latex. I think the key is putting on a nice lacquer after to protect it and make it easier to clean.

BTW, I did my floor a green/grey color, like in your link. I should have done brown. Consider a neutral color so it will appeal to more people if you ever decide to sell.

Good luck

We painted our floor in our NYC apartment and I absolutely loved it! We had white floors, but we lived there ourselves, so not suggesting you do this for a tenant as they would almost definitely ruin white floors :) I did a lot of research on floor paint, and after speaking with a ton of painters, reading posts online, and based on our personal experience of living at the property for 5 years: we decided to use Floor/Porch paint! There are specific paints formulated for hardwood floors, and they are much more durable, long wearing, and way easier to clean. No primer is needed and no top coat is needed...everything is included in the actual paint. I used and loved Benjamin Moore, and would recommend two coats. Even with floor paint, however, you will likely need to repaint after a couple of years, however, I still think it will be way easier to maintain than carpet. Here is what our white floor looked like: http://www.houseofbrinson.com/home/2011/8/25/home-profile-greg-erica-and-oliver.html#.U2XBo61dVDo

I love the look of painted floors, so good luck!

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Oops, one more thing I forgot to include: it's absolutely critical that you let the floor properly dry. I'd say 24 hours at a minimum, but if it were me I would go for 48 (and I'm ridiculously impatient!). The floor will *seem* like it's dry way sooner than that, but it really takes awhile! And if you walk on it too soon, you will totally screw it up, and yep: I speak from experience!

On several of our older homes we've used black floor paint (latex based) then followed it with three coats of oil based Varnathane (which seems to dry faster than the oil based paint). With the high baseboards in these older houses painted a bright white it looks pretty stunning.

Tenants clean the floors with a simple Swiffer type mop.


Thanks for the advice! I think we will stick with the brown we chose in the Valspar latex based floor and porch paint, and put on some kind of clear coat to help protect it.

@Angie B. People seem to usually be horrified whenever I mentioned that I was painting the hardwood floors, however, after seeing it, they all changed their tune! I agree: I wish this would catch on here a bit more as it's so super common in Europe and it really is very striking looking. Show us pics when you're done!

Angie...You would need to cover this with some type of clear coat polyurethane (even if using an oil based paint) to protect them. Two coats are good; three would be better. The "clear" (as opposed to the "satin") really leaves the floors looking great.


@Erica R. Here's a photo- I wish I had taken before photos, the floors were in really bad shape. The clear coat is going on tonight, and the rest of the floor trim will go up later in the week. I really like it. We'll see what people say- I've got several showings on Saturday...

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Updated photo after the clear floor finish and the added floor trim. We had seven showings today- the first lady came through and immediately said, "Well that's something I've never seen before- painted floors!" That made me a bit nervous, but in the end she really liked the place and came back later this afternoon with a completed application. I've since received another completed app and it seemed that most everyone who came through really liked the way it looked. Phew! I think it looks great, but it is nice to know that people can picture themselves living there. :)

Just painted a floor in the dark brown with water based. It is very easy. It does takes 72 hours to dry.

We did one coat but think 2 coats would be better.

I wouldn't try to have the tenants worry about it. It doesn't last that long and you will probably need to redo it when they leave; just hope that is a few years.

The dark brown does show dust so good to take shoes off.

The poly-based (oil) paint lasts much longer than the water-based. Also you can blend it with clear polyurethane if your floors are a "little rough" but not so much to warrant full opaqueness; that way a little grain shows through, which gives it a little nicer appearance (in my opinion).