How to Paint a Floor
What you'll need:
Here's everything you'll need to get it right the first time.
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) or substitute
  • A painter's hat, goggles and dust mask
  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • Cloth or plastic drop cloths
  • Painter's tape (narrow and wide)
  • Plastic bags (large and small)
  • Newspapers, cardboard
  • Rollers in widths and fabrics for the surface and finish you choose
  • Paint trays and liners
  • Extension poles
  • Buckets, cans and jars
  • Stir sticks
You may also want:
  • Lightweight patching compound
  • Wide-blade scraper
  • Putty knife
  • Edge pads
  • Sponge mop
  • Sandpaper—medium and fine grit
  • Sand sponge for trim and moulding

Add a bit of flair to an interior floor with paint specially formulated to handle foot traffic.
Step 1—Is Your Floor Suitable for Paint?

We recommend a porch and floor paint for your interior project. Available in oil-based or latex formulas, oil-based floor paint will produce a harder, more durable finish than latex; however, check with your local council for any oil-based paint restrictions in your region.

Latex produces less odour and can be easily cleaned with soap and water, thereby making it the popular choice.

What kind of flooring do you want to paint?

  • Existing hardwood floors can be painted, but we recommend you test them first to ensure compatibility. Use a sample slat or paint a small section in an inconspicuous area.
  • Interior concrete will accept either oil-based or latex floor paint. First, conduct a test for porosity to determine if there is a sealer or wax coating and a test for moisture if the area is subject to seepage or damp conditions. Paint should not be applied to areas that collect water.

    Test for porosity:

    To determine if your concrete is suitable for coating and preparation, conduct a porosity test by sprinkling a few beads of water onto the surface; if it soaks into the concrete, you're ready to begin. If not, it is likely your surface has a coating, which will need to be stripped away before you apply paint. You can find a coating stripper at your local home improvement center. Thoroughly remove the existing coating before you begin this project, following all manufacturer instructions. Make sure the area is well ventilated.

    Test for moisture:

    The presence of excess moisture in concrete can inhibit a coating's ability to penetrate the surface. Do not apply paint to concrete areas with moisture coming from within the surface. You can test for moisture by taping a 2' x 2' piece of plastic wrap to the concrete using duct tape on all edges. Allow the plastic to sit for 24 hours. If water droplets appear on the underside of the plastic, or if the concrete is damp, the surface contains excess moisture and should not be painted. Moisture problems must be corrected before coating.

  • Laminate floors such as simulated wood floor products, linoleum or vinyl flooring may or may not accept paint—generally, we don't recommend you paint them. If you do, oil-based floor paint is recommended, but test in an inconspicuous area first.
  • Existing floor finishes—especially older varieties of lacquer, shellac and certain varnishes need to be tested for compatibility, because they could cause reactions with paint. If wrinkling, bubbling or lifting occurs, you'll need to remove the finish before you apply paint.

    NOTE: Once you've painted your floor, clear protective coatings and sealers are not recommended. Floor paints are formulated to be left uncovered. Application of a clear product on top of floor paint may create inter-coat or adhesion problems.

Plan your interior project when you can properly ventilate the area—during warm weather months.

Step 2—Prepare your Floors

After you have conducted the appropriate tests and received satisfactory results, prepare your surface for paint.

Scuff sand your hardwood, laminate or painted floor using 120-150 grit paper to ensure adhesion of the paint. Remove dust with a vacuum and then clean floors with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or substitute and water to remove any contaminants. Allow to dry.

Important: If you will be removing paint that was applied prior to 1960, it probably contains lead.

Removal of Lead-Based Paint

There are several steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead.

  1. Have the painted item replaced.
  2. Have professionals trained in removing lead-based paint do the work.
  3. Each of the following paint removal methods can produce lead fumes or dust that can be inhaled or ingested. The wet method generates the least amount of airborne fumes and dust.

    • Wire brushing or wet hand scraping with the aid of a nonflammable solvent or abrasive compound. Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and warning labels before purchasing and using. It is important to use personal protective equipment (such as gloves, safety glasses and disposable coveralls) when using some paint removers.
    • Wet hand sanding and/or power sanding with HEPA filters. Only wet hand sanding and/or an electric sander equipped with a HEPA-filtered vacuum attachment should be used. Dry hand sanding should never be done.
    • Heat stripping, using a low temperature heat gun followed by hand scraping. Heat guns pose a fire hazard and can create dust and vapours, so they should be used only by experienced workers wearing respirators.

    The following methods of paint removal are hazardous (and in some communities illegal) and should NOT be used:

    • Open flame burning or torching
    • Machine sanding or grinding without a HEPA attachment
    • Abrasive blasting or sandblasting
    • Power washing without a method to trap water and paint chips

    Waste should be disposed of properly, per local government ordinance.

Step 3—Select Your Colour Palette

Valspar® porch and floor enamel paints are available in over a 1,000 colours. See your store sales associate for options.

Valspar offers a variety of online tools and resources, including help with estimating the amount of paint you'll need to get the job finished.

Step 4—Choose a Paint Finish

There are two types of porch and floor paints—oil-based enamel and latex enamel. Oil-based enamel delivers a high gloss finish while the latex enamel is available in a low-sheen (no-glare) or gloss finish.

Check with your local council on the use of oil-based paints in your region.

NOTE: In most cases, you do not need a primer with porch and floor paint products due to the high binder content in the formulation. This is why many of them are considered self-priming.

TIP: If your current coating is oil-based paint, you can recoat it with a latex porch and floor paint if the current surface is in sound and solid condition. Roughen the surface first using 120 grit sandpaper and then thoroughly clean it with TSP or substitute. Avoid recoating in full sun or in temperatures below50° F or above 85° F.

Note: Avoid covering a latex painted floor with an oil-based coating.

Step 5—Prepare Floor

Move any furniture, boxes or floor coverings away from the area. Keep children and pets away while you paint.

Use a scraper to remove any flaking paint. Make sure to wear goggles to prevent paint chips from getting into your eyes, a dust mask to prevent them from getting into your mouth and gloves to protect your hands. Clear away debris from any holes or cracks with a dry paintbrush or a vacuum with a brush attachment.

Clean your surface with a solution of TSP (or substitute) and water to lift any surface dirt and debris. Rinse and let dry before you begin painting.

If you are creating a pattern on the floor, tape off the design using removable painter's tape.

Step 6—Paint the Surface

Using a roller affixed to an extension pole, glide the paint in one direction, moving quickly to maintain your wet edge and avoid excess pressure. A 3/8" medium cover works well for most applications.

TIP: For easy cleanup, line your roller tray with a roller tray liner.

Check your product label for drying times. Remember not to put anything on the floor until the paint is completely dry, at least 72 hours.

Need tips on loading a roller?

Loading a Roller
First, dampen the roller. Use a thinner for alkali-based paint and tap water for latex. Roll off any excess. Fill the tray about halfway and lower the roller into the middle of the tray. Roll up and down the slope of the pan to saturate the roller and roll off any excess. Be careful not to overload the roller to avoid drips, runs and spatter.

How about loading a brush?

Loading a Brush
For latex paint, moisten the brush with water and squeeze out excess liquid. Dip the brush into the paint, inserting no more than two-thirds of the bristles. Move the brush around a bit to saturate it with paint. Pull the brush up and let the excess paint drip off—avoid overloading because it leads to drips, runs and spatter, even with the best paint. You can remove the excess paint by wiping the bristles against the edge of the paint can.

Step 7—Clean and Be Green

More painting to do tomorrow with the same colour? You don't have to clean brushes and rollers when you take a break. Wrap them in sealed plastic to stay moist until you are ready to paint again.

TIP: If paint has hardened on the handle or along the edge of the bristles, soften it with warm water so that you can remove it before you begin to paint. Make sure you dry the brush before you dip it.

Project finished? Don't throw away the rollers and brushes. With proper cleaning and storage, good painting tools can be reused many times. Reusing them saves you time and money and also helps the environment because you're generating less waste.

Cleaning Rollers
To remove excess paint, scrape the tool thoroughly or wipe it across cardboard or newspaper.

If you are removing latex paint, partially fill a sink with warm water and roll the applicator back and forth. You can also remove paint in a bucket of water. If necessary, add detergent to remove partially dried material. Rinse the roller until the water is clear. Let dry. For oil-based paint, roll the applicator in a paint tray containing mineral spirits (petroleum distillate) or paint thinner. Next, wash the roller in soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and let dry.

Spin the roller to release excess moisture and, when dry, place in a clean plastic bag (food storage bags work great).

Cleaning Paintbrushes
To remove excess paint, scrape the tool thoroughly or wipe it across cardboard or newspaper.

If you used latex paint, remove the excess paint in a bucket or container while the paint is still wet. It is much more difficult to remove dried paint with soap and water—if necessary, use a brush comb to remove it. Wash off the remaining paint under running water.

Oil-based paint should be removed in a bucket or container with mineral spirits (petroleum distillate), rinsed in tap water and then washed with soapy water. Rinse the brush until the water runs clear.

DANGER: Rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste soaked with oil-based products may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after each use, place rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste in a sealed, water-filled metal container.

Moist paintbrushes can be wrapped in wax paper and sealed with a rubber band or aluminium foil to retain their shape. Hang the brush by the handle to maintain straight bristles and proper shape.

Storing Paint
An important step in planning your painting job is determining how you are going to store or dispose of your paint when your project is completed. You'll want to protect your immediate environment and heed any local ordinances.

Valspar offers a number of easy and earth-friendly answers to the question, "What do I do with the leftover paint?"

Use it Up
If usable latex paint is left over after the project is finished, you can:

  • Use it for touching up your work or store it away for future fixes.
  • Mix small amounts of paint together and use it as an undercoat for future jobs.
  • Donate paint to charities, church groups, community groups, theatre groups, schools or your neighbour.
  • Contact your local recycling center to see if the cans and lids can be recycled.

Never place liquid paint in the rubbish or pour it down the drain.

Store It
Prepare your paint for storage: Label the paint can lid with the colour and location where the paint was used. To properly store your paint, make sure you tightly seal the can. First, wipe away any excess paint from the rim. Then cover the can opening with plastic wrap. Put the lid securely in place and tap it down with a mallet. Store the can upside down. If the can is leaking, place it in a leakproof container.

Store paint where temperatures are moderate. Temperature extremes can negatively affect paint and make it unusable. Never allow paint to freeze.

Quick-reference your stored cans by brushing a small amount of paint onto the outside surface (body of can or lid) and writing the colour name and number in permanent ink. You can also identify the room or wall that was painted with that colour.

You may also want to create and save a file on your computer of the paints you have placed in storage; that way, if someone tosses it by mistake you still have the information at your fingertips.

Keep paint in a safe location, away from children and pets.

Paint Disposal
Proper paint disposal contributes to a more efficient use of our landfills and, ultimately, safer groundwater and soil. We recommend the following tips:

  • Check local ordinances and waste hauler regulations.
  • Read paint can instructions for proper disposal.
  • Get rid of properly dried latex paint in your regular household rubbish; however,
    • Cans with leftover paint should be left open so that the paint dries before disposal; make sure you place the drying cans in a properly ventilated area. Cans with less than a quarter of the paint remaining will require a few days of drying time; cans with larger amounts will take longer, about a week. You can also add shredded newspaper, sand, sawdust, cat litter or solidifier to the paint, which will absorb the excess liquid. These materials also work well in stopping paint spills from spreading on most surfaces.
    • Another solution is to punch holes in the top of the can and then place it in a dry area for a couple of weeks.
    • When the cans are ready to be thrown out, make sure the lids have been removed to let waste haulers know the paint is dry.

NOTE: Oil-based paints, varnish and paint thinners are generally considered hazardous waste. Check with your local council about any local ordinances and read label instructions before disposal—another good reason why you never want to spill paint on the back of your paint can label. Only dispose through your locally designated household hazardous waste program.

The Valspar Corporation takes environmental sustainability and responsibility seriously. For instance, we're doing our part both in how we formulate and how we manufacture our paints. Valspar paint and primer products displaying the Clean Air Formula™ logo means that they are low odour and low VOC. Low VOC denotes less than 50 grams of VOC per litre. In addition, we have saved over a million gallons of water usage in our latex plant operations through optimisation and reuse programs.

Step 8—Celebrate

Congratulations! You have successfully transformed your floor.

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