How to Paint Hardwood Floors No Sanding Required

How to Paint Hardwood Floors No Sanding Required

How can I change the color of my hardwood floors without sanding?

The best way to refinish wood floors without sanding is to use a technique called screen and recoat. This involves scuffing up the finish with a floor buffer and applying a refresher coat of finish.

How do you finish hardwood floors without sanding?

3 Approaches to Refinishing Hardwood Floors Without Sanding Use a store-bought chemical abrasion kit. Buff and recoat floors with polyurethane. Use a revitalizer.


Rule Number One No Thickly Painted Floors

Painted floors wear better and longer when your paint is thin. Never apply thick paint to floorboards – its easy to do when you are in a hurry but it won’t last.

The reason thinly painted floors wear slower is because they dry harder.

3. Save your back by using a floor buffer

If it’s finished wood floors you’re painting, you’ll need to sand and prime. It can be backbreaking work if you’re on your hands and knees with sandpaper—or even an orbital sander. Save your back and rent a floor buffer from the hardware store.

Hardwood floor painting FAQs

Sanding before you start will help the paint adhere more evenly.
krisanapong detraphiphat/Getty Images

If you’ve decided you’re willing to dedicate the time, dedication, and commitment needed to paint hardwood floors, then there are some things to keep in mind as you go forth into your project. 

Will I need to sand the floors?

Some floors might have a finish meant to help protect from scratches, scuffs, spills, and water damage. If the floors have a wax or peeling finish, which helps make wood floors more durable, Varano says you’ll need to at least do a light sand to remove it before you begin painting. Micetich and Varano recommend renting a mechanical sander (along with a few different grit papers for the sander) to get the job done quicker and more efficiently.

Once you’ve finished, vacuum the dust and thoroughly clean the area before painting. Varano recommends using a professional-grade hardwood floor cleaner and a buffer with a maroon pad that will also help strip the floors, and remove any dirt, grease, and films on the floor.

What materials should I use?

Generally, you’ll want to have on hand a large paint roller, a cutting brush to get any edges or corners of the floor, primer, plenty of paint in your desired color, a finish, and an anti-slip topcoat. 

When it comes to the primer, which will help fill in any especially raw areas of the floor before you start painting, Varano says you should tint it to the color of the paint you’ve chosen (which can easily be done by the paint store). 

Varano typically recommends water-based paint, which contains fewer chemicals than oil-based paint and is the paint more standard for indoor projects.  

Layering on an anti-slip polyurethane as the final coat will also help to ensure safety and a bit more longevity.

How many coats will I need?

The final amount of coats you apply will depend on the starting color of your floors and the paint color you’ve chosen — the darker the wood, the more paint you’ll need to apply, especially if you’re using a lighter color paint. Micetich says to use at least three to five coats.

What’s the long-term maintenance?

No matter how many coats of paint you apply, the finish you use, or if you add an anti-slip coating, painted floors will still pick up a fair bit of wear and tear over time and you’ll begin to notice imperfections. Micetich says you should retouch painted hardwood floors at least once a year and possibly more if the paint chips very easily.

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6. They’re endlessly customizable

Then again, painted floors needn’t be solid. Use painter’s tape to create checkerboards, patterns, borders, or painted “rugs.” You can also delineate space by painting areas in different hues. Have a long, narrow space? Make it seem wider by painting horizontal stripes. You get the idea: you can customize your floors completely.

 Above: Photograph from DIY: New England Spatter-P
Above: Photograph from DIY: New England Spatter-Painted Floors.

Should You Use a Primer On Your Wooden Floors Before Painting?

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to applying a “primer” to wood floors, especially when you are using paint. Let me help you understand this clearly and hopefully you can share this with your friends.

Simply put, if your floor still has its previous coating and there is no bare wood exposed, you don’t need to use a primer. On the flip side, if wear and tear that has stripped away parts of the previous finish, you need to apply the primer to these areas. This might mean that you need to prime the entire floor but don’t do it unnecessarily.

PRO TIP #7 There are two main types of primer that you should use on hardwood floors – oil-based primer and latex primer. You should always match the type of primer with the type of paint you are using. Also, try matching the primer color with the finishing color that you will use. Doing this (when possible) can potentially save you the time of applying a second or third coat of paint in the end.


  1. Repair and secure damaged wood floor boards.
  2. Remove tack strips, nails and staples from wood floor.
  3. Clean the wood floor before painting.
  4. Prime bare wood floors before painting.
  5. Apply two coats of paint to the wood floor allowing each one to dry in between. 

2. You can incorporate a pattern on your painted floor

If you want to incorporate a pattern or artwork into your home, painting your floors is an inexpensive way to do it!

Many top interior designers love to incorporate this fun look into their designs.

You can create a checkerboard pattern using painter’s tape, inscribe your family’s name on the floor, or add a different personal touch to your space.

 Read more about this house here.The painted wood stairs in our former beach house project. Read more about this house here.

The wood floors (other than the painted stairs) are actually laminate flooring – you can find out more here.


If there are bare spots (areas where there is no finish due to wear), brush or roll them with primer. This is called spot priming. Don’t worry about getting some primer on previously finished areas. In places where the old coating is secure, it’s as good as primer (as long as it has been lightly sanded). If the floor was never finished (in an attic, for example), apply a coat of primer over the entire surface.

You may save yourself from having to apply a second top coat by asking the paint supplier to tint your primer to a tone that matches the top coat. My preferred primer for just about everything is Zinssers’ BIN (view on Amazon), an alcohol-based, pigmented shellac primer-sealer (doesn’t stink, dries fast, and sticks to everything), but you should check with the manufacturer of the top-coat paint you’ll be using for its priming recommendations.

4. It’s easy to maintain

High-traffic areas with a lot of foot traffic, like beach houses or hallways that see a lot of wear and tear can be tough to keep in good shape and looking nice.

However, a fresh coat of paint (along with a clear top coat of polyurethane to seal it in) is relatively easy and inexpensive to apply to keep your floors looking new.

Painting your floors is a great option if you find yourself hesitant to spend money on an area where you know the work won’t look nice long term.

Some Popular Paint Colors and Styles For Wood Floors

While the color choice is completely up to you, check out this Pinterest board on wood painted floors for some ideas. It’s important that the paint color of your wood floors match your various interior design elements. While it is possible to start over, that won’t be necessary if you spend some time doing some research beforehand. This can actually be rather fun, especially if you do it with your significant other or a friend.

If you have a dark wooden floor and want to keep the natural wood look, get a paint that matches the same color to make them look brand new.If you are feeling creative, you can add checkered designs and other patterns on your top coat of paint.If you use vertical stripes, it can a kitchen, bedroom or even a bathroom look longer.You can also use different colors to draw attention to specific elements in the room (such as furniture).Diamond shapes can even make a room look larger than it actually is. The sky is the limit.

Rule Three Choosing Your Floor Paint Colors

Source: pinterest

Source: pinterest

Make choosing a floor paint color easy by following these simple rules.

  1. Choose your paint color as if you were choosing carpet colors.
  2. Choose a paint color that goes with your home decor. If your home decor is classic or vintage choose a paint color that will compliment, not clash, with it. The painted floors below make a real statement. This hallway has little to compete with, so is prefect for this colonial hallway.
  3. Dark colors show dirt, scuff and wear and tear more easily. Dark colors also darken a room, absorbing light.
  4. Darker colors make rooms look smaller and heavier. Lighter colors make rooms feel bigger and brighter.
  5. White remains one of the most popular paint colors, because it ages well, goes with almost any home decor and there are so many shades of white from cool to warm colors to match any decor style.

Source: via Melissa on Pinteres

Source: via Melissa on Pinterest

Precautionary Words

1. I’m not sure how these painted wood floors would hold up to dog/cat nails. If you keep their nails really trimmed so you can’t hear them on the floor, then my assumption would be it should be fine…but you know what they say about assuming 😉

2. We do not allow shoes in the house…especially shoes with black soles…that would be a recipe for scuffs all over the place. Granted, they’d probably come off, but I don’t really want to find out.

3. You DEFINITELY see more dirt when your floors are white. Personally, that doesn’t bother me. I’d rather know it’s there so I can clean it up rather than living in filth unknowingly. But I may be in the minority on that front.

4. We put furniture pads on the bottom of ANY piece of furniture being used on this surface. Better safe than sorry. And on that front, we’ve been through numerous styles/types at this point and this kind is currently our fave type of furniture pad.

5. We definitely vacuum and sweep this floor all the time, and so far, no marks or scratches from that.

6. I do NOT expect this paint job to last forever. If I had to guess? I’ll probably want to re-paint in about 3 years. THAT SAID, I thought our painted stairs wouldn’t hold up, and they are going on 5 years, and look as good today as they did when they were first painted! Same can be said for our painted floor rug!


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