How to Paint Plywood to Look Like Plank Flooring

How to Paint Plywood to Look Like Plank Flooring

Before you begin

Floors in high-traffic areas will wear more quickly.
Peter Cade/Getty Images

Before you head to the hardware store and stock up on rollers, take some time to consider if this project is right for you and your home.

How long will it take?

Painting floors isn’t a quick weekend DIY. When you factor in the time it takes to thoroughly clean and prep your space, the painting, plus the amount of dry time per coat of paint (Micetich recommends at least three to five coats and each should have 12 to 24 hours to dry), it could stretch over quite a few days. Think about if you have that time available and also if you can take the space out of commission for that long.

How much foot traffic does the room get?

The type of room the hardwood floors are in will greatly influence the longevity and durability of the painted floors. If the space sees a lot of foot traffic, like a hallway or playroom, or can get humid, such as a bathroom or laundry room, then you shouldn’t paint the floors. Humidity and moisture will cause the paint to peel, while lots of people walking on the painted floors can result in chipping or discolorations, especially if you’re painting your floors a light color, like white. 

How long will you stay in your home?

“This is a very personalized and customized solution,” Micetich says. And while paint isn’t the most durable on hardwood floors, it’s also really difficult to get rid of once you’ve painted. “It’s not something that is easily undone,” Micetich says. So, if you’re not planning on staying in your home for a long time or if you’re a renter, Micetich says that painting your hardwood floors probably isn’t the home improvement option for you.

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Should I Use Sealant On My Painted Floor?

If you want to make sure that your laminate surface has an excellent floor finish, we recommend using a sealant like polyurethane to prevent water damage. This can help extend the longevity of your painted wood floors since the coating can help minimize the effects of foot traffic in the area. If you’re not using a carpet to protect your laminate wood floor, using a sealant is the best way to go.

Keep in mind that your sealant will depend on the type of floor paint that you use. For example, chalk paint will require a polycrylic sealer since it’s not as durable as latex paint, while porch paint will probably be fine with regular sealant. Sealant can also be used for maintenance since it can absorb plenty of scuffs and scratches on its own – if your floor experiences a visible mark, sometimes just reapplying the layer of sealant is enough to fix it.

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.

7. You can Jackson Pollock your floors

Splatter-painted floors are everywhere in the cottages of Cape Cod. “I don’t know why our Victorian area ancestors started spatter-painting their floors—perhaps they couldn’t afford rugs, or more likely, they didn’t want to constantly beat the sand out of them—but I, for one, am glad they did,” writes Justine, who has splatter-painted floors in her own Cape cottage. “First of all, spatter-painted floors hide a multitude of sins; almost nothing shows up on them. But more important, they are simply beautiful. They’re a wonderful way to add texture and interest while still keeping the overall look minimal and clean.” See how to get the look yourself in DIY: Splatter-Painted Floors.

 Above: Navy floors in A Colonial House in Bellpor
Above: Navy floors in A Colonial House in Bellport with Uncommon Style from French Designer C. S. Valentin. Styling by Alexa Hotz and photography by Jonathan Hökklo for Remodelista.

Insider’s takeaway

Painting hardwood floors is a highly personalized DIY project that might seem simple in execution but actually requires extensive preparation and consideration. Before you start, be sure to account for how long you’re putting a room out of commission to see the project through. Once you reach the painting stage, consider factors such as sanding the floors, the necessary materials, and the number of paint coats needed.

Megan Wahn Home & Kitchen Reference Fellow Megan was previously a fellow for the Home & Kitchen Reference team. She is based in New York, and has also worked as an assistant producer at WUGA-FM as well as a content editor for The Oultaw Ocean Project. She also interned with HGTV Magazine in 2019 through the American Society of Magazine Editors summer intern program.  She graduated from the University of Georgia.  Read more Read less

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