(An unusally popular post on the web, we repost here for the first time in over 2 years. Enjoy)
When my wife, Sara Kate, and I decided to paint the floors in our small summer house, most people were shocked (including our parents). Bare wood floors are so chic and such a staple of 90's style, that painting them over and covering them up seems sacriligous. Barely.
Our floors are cheap, new solid floors, and they were in great need of refinishing. It was either sand and polyurethane (which would have been messy and cost at least $2,000) or paint them ourselves with polyurethane based oil paint (cost: $200 for the paint + 3 weekends of our time).
The inspiration came from visiting my friend Charles' house in Massachusetts that had been part of a Shaker community. All the floors had been painted and repainted for years in the richest colors. The house was warm and bright without the aid of carpets or rugs, and the idea seemed perfect for any summer house, where all you want to do is walk barefoot for days at a time.
It seemed easy to maintain, and removed all hint of preciousness to the floors. They just seemed practical and lovely, reminding me, as well, of the bright colors in Monet's house at Giverny where he painted both the inside and outside with the bright colors of his surroundings.
Moving the furniture was easy, the problem was working with the paint. I made a big mistake in laying the second coat on too thick and painting on a rainy day. The humidity and the thickness caused the paint to wrinkle, clot and appear dull and matted. I had to work hard to undo my mistake. Here are my new tips on how to do it right:
1. vacuum and wipe down floor thoroughly to remove all dust and dirt
2. use polyurethane based porch and floor enamel
3. after cutting the edges with a brush, roll on a thin coat with a 1/4 inch roller
4. keep the heat on (@ 70 f) to insure quick, dry drying
5. roll at least two more thin layers and allow at least 24 hours between coats
6. don't plan to stay in the house (bad fumes) and keep the windows open while painting
We found that the white floor paint behaved much better upstairs than the red that we used on the first floor and attribute this to the warmth upstairs of both the air and the floor itself. While we would rather use a less toxic paint, we have yet to find one that can withstand this use. We are still looking, however. The result? A shiny, clean, beautiful floor that establishes a new style for the millenium. MGR
(Orginally posted on 2004-04-19 - MGR)