The First Thing Real Estate Experts Want You to Know About Painting Your Floors

published Jun 16, 2021
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When it comes time to sell a house, bold design choices are often toned down in the interest of making a place appealing to more buyers. Just like bright orange walls might send someone running in the other direction, poorly painted (or brightly colored) floors could do the same thing.

Painting old hardwoods can be a fun way for homeowners to jazz them up — as long as it’s done right. Prepping your floors correctly and choosing the right paint color might make or break a sale. Here, real estate experts offer up their best floor-painting advice.

Before choosing a paint color, find the right paint.

“As floors need to stand up to quite a bit of wear and tear daily, you’ll want to be sure to select a paint designed for the job,” advises Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design at The Home Depot. Using a 100 percent acrylic latex finish resists mildew, scuffing, fading, cracking, and peeling. And prepping the floors before painting, of course, is a key step.

“Wood floors need to be sanded/prepped before putting a color down,” advises Melanie Muss, a broker associate at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. 

Additionally, Jin Chen of EC Realty Inc. in Alaska, recommends using nontoxic paints that have strong durability (only after you’ve primed the floors well, that is).

Avoid these two kinds of colors.

“I would recommend not painting the floors in the whole house the same color,” Muss says. “Also, don’t try to match the interior walls, unless you are going white.”

Chen advises staying away from bright colors, even if they’re your favorite. Sometimes, it’s easier to spot paint chips in those vibrant hues. 

Do consider black, white, shades of blue, and neutrals.

Chen recommends playing it safe and opting for neutral colors like grey, beige, and off white. “Light grey is great for a farmhouse look, while dark grey is trendy for modern homes,” Chen says.

Still, you can take color risks if the environment is right, Muss adds.

I think so many colors work well for painting wood floors. We have some beautiful and colorful Victorian homes here in Aspen and picking a color that complements the color of the home can really add a fun accent,” Muss says. “Black and white both work well for a more modern look. I also really like almost any shade of blue.”

There’s one place you can let your true colors show first.

If you have a small shed, cabin, closet, or other sort of outbuilding, Muss and Chen recommend painting or staining the floors there first to get a handle on the process. Plus, taking a colorful risk in a smaller, more low-stakes area is a good place to start. “I’ve seen great patterns painted in secondary rooms or structures,” Muss says.