Thursday, October 13, 2016

Painted Floors

I got the keys for my new place today, and after a thoughtful conversation with the maintenance man and complex manager, I got them to agree to leave the unit without carpet in the main entertaining spaces. Let it be known that I don't really have a problem with a beautiful wall-to-wall rug. I think that they're great when they're great. But, when you're faced with low quality, low pile, acrylic wall-to-wall, it's very different.

I've been lucky enough in all of my apartments after CDLV to either have gorgeous hardwoods, or the option of putting down my own floor. I figured that I would choose the same flooring that I currently have for the new place, however, now that I have the keys and have taken a look at the subfloor, I'm 97% convinced that painted floors is the way to go.

William Rankin McLure is a designer in Birmingham. His instagram page is one that I check EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. He's a wonderful artist of modern art, and has an incredible eye for display and vignettes. When he first saw the apartment, it looked like this:

He ripped up that wall to wall acrylic mess as soon as he got in. William lives in a large house that was built in 1906, that has since been turned into 4 apartments. The floors (likely to prevent noise issues) were carpeted. Under the carpet however, was that typical orange toned floor you see in nearly every antique home. His first decision was to stain the floors this darker walnut.

Just a few nights later, floors all finished with seagrass matting down over them and furniture in place. It was much nicer than the orange hue, for sure. 

When William moved his way into the bedroom, he had already made a decision to paint these floors white. Here you can see the original carpet. Low pile, acrylic. Blehck! So he took it all up, and put down the paint: 

Meanwhile, the living room was all finished up (for the moment), with the beautiful darker stained floors that he did when he first pulled up the carpet in there: 

Once he finished those bedroom floors though, well ... there's no denying, it was a brilliant decision: 

Right? I mean, it's gorgeous. It didn't take long before William decided that white floors were the way to go in the living room, too! 

He painted out the old black and white asbestos tile in the kitchen, too: 

Now, let me preface what I'm about to say with this: I don't know William. I think I've shared possibly 3 remarks with him on instagram, and he emailed me once to thank me for the post that I did about him on the blog, here. That's my extent on really "knowing" him. But in the age of the celebrity, I really feel like he and I have a lot in common. I absolutely love his aesthetic, and his zest for change is beautiful, and contagious! Every time I see him doing something new, I'm inspired and invigorated for change in my own place. William rolls up his sleeves and gets it done, and isn't afraid to make bold changes - even when later he decides it wasn't the right way to go, like when he painted the living room red: 

When he painted the walls red, he also painted the seagrass matting with alternating blue stripes, and added a double navy border to the white floors. It didn't stay this way long, and after painted the seagrass matting, he chose not to use it when the space went back to white. 

Of course, as I mentioned, William is an artist. He's also impulsive, and makes changes when the mood strikes. So it's not a surprise that his apartment sometimes looks like this: 

My own apartment looks like this everyday. Not really, but still - it happens when you have your hands in lots of projects. The beauty of white floors: 

Instantly touched up! William is actually moving next week, into a large loft with concrete floors that are already painted white. It will be so interesting to see what he does with that space. But real quick before I move on, let's look at the latest pics of his current place: 

The bedroom ended up with rich, black walls and a canopy bed. Beautiful, isn't it? 

The living room ended up with alternating striped floors. Taupe and chocolate brown over the white. That's his dog, Baylor on the couch! Like I said, this guy is extremely talented. If you have instagram, make sure you follow him there, and if you don't, you can link up on your computer or device with this link. I can't wait to see what he's going to do with his loft space: 

Now, speaking of lofts and painted floors. Another floor I've been inspired by, and another designer I've long admired, the loft of designer Vicente Wolf: 

His New York City loft space has had white floors for longer than I can recall, and they've always been inspiring. 

I don't think that he's ever chosen to use anything more than cowhides to cover up his white floors. When I knew that I was going to be moving, I purchased large seagrass rugs for the main living spaces. While they aren't custom, they are large enough to cover most of the exposed floor, so if I do paint my floors white, they will look different. Much more similar to these: 

Megan, from BeachBungalow8 blog, painted the floors of her living room white. They had looked liked this: 

It certainly makes a space feel brighter doesn't it? Maybe a bit more calm? Not as much contrast, so there's more attention to the other pieces in the space - like upholstery, drapery, that sort of thing. 

Nate Berkus did white floors with large rugs in this space: 

Just a little peek-a-boo of white. It's quite lovely, don't you think? The cost to paint a floor is much less of course, than to refloor an apartment as large as mine. So, as I work on this post, collecting inspiration to show my point of view - it's also important that I share the budget with you. $0. That's the budget. Anything that I spend in this apartment will be more than I want to spend, so obviously, it's a consideration. 

When painting a floor, what kind of paint do you use? I mean, most of the real traffic is going to occur on the rugs - but I still want a paint that won't peel, and will cover up the existing 8x8 tile. Just FYI, there are no grout lines. These things are put down with glue, like old VCT. The Nester used Valspar Porch and Floor Paint, over a coat of KILZ primer for her laundry room/mudroom: 

So here's the question: what paint do you use? And more over, is the sealer more important than the paint? Should you even seal it? I mean, if you then have to paint to touch up, do you have to reseal the entire floor? I'd love to get your thoughts on this! 


  1. I had an old apartment in a house built in the 1920's with fir floors that were in very bad shape. I pained them white using outdoor porch paint over a coat of Kilz primer. I did not seal them, but wish I had, as it would have made keeping them clean A LOT easier! Even with rugs, the white paint showed all the dirty footprints from people and pets. I mopped them regularly, but over the time, the paint started to wear. I think a coat or two of a good matte sealer would have helped with the durability and the clean up. Can't wait to see what you do!! Good luck-Christa

  2. I was a decorator, and I have painted some floors over the years. I would not use Valspar paint. My preference would be Benjamin Moore or the newer paint from HD, Behr Marquee. In my current house, I have painted the kitchen-laundry-pantry stone tiles with more of a white wash by watering down basic Valspar contractor grade matte paint because I don't think it would've made a difference in this particular instance. With all the traffic and a regular mopping with the Swiffer WetJet, I do have to go over it about once a year. However, last year, we ripped out the carpet in the LR and an adjoining hallway. We put down 24 inch "tiles" over the sub-floor made of 3/4" birch plywood which we painted with the Behr Marquee Satin in alternating black and white squares. We started out sealing them with polycrylic, but I didn't like what it was doing to the finish. The rest we did not seal, and the two coats have held up perfectly for over a year now. You can find the posts I did about this project on my blog Scribbler Unfocused in the archives for summer of last year. I Swiffer this, too, and so far have not had to touch up any paint. I plan to paint a hardwood area solid white with perhaps a black border in my entry hall with the Behr product, too, but just haven't gotten around to it yet.

  3. omg!!!!!! his apartment. dying! thanks for the link. use floor paint. can not wait to see your new place!!!!!

  4. I have a 1924 bungalow in Baltimore. I had the floors refinished and they were orange and not great. I have painted all my floors with and added a black chevron pattern in my dining room. Advantages: bright light, easy to clean, repaint when messed up. I do repaint about every 2-3 years. Down side: you have to live with floors that patina rather quickly. they are pristine for a short time. so I typically will plan a large gathering to follow shortly after a repaint and the floors are great. I really don't mind the patina. its a 1924 cottage, the scraping and and separation of the boards seems to fit and create a more casual effect. But I do love the pristine freshly painted look. Good luck. Paint is cheap -- I also have 2 dogs, mini schnauzer boys and the paint hold up well. but you have to mop weekly at least!

  5. I have painted floors in my house. Concrete. As in all painting projects annoying as it seems prep is vital. I painted one floor without proper prep and the paint peeled. A second floor I rented a concrete buffer and took the concrete to clean slate. I primed, painted, stenciled, (which I love) and sealed with a sealer from Lowe's. I love the floor. The paint has held up well with the exception of where my daughter taped her tent to the floor and the tape pulled the paint up.
    I also get black marks from the furniture moving. I have put protective felt on the bottom of the feet and that seems to help but it's a challenge to keep the black marks cleaned off. I am considering a higher quality top coat for the next few rooms I am going to do. It comes from an actual concrete finish store. I am not confident in the stuff from Lowe's. It's good but not great.
    Rugs over the high traffic areas will help. i like my painted floor much more than fighting the stains that inevitably come with family life i.e nailpolish, food spills,dirty feet, in your case, projects you impulsively start.

  6. Hello guy your paints are looks great . Just attractive job .


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