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Painting Wood Floors vs. Refinishing

Posted by Molly Williams on

Painting Wood Floors vs. Refinishing by  Molly Williams

If you’ve been following our Instagram Stories you’ll know that we’ve been in a bit of a predicament. In the process of taking up our entryway carpet - we discovered original wood floors (our home was built in 1800) deep underneath the plywood. So we asked ourselves what next? The debate formed over if we should paint the floors or have them sanded and stained. The debate got even more heated when we discovered it would be mid October by the time someone could get to our house for the sanding. The votes were in favor of waiting but I thought a good old fashioned pros and cons for both might be in order.

Painting on wood floors is still a bit of a taboo, and almost rarely done in our favorite home renovation shows but it was actually the preferred way to finish floors years ago. It wasn’t uncommon to see different colors throughout a home in the Victorian era, and even old farmhouses painted the floors as a way of protecting the wood. While this trend isn’t completely back in style - should it be?

As a society we’ve told ourselves “refinished wood floors are forever” but that’s not entirely true. We went from loving darker wood stains to gray tones to now more natural wood stains. Just like everything else our love of wood floors changes with the introduction of new design trends. However stained wood floors are still a more expensive and superior trend to painted floors so it’s worth considering the long term results as well.

Painting is faster.

Floor refinishing can be a big project while painting a floor is quite fast. The process of floor refinishing is not easy especially with an older home. Painting a floor requires a primer, a few coats, and can be done in even a day.

Painting is a pain to remove.

While painting floors is easier - it’s a headache to remove.

Refinishing adds value.

Painted floors aren’t for everyone, but beautiful hardwood floors pretty much are. Painting can detoriate over time and diminish the homes value as opposed to refinished wood floors that can actually add value.

Not all wood floors can be refinished.

If you live in an older home like ours it’s quite possible there won’t be enough wood left to refinish. If the floors have been sanded multiple times you may be closer to the actual nails that hold the boards down which makes it difficult to continue sanding. Painting may be a better option in a situation like this.

No one likes chipped paint.

One of the most common complaints about painted floors is that they chip over time, and they aren’t great for high traffic areas. Think of a painted deck - it looks rough after a few years right? While painting initially is a lot less work it will require maintenance and routine updates.

A new life.

Both refinishing and painting allow the wood to have a new life. Either option can create a new look for your home, and help update old spaces.

There are certainly pros and cons to both options. Our floors upstairs are painted, and I love them dearly. But we also have refinished floors in our den and dining room which we receive compliments on almost every time we have a new visitor. Here’s my list of questions to ask before deciding to paint the floors.

Is this a high traffic area?
Will this color hold up for longer than a year?
Am I comfortable painting every coupleof years?
Do I mind that some people will hate this?

What do you think of the trend? Love it or hate it? 

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1 comment


  • Trends and people’s opinions aside, you need to choose the right option for your lifestyle and your style preference. It is YOUR home and you will be looking at it, using it, it and living with it everyday. Make sure that whatever you choice is, it was made yourselves and not your followers. Xx

    B on

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