Painted white wood floors are a popular decor choice. But living with white floors poses some challenges, learn all about why a white painted floor may or may not be the right choice for you.
White is striking. White is bright. White is classic. And I am an avid lover of panting my walls, my furniture, and my floors white. I have been living in my house with white painted floors for six years now and almost everyone who enters my home for the first time talks and asks questions about my white wood flooring. So let’s address some of those questions today.
Now that the cat is out of the bag and my big news is out I can openly talk about my plans and hopes and dreams for the near future. But not without looking back a bit first. What choices did I make when I totally renovated and redecorated this house? What did I love and what not so much? What will I absolutely do again and what will I gladly leave behind?
When I had to start over 6 years ago and bought my house for me and me alone, I was determined to make it mine in every way. After having had to compromise on every design choice with a partner who liked different things than I did, this was my chance to create my own special haven with absolutely no compromises whatsoever.
Choosing a White Painted Floor
In the old house, I had dreamed of a white wood floor constantly. We moved into a house with a beautiful classical hardwood herringbone flooring that we kept, and we put a similar color laminate flooring on the upper floors. But to me, it always felt dark and a bit gloomy and I fantasized about painting some floors white all the time.
So moving into this new home, I set out to realize my dream and have myself a white wood floor once and for all. When I did my research I came upon so many questions people had about white painted floors that it made me doubt my decision for a split second. But I knew I would regret not putting in my coveted white wood floors much more than going with a safer choice.
So let’s share how living with a white painted floor has been for these past years, and will my new home have white painted floors again?
How long does a painted floor last?
I have lived here for six years and I have repainted my floor once, about a year ago. Now that may make you conclude that white painted wood floors do not hold up, but there is a caveat. My home was not finished when I moved in. My brand new white floor had to endure lots of building activities both inside and out, which meant lots and lots of workboots trampling all over her; sand, grime, and dirt carried in, furniture moved around clumsily, and tools being dropped on her all the time.
From the very first day, this floor had to work really hard, and it showed. Good thing that I don’t mind a bit of a distressed look to my home.
But even with all that damage to my floor after this rocky start, I was actually relieved she was a painted floor. All it took was one coat of new paint to make her look good and new again. A coat I applied myself and that went on fast and easy.
So yes, a painted floor can suffer damage from intensive living, like any wood floor would. But the painted surface also makes it easy to repair that damage, repaint the floor and make the floor look new again.
Painting white wood floors
My floor came painted white. It is a combination between laminate flooring and hardwood parquet. The top layer is solid oak wood, and the bottom layer is pressed wood. This was a good choice for me because it is cheaper than a hardwood floor and much more durable and repairable than a laminate floor.
I choose a white finish with a soft eggshell sheen that didn’t completely cover the wood but still had the wood grain show through.
When I repainted the floor last summer, I moved everything out from the first floor and cleaned the floor thoroughly. I cleaned the floor with a grease-fighting cleaner and a scouring pad. This way not only did all the dirt come loose but it functioned as a light sanding as well.
Then I painted from one corner to the next with a wide flagged bristle brush that can hold a lot of paint and gives a nice, smooth finish. Painting my wood floor was a much easier DIY project than I had anticipated, it went so fast it surprised me. I painted the whole downstairs (hallway, living/dining room) in a couple of hours.
I made sure I painted myself out of the patio doors and left the house to dry overnight. I could walk on socks safely on the floor after that. I tried to be extra careful with the floor for the next weeks so the paint could harden, but we did move back in.
One thing I learned was how important the choice of paint is when painting a wooden floor. Make sure you buy a professional-grade parquet floor paint that you have color matched. Don’t use regular paint because that won’t last. If you use specialty paint made for floors, stairs, or boats you’ll have a rock-solid finish and you won’t have to put any other topcoat over that.
Are white painted floors hard to keep clean?
This is the most asked question I get all the time: doesn’t your white floor get dirty all the time? The short answer to that question is ‘yes’, dirt en dust show easily and quick on my white painted floor. If you have kids or pets and if you are a particularly neat person that cannot stand any visible dirt you may prefer not to have a white floor. But for me that one downside was always outnumbered by the many pros of living with a white floor.
I have developed the habit of sweeping the floor daily and vacuuming and mopping the floor once a week. That turned out to be enough, although in all fairness a second mopping would be a good idea in most weeks. But since my motto is ‘you don’t have to eat off the floors in my house, I have plates’, I never bothered too much about my floor not being pristine.
Truth be told I never complain about dirt being visible on white surfaces more easily because let’s face it, darker surfaces are just as dirty, they just don’t show it. At least my white painted floors and furniture make sure I don’t forget to clean them regularly. And I am the kind of person who needs that reminder from time to time.
Do light floors make a room look bigger?
Do light floors make a room look bigger? Yes, they do!
Do light floors make a room look brighter? Yes, they do!
And this is why I have loved my white living room floor each and every day that I lived here. Every morning when I roll up my blinds the light starts flooding in and gets bounced around from floor to white walls and even on the darkest and gloomiest winter days my house fills up with light as if the sun is shining. Every single person who walked in for the first time remarked how light my house was. And let me tell you when you live in the northern hemisphere as I do, where sunlight can be sparse and grey days are the rule for a majority of the year, having a light and bright home does wonders for your mood.
White wood floors make your room look bigger and brighter because the light can bounce around freely and becomes nice, soft, and diffused. White is also the perfect backdrop to accentuate wood-toned or colorful furniture and goes with any design style from dramatic and modern, to cozy and cottage.
I guess that is why white painted floors are so popular in the Nordic countries. Scandinavian homes favor light colors, and they need it the most with their short winter days.
I love my white floor, and I am seriously considering having white floors again in my new home. I’ll just have to get to know that home a bit better before I decide if, and where to paint the floorboards white.
White wood floor choices for different design styles
My personal interior design style is a mix and match between beach cottage, bohemian, and farmhouse, and my white floor is the perfect foundation for that design aesthetic. But white painted floors work with almost any interior design style.
White painted wood boards are to your floor what shiplap is for your wall. Which makes them perfect for the beach cottage look. White wooden floors are the perfect choice if you are going for the coastal look.
This beautiful beach cottage in white has both white painted floors and white shiplap walls. The space is so bright and lovely. Design is by the talented @gldesignhome
The sleek look of a white floor is a perfect match for the streamlined designs in a modern home. It contrasts beautifully with brighter colors and works well with an ultra minimalist look and feel.
White painted floors can also be used for a rustic, farmhouse feel. The neutral colors that are typical for farmhouse design as well as its love for natural materials and vintage furniture are a perfect match with a painted wood floor. Even or maybe especially when a less than perfect finish is chosen and the floor has a bit of a chippy look.
When you are going for an elegant and romantic style in your home decor, white flooring might be an excellent choice. The white floor will pair beautifully with fabrics like linen, cotton, and lace in romantic and soft colors.
So how about you? Did you ever consider painting your floors white, would you love it or hate it?