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Rethinking floors

From the Resene decorating blog

So often when we're planning our interior design our creativity and fresh thinking stops at the walls and furnishings. When it comes to the floor we quickly default to carpet, bare wood or tiles. But painting or staining floors can be a really fast, cost effective way to completely change the look of a room.

A unique painted floor in a craft room

What better place to add a unique floor design than a craft area? These painted coloured rectangle outlines resemble a vibrant rug and anchor an otherwise neutral room. The base colour of the floor is Resene Half Villa White with stripes in Resene Thunder Road, Resene Jailbreak, Resene Memory Lane, Resene Unwind and Resene Rococo. The walls and pegboard are Resene Half Villa White with pegs and edges in Resene Noir. The table is Resene Rice Cake with legs and polka dots in Resene Noir. The chair is Resene Liberty. The large mason jar is Resene Irresistible and the small one is Resene Ethereal. The large vase is Resene Noir with spots in Resene Rice Cake and Resene FX Rose Gold. Project by Annick Larkin, image by Melanie Jenkins.

How you treat your floors can change the sense of scale in a room, create niche spaces within rooms, or simply help sell a particular design concept or theme. Painting your floor can also be a great stop-gap measure while you save money for carpet, new floorboards or tiles.

By including your floor in your makeover plans you have a whole new canvas – a fifth wall – to experiment with.

Before you start

If you are considering a painted or stained floor in your space there are some things to consider before you start.

Make sure you have a solid vision for what you want the whole finished room to look like, and if that includes a bold floor it's a good idea to start there. Treat the floor as the anchor to the room design and layer your other colour choices and design decisions from there.

But, on the practical side, when it comes to actually implementing your design, leave the floor to last, or at least make sure it is covered well, so it doesn't get knocked or covered in paint splashes as you work on the ceilings and walls.

If you're painting wooden floorboards, you will need to sand, then wash and prime the surface first. Painted floors need to be pretty resilient, particularly in high traffic areas so proper preparation will help them last. Give yourself a good amount of time to go from prep to painted and dry – and make sure nobody walks on it in that time, until it's completely dry.

Painting tips

Once you've prepped your floor, use a clean roller to apply Resene Walk-on paint and ensure you lay-off with long, even strokes. Then leave to dry before applying the second coat.

Resene Walk-on has been specifically developed to be durable for floors as well as outdoor paths, steps, and porches. It has a durable satin finish and comes in a range of colours. To finish, add a coat of Resene Concrete Wax to help protect the floor and make it easier to clean.

A blue stencilled floor

A retro 1970's pattern painted on your floor

Blue floor: The two shades of blue in the cleverly stencilled floor take this sitting area to a relaxed, exotic place. The floor base colour is Resene Wishing Well, with a stencilled pattern in Resene Time after Time. The rear wall is Resene Dynamite. The neutral toned vase is Resene Double Ash the other vase is Resene Raging Bull. Chair from Indie Home Collective, rug from Father Rabbit, stems and branches from Flux Boutique. Project by Gem Adams, image by Wendy Fenwick.  Brown floor: A repeating two-tone pattern finishes off the retro 1970s appeal of this sitting room. The floor pattern is stencilled in Resene Pendragon and Resene Hairy Heath. The wall is painted in Resene Gold Coast. The hall table is Resene Noir. The legs of the nesting tables are Resene Noir, while the tops are (from large to small) Resene Hairy Heath, Resene Pendragon and Resene Gold Coast. The candlesticks are Resene Noir. Chair and ottoman from Soren Liv, candelabra and candles from Good Form, artwork by Helen Bankers, lamps from Monmouth Glass Studio, candleholder from Wooden Horse Homewares. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

If you're painting over flooring vinyl, lino or ceramic tiles, clean thoroughly and prime with Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer before painting. Some vinyl floors and lino may not be suitable for painting – try a test area first.

If you need help choosing the right finish for your floor, ask a Resene expert at your local Resene ColorShop or use the free Ask a Resene Tech Expert service online.

Top tip: Black and white paints on floors are more likely to show up dirt and marks than other shades, so it's often best to choose a mid-tone colour or paint on a pattern to help hide wear and tear.

Staining tips

If you're staining a wood floor, you'll need to take some time to remove any old stain and give the floor a thorough sanding.

If your floorboards have beautiful grain and colour that you want to retain try Resene Colorwood Natural. For a beachy effect that will still show the grain try Resene Colorwood Whitewash or Resene Colorwood Light Greywash.

Paint a circle on the floor in place of a rug

Paint a road on the floor of your child's playroom

Purple room: A simple circle in place of a rug on the floor, adds another layer of whimsy to the other shapes and colours used in this charming dining room. The main floor colour is Resene Half Stack with a circle in Resene Alabaster. The wall is Resene Dreamtime (left) and Resene Mozart (right), with an arch outline in Resene Black. The arch interior is Resene Alabaster. The lampshade has been given a wavy line in Resene Black. The table is Resene Blackjack, the shelf is Resene Dreamtime and the face sculpture on the shelf is Resene Mozart. Chairs from Cintesi, Face art by George Sand Studio from Endemic World. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.  Green room: The robust and easy-clean finish of high gloss surfaces make them well suited to areas such as children's playrooms. For this fun roadway room the floor and lower part of the walls are Resene Highland. The upper walls are Resene Saltpan (top), with Resene Trojan mountains and Resene Bubble White snow caps. The roadway is Resene Shark with lines in Resene Broom. The toy box is Resene Sebedee with a lid in Resene Broom. The chair is Resene Anise, while the shelves are Resene Java (left) and Resene Japanese Laurel (right). The accessories on the shelves are painted in Resene Broom (yellow plant pot), Resene Shark bud vase, a Resene Japanese Laurel green bowl, Resene Anise vase, Resene Sebedee plant pot, Resene Bubble White tiny vase, Resene Java small pots and Resene Sebedee vase. Fox from Adairs, toybox, shoes, books, most toy vehicles, colouring book and markers from Kmart, stackable cement truck and fire truck from The Warehouse, puzzle toys from Miniso, incense burner from Flotsam & Jetsam, wooden magnet letters and peg people from Look Sharp Store. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

If you are staining your floor a natural shade and have wooden furniture, pick a stain colour for the floor that is a different hue to your furniture, so it doesn't all just merge together.

Stain can also be a bold statement. You could try an unexpected shade such as Resene Colorwood Deep Purple or Resene Colorwood Desert Yellow, or for a high sheen, sophisticated finish go dark with Resene Colorwood Deep Oak, coated with Resene Qristal Clear polyurethane. Throw on a plush rug in cream or white for texture and added glamour.

Rugs are great on high traffic floor areas that are painted or stained to help reduce scuffing and dents. You could also stick felt pads on the feet of your furniture to help prevent scratching.

Top tip: When painting or staining your floor remember to leave yourself an exit! Start at the end of the room opposite the door and work your way out.

Optical illusions

Using lighter colours can, as a rule, make rooms feel larger and airier. To maximise the effect paint the floors the same or a tonally similar shade on the floor, this will help the walls recede behind your furnishings.

If you have a square-ish space you could try painting an oblong design down the centre of the room, almost like a faux rug, to add a sense of length. If you have a long, thin space paint some stripes or a faux mat horizontally to give the impression of width.

To add additional height to a room, take your floor colour up the walls at least a third, then paint a different colour over the top half of the walls toward a light, bright ceiling. This works best if your floor and lower wall colour is darker than the top.

If you have a large, cavernous multi-use room, you could try portioning off a section by painting the floor, walls and even the ceiling the same colour in a shade that contrasts or is at least different from the rest of the room. Your large space is intact, but you can have a clearly marked reading or working zone.

Design ideas

As they're fairly easy and inexpensive to change, painted floors can give you license to really experiment with design, creating fun and useful spaces that are also stylish and modern. Once you've embraced the idea of painting your floors, there's no limit to the things you can try. Here are some ideas for inspiration:

Resene Rose Gold

Resene Rococo

Resene Jailbreak

Resene Time after Time

Resene Liberty

Resene Ethereal

Resene Dreamtime

Resene Memory Lane

Resene Colorwood Light Greywash

Resene Noir

Resene Thunder Road

August 31, 2021

See the habitat by Resene website for a huge range of projects by home decorators to inspire your project. Then visit your Resene ColorShop to get everything you need to decorate your home inside and out.

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