painting floorboards uk

Painting Floorboards: A Step-by-Step DIY Guide

Painting floorboards is an easy way to update the look of a room. A classic style is white-painted floorboards that can be jazzed up with a colourful rug to fit the room’s theme. This look can work anywhere from the kitchen or bathroom to a living or dining area.

Our simple guide will show you how to achieve a professional finish. The key is in the preparation, so expect a lot of cleaning and sanding!

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Tools & Materials


  • Hammer
  • A heat gun or paintbrush (if stripping paint)
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Decorator’s knife
  • Floor sander
  • 3x Paintbrushes (knot primer, floor primer, and paint)


  • Paint stripper (if using)
  • Warm soapy water
  • Wood filler
  • Sandpaper block
  • Knot primer
  • Floor primer/undercoat
  • Paint (topcoat)

Painting Floorboards — Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Clear the Room

Our first step is hopefully obvious, but just in case: remove all furniture and any rugs or sculptures touching the floor. You can’t paint anything you can’t access!

Pro Tip: If you must remove a carpet, ensure the floorboards underneath are in good condition before continuing with the rest of the steps.

2. Tap in Nails

If you notice loose nails sticking out of the floorboards, use a hammer to bash them down.

3. Strip Back the Floor

If your floorboards already have paint or varnish, this must be removed. Check out our paint stripping guide to choose the best method. Normally, a chemical stripper is painted on, left for some time and then scraped off. Another way is to apply a heat gun to melt the paint, but be aware that this could also burn the wood.

Pro Tip: Switch off underfloor heating if you have it. The heating will affect the drying time of any product applied to the floorboards.

4. Clean the Floor

Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water, get a cleaning cloth and give the floor a good scrub. Remove any dust and dirt, and check for any mould that might have collected in corners.

5. Fill in Holes

Get a tube of wood filler and a decorator’s knife and fill up any holes or cracks in the floorboards. Leave to dry.

6. Sand

Once your floor is dry, you need to sand it smooth. The easiest way is to hire a floor sander for a day. Our paint stripping guide has a section on mechanical sanders.

Use a sanding block and old-fashioned elbow grease to sand corners and any odd bits the mechanical sander couldn’t reach.

7. Clean the Floor Again

All that sanding will have generated dust, so give everything a vacuum and then wipe around with a damp cloth.

8. Prime the Knots

Take a look at the floorboards. All the dark whorls you can see (I think they look like sooty thumbprints) are knots in the wood. These knots must be painted with a knot primer to stop them from showing through the topcoat. Prime the knots and leave them to dry.

9. Prime the Floor

Once you’ve primed the knots, apply an undercoat to the floor. Once that’s done, leave it to dry.

Pro Tip: Work backwards from the furthest corner to the door. Don’t paint yourself into a corner!

10. Paint the Floor

Finally, apply a top coat of paint in your desired colour. Once it’s dry, assess whether a second coat is needed or if you want to apply a varnish over the top to seal the paint.

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Painting Floorboards — Final Thoughts

Although painting floorboards is time-consuming, the process is simple, provided you don’t skimp on the preparation.

For more painting tips, check out our guide to the many types of paint.