Tips and Advice

How to paint your floors to give your space an instant lift

Looking to paint your floors? It’s an easy and affordable way to give your space a stylish new look. Here’s how to apply paint to any floor surface

How to paint your floors, sage green living room

A few years ago none of us would have dreamed of painting the floor, but suddenly it’s all the rage and no one can remember quite why the idea of rolling a few coats of lovely sage green or muted grey onto the floorboards was such a no-no. Most paint products are now water-based and can be easily applied by home decorators. If you’re comfortable with painting a wall, you could certainly tackle a floor yourself.

Karen Warman of Resene, who helped us put together this guide, can see why the trend has taken off. “Painting a floor can be a very easy way to create a cohesive look in an interior, or sometimes it’s the ideal stopgap measure while you save up for a whole new floor,” she says.

And the beauty of a painted floor is that it can be whatever colour you choose. So bust out the paint chart and get creative! But be warned: although white floors are very popular right now, white is actually the least practical colour when it comes to showing dust and dirt.

How to paint your floors, dark bedroom

Getting started

Whether you’re painting wood, concrete or tiles of any type, the most important part of the process is your preparation of the surface. The floor should be thoroughly washed and dried before you begin, then a primer product applied to ensure you get the best possible adhesion of paint.

If you miss a spot or don’t spend enough time on preparing your floor, you could end up with flaky paint within a few short weeks. Set aside a good 3 days to get the job completed and, if possible, choose a time when you can close the door on your space while you wait for the paint to dry.

How to paint your floors, dark green bedroom

Need to know

What colours are best to hide dust and dirt?

It pays not to go too light or too dark. Too light and you’ll see every speck of dust. Too dark and you’ll see crumbs and scuffing. A soft to mid-tone colour is more forgiving of everyday wear and tear.

How easy is it to change or touch up a painted floor?

If the paint wears through but is still mostly sound, a quick clean-down with a paintwork cleaner plus a new coat of paint should do. If you want a colour change, apply 2 coats of Resene Walk-on and finish with Resene Concrete Wax.

Expert advice

Step-by-step guide to painting your floor

1. Prepare the surface – Achieving a good, long-lasting finish on your floor is all about the prep. Wash your floor thoroughly, then let it dry completely before applying the right type of primer.

2. Choose the colour – A painted floor can dominate a room so select your colour carefully! Think about your other furnishings and the mood you want to create.

3. Apply the paint – Use a clean roller to apply your chosen paint colour in long, even strokes. Allow to dry for at least 2 hours before applying the second coat.

4. Seal the surface – If you want your paint to last, seal it with a product like Resene Concrete Wax.

Tip: Place rugs in key traffic zones, such as down a hallway, and mats at doors to minimise the amount of scuffing on your nicely painted floor.

Lino, vinyl & ceramic tiles

Prep: Using Resene Interior Paintwork Cleaner, ensure the surfaces to be painted are clean and free from grease. Pay particular attention to areas that are often touched by hands or bare feet. Then apply Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer and allow it to cure without water contact for at least 48 hours.

Paint: Apply 2 coats of Resene Walk-on with a roller. Allow 2 hours between coats.

Finish: Optional – Apply 1 coat of Resene Concrete Wax by Swish mop or roller. It will be touch dry in 30 minutes.

Note: There are many different versions of vinyl floors and some may not be suitable for painting. Do not paint tiles inside shower areas or where water is likely to pool.

Tip: The smoother the floor, the easier to clean, but the greater the chance of slipping on it. A more textured floor will reduce this risk but will tend to catch dust and show signs of scuffing.

Wooden floors

Generally speaking, if a timber floor is very uneven in colour and not that nice to look at, painting it is a good option. However, if the floor has a nice woodgrain, a finish such as whitewashing might be a better option as you’ll still be able to see its natural character. Visit and search ‘whitewashing’ for details on how to do this.

Prep: If the floor is already painted or has been varnished with a waterborne varnish, then a good clean-down is normally enough. If a solventborne varnish has been used, you may need to give it a sand first.

Paint: Apply 2 coats of Resene Walk-on with a roller. Allow 2 hours between coats. (For matai, spotted gum, totara, fibreboard and particle board prime first with Resene Quick Dry.)

Finish: Optional – 1 coat of Resene Concrete Wax by Swish mop or roller. This will be touch dry in 30 minutes.

Note: Resene Concrete Wax will make the floor smoother and easier to clean.

Tip: Place sticky felt floor pads on the feet of your furniture to prevent chairs and tables scratching your lovely new floor.


Prep: Concrete floors should first be diamond-ground or acid-etched. If neither is practical, prime with Resene ConcreteSeal 3 in 1, but only in the absence of a curing membrane (if there is one, it will have to be diamond-ground or acid-etched). On old or weathered cement, seal with 1 coat Resene Walk-on thinned with water (ask your paint shop for guidance) and leave for 24 hours.

Paint: Apply 2 coats of Resene Walk-on with a roller. Allow 2 hours between coats.

Finish: Optional – 1 coat of Resene Concrete Wax applied by Swish mop or roller. This will be touch dry in 30 minutes.

Tip: Remember to paint your garage floor! A nicely painted garage is easier to clean and feels much better underfoot than unfinished concrete.

What if I want a patterned floor design?

Apply your base colour first (usually the lightest colour) and let dry. Use low-tack masking tape to mask off areas you wish to paint in different colours (or use a stencil). Paint second colour. This can be done the same day provided first coat has dried. Remove tape before paint dries fully. Finish with Resene Concrete Wax.

Note: Some colours might need 2 coats.

Tip: Painting a pattern on your floor is a great way to add character. Use a stencil or create a geometric or repeating design.

Words by: Sally Conor. Photography by: Bauer Syndication, Resene and Bayly & Moore.

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