Essential Lessons about White Painted Floors

Recently, a reader wrote us about our white painted floors:

Your white floors look amazing. How are they holding up over time? I’m interested in doing the same in my house but there are lots of naysayers saying they won’t be durable enough to retain the sleek look.

I love my pale floors which are really a pale pearly-gray oyster color, which obviates the problem of white-white showing everything. The pale floors reflect the light and make the place look much bigger than it is,  and provide a clean, modern look. But there’s some things you should know before you decide to go with them.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

Part of your consideration should be where your home is, and your life-style. I haven’t had problems with dirt or dust showing here, but did in another space where I had white floors. If you have an animal that sheds, for example, you’ll have a hard time keeping them clean.

If you do go with white floor, the trick is to use the right paint or sealer. I went with industrial alkyd paint which is really strong but not enviromentally friendly. We did a primer and then two coats with rollers, sanding lightly in between. Then they were allowed to cure of a couple of weeks before anything heavy went on them. They did not need an additional sealer.

If you use a water-base paint, then you’ll have to seal them really well.  See our upcoming post about designer Laura Handler’s white floors. She goes into great detail about her mistakes and triumphs. The white floors I had years ago that had been sealed with waterbase eurothane held up well for over a decade.

One of the secrets is knowing how to clean painted floors. Please check out my post on what I found to clean my painted floors with, through trial-and-error.

starfiber mop

My white painted floors are 2.5 years old at this point and the paint looks fine.  The only problem with them is that the tongue-and-groove outdoor plywood plywood we used has a soft surface; it dents when something heavy falls on it. (Live and learn).

plywood floors primer

I choose this material because new floors were not in my budget and painted plywood seemed like a good solution: It would look cool, could be repainted endlessly. The floors in artist Maxime Defert’s Paris apartment are a fine example of random designs painted on an imperfect floor.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

And I’ve collected others over the years:

painted floors with a surprise

IF I wanted to put another floor on top, the plywood would be an already-existing subfloor.

They feel GREAT underfoot.



2 Responses to Essential Lessons about White Painted Floors

  1. Andrea Raisfeld 11.25.2014 at 8:48am #

    WE’ve had all black floors, and we’ve had all white floors. Black floors show dust like crazy, white floors show dirt like crazy. Either way, you have to be a sweeper!

  2. Sally 11.25.2014 at 10:54am #

    Thanks Andrea. I’m with you on black, as it shows every spec of dust. In my experience, white can vary, depending on lifestyle. My slightly gray-tinted floors do well, perhaps in part because the wood is rough and the grain shows.

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