Mad About . . .

Mad About . . . Painted Floorboards

28th August 2014
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Today’s Mad About .  . . is more of an inspiration than a shopping list. I just love painted floorboards and never seem to tire of looking at them. My entire house has white painted boards (Wimbourne White by Farrow & Ball since you ask).


clockwise from top left: roomenvy.co.uk; twoturtledoveshandmade.blogspot.com; paul massey; paul massey; roselandgreene.blogspot.com; iwantiwantiwant.com.au; thatunreliablegirl.com

Firstly no I don’t think it’s impractical. In our last house we had pinky/brown slates and a chocolate coloured carpet on the stairs. It was basically mud-coloured so that two small boys could run around and it wouldn’t show the dirt. But the problem with something that never looks dirty is that you never quite feel the need to clean it. So I think ultimately it IS dirty.


clockwise from top: apartmenttherapy.com; melissa thompson via pinterest; narratives.co.uk; multi-story-thinking.blogspot.com; iwantiwantiwant.com.au; gapinteriors.com

This time round, in a quest for light, bright interiors, we overruled builders, friends and family and painted everything white. And I am convinced it is much cleaner because when it looks dirty we clean it. On the other hand, if you are a fan of things being perfect, this won’t work for you. The paint will chip in areas of high traffic and it will get marked as children drag chairs and toys about. But I don’t mind that. It all adds to the character of a space. In addition, in our kitchen, which is all stainless steel worktop and white cupboards, a bit of scuffed floor contrasts well with the high tech modernity of the units. At least I think so.

So, if you are going to paint your boards (or have them painted) how do you go about getting a good result? You will need to sand them. We didn’t sand our sitting room floor because it looked smooth enough but the paint is not sticking as well as it is in other rooms. This is partly down to the dirt and partly because a freshly sanded floor will just soak the paint up better.


clockwise from top studiobcreativejuice.blogspot.com; ishandchi.blogspot.com; henrydonovanmotif.co.uk; apartmenttherapy.com; tumblr.com

Now, the paint. Buy the best you can afford. It will come under heavy usage and let’s be honest, you really can’t face clearing out the whole room for three days while you wait for it to dry all over again can you? If you’re still not convinced  my builder dropped round the other day .  . . one of his other clients, having visited our house as a reference for him, had decided they also wanted white boards. They bought cheap paint. The builder told us that less than six months later it was flaking off. Three years on and ours is still doing well, and bear in mind it was the same team that prepped both floors so it can only be the paint that varied. So, somehow all the weeping over the cost of the paint turned out to be worth it.

Having said that, dark stained or black painted floorboards also look great too. Which ones do you prefer?

For more images of painted boards visit my Pinterest board  .


clockwise from top: homeklondike.com; gapinteriors.com; gapinteriors.com; 47parkav.blogspot.com

For more on floors

Polished Concrete Floors

For more on paint

Paint A Buyer’s Guide

50 Shades of Grey (Paint)




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  • Clementine 22nd January 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Hi Kate,

    I stumbled upon this old thread, hope you don’t mind me asking you a question about it! We are currently in the process of redecorating and wanted to whitewash the floors in the hall, stairs and upstairs landing. At the same time, we want to lay an (engineered) wood floor in the bathroom. Because of bathroom underfloor heating, it seems our only option is to use a stain to get a white finish- I’ve heard osmo oil is good- but wondered if you have any experience with this? The other alternative is to use a paint everywhere else, and a wood oil finish in the bathroom- but they are unlikely to match… Any thoughts?

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  • gill 9th September 2014 at 2:34 pm

    We’ve just put dowm unfinished floorboards in our kitchen diner and painted them with Farrow & Ball. I was wondering how do you go about cleaning them, I’m worried about taking some of the paint off?
    Thanks, Gill

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 10th September 2014 at 10:23 am

      Hi Gill, we have the same I just mop them every week and it has been fine – three years down the line. Sometimes they can chip round the skirtings if you are rough with the hoover and there is one patch where my son has rocked on his metal leg stool which has worn off but everywhere else is completely fine. Hot water and soap!

  • Rachael Hare 3rd September 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Most fortuitous timing! I am considering painting my bathroom floor (currently varnished wooden boards).
    Did you use specialist F&B floor paint? I heard that epoxy based paints were the most hard wearing.

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  • Jo 28th February 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Do you know where I can get more images of the white kitchen with the dark floors. I can’t find it on https://homeklondike.com. I lone the kitchen with the stainless steel, thanks

  • Victoria 8th January 2014 at 10:38 pm

    We have had white painted floorboards in our kitchen for a number of years now. With 2 small children as well as two older step children it is subject to a lot of traffic. Despite repainting it annually, we find it quickly starts to chip and scratch. Although I appreciate the charms of the floorboards looking slightly tired and imperfect, do you have any recommendations for a floorpaint brand, or tips in general to try and get a little more longevity out of it.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 10th January 2014 at 2:09 pm

      Hi Victoria, we have white painted floorboards in our kitchen too and I know exactly what you mean about a few imperfections – within limits! Ours have now been done for two years and there is some damage where no 1 son tends to swing on his stool and scratch the floor but other than that it has lasted pretty well. Everywhere else looks great. So, what can I say? It was Farrow and Ball floorpaint – which was quite ruinous but seems to have done the job. We did use a cheaper version in one room which was oil-based (apparently more hard-wearing) but it takes ages to dry and has slightly discoloured (yellowing) so I’m less keen on that. I imagine a lot of it is down to good prep – a good sanding first and some undercoat. Perhaps a layer of decorators varnish over the top – it comes in matt. I don’t know about this – perhaps someone else can weigh in here and help? I am going to go on a detailed research trip and report back with any more findings. Kate

  • Natalie 18th September 2013 at 12:35 am

    I fell in love with white painted floorboards. But seem to be unable to get them anywhere (already painted ones). The ones I could find were “Lawsons” but nobody is picking up my phone or replying to emails. Do you, by any chance know where I could get them?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 18th September 2013 at 11:44 am

      Hi Natalie, I have never heard of pre-painted floorboards. I admit it would be so much easier to buy them ready done but I’ve never come across anyone who does it. I think it would be too difficult for stores to decide which colours to paint and then they need cutting to size and nailing in place which would damage the paintwork. I think you will probably have to buy them, lay them and paint them in situ. Sorry about that. If, of course, you have any luck finding a stockist do come back and let us all know. Good luck, Kate

    • Merry 4th February 2014 at 1:48 am

      I’ve been staring at white floorboards online for hours now and stumbled across this page https://lillyroseinteriors.ukcom.org/shopping4.html

      Not sure if you’re still looking or if this helps but good luck 🙂

  • Katie 8th August 2013 at 8:42 am

    I love the idea of white floors throughout but just cannot quite go for it. Swithering between sanded reclaimed gym floor and staining floorboards pretty dark in hall and 2 rooms off it. Have you seen any reclaimed gym floors in real life? Any advice welcome – then there’s whether to have gloss or matt either way. Thanks Katie

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 8th August 2013 at 8:48 am

      Hi Katie, my kitchen floorboards are reclaimed – not from a gym but assume they will be similar – yours might be wider and a touch more lovely! As you know I love white, but black (or perhaps charcoal would be slightly softer) also looks fabulous, and might be more practical. It will suck up the light though. My floor paint has a very slight sheen to it which, depending on where you’re standing, can look matt. I think you need to follow your heart. I love my white boards. I love that they are reclaimed as they are slightly imperfect which stops the whiteness looking too perfect and scary. Easier to try white and paint over than the other way round. Sanded boards do seem to go orange in the end which I really don’t like so I would always opt for painting myself. Good luck, Kate

      • Katie 8th August 2013 at 5:55 pm

        Thanks for the advice, good to know you’ve used reclaimed and they work well. Hmmm. Off to see some lifted floors at a reclamation yard on sat and I’ll take it from there. I am thinking lighter would be better since the hall can be so dark in my house, it is big but dull (coral carpet there at the the moment sucking all light and love out of the place at the moment -ghastly). Cheers, Katie x

  • Gail Goss 24th September 2012 at 2:07 pm


    Not a big lover of carpets in any form!

    But have a dilemma, do we repair our stairs, and repaint or put some stair carpet down which would be an easier option.

    Some lovely props and pics.

    Decision decisions.


    • Kate 26th September 2012 at 1:14 pm

      Hi G

      I know what you mean about carpet but it can be good on stairs for noise reduction. Having said that it can also be slippery in bare feet as I (and my coccyx can attest). The best-looking solution, I think, is to have a runner but then cost-wise it’s the worst of both worlds as you will have to pay to repair the stairs (at the sides at least) and paint them and then pay for a carpet. I know a couple of people who have painted a “runner” up the middle, which looks great, but doesn’t help the noise issue. If it’s a choice between noisy paint (as it were) and full width carpet, I would go for the former. I don’t know if this will help at all? Let me know what you decide.

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