I have finally, after about three years, repainted my son’s floor. These are the things I have learnt about how to paint a wooden floor:
Your Paint Is Lying To You
Short cuts always take longer. Paint that says ‘One Coat’ isn’t, it even knows it isn’t, it gives many scenarios in the instructions when it will probably need more than one coat. ‘One Coat’ is just a name, I could call myself ‘Tall Parrot’ and that might lead you to believe I am a tall parrot but I’m not. When I first painted this floor I was in a rush and used a floor paint that claims it doesn’t need an undercoat. Technically it doesn’t, but only if you’re happy for it to chip within a month. We had to live with it until I had time to do it again…three years later.
The Times Three Rule
Doing a job properly takes three times as long as you think it will. Interior magazines regularly run ‘update your room in a weekend’ articles where you ‘simply hire a sander and then give the floor three coats of paint and tadar!’. Sanding for longer than an hour made my hands vibrate and my fingers go numb so remember to factor in breaks, enjoy the sensation and try to avoid having to chop things for lunch. A proper undercoat (which you should definitely use) often needs to dry over night and a decent paint like Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Paint advises that you do three coats and don’t put any furniture on it for 72 hours. This is important and is worth doing even if your son is crying “I just want my room back” while sleeping on a mattress sandwiched between his sister’s bed and her rather lovely dolls house.
IMPORTANT: The times three rule can generally be applied to all DIY jobs. I have never ever finished a job quicker than I expected.
Actually painting a floor can be quite quick and fun! Get the radio on (I like 6 Music) and a clean garden kneeling pad to add comfort. Paint three boards width across one way then three boards width back again. It’s a great time to let your mind wander and philosophise about life, its like multitasking meditation – this is what I was thinking about if you’re interested. Time yourself so you know exactly how long a coat takes. Do I need to say start at the furthest point away from the door? I hope not, but if you do paint yourself in please send me a photo – you’ll have at least two hours before its touch dry so plenty of time to share your shame.
Underwear and Plastic Bags
Well, that got your attention! Now you know how long it takes to do a coat you know when you can squeeze each one in to maximise your time. I would drop the kids at cubs or Taekwondo and know if I had enough time to do a coat before I needed to pick them up. Often there would not be time to change into DIY clothes and wash out brushes. I found that painting in my underwear meant that I didn’t have to factor in changing time and putting my brush in a freezer bag kept it from drying out ready to do the next coat in four hours. I could drop my clothes on the landing, paint and pop them back on a again and jump in the car like a respectable mummy.
WARNING: I used this time saving technique when the children where in the house and they were utterly appalled.
Gardening and Bikinis
Just to digress for a moment. I did try multitasking in the garden thinking I could get a tan while trimming my hedges (no euphemism intended) This is a bad idea. In my imagination I was like the girls showing off machine guns in ‘Jackie Brown’ but less toned and with a lightweight hedge trimmer. Within half an hour I was covered in scratches and had to literally pull rose thorns out of patches of skin I could barely reach.
Floor pads take seconds to apply and are really cheap, I got mine from Wilkos. They will stop unnecessary scratches. I know at some point my little boy will drop his Storm Trooper alarm clock off the top bunk and the floor will get its first dent. At that point I will channel the spirit of the Shabby Chic guru Rachel Ashwell and convince myself that this has just added to the history and patina and that perfection is boring anyway. But for now if he decides to drag his bedside cabinet about (which already has history as my dad made it for my sister thirty years ago) it will glide across the floor like a Victorian lady, leaving no mark.
I hope this helps you beyond the standard ‘How to paint a floor’ instructions that you can find all over the place. If you have any tips or before and after photos please feel free to share them.
Here are a few other features around the room: