Should I paint over the hardwood foors?

blessedbeMay 5, 2009

I have a 1946 prep-fab bungalow house that was built near Dobbins AFB/Lockheed Martin in Marietta, GA to house workers at the Lockheed plant during WWII.

Before I purchased the house two years ago, the seller had the carpet ripped up and the hardwood floors refinished. Not only did they do a so-so job with the sander (they went down so far in some spots that they had to use a wood filler), but she had them put an oil finish on the floor instead of a polyurethane.

My dogs (and me, ok, I admit it) get water and wet "stuff" on the floor all the time. I try to keep it dry, but everywhere it gets wet it turns white. I've been told that once a hardwood floor has had an oil finish applied, the only way to refinish it is to sand it again and apply a sealer. Considering the workers almost scalped it the first time, I'm scared to death to do anymore sanding.

That leaves me with painting. I don't have a problem with painting over hardwood. I love the floors, but I can't deal with the water spots all over the place. Do you think painted wooden floors would be appealing in a 1000 sq ft bungalow? Seems to me like it's the perfect kind of house to do it in, but this is my first home so I don't always make informed decisions.

Thanks!

Kelle

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cricketp

Have you thought about an area rug? To me, The idea of painting the hardwood just sounds wrong. How long do you plan to stay in your house? You mention it's your first house, so I gather you'll be wanting to move eventually. You might want to consider the re-sale-ability of a house with a painted hardwood floor. Oh, I know it could be removed, but I think more people would appreciate a clean hardwood floor, rather than painted. You can always send a rug out to be cleaned, or buy a new one, but once that floor is painted, it's painted until you get down and remove it.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 7:02PM
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party_music50

I was going to suggest using an area rug too. I think they improve the acoustics and comfort-level of the room. And since your house is small, you probably won't need very large rugs, so they'll be much less expensive. Consider a nice indoor/outdoor and you won't need to worry about your dog. :)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 8:51PM
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brickeyee

"I try to keep it dry, but everywhere it gets wet it turns white."

Sounds lot more like wax on the floor than an oil finish, unless someone was really dumb and used shellac on a floor.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 9:10PM
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blessedbe

I was told it was a "European oil finish" and that the only way to remove the spots is to sand the floor down and apply more oil. I spent the first 6 months in the house with brown oil coming off on all my white socks.

I agree that an area rug would be nice, but I have 3 small dogs who use pee pads. Anything that looks like a pee pad (including bed side rugs, kitchen sink mats, etx) is considered fair game for peeing. Also, the entire house is hardwood so I couldn't really use rugs all over the place. I've seen pictures of painted wooden floors in "cottagie" style houses and I think it looks really good.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 10:32AM
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Billl

It is your house, so you can do anything you want with it. Just remember that your choices can impact your ability to sell it down the line. I'm sure there are some people who would love painted wood floors, but for your average buyer today, that would be a huge negative.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 11:18AM
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autumngal

I definitly prefer hardwood to painted floors in the main living areas of a home. It would make me think twice about purchasing a home, especially depending on how they are painted.

However, on the third floor of our 1898 home, where the floors had clearly always been painted, I painted over the brown in a checkerboard pattern and really really love it. My advice would be to not use the porch enamel floor paint that is suggested but to paint with regular latex paint and then use polyurethane over it. I used the porch enamel paint, and while I love the look, it is not at all durable. The third floor of our home is where our family room is and it gets lots of running around with our three children, etc. We seem to be constantly moving furnature and it scratches up occasionally (with good reason sometimes, but a seal over it would prevent it). I'm not sure how that would work with your current finish, but thought I'd throw it out there.

Good luck with your choices!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 3:14PM
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fandlil

Since the finish on the floor is problematic -- oil, or whatever -- it might be possible to do a LIGHT sanding to get it off and then apply polyurethane. Or, if the finish they put on is a penetrating sealer, it might still be possible to put polyurethane on top of it.

I agree that painting the floor would adversely affect the resale value of your house. I think most prospective buyers would say, How much will it cost to get this off, or will I have to put a fresh wood floor over it?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 4:05PM
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blessedbe

Unfortunately, resale value isn't of much concern in my situation. The neighborhood I'm in isn't an "up and coming" place. Any potential buyers would probably be glad the floor is intact!

I had considered the checkerboard painting style I've seen in cottage magazines. I know if I were looking at the house to buy today, the condition of the floor would put me off. If it were painted a nice, neutral color with a durable finish, like you suggested, I think it would improve the look of the house. I guess I could try to put a sealer over an inconspicious corner and see how it comes out.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 7:21PM
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igloochic

It sounds like your floor has wax, not oil on it, european or not oil wouldn't come up for months and it wouldn't turn white.

The same problems arise with oil and paint. Especially if you have wax or any oil that's sitting on top of the surface (you have one or the other). The paint won't stick to it either and frankly you'll have a much worse mess!!

Whatever it is, paint or stain, it's going to need to come off before you go any further. I'd experiment with a wax remover first and see what happens in a back corner. If that does nothing, than you can try something that might get that surface oil up (deep cleaner for wood floors). You have to get rid of all lose residue before you go any further, and since you have to go that far...you might as well stain and poly verses painting, since you'll have the same base to start with.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 11:04PM
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concretenprimroses

I was going to say also that paint won't stick. I wonder where you could relliably get a professional opinion? Or are there some bottles of the stuff they used in your basement? Could the realtor help you find out exactly what the product is? Colonial days unfinished wood floors were cleaned with lye soap and for some reason that makes me wonder if there is something that would clean up the oil enough to refinish. If you know exactly what you have you may be able to get advice from the company that created the product. Almost sounds to me like the FO skipped a step, the final one hopefully. Sanding oil would be a real mess also.

Unrelated to your problem, I saw a program on hgtv recently where they painted a decent wood floor with epoxy garage paint. It looked like plastic, I was horrified.

Good luck and be sure to let us know what you do.

kathy

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 7:42AM
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antiquesilver

I googled 'european oil finish'; it seems it's usually a mix of various veg oils & wax that penetrate & harden in the wood. My guess is that the wood has to be perfectly bare in order to absorb this finish & your floor wasn't when the PO applied the oil - therefore it never fully penetrated nor cured. (Mixing wax & oil doesn't seem like an ideal situation for hardening, either but that's just my opinion). Maybe you can contact a maker of one of these oil finishes & find out what magic solvent is necessary to dissolve the unhardened finish. I'd also try turpentine on a small section to see if that has any effect.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 2:44PM
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igloochic

I think I'll see my artist today (he did all of my walls and woodwork). He specializes in old world finishes (went to college for it LOL) so along with doing really fabulous work, he knows more than any human being about getting rid of bad finishes. I'll ask him about the wax and oil finish and see what he recommends to get it off. Worst case, I'll see him on Monday and can ask him then.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 1:24PM
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SuzyQ2

I certainly wouldn't paint and don't think you have to.

If you want poly and you currently have wax, strip off the wax with mineral spirits. Make sure you get it all off, then finish with what you want.

Depending on what type of oil you have on the floors, putting a poly over it may not be a problem...just need to find one that is compatible (i.e. oil based). Ask in your local paint store. Clean the floor with mineral spirits & finish. I use BLO under a wipe on oil based poly finish on furniture all of the time.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 12:46PM
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