If you have not yet seen part 1 of this tutorial, you should check it out! If you’ve already created a design you love, let’s prepare to paint your custom floor!
*NOTE* I am not promoting these materials for any financial compensation, I am simply telling you what we used.
- 2 Sherwin Williams “Water Based Tile Clad Epoxy” kits (one kit with white paint, one kit with black paint)
(*NOTE* We used black industrial enamel for our top layer, but that oil-based paint isn’t made anymore, and I think black epoxy would have been easier to work with anyway because it dries much faster).
- 1 gallon of MINWAX “Ultimate Floor Finish”
(*NOTE* This is really good polyurethane, which is reflected in the price… about $100 per gallon. However, we did three coats of this over our kitchen and laundry room floors and did not have to purchase a second can. It has held up very well and was totally worth the price. You can decide if you want a glossy or satin finish. We did glossy and I love it).
- 1 quart of lacquer thinner (any brand will work)
- Dawn dish soap (it’s the best at breaking up oil)
- mop, broom, and towels for drying
- blue painters masking tape
- paint roller with a long handle
- recyclable paint roller tray
- 3 paint roller covers (pick ones with a 3/8″ nap to spread the paint very smoothly)
- utility knife (or Exacto knife) and scissors
- A few small, flat tipped brushes for touch-ups (these can be cheap ones found at the craft store near acrylic paints and art supplies)
Clean the Floor
Start by doing the best sweeping job possible, then mop your floors with lacquer thinner (to remove grime and wax) and let it dry. It’s important to wear shoes while working with the lacquer thinner, just make sure they are clean. Always wash exposed skin really well after working with chemicals like this. Finally, mop the floor with soapy water and dry. Cleaning and prepping your floor properly will help it not to repel the epoxy. Once everything is dry you can mask your baseboards to avoid getting any epoxy on them. The lacquer thinner might take some of the paint off the baseboards, so you may need to touch those up with house paint later. When it comes to painting projects, there are always touch-ups.
Mix up your white epoxy kit by following the instructions on the packaging. Your kit will come with two cans, one is the actual paint, and one is a catalyst, which is the ingredient that makes epoxy dry to be very hard. Once these are mixed together properly, you can pour some epoxy into your paint tray and start rolling it on the floor. Make sure you don’t have too much paint on the roller because it needs to be able to dry properly and you’ll be doing at least one more coat. We needed two coats of white epoxy to cover our kitchen and laundry room floors. We had one small trouble spot near the stove, where the white epoxy bubbled and cracked. I think it must have been some cooking oil that remained on the floor even after mopping. Our second coat of epoxy sealed it up and the crack never came up again. Epoxy is essentially glue and sticks very well to almost anything, but it is best to do a really excellent job preparing the surface first. Definitely do at least two coats of white epoxy. If your original floor is dark, it’s possible you will need to do a third coat.
* Take your shoes off and do your work with clean bare feet as soon as you’re done using lacquer thinner.
* Wear clothes you don’t mind getting permanent paint on (just in case).
* Allow each layer of paint to dry very well before you paint more layers on top.
* If you have long hair, pull it back or put it in a hair net before you start painting or sealing your floor. Hair will get stuck in the paint and glue down to the floor forever.
After your white epoxy is completely dry (I would give it several hours between coats to be safe), you can begin masking out your design. You can visit part 1 of this DIY project to learn how I designed my floor pattern. I never actually used a ruler to measure where the tape should go. I relied on the fact that all the tiles are the same size, and I measured using the placement of the tile seams. Below is a visual explanation in case you’re feeling confused.
* When masking, we used normal yellow masking tape, which worked well, but in just a few spots near tile seams it pulled up little bits of epoxy. If this happens do not freak out. I was panicking but everything turned out just fine. In the unlikely event that the epoxy peels a little bit, cut it with your utility knife so there is not a loose end, then paint back over it with more epoxy using a flat-tipped touch up brush. As long as you don’t leave a loose end of peeling paint (where a bubble could form underneath), the epoxy will just glue itself down and look normal again. To be safe I would suggest using blue painters tape which isn’t quite as sticky. This makes it less likely you’ll have any peeling at all. At the end of all your painting, you’ll seal the whole floor in MINWAX polyurethane and your epoxy paint job will be protected underneath, so peeling won’t be a problem again!
This is what section 1’s masking job looked like before we painted the black design on top.
It got even more complicated than my original drawing. So tedious… I don’t know that I’d get this complicated on a floor painting ever again, but it did give some nice variety to the floor. Don’t drive yourself crazy with a design like this unless you’re absolutely hooked on tiny little lines. Notice that we put a stripe on either side of this design. That gave it a cleaner look and covered up the seams between our sections. After we finished masking the herringbone section, we mixed up our black epoxy and got to work laying it over the finished area. This time we only did one layer of epoxy because the black looked so solid.
After the black epoxy was completely dry, we carefully pulled up all the tape. I was really pleased to see that touch-ups were going to be minimal! This image shows the herringbone design before we did any touch-ups. The tape did a great job. Masking section 2 was about a hundred times easier and faster.
I like how the herringbone pattern turned this design into an optical illusion. The stripes look wider in some areas than others, right? Well, they’re definitely not because we followed the original straight lines of the tile, it’s just a fun trick on the eyes!
So how did it hold up?
We painted our kitchen and laundry room floors two years ago, and they are still going strong. I’m really glad we decided to go this route for the time being. It was so cost effective, it’s bold and unique, and it will be pretty painless to change when we’re ready for something new. We have a daughter and a puppy who add a lot of foot traffic and I can’t believe how resilient the floor has been. I mop it about once a week, sometimes more often because the shiny black and white are not particularly good at hiding dirt (note that you can get epoxy in a variety of colors). We haven’t had much chipping because the polyurethane sealed the epoxy really well, but moving a new fridge into the house caused a few nicks in the paint job. Guess how I fixed them? Nail polish. Scuffs are sometimes hard to remove, so I have used a Magic Eraser to take them off. The floor has lost some of its shine from that and from traffic, so I plan to polish it with Quick Shine in the near future. The polyurethane is water-based, so if you do this make sure to always mop up spills quickly like you would on a hardwood floor. At the end of the day, this was a perfect solution for our little 1950’s kitchen.
Have you ever taken the plunge and painted an old floor? Was it a fabulous experience or a stressful affair? I’d love to hear any thoughts in the comment section!
You can find some other helpful floor painting ideas here: