Ben’s room: Whitewashed Floors

I’m gonna get a little dramatic here.

The wooden floors in this house?

Bane of my existence.

Kryptonite to my Superman.

My enemy underfoot.

Magneto to my Professor X.

The. Worst.

A lot of Ontario homes from this era have oak floors and oak trim. Except where a lot of maple was harvested – like up here. Many homes have maple floors instead. When it’s in great shape, it’s absolutely beautiful.

And I do like some things about them.

They’re mostly smooth. They’re nice and warm underfoot. The adorable creaks mean no one ever sneaks up on you.

But these are not in great shape. And they have more fun aspects:

Gaps to catch alllll the dirt.

close up of floors

Scratches. So many scratches.


Finish worn away, bare wood to absorb odors and stains

The finish that’s left? Nicely yellowed over time.

Oh yeah.

Before this room was Ben’s, we had a homestay student living in this room from the university. When they moved out, we first had a little cleaning up to do:

IMG_0803 IMG_0802 IMG_0800


Okay, a LOT of cleaning up to do.

The floor was pretty bad.

The upside? If I tried a floor finishing experiment, I had absolutely nothing to lose.

My goals were:

  • Seal the floor so odors can’t be absorbed
  • Make it less yellow
  • Find a finish that doesn’t show a ton of dirt.

So I thought about sanding the floor, then re-staining and sealing.

I thought about replacing the floor.

But I had a day for time + $0 for budget.

So… I thought “I’d sure like this to be free! I have paint and poly. Maybe I can figure something out.”

Oil paint would be more durable, but it has a lot of fumes. With a 4-month-old sleeping in the next room: Nice and safe no-VOC latex  paint was the way to go.

Instead of simply painting, I wanted to water the paint down and whitewash the floors.

If it was a thin coat, I thought it might turn out like this:

nostalgiecat floors

via nostalgiecat

or if it went on thicker, maybe like this

style at home floor

via styleathome

These are both pretty thin coats. It turned out thicker was the way to go.

First, it was time to clean out the room:

It already looked better!

IMG_0817 IMG_0814 IMG_0812


But the floors were pretty brutal! Deep scratches meant that a light whitewash (like the first picture) was out.

So I went for it.

Step #1:     Grab a super duper fancy mixing container (Aka an old orange juice carton with the top cut off).

Step #2      In the carton,  mixed 1 part latex trim paint + 2 parts water. (about a cup of paint and 2 cups water)

Step #3      Picked up a 3″ brush, and got painting:


45 minutes later, the floor was covered. The doorway posed a bit of a problem, but I laid down a strip of packing tape, then pulled it up before the paint dried:


The results?

It’s alright.

The grain shows through a bit, and the paint covered pretty well.





The gaps in the floor are still there, but I like the overall effect! The room looks a lot less yellow.

And the best parts?

(1) As it wears, it should add to the patina and weathered effect.

(2) Later on, a coat of poly can be added on top. For now, we’ll live with it and see how it works.

(3) It’s probably not possible to refinish the floor, given the scratches/gaps. But if we did, it would have needed a good sanding anyway. So if we ever get around to refinishing… it’s still the same amount of work.

Tomorrow I’ll touch up the trim paint and move in some furniture!


2 Replies to “Ben’s room: Whitewashed Floors”

  1. love it 😀 well done Mer’. It’s always fun to experiment and see what happens

  2. […] needed a clean-out. It needed a few touch-ups. And a fresh floor treatment didn’t […]

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