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White Floors

Our apartment is pretty much done so now we’ve turned our attention to the art studio. We moved in over 4 years ago and besides a quick coat of paint we never really did much with it. But now that we both use it as our main workspace I realized it is in dire need of a makeover. The first step is we are going to paint the floors white! I’m a little nervous but some of my favorite studio spaces have white floors and I think it will help take advantage of the natural light we get. Have you ever painted floors white? Will they stay dirty forever? I’d love some advice from people who have lived with them.

photo credit: Jessica Helgerson Design

  1. rebekka

    September 11, 2012

    Some good friends of mine epoxied (I think that’s right!) their loft floors white and it was absolutely beautiful! It did scratch more than anyone expected though. I want white floors too in our bedrooms…I want to lay down big, wide planks of wood and paint them white. I’m sure whatever you do will be gorgeous!!!


  2. Shayna Proctor

    September 11, 2012

    Don’t do it. Are they hardwood floors? My friend painted his studio in New York white and it just looks dirty and uneven all the time. But that’s just my vote.

  3. Brittney R.

    September 11, 2012

    I lived in an apartment that had white wood floors. My first thoughts: Amazing! Beautiful! My experience: Constant mopping & embarrassment. They were so beyond impossible to keep clean. It was really disappointing. Left me wondering about all the beautiful photos of homes with white floors. It is important to note that I have 2 black cats who got black fur everywhere and little black soot paw prints from the fireplace everywhere, so maybe that was it.

  4. Suziq

    September 11, 2012

    I came across this post years ago and always thought it would be awesome to try out, but I haven’t had the opportunity. But, maybe this would work for your situation, and it wouldn’t be absolutely permanent if you decide you don’t like it….. AND, you could draw on it with sharpies, how fun!

  5. Katrin

    September 11, 2012

    My upstairs and kitchen floors are light gray and I have to say while I love them in the low traffic areas, they drive me nuts in the kitchen. Yes they always look dirty and you have to mop them all the time.

  6. erica

    September 11, 2012

    I say don’t do it. It looks great in photos – and if you don’t have kids/pets/shoes/a life…We have light grey floors in our kitchen and it is such a pain in the ass. They always look dirty no matter how much we clean them. Every little scrape or thing that drops on them is visible – and this is grey, not white. Make your life a little easier. I got a white sofa against my better judgement and what looked great in the showroom did not work so well in my living room. I have lived to regret the purchase.

  7. Loren

    September 11, 2012

    Growing up my parents painted my bedroom floor white. The planks were in terrible condition so it was a good idea. They used a glossy oil based paint and I don’t remember it seeming any ‘dirtier’ than any other part of the house. But I totally loved it.
    If the floors in your studio are in nice shape I think you might regret it, but if they are crummy then go for it.

  8. Emily

    September 11, 2012

    It might depend on what you’re starting with. I live in a 1856 Vermont farmhouse, and we ripped up the ugly, low-pile, nylon carpeting that was covering all of our floors to reveal some beautiful, old, wide-plank pine. The old floors were painted many times over (likely lead paint too), so to save the expense of refinishing, we decided to paint everything white. While I have loved the look in most spaces (it really brightens up the first-floor dining room, for example, which is dark due to a covered porch over the windows), but in other areas, it’s a huge pain in the butt. Our stairway and hallway, for example, routinely look dingy. What’s worse, though, is that they have really gotten beat up with dings and chips. We have a dog, and that has caused a lot of it. I think it’s also a result of the fact that there were layers of paint underneath. I have a friend who painted their brand-new wood floors, though, and theirs are fine–easy clean up for the most part, and no chips and dings. In short, I think it just depends on what you’re starting with and what you hope to achieve. My floors look rustic and worn–not shiny and modern and clean and perfect.

  9. Emily

    September 11, 2012

    Sounds lovely! My parents had white painted floors in two of the bedrooms in our house growing up. They became worn, scratched and chipped over time but I loved that part of it, and would do it again if my house had actual hardwood (as opposed to the soft fir floors I currently have, that seem to get dented if I sneeze too hard.) The above Emily is right – it really depends on what type of wood and treatments the existing floors have.

  10. Kelsy

    September 11, 2012

    As I type this I am sitting in my studio thinking how badly I need to clean the floor. It’s painted white and as much as it gives a modern light-filled ambience to the room it’s a real pain in the butt to keep clean. But, one person’s dirty is another persons ‘just fine’. If you go ahead I would recommend using an oil based paint, the dirt seems to etch into the latex and give it a dingy look after awhile. Good luck!!!

  11. Luisa

    September 11, 2012

    We have white tiled floors in our kitchen and foyer (which is large enough that it’s also my office) and the upkeep is beyond annoying. One could reasonably vacuum and mop every day. It’s so much work. I think white floors look great in styled photographs, but in real life, it’s another story.

  12. Kimberley

    September 11, 2012

    I think you need to epoxy the floor, vs. just painting. My good friend has a busy photo studio in Manhattan with epoxy white floors and holds up to day to day wear and tear. He has to do it again every couple of years but I believe you’ll find it more durable than just painting it.
    Good Luck!

  13. Abby

    September 11, 2012

    My mom did it in her loft-ish home office space. Granted she is a pretty meticulous cleaner, but I never felt it looked excessively dirty (and she had 2 cats, a golden retriever, and my dad). To top it all off, she used flat paint because it was what she had. She did say that the best part about the white floors was that they were easily cleaned with a magic eraser. There wasn’t a spot she couldn’t remove.

    In addition, I have a pale yellow painted kitchen floor in a house with two kids and three cats, and I love it. We painted it five years ago (right over the likely asbestos backed laminate) and although it shows a few signs of wear, those two coats of semi-gloss latex paint have held up fantastically for the time and money invested. It does show dirt more plainly but I kind of like it because then spot cleaning is easier. Honestly, I’m no compulsive cleaner (regular spot clean-ups, sweep every 2-3 days, and all-over mop maybe weekly), but it doesn’t seem to take significantly more care than my hardwoods.

    I know when I painted my floor, it was a temporary measure (until we could afford new flooring), but since we’ve had two kids it seems to be a more permanent measure. I guess in the back of my mind, I know that with paint, I can *always* slap another coat on or dab a little touch-up down and it will look fresh again. All flooring wears (my original ’40’s hardwoods are proof of that), and in the end, your decision should be based on whether you’re alright with life and time being on display or if you would rather have the ‘just installed’ look. My design sentiment definitely leans toward the weathered and worn and the painted floor is ideal for me.

  14. Jordan - Polkadot Prints

    September 11, 2012

    Oh do it! I love that look. I come from Australia, and white/light floors (and kitchens) is one thing I miss living here in Nth America. White tiles, wood…it looks so bright and airy. And think of all those Scandinavian countries who have white bright interiors too. They’re on to something! : ) (Unless they all have weekly cleaners that we don’t know about!!)

  15. Lisa

    September 11, 2012

    I am still laughing how I still remember them from my grandmothers house long ago, but why not try linoleum floors?! From a quick look I had they still offer them and they have a variety of good materials and glosses to choose from. Seems easier to maintain than textured wood or tiles you might have in your studio. Just do it, whatever paint or method you choose, you can always change it if it doesn’t work 🙂

    P.s : How about magnetic/metallic floor (like the wall you created in the kids’ room?

  16. Nicole

    September 11, 2012

    I moved into an apartment with white floors and they always look dirty no matter if they have just been mopped or cleaned. It bugs me in my workspace because I craft a lot on the floor so it always looks messy. Definitely not a fan!

  17. fabian

    September 11, 2012

    We just purchased a studio in Oakland and are thinking about doing this. It looks great, and will also be a bit more forgiving than just painting the floor white. IT has a bit of a rustic or worn look but also looks clean and modern at the same time.

    Here’s the link to a scandinavian white wash of a floor.

  18. Daisy and Finn

    September 11, 2012

    Hey Jordan,
    we’ve had white painted floors for over 10 years now, they’ve seen us through the arrival of 2 children & 2 black cats. The comments here ring true, we have reclaimed floor boards in our Victorian house & I love being about to see the grain of the wood & the separation of the boards. The look is more rustic, shabby chic than clean,sharp & minimalist . We do have to clean them in the kitchen about 3 times a week, the rest of the house is ok…it’s where water is splashed/dripped that it looks awful & grubby really quickly. We do re paint every 3 years or so.But for us it’s worth it as it creates such a lovely light space.
    We have pale grey painted boards in out holiday home , on new boards & the look is much cleaner.
    We have learnt through trial & error the best technique for getting the best results ( & the one that makes them easy to maintain)..
    1) lightly sand & clean floor
    2)fill joints between the boards with decorators caulk & wipe clean with a damp cloth, allow to dry over night.
    3)paint using a brush with floor paint, dry over night.
    4)lightly sand & clean off the dust.Paint with 2nd coat,dry over night.
    5)seal with ‘Bona Traffic’ 2 part sealant & allow to dry over night.
    It’s this sealant that makes a huge difference to the up keep of the painted floor !
    You can see the effect at our cottage if you look at and look for Mariners cottage ( under sleeps 4 section).
    Good luck !

  19. how2home

    September 11, 2012

    White floor would look good but hard to clean A friend of ours her apartment has white floor and it just looks muggy and it’ll never be the perfect white 🙁

  20. Kimberly La Mar-Damiani

    September 11, 2012

    this reminds me….i need to re-paint my white floors ugh !

  21. sarah-mai

    September 11, 2012

    We painted our concrete floors white and the result is gorgeous. However, we didn’t pay the much more expensive amount to have it done properly and sealed with an apoxy type substance. I would highly highly recommend this expensive, yet essential step. If not, it is so difficult to keep clean. We have a friend in Palm Springs who has the expensive version and they’re quite easy to keep clean. Lots of luck to you!

  22. Krysta

    September 11, 2012

    We painted our kitchen floors white last year- we did three coats of white paint (got whatever kind the paint guy recommended for the floors) and then three clear top coats of poly. Our kitchen opens to our back yard and we have 2 pups so our white floors rarely stay bright white for long, but the poly top coats help to make the floors pretty easy to clean.

    To be honest, when we moved in the floors were painted a terra-cotta color and they always look filthy- never ever clean even straight after washing them, so for us this was a pretty nice improvement that we could do inexpensively. I should also add that we have a sort of rustic, eclectic feel to our home so it doesn’t bother me when there are slight imperfections, but if you are going for the bright crisp totally modern and pristine look that magazines trick you into thinking it actually achievable in everyday life, you might be a little disappointed.

  23. Rachel

    September 11, 2012

    Like you, I’ve always wanted gorgeous white floors. We stayed in a lovely airy loft in Santa Monica on vacation a few years ago and I was forever cured. It had such fab white floors but within a few hours of all 4 of us being there, it looked crazy dirty. I couldn’t believe how quickly it looked so bad. I think if I had to live with it for very long, I’d go nuts from all the cleaning.

  24. suzy

    September 11, 2012

    really like that beautiful tree with the big leaves in the photo. do you happen to know what it’s called?

  25. Hannah @ Sparrow + Spark!

    September 12, 2012

    I used to have a white bedroom floor and loved it. Loved! I didn’t have a normal window, just a weird glass door in the room and it really helped lighten up the room. I don’t remember being driven insane by cleaning.

  26. leen

    September 12, 2012

    I love the idea of white floors as well, so we painted the old hardwood floor in our bathrooom a glossy white. Terrible idea!! As mentionned above…it always looked dirty even after it was just cleaned. I always blamed it on the fact that it was in a bathroom though….apparently not 😉
    Instead of white, I would now go for natural pinewood floors, I guess it gives you pretty much the same effect and it feels warmer.

  27. MV

    September 12, 2012

    Hello, Can anyone help me?
    I’m building a house in Sintra, Portugal and I really want white wood floor in the bedrooms. Can you tell me how to do it? Which type of wood and paintings should I use?

  28. unfounddoor

    September 12, 2012

    I am still inspired by AB Chao’s white kitchen floors (apartment therapy before and after here: ) — they look great and she doesn’t seem to have found keeping them looking clean a problem. I say dewit 😉

  29. Christina @ Little Victorian

    September 12, 2012

    I see there are a lot of differing opinions here. I painted my (original 1880 hardwood) living room floor white almost 2 years ago.

    Our front door opens to the living room, so I painted our very textured floor white in a VERY high traffic area. It took a year to start looking dingy, but the thing is, I didn’t seal it (not smart!). I am positive that if I had sealed it as other comments mentioned, it would still be in great shape. However, the rest of the living room which is lower traffic, though used every day, still looks bright white and gorgeous.

    The floors in my 2nd floor office were also painted white long before we purchased the house. Aside from the various paint colors the previous owners splattered on them, they look fantastic and have held up beautifully. My dog and I are in the office for several hours a day, and I don’t have to vacuum or mop any more often than in the rest of the house.

    So, we are still in love with our painted white floors and would do it again in a heartbeat, even in the high traffic area. In spite of what one commenter said above, we do have pets/shoes/friends/a life, and we both work from home, and still have beautiful white floors. I don’t think you’ll regret it at all in your studio.

  30. Cassie

    September 12, 2012

    I also just did this in my space. And as elegant and jaw-droppingly gorgeous as it looks in everyone’s photos, they seriously must have just mopped. And waxed. And buffed. And never wear shoes. I think the most annoying thing is being able to see every footprint that ever traipses through. I don’t regret it because of how hideous it was before and I was on a budget, but if you’ve got the means, you may want to consider something else. I also used a semi-gloss paint that wasn’t specifically for floors. Maybe using a deck stain or something specifically recommended for high traffic areas would help.

  31. Susan

    September 12, 2012

    I ripped up the carpeting and painted my bedroom floor white in my old place. Two coats of primer, two coats of latex, and two coats of poly. Every two to three years I needed to touch up some worn spots and re-poly the floors. They were beautiful, and I didn’t mind the work. Painting the floor is tons easier than painting the walls, or (ugh!) painting the ceiling. Two words of caution: put felt on the bottom of all of your furniture legs; and lift, don’t scoot, furniture when rearranging.

  32. Melissa

    September 12, 2012

    We installed the IKEA white wash floors in our kitchen. I think they look great but are definitely difficult to keep clean. Dirty feet marks, and my brown hair have been the most noticeable difference with white floors. Good news-people think they look pretty!

  33. Melissa

    September 12, 2012

    Suzy, I think that may be a variety of fig tree (fiddle leaf fig?). I like it too.

  34. Kelsey

    September 12, 2012

    I don’t have any experience with painting floors white, but I can’t wait to see pics of your apartment!

  35. Lane

    September 12, 2012

    Totally off topic, but what kind of plant is that on the left? Gorgeous!

  36. Becca Blue

    September 12, 2012

    I can’t help with the floor part, but to Lane & Suzy I can tell you that is a fiddlehead fig tree. 🙂
    Love the idea of white floors- the reality (and the dirt) not so much! Keep us posted!

  37. Cat Bee

    September 12, 2012

    I manage a photo studio with white floors and we have hundreds of people in and out every year. Of course the wear and tear is more visible but there are ways to mitigate that.
    If you’ll be rolling gear around or have heavy traffic, laying down cardboard is a common way to protect floors in a pinch.
    Also, taping the feet of any furniture/gear that will be moved around with white gaffer’s tape.
    Mr. Clean magic erasers are exactly what they say, MAGIC and will do a LOT to get stubborn, unmoppable stains up.
    And when all else fails, it’s time to repaint. Depending on the wear and tear I do it about 3-4 times a year but like I said, MANY MANY people come and go through my space.
    You’ll be able to get away with much less, likely less than once a year.

  38. Gina

    September 12, 2012

    I LOVE white floors. In Sweden, white is predominant and I always admire white floors and anyone who goes pure white always says that it’s so much work. More power to you if you can do the upkeep for pure, glossy white. We moved into our house 3 years ago. I wanted white floors and rather than going full white so we stripped the hardwood floor and then re-sealed it with “pigmented oil.” We LOVE it. This is a regular floor oil but white pigment is added and it is applied. We’ve been very happy with it. The only damage we’re had has been from wet metal (luggage wheels that were caked with snow and stood drying unnoticed.) I vote for white but I would suggest researching white options.

  39. kirsty

    September 12, 2012

    we painted white and navy checkers on our kitchen floor. I love them and the patina that has happened over the last 5 years. I definitely gets dirty quickly (we are a family of 4 including 2 young boys and we use our kitchen constantly!) I use the sharkmop and they clean in a cinch. we used oil-based paint. they are awesome, do it!

  40. Victoria

    September 13, 2012

    I think it depends very much of the material you use for the floors.
    What is the name of this beautiful plant on the left?

  41. Amber

    September 13, 2012

    I just recently painted my entire bathroom white, including the counter top and floors. Everything has held up great, EXCEPT the floors. Not to be a downer, but it is awful! Shows all signs of hair, footprints, dog fur, lint, dust, etc; – I have plans on painting it a more forgiving color soon 🙂

  42. Alison R

    September 13, 2012

    I have painted my floors a very soft grey white and they are always looking dirty. So I added a wide stripe repeated in soft dark grey (almost black) and it really helped. Good luck!

  43. Egg City Arts

    September 13, 2012

    Hmmmm – art studio, with oil paint, white floors. That sounds like an impossible dream.

  44. Carrie

    September 15, 2012

    I painted the floors in our bedroom, office nook area and stairs white about 6 months ago and I love it! One coat of 123 primer , two costs of porch and floor paint, and then 2 coats of polyurethane. It doesn’t seem to be any dirtier than what we had before, and I love the light that is reflected. So I say go for it!!
    Oh, and the stairs have a high gloss black runner, so I think that may help with the wear and tear.

  45. Stefanie Ingram

    September 20, 2012

    Use Pavement Paint. It’s way cheaper and actually works better!

  46. marianne

    September 20, 2012

    ficus lyrata is the latin name so you can look it up wherever you live.

  47. Eva @ Sycamore Street Press

    September 21, 2012

    We had a painted white cement floor in our old living room. I loved how it brightened up the room, and it looked great from a distance and in photos. But up close and in person, it always looked dirty — even right after we had swept and mopped. An area rug covered most of the room, which helped… but it still drove me crazy sometimes.

    I also worked in a stationery boutique years ago that had beat up wooden floors that were covered in chipped white paint. They were actually good at hiding the dirt, and since the boutique was very shabby chic style, it worked in the space.

    I’m sure your space will end up looking amazing, whatever you decide.

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