As with any DIY job, correct preparation is the key to getting a project done efficiently with the final effect exactly how you planned it. With painting or staining a floor, correct preparation is even more important, as floors have a lot more use made of them than walls or ceilings and getting a sound, solid finish the first time will save on re-touching in the future.
If you have any creaking or squeaking floorboards in the room you are going to decorate, now might be the time to fix them. If you require any assistance from a local carpenter in London, you can “Post-a-Job” and ask for a free carpenters quote or follow our “Project Advice” on how to repair creaking and squeaking floorboards.
If you are painting or staining a floor which has existing paint or varnish on it, you are going to have to sand it right back to the bare boards. This is best done with an electric sander, but make sure that you are wearing goggles and a dust mask before you start, and that the room is well ventilated. Corners and areas near skirting boards can be done with a mini-sanding attachment on a power drill or by hand with sandpaper – although using the latter method can be backbreaking!
Once you have sanded the floor, Hoover the room thoroughly and use white spirit to wipe clean the floorboards. If you are looking to enhance the grain features in the wood, gently stroke each board with a wire brush following the direction of the grain. Then, depending on your preferred finish, start painting or staining from the furthest corner of the room from the door
Wood stain is available as water-based or solvent-based product in a wide range of colours. It provides a lighter finish than varnish and the solvent-based wood stain also has strong protective qualities. To apply wood stain, seal your freshly stripped (or newly laid) floorboards with a clear Polyurethane varnish and allow to dry. Then apply up to three coats of wood stain depending on the depth of colour and level of protection that you want. Tip: Water-based wood stain, although not offering as much protection as the solvent-based equivalent, dries much faster.
If you are painting your floor, you may not need to go through the procedure of sanding it down beforehand depending on the colour you are painting over. Making sure that it is free from dust however is important if you want to obtain a perfect finish. Painting bare floorboards with a satinwood paint can leave a really nice finish or standard emulsion will suffice in all but the heaviest areas of foot traffic. Whichever finish you choose, once the paint is dry protect it with a coat or two of clear varnish.
Like wood stain, varnish is also available in either water-based or solvent-based formulas. Solvent-based offers the best results in many cases but can be unpleasant to apply due to the strong smell. Although varnishing your floorboards will produce a stunning finish, you need to consider than after a few years of wear and tear varnish inevitably begins to crack or shrink, and this may mean performing the whole task once again!
If there are any areas of this specific project which you are unsure about, or you like the idea of having a freshly painted or stained wooden floor but are not confident of doing the job yourself, you can contact a selection of local decorators in London by using the “Post-a-Job” facility at the top of this page.