before and after

before & after: painted pattern floor

by Kate Pruitt

When floors are in bad condition and refinishing or renovating seems out of the question, people often try to downplay their floors by painting them a neutral color or hiding them under various rugs. However, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that if you can find a pattern or color you really love, the best cure for a mediocre floor can be a bold, eye-catching treatment instead. Take this pretty patterned-floor project by Carrie of Lovely Etc., for example.

Carrie ripped up the old, gross carpet in her living and dining rooms to find a plywood subfloor. She originally planned to paint the subfloor to tide her over until they could install hardwood flooring, but she loves the look of the paisley pattern so much that she has decided to save that money for other home projects instead. This project clearly requires patience, but the results are lovely. Instead of hiding under a rug, this floor is now the statement-maker in the room. Nice work, Carrie! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: 20–25 hours

Cost: $150 (floor patch, sandpaper, primer, paint, sealer)

Basic Steps: This whole project was born because I could not deal with our old stained carpet in our living and dining rooms for one more day, but I knew that hardwood flooring was not at the top of our priority list. So I took matters into my own hands. The first step was to rip out the old nasty carpet and carpet padding and remove the tack strips and staples from the subfloor. Crazy as it sounds, I hated the carpet so much, I thought the floor was already looking better when it was bare plywood. I patched the seams and holes and lightly sanded the entire floor. I primed the floor with a quality oil-based primer and then painted the base color using porch and floor paint. I love the look of painted floors, but I did not want it to be so obvious that this was just painted plywood, so I decided some visual interest was definitely needed. I taped off the border and painted it with a lighter color and then stenciled the design inside the border. The last step was to seal the floor with a non-yellowing floor sealer in satin finish to protect it and help keep it clean.

This project was pretty time-consuming, but the low cost and beautiful results made it more than worth it. I absolutely love my painted plywood floor, but keep in mind that it is still plywood — it is not going to be silky smooth like concrete. Also, I highly recommend using a detailed pattern like the paisley I chose — it really hides the dirt and dust that would otherwise be easy to see on such a dark floor. I am so happy with my floors now; I have to smile every time I see them. — Carrie

To see Carrie’s full how-to on her site, click here.

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  • I’ve been thinking of this for several years; thanks for the link. The only question I have for my situation, what do you do with the cat?

  • Vision + dedication = Absolutely stunning- reminds me of the elegant entryway floors in Italian palazzo. I dearly hope the sealer is enough for this work of art to endure! Carrie has got wonderful taste and patience of a saint to boot- her blog says she sanded the plywood with a palmsander! Between that, the edging and the meticulous placement of the stencil perhaps the 20-25 hour time estimate is missing a zero? Her blog says several months. Its a masterpiece- these things don’t happen overnight!

  • It is gorgeous. I have concrete under my carpet which also needs a bit of patching. Wonder if I could do something similar on concrete. Any thoughts anyone? Truly…truly..gorgeous. It’s not too rough to walk on right?

  • I love this. The use of a border is something I haven’t seen much of with painted floors but it elevates it so much! It’s reminiscent of intricate inlaid wood floors or tile. Such dedication!

  • omg AMAZING! i’d love to do that at my place! I love DIY things! unfortunately i dont have much to do and time :(

    Check out my blog also about interior design! evedeko.blogspot.com

  • this is beyond beautiful. gives me all the more motivation to rip up the ugly carpet in my home. Thank you!

    and becky, i think it can be done- in fact, i’m sure it can be done. i have the same situation at my home. In fact you check out My Marrakesh’s Peacock Pavillion.

  • Beautiful! I did a similar project with our floors (not nearly as detailed or gorgeous as this), but I have found that Rustoleum’s marine topsider boat paint is AMAZING for covering up floor imperfections. It’s self-leveling, shiny and wears like iron. You may need to add some grit to it if you’re putting it on a very smooth surface, to reduce slippery-ness. For $12 it transformed a gross vinyl bathroom floor into something I can live with.

  • This would be so much fun to do. Someday, I’ll have an area like that (even if it is just a garage floor)! So cool! I’ll definitely have to find a better way to occupy my dog during projects now!
    Love this!

  • AAAK! I LOVE IT! I was thinking of trying to find a cheap way to camouflage the heinous laminate that covers most of my house, and my love interest has no interest in the time & money it will take to install reclaimed hardwood. SO this is a tactic I can do myself! Thanks for the great idea.

  • As others have said, WOW. I scrolled down not sure of what I’d find, and the “after” blew me away. It look gorgeous.

  • I really really loved this. And then I noticed the gap between the baseboards and the floor. Carrie, are you planning on new baseboards or some other way to fill in that gap??

  • I saw this on pinterest several weeks ago, and loved it! I am now 100% trying to convince my boyfriend this needs to be the basement in our new house.

  • I am always surprised by the amount of creativity on this website. This is not only AMAZING to look at and be in awe of but it’s cheaper than hardwood floors and let’s face it. Home renovations are expensive enough. This is beautiful, amazing, magnificent, fabulous and other nice words. Fantastic job and inspiration to us all.

  • This is the kind of character that all homes crave!

    This also reminds me of something funny my husband said to me recently: “What if we tore up this hardwood and there was beautiful carpet underneath?”. All kidding aside, how fabulous would it be in 100 years when someone does pull up the hardwood (that I assume you may eventually get, though now maybe not) and they saw this floor…swoon!

  • I love it! It looks so money and it’s not. It’s got to make you proud every time you walk in the room.

  • This is AMAZING!!! I, like the other commenters, am completely blown away by your transformation. Having stenciled a wall, I can only imagine how much attention to detail was needed to line up that pattern. Great job!

    Any chance you’ll share what brand of sealer you used? I have yet to find one I like for heavily used surfaces and would love a recommendation. Thanks!!

  • This post made my day! My huge basement with cement floors (pool table and all sorts of good and fun stuff for the kids to hang out -minus the carpet after that terrible flood we had a few years ago), -well, this will be great for! I don’t have to worry about kids in their family room with soda and carpeting and flooding or anything! What a great alternative! We had thought about going with wood, (a Pergo type) but not only would it be costly, but with the humidity here in the Midwest (damp basements) I really wasn’t buying into the idea. THANK YOU!!! Even my husband was excited and that’s saying a lot!!

  • I actually have this very idea but applied to new concrete wall! I’ve been asking around as to what kind of paint to use. What do mural artists use anyway? Your help and valuable suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • OMG! I’m ripping my carpet out today!! Thank you so much for the inspiration!
    LOVE it!!!

  • Like everyone else, I am blown away! It’s beautiful! I reached the point of ripping out the nasty carpet a couple of summers ago. I found hardwood under the carpet, but the wood was completely paint-spattered. Such a disappointment. I wound up refinishing the edges of the rooms & hallway, and then installing Flor to cover the ugliness that remained. Remembering the work involved, I’m especially impressed with your floor! Kudos.

  • Ditto to the last comment! I would hire you right now! You have a gift that you need to use to benefit your family and it sounds like you enjoy it so how much the more! TOO STINKIN CUTE!!!

  • You’d really have to love the pattern before committing to it. I do not like looking at paisley. I love plain painted wooden boards like in those beach shacks, a pale aqua washed out look.

  • The floors look AMAZING but what I would’ve done is paint the walls and the trim before I did them, because the walls look not so great compared to how GOOD the floors look.. Just sayin. The last photo shows the trim looking yellowish and stained.. Takes away from the floors. I think a light gray wall paint color with brightened white trim would make the floors look even better than they do now. But seriously, I can’t imagine how long that took to do… And with as little as you spent, I’d be very very proud too. :) Nice work!

  • Oh my gosh that looks so nice..I love it..I want to do my bedroom at the beach like that,,,thinking of a color to look more beachy looking, any ideas….thanks .love it

  • My hat off to you! You have done a magnicent job.

    I painted a very small floor using this method a long time ago, but yours really tops it. Well done.

  • I ripped up carpeting in 2 bedrooms so far, one to go and the upstairs landing. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous floor and giving me the inspiration to do one of my own. My brain is spinning with ideas for patterns and colors.

  • Your floors are stunning! One of a kind! And, so timely. I, too had nasty carpet I could not live with. I also would love wood floors, but the cost is prohibitive. As I am a decorative painter I decided I’d paint it to look like a castle stone floor. Unlike you, I have cement to work with. It is in amazingly horrible shape; cracks and hundreds of gouges where carpet tack strips were nailed down. I think I’d rather have your plywood! The prep before painting, I expect, will be a longer process than the painting itself. I can only hope my end result leaves me as happy as you are with yours!

  • amazing!! I want to re-do my kitchen floor, but it is tile. Can this process also work on tile floors???
    I am soo jealous!! I want these floors!

  • This is GORGEOUS!!! V inspirational. I’m in a similar situation – bare concrete on my hall floor, no money to lay the traditional Victorian tiles that should be in my old Scottish house. Very tempted to get the paintbrush and stencils out. First I need to find some patience – and a baby sitter or ten for the toddler…!

  • Now that is what you call a transformation! The quality of work is so good that all money and time put into it would have been worth it. Painting a floor is no easy job and I am sure that this took a lot of patience and preparation. Two of the most important things when doing a project like this! Amazing job!

  • Genius! Superb craftsmanship!
    I have painted a black and white paisley rug with diluted blue paint but you have given encouragement to go even further!