Five tips for painting floorboards

A living room with white painted floorboards. Photo: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

A living room with white painted floorboards. Photo: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

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1. Period floorboards often have modern boards mixed in where repairs have been done over the years, or you may need to patch in new boards to replace damaged ones if you’re uncovering the boards for the first time.

Painting the boards can make it easier to disguise new ones than with wood stain or varnish, although there may be a noticeable difference in the wood grain between old and new.

2. As long as the boards are in good condition, you should be able to use a wood scraper, sandpaper and a handheld electric sander to clean them off and make them smooth. Remember to bang down any protruding nails with a nail punch and hammer - using a nail punch stops you damaging the boards with the hammer.

Boards in a worse state will need to be sanded with an industrial floor sander. Hiring a sander - and an edger for where the sander can’t reach - isn’t particularly expensive, but it’s hot, hard and dusty work. Afterwards, you may feel that as you’ve gone to all that effort, it’s a shame to cover the newly sanded boards with paint.

3. It’s important to clean the sanded boards thoroughly to get the best finish. Vacuuming them only goes so far - wipe them over after vacuuming, ideally with methylated spirits (or turps or white spirit), to remove any remaining sanding dust. Cleaning the boards between coats of paint may also be necessary. To clean out the gaps between the boards, run a knitting needle, butter knife or screwdriver down them.

4. Newer boards may contain resinous knots, which will need to be sealed with knotting solution to prevent the resin bleeding through and spoiling the paint. Alternatively, you can use Ronseal Knot Block Wood Primer & Undercoat (from £7.98 for 250ml, B&Q), which seals the knots, primes and undercoats in one, saving you time and effort.

You’ll need to apply wood primer/undercoat to all the boards - try diluting the first coat with about 10% of white spirit so it penetrates the wood better. After starting to paint the boards, you may find that yellow patches appear. If normal paint won’t cover them, use a stain-block paint - Polycell One Coat Stain Stop aerosol (£5.50, Tesco Direct) dries much quicker than most stain blocks.

5. If you need to use the room again soon, a quick-drying floorboard paint - water-based ones dry fastest - is your best bet. However, if you can close the door and wait some time for the floor to dry, a solvent-based paint may be more durable long term and should require fewer coats.

You’ll have to do several coats of water-based white floorboard paint, for example, to avoid a patchy finish. Water-based white paint shouldn’t yellow over time, but a solvent-based white probably will, so bear this in mind before picking your produc