• In this video, This Old House technical editor Mark Powers shows you how to avoid the cost of refinishing or replacing worn planks by sprucing them up with a few coats of durable paint. You can choose whatever pattern you want (here we use a checkerboard for a cottage-style look) or color you want; all you need is a framing square and some painting tools.


    1. Gently rough up the floor's finish and level any high spots with a 150-grit sanding sponge. Wipe the floor clean with a damp cloth and allow to dry thoroughly.

    2. Meanwhile, cover the space beneath doors with plastic to keep dust from blowing in.

    3. Beginning on the opposite side of the room from the door, paint the entire floor with a base coat of the lighter of your two colors. Cut in the edges of the floor with a paintbrush. Then coat the entire field with a roller.

    4. Let the paint dry completely at least overnight. Apply second coat if needed.

    5. Begin laying out pattern at most visible wall in perfect half-square triangles. Estimate the number of squares you want to fit across the wall and divide by length of the wall by that number of squares. Then mark the wall from corner to corner with the resulting measurement.

    6. Extend your marks into squares with a framing square and a straightedge.

    7. X off the squares you won't paint. Tape off the squares you will. Seal the tape to the flooring by dragging a knife over the tape's edge.

    8. Clean up stray pencil lines with a damp sponge and then lightly sand the squares and wipe them clean.

    9. Cut the edges of each square with a paintbrush.

    10. Fill in each square with a mini-roller, starting each stroke on the tape and pulling inward. Rollin in the direction of the floorboards.

    11. Remove the tape before the paint dries. Peel up and away from the paint at an angle.

    12. Apply a coat of water-based polyurethane to high-traffic areas.
    • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
      Calculating the pattern requires some math, but the painting is a cinch.

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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • Sanding Sponge
        150-grit sanding sponge
      • paint pan
        paint tray
      • paint roller with extension
        roller frame with extension pole
      • metal rule
        ruler or yardstick
      • framing square
        framing square
      • putty knife
        putty knife
      • mini-roller
        mini roller frame
      • paintbrush
        2½-inch polyester-nylon paintbrush

      Shopping List

      1. Porch and floor paint Stands up to foot traffic and scuffs better than wall paint. One gallon covers 300 square feet; you'll need enough base color for two coats and enough pattern color to cover half the floor with two coats.

      2. Painter's tape Get tape labeled "delicate," which is the least tacky, so it won't pull up the base-coat paint when removed. 3. ½-inch nap roller

      4. 3-inch mini foam roller

      5. Water-based polyurethane (optional) For a top coat of added durability. Satin finish will look best.