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Debbie Travis' House to Home: A cheerful cottage floor

If you're ready for some colour at the cottage, Debbie has some ideas about how to do that
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A brightly painted floor adds authentic character to a cozy cottage living room. SBSs. The diamond design is marked off using a chalk line, then covering the lines with painter's tape. Chicken wire was used as a stencil for the border.

Dear Debbie;
Do I paint or stain my coastal cottage floors? I am not afraid of colour, in fact, I love it. I am thinking about painting my wood floors a rich medium shade of blue that is one of the stripes in my couch cushions. But I'm stumped on durability. What do you recommend?
Margaret

Dear Margaret;

Thanks for the photos. You have a fairly large area to work on. The open plan shows that the wood floors move throughout the living and dining room into the kitchen. There is already lots of your blue present in the painted wood dining furniture and bench seat cushion. Why not go with a sunny yellow on the floor to create a contrast? You could also keep the floors light and then paint a colourful pattern on the kitchen floor. But before you decide, here are the pros and cons of using stain vs paint to renew wood floors.

You don't say whether your floor boards are hardwood or laminate. This is important to know if you are going to use stain. In order to stain the old boards, they require a good sanding to open the wood's pores so that the stain can sink in. Great if you have hardwood, not so good if laminate as the veneer is too thin to take a sanding. If applied to properly prepared hardwood, then stain is more durable than paint. It comes in a variety of wood shades, there are even coloured stains available. You get rid of unsightly scratches and stains, and the beauty of the original wood grain and knots will be refreshed. Always finish with a good sealer such as Minwax fast dry polyurethane. 

You have a far larger variety of colours and designs if you choose to paint. Painted floors have a wonderful, cottagey character that only grows when it shows signs of wear. With today's excellent primers and paint produced specifically for floors, it is easier and less time-consuming to paint than stain. However, be mindful of the cons. Paint will chip, crack and peel over time, especially if not applied correctly. Not all home-buyers like painted floors if you are thinking of selling, and it is a major job to sand down and return to stain.

Paint and stain create much different finishes. It's important that you choose the one that not only suits your existing floor, but also a finish that will make you smile. I reinvented a cottage look for the floor shown here that will inspire you to play with paint. Although this floor was plywood, the pattern would work just as well on your kitchen floor. The base coat is a creamy white. Leaving an 8-inch border around the floor, map out a diamond grid using a chalk line. Cover the lines with 1/2" painter's tape, pressing down firmly to keep paint from leaking. These lines will be the spaces between the diamonds. Fill in alternate diamonds with apricot paint. Once dry, complete the design with aqua paint. 

I had great fun doing the border. With the help of a friend, I held down a piece of chicken wire while my partner brushed over the surface with a small amount of the aqua paint and a very dry brush. You could stencil a border design here too.  

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Debbie on Twitter, and visit Debbie's new website



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