How To Paint Your Porch Floor

Front Porch with Patterned Painted Floor and Navy Front Door
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Design; Meg Lonergan; Styling: Barbara Schmidt

As Southerners, we've always appreciated the intrinsic value a great porch (front or back, screened-in or open-air, sprawling or postage-stamp-sized); we love them all. But then 2020 hit, and suddenly, they were more than just the shady spots, where we enjoyed our morning coffee and the occasional happy hour cocktail (or two). Suddenly, they were havens; safe places where we could escape outside and visit with family members and friends without worry. If your porch got as much love as ours did, it's no doubt in need of a refresh, and one of the quickest (and cheapest) ways to give your porch a much-needed facelift is with a new coat of paint.

There's plenty real estate to consider, and freshly painted walls, shutters, railings, even ceilings all make an impact, but don't forget your porch floors. We're big fans of natural wood or stained floors, but painted porch floors add instant, unmistakable personality to your outdoor space. It's also an approachable DIY project you can tackle in a weekend.

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Let the Landscape Be Your Guide

Light and Dark Painted Porch Floors
LEFT: Hector Manuel Sanchez, Design: Stephanie Jarvis, Styling: Barbara Schmidt; RIGHT: Laurey W. Glenn; Design: Muffie Faith, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

"I always allow the natural landscape to dictate design choices," says designer Chelsea Robinson of Chelsea Robinson Interiors in Nashville. "It's the first thing I'd consider when starting a project like this." An all-white porch can feel especially crisp and fresh. "If you're bringing in a lot of florals or you have a great garden, it allows that to pop. White also acts as a nice backdrop for the landscape, especially at the beach, places like Alys and Rosemary." But a darker floor color in a natural hue—a moody sage or forest green—can play against the landscape and provide a quiet reprieve from the outside world.

02 of 05

Play with Pattern

Painted Porch Floor Patterns: Checkerboard and Stripes
LEFT: Howard Lee Pucket; RIGHT: Laurey W. Glenn, Design: James Laughlin, Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Have a little fun with your floors. Try a bold stripe or classic checkerboard for timeless appeal and an immediate infusion of character. "It doesn't have to be traditional black-and-white," Robinson says. "You could create your checkerboard with a pretty gray or green or tan." Pro tip: Paint the entire floor your base color first and let it completely dry before measuring and taping off your diamonds.

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Make Prep Work Count

Sanding wood floors
Getty Images

"Prep work is huge," Robinson says. "I think there's really more work involved in prepping than there is in the actual painting." Start off by giving your floors a bath—a power washer works especially well, here. After the scrubbing, scrape off any additional loose or peeling paint. Finally, sand down rough areas to create a smooth flat surface and give it a sweep to remove whatever debris might remain. Now, you're ready to paint.

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Pick Your Paint

Screened Porch painted floors
Hector Manuel Sanchez

"If you go with a satin or a high gloss paint, [the floors] are a little bit easier to clean because they're slicker and easier to sweep or wipe down," Robinson says. And be sure to choose an exterior deck paint designed for horizontal rather than vertical surfaces like walls and trim.

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Consider Your Materials

Painting Supplies

Sandpaper, painter's tape, and a ruler. Check. Paint and grubby clothes. All set. But do you go brush or roller? Depending on the scale and scope of your project (and how much help you have!) a roller might be the way to go, but Robinson loves the patina of a brushed look. "It just feels more craftsman like," she says. We'd have to agree with her there.

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