How to Paint Subfloor


Do you remember the BEFORE? I have an AFTER shot to show you now.

If this is the first time you are seeing what I am doing to the room that used to be my oldest daughter’s room – here is what the room looked like after I pulled up the carpet.  I am turning the room into a fitness/exercise room.  You can see my vision for it in this post.  It is a very low budget makeover.


One of the ways I am saving money is to not replace the flooring. I will eventually add new carpet or hardwood, but for now I am happy with simply painting the subfloor. The process was not as hard as you would think, in fact – it was pretty darn easy. If vacations and travel didn’t fill my schedule this summer, I could have had this done weeks ago.

I thought about painting it decoratively using a stencil, but I want the room to be simple and serene just like a yoga studio.

How to Paint Subfloor

supplies needed:

  • Multi-surface primer
  • Floor & Porch paint – I used Behr Porch and Patio Enamel in the color Pools of Blue.  Home Depot has a pamphlet of all the colors in comes in – over 75 colors.
  • Rough surface paint roller
  • Roller handle extension
  • 2″ angled paint brush
  • Paint tray
  • Broom/mop/vacuum
  • Shoe molding/trim color paint/finishing nails/nail punch/hammer/pencil/miter box & saw/measuring tape
  • Carpet trim and hammer

As long as your subfloor is solid it can be painted.


This is how the floor looked after I removed the carpet. Ed helped me remove all the tacks and nails and chip off glue and other stuff the builders left behind.


There were a few holes and gaps in the wood that I filled with wood filler. After it was dry, I sanded the patches smooth.


The size of the room is: 14′ x 11-4′. I needed 2 gallons of Behr Multi-Surface Primer Sealer to get full coverage.

This primer is the best for rough and porous wood. It sucked right into the wood and helped prepare the surface for paint.  I used a brush around the perimeter of the room and a roller for the rest of the floor.  The first coat was dry in 30 minutes, so I had the two coats on in under 2 hours.


The most important thing when painting a floor is to work from the farthest corner and then work backwards until you reach the door to exit.  If you did it the other way, you would get stuck and have to walk over wet paint to get out the the room.


Since I primed, I only needed 1 gallon of Behr Porch & Floor Paint Gloss Enamel in the color Pools of Blue PFC-56.  I used this since it is glossy and will be easy to mop clean, plus it is super durable and does not need a polyurethane coat over it since it can be used for exterior applications also.

I used a roller to roll the paint on. I rolled on 2 light coats, letting the first coat dry before applying the second. I didn’t even use the full gallon. There is still  about a 1/4 left in the can.


I waited a few days to make sure the paint was fully dry before adding the shoe molding along the baseboard. Since there was carpet in the room before, the molding had to be added to hide the gap where the carpet once laid. I bought primed molding since it saves time.


If you do a lot of DIY projects then you know you always get a surprise in the way of something that needs to be done that you didn’t think of.  You have to rethink or make a new plan or come up with a fix for something you did not foresee. This happened to me.  When I placed the newly spray painted floor heating vents over the ducts, they didn’t cover the saw marks on the subfloor.

Since my old can of wood filler was gone, I used another brand of wood filler to fill the cuts. When the filler was dry, I sanded it smooth with my trusty little hand sanding block with 100 grit sandpaper on it and then painted over it and was good to go.


My table saw has seen better days – it is a goner and until I can afford to get a new one, I am cutting molding the old-fashioned way – with a simple miter box. As much as I love power tools, a miter box is truly a genius invention. Simple, yet effective.

I used finishing nails and a nail punch to counter sink the nails to attach the shoe molding to the baseboard. I filled the nail holes with Spackle and then sanded the areas smooth.


I am no pro when working with molding and always need to use caulk to cover up all my imperfect cuts.  I call this brand of caulk – Cheez-Wiz caulk. No caulk gun is needed. It is my favorite caulk to use. I buy it at Walmart.


I found these simple carpet trim strips at Lowes.  I bought them in the color Pewter, but they also come in wood, gold, and silver finishes. The short side goes against the carpet and the long side onto the wood.  Nails comes with it to attach it to the floor. I needed to cut the length to fit the width of the doorway, but my trusty little miter box and saw has it cut to size in no time flat.


This room has been a bottom up makeover since I started with the floor…it is all up from here.  I will keep you posted on my progress as I try to get the room exactly how I envision it and stay within budget.



  1. says

    I’m loving the painted floor! In fact I’m hoping to do this to our living room…and then maybe add in a couple of gorgeous area rugs. Are you planning to seal with polycrylic or leave ‘as is’ now with the paint?

    Beautiful! Can’t wait now to see the rest of the room’s transformation.

    • says

      Thanks Connie – Since the paint is Int/Ext porch and floor enamel, it does not need a poly sealer. It is durable just the way it is. If you wanted to poly over paint, especially if you stenciled a design on it I would not use gloss paint, but a flat or satin. I will be using crafts paint and poly to do my mudroom floor. I will be posting it soon.

  2. Susan says

    Such a pretty blue. The room looks so calm and serene. I wish one of my children would move out so I could take over their bedroom! Looking forward to seeing what you do next.

  3. Elizabeth H says

    I love the painted floor. Great color and you got a very clean look to the room. Great job and what a wonderful room to have.

  4. says

    This was such a helpful post as we are needing to do this in one of our hallways and bedrooms. Didn’t know where to even begin until reading this article and seeing all the pictures. Thanks!

  5. Jaye says

    Diane, this is what we did our 2 bdrm rental apt at FSU. It was the least expensive and less time consuming way to replace the old carpeting and spruce up the bdrms in a college rental. The floors were cement and we used the same BEHR paint and then we bought a wall to wall carpet remnant and laid it in the rooms, no pad or installation costs and when the college kids leave, we’ll just roll up the carpet and go buy another room size remnant for $100 and have it replaced and looking like new. They can’t hurt the painted floors and we’ll get a new look with every new tennant for a lot less money, year after year.

  6. Select Basement Waterproofing says

    Great job painting the floor, Diane! Looks like a great room to exercise in!

  7. Maureen B says

    wow, this is what I will be doing to the family room in the house we purchased 6 months ago. When I painted the old dark paneling I planned on replacing the carpeting so I was pretty reckless with the paint roller. Then when I had the wood burning chimney insert replaced, I begged the men to be brutal with the carpeting. Success. Carpeting has to be replaced – and inexpensively. You rock. started following you today and have already found a lot of great ideas.

  8. Linda Weeks says

    You are the most clever lady. This was hard work, but what a wonderful result! You couldn’t have picked a better color for your space! Now, I need to figure out what ‘white’ color I want to paint my cupboards (again) so I’m looking up your link that I remember seeing once…. I go to your site to get the best advice! Keep it coming! :-)

  9. cindy says

    Our log house floors are all painted sub floors. The great room is a maroon and peach check. using 1/4 in. automotive detail tape for the grout lines i measured for the 15×15 squares i wanted and wa la! no one has ever recognized it as the subfloor.

  10. Elaine P says

    I was in the process of looking on painted furniture and I found YOU! You are brilliant, the ideas are wonderful. I painted my hallway subfloor recently, but my paint was dark brown. I am currently in the mood to paint the other floor but was second guessing myself, now I am more inspired to finish what I started which is to removed carpet from my master bedroom and paint. I will let my family know that I am not crazy after all. Thanks a million you are now save as a favorite.

  11. Marie says

    Is the floor slippery? Lowes recommended against KILZ as a primer since label said not for floors. So I stopped and came back to this and wonder did you have any issues with the floor being slippery. Thanks

    • says

      Hi Marie – I didn’t use Kilz brand of primer. I used a Behr Multi-Surface primer. It worked great. It is not slippery at all. Not one bit. :-)

  12. Stacy says


    I love the fresh color and the floor looks great. Did you have to sand more of the floor than where you filled it in with wood filler/putty?

    • says

      Hi Stacy – I only sanded over the areas where I filled in the gouges and grooves. You could sand the entire floor if you want a very smooth look, but since it was in the fitness room, I don’t mind that I can see the swirl texture of the plywood sub-floor in some places under the painted finish.

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