If you love artistic, modern home design, you have probably seen colorful wooden floors made from distressed, reclaimed lumber. If you want a floor like this in your own home, you do not have to rip up your current wooden floor. After all, the whole idea behind the reclaimed lumber movement is making do with wood that is already cut, rather than promoting more logging. Follow these steps to turn an older, existing wood floor into one that looks like it has been constructed from various pieces of distressed, reclaimed lumber.
Step 1: Sanding the floor.
Most hardwood floors are coating in some sort of finish, whether it be a polyurethane sealant or just a thick layer of wax. If you leave this finish on the floor, the paint won't absorb into the wood properly. The easiest way to remove it is by sanding.
Rent a heavy-duty drum sander from a local equipment rental center. Then, follow the operating instructions that come with the sander to sand in the direction of the wood grain. Use coarse sandpaper first, and then once you've gone over the whole floor, use finer-grain sandpaper to go over it again. Keep sanding until the wood looks dull and feels smooth to the touch. Make sure you're wearing goggles and a breathing mask so you do not inhale the dust. Use a shop vac to suck up all of the dust when you're finished.
Step 2: Choosing and preparing your colors.
Visit a home improvement store, and pick out three to five colors of acrylic paint that you like for your floor. If you prefer to make a bold, artistic statement, choose contrasting colors. For a more subtle look, consider choosing several shades of the same basic color. Unless you have a very, very large floor, one quart of each color should be enough, since you will be diluting the paint to allow it to create the worn, distressed look more easily.
Once you get home, prepare each of your paints by mixing them with equal portions of water. For instance, you'll want to mix 1 quart of paint with 1 quart of water. Consider mixing just one paint to start; once you're finished with that color, you can mix the next one.
Step 3: Taping off your boards.
Take a pencil, and mark off which boards you want to paint which color. For instance, if you are working with yellow, purple and blue, you can write "Y," "P," and "B" on the boards, based on which color you want each one.
Then, it's time to tape around each of the boards that will be your first color. For the sake of an example, pretend you're using yellow first. Use painter's tape, and place it on the boards adjacent to the boards you want to be yellow; ensure it butts right up against them so the nearby boards are protected from the paint.
Step 4: Applying the paint.
Take your diluted yellow paint, and use a paintbrush to apply an even coat to all of the boards you have taped off. Remember, the paint should let some of the wood shine through; this is the hallmark of the distressed look.
Step 5: Repeating the taping and painting process.
Once all of your taped-off boards have been painted yellow, give them a few hours to dry. Then, rip up the tape. Tape off a new set of boards -- the boards you want to paint a different color. Paint them in the same manner you painted the yellow boards. Let them dry, and then continue this process until you have painted all of the boards and used all of your colors.
Once your last color has dried, you can step back and admire your colorful, artistic floor. Even though you did not make it from individual, reclaimed boards, in a way it still is reclaimed -- it's an old floor that you made look like something completely different!
For professional advice on a project like this, contact a company that specializes in floor refinishing.