Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

May 30, 2014

DIY Painted Particle Board Floor (Mmmm, Teal)

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have caught a peek of a project that's been keeping me busy.  A local computer shop is moving from their current retail and tech space to a smaller spot in need of some TLC.  It's downtown, with excellent parking (a rare combination!), so things like missing baseboards and particle board floors were overlooked.

At first I was a little intimidated by the amount of work to do, especially because the budget is miniscule and I'm being paid in tacos (that's not a euphemism for cash).  But I'm always up for a DIY challenge!  The first step was to fill in the hundreds of wall holes with putty, and then sand and prime them in preparation for painting the walls a warm grey (PPG's Aria).  I wanted as light a colour as possible to make the space feel bright and clean, but I knew white would quickly become covered in grubby fingerprints.  Just painting the walls one neutral colour (and not painting around the furniture like the last tenants) improved the space. 

The former tenants had put down what looks like some kind of oriented strand board (or engineered wood particle board), which had become badly stained from water damage and general foot traffic.

Putting something cheap over the particle board, like a peel and stick tile or even click laminate, wasn't an option because it's not 100% level (it's an older building, which exacerbates the wonky installation).  I decided paint would be an easy and inexpensive fix.  A local paint shop suggested a simple primer + floor enamel combo because professional-grade epoxy finishes would crack given the uneven floor.  Plus, without a top coat, a floor enamel can easily be re-touched, and it's not very slippery during wet or snowy months.

I started by giving the floor a good clean: multiple sweepings and then a deep clean with a shop vac.  Next came the primer coat.  I used Kilz Max primer, which is now my favorite primer.

A large brush was used to apply primer along edge of the room (I didn't want to touch the freshly painted walls with my roller), and then the primer was rolled on.  A handle extender was very handy.  I started at one end and painted my way out of the room, making sure everything I needed (car keys!) was accessible at my exit point.  It was dry to the touch in 1/2 and hour and ready for re-coating in one hour, but I let it dry overnight.

The primer was fabulous: it covered nicely and, as promised, dried very quickly.  Not all primers are created equal - and not all are suitable for floors - but this one did an excellent job of concealing water damage and stains and provided a very good base for the floor enamel.  I had the primer tinted as dark a green as they could manage, which helped get the floor to a deep teal.  This process is very similar to what we did for our painted laundry room floor, except we skipped primer then. 

The next morning, I applied the paint in the same fashion: starting with the edges and then using a roller and working my way out of the room.  Like with painting walls, I painted "W"'s to ensure I got paint into the uneven surface.  I took my time and often checked to make sure there were no bare spots.  I worked slowly, with a very saturated roller to ensure full coverage.  The manufacturer's instructions indicated that the floor could be walked on in 24 hours but I let it dry for 48 hours.  The gentleman who helped me at the paint store informed me that paint doesn't actually cure until about the one month mark, but that a couple of days should be fine.

This photo is the most accurate representation of the colour

This is the porch and floor enamel I used:

The enamel had great coverage, but I think the primer did the heavy lifting.  So little of this paint soaked into the floor thanks to the excellent primer.  I needed about a quart or two less of paint than primer.  

The floor turned out lovely.  After I was done I quickly snapped some photos with my phone from outside, and the door wasn't open but a minute before a passerby complimented the colour choice.  With freshly painted walls and floor, the space looks much more attractive.

You can still see the seams a bit, but they are more pronounced in these photos than in real life, thanks to the texture of the particle board and the slight sheen of the paint.   Given the muted teal colour and texture, the floor has a vintage feel, like 1950s laminate counters. 

All of the photos above were taken with my camera phone, which captured the colour somewhat true to life - but a bit more vibrant and green.  My regular camera, on the other hand, refuses to capture teal or turquoise - no matter what I do - and so it photographed the floor more blue.  The truth lies somewhere in the middle.  Ultimately, the colour (PPG's "Time for Teal") is a pretty, silvery, muted teal - much like the colour of blue spruce.  I had a few criteria for choosing the colour: I wanted something cheery because there will be little colour elsewhere, but I also wanted something that would hide dirt.  I also needed to be a colour that wouldn't disguise rogue screws, and that would pair well with the espresso brown furniture that will be moving in.  Plus I like teal; teal is always the answer.

Unfortunately, when I went to help deliver some furniture yesterday (after the floor had been given two days to dry), we found it was still tacky in some places.  I think that 24 hours is quite an optimistic time frame, especially if the conditions aren't ideal (like too much humidity), so in the future I would wait longer - maybe even wait a week.  After the furniture is all in, I will give the space a good sweep and touch up the floors.  Luckily, this system lends itself to easy re-coating.

The shop owner is thrilled so far and, as the makeover continues, we are getting compliments from folks passing by and peering in the windows.  I'll keep posting updates on instagram (like this sneak peek of some of the furniture) as we inch toward a finished space.


  1. I have often tried to put a decent finish on pressed board or particle board or CDX. I like your combination of products and tell us how smooth the finish ended up? were there still spots of "roughness" where the laminates were higher or lower? Love the finished product!!

    1. The surface no longer has sharp, slivery pieces but the texture is still there - it's just been smoothed out a bit. The enamel is thicker than ordinary paint, which helps. I think additional coats would make a difference too, but I don't know that it could ever totally level the surface. An epoxy might, but it could also crack. This is my first time painting a surface like this, so I relied on the advice I got. I'll post an update on how it wears in a few months.

  2. It looks soooo good! Such a huge transformation and oh so freakin cheery- I love it!

    1. I want a teal floor now!! I've been looking seriously at polished concrete floors . . . I hear they can be stained/painted turquoise :)

  3. Replies
    1. Yes, you can stain particle board, although the irregularity in the material will likely take the stain differently in some spots. I have never done it myself, but here is a thorough tutorial:


    1. Hi Ann. I think you would need to check the can for the coverage because I'm foggy on the details. I think this space was about 800 square feet and we used about two cans of primer and about 1-2 cans of paint? I remember needing more than what they recommended at the paint store, so we had to scramble and dash out for more supplies mid-task. We used less paint than primer. But then, the darker colour might have necessitated more coats! Take a look at the can and then chat with the pros at the paint department for their recommendations. Happy painting!

  5. Hi there, Thanks for posting this! I'm thinking of doing the same thing. Now that it's almost 2 years since you painted, how is it holding up?

    1. That's a good question but unfortunately I cannot answer it. This was in a building that was rented by someone I know but the rental agreement fell through and, since then, the building owner renovated the entire space.


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