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Paint can be a dramatic, low-cost floor covering

Painting a floor, whether it's wood or concrete, can be more affordable than tile, carpet or other floor coverings. And in homes that date back more than a century, painted floors are more historically accurate.
BY DIANA MARSZALEK Published: September 10, 2012
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When it became clear that allergies would prevent Nancy B. Westfall's infant daughter from having a rug in her room, the Atlanta-based artist turned instead to paint, a few stencils and a plan.

Westfall used the baby's bedroom floor much like she would a canvas, painting on it a diamond-shaped pattern that gave the space a custom look you simply can't achieve with a kid's area rug.

Eleven years and another house later, Westfall remains a big fan of bringing floors to life with color instead of covering them up.

“They look pretty refinished, and they look even better painted,” Westfall said.

You don't have to be a professional artist like Westfall to do it, although proponents of painting the floor say it does require patience and nerve.

Rachel Cannon Lewis, an interior designer in Baton Rouge, La., encourages clients to consider it. Painting a floor, whether it's wood or concrete, can be more affordable than tile, carpet or other floor coverings, she said.

And in homes that date back more than a century, painted floors are more historically accurate: Back then, people frequently painted their wide, plank wood floors to protect them from warping, Lewis said.

Plus, painting just looks good.

“I'm starting to think of the floor as the sixth wall,” said Lewis, who considers floors “an overlooked opportunity to get creative and introduce color.” (The “fifth wall,” by the way, is the ceiling).

Painting floors yourself can be a lengthy process, Lewis said, primarily because the thin, oil-based paint she recommends requires multiple coats, with lengthy dry times between each one. Getting fancier by, say, creating a pattern with paint or a stencil, requires even more patience and precision.

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