Latex, enamel, oil-based, water-based, waterborne, oil-enhanced, alkyds, acrylics, acrylic-alkyds... my head is about to explode!!

We need to paint our upstairs bedroom floors while we are currently living/sleeping downstairs in the living room.

They're old Douglas-fir floors and are a great candidate for painting as they're not special at all, will need a few floorboards replaced that will be near impossible to grain/color match with the old/aged ones. There's already a thick coat of enamel paint on them and the grain will be visible even with the paint as wear and tear on them has revealed the texture of the grain which I think is cool.

We would like to not have to sleep in the backyard for a week so I'm hoping to avoid an oil-based enamel (is that the same thing as an alkyd paint?).

Oh and we would like it to look good! Brush marks are not desired as they would hide the grain texture that I want to preserve.

I've come across a new product from a reputable manufacturer that is an interior water based acrylic-alkyd. They say it is the best of both latex and alkyd paints. Will this be a good option for a floor? Should we top coat it with a polyurethane? We want the floors to be glossy. If we top coat it with poly (water based), should the paint be flat/satin and the poly be glossy? What kind of brush/roller is recommended?


  • Will this be a low, medium, or high traffic area?
    – wallyk
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 17:24
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    @wallyk For most of the floor I wouldn't consider it high traffic, it's two bedrooms, but there will be one section that is a hallway and where the stairs end that would have higher traffic. Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 17:31
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    Painting a wood floor is a tough requirement to stand up to traffic and dragging heavy furniture. If I was going to do it, I would contact customer support at a couple of the major paint manufacturers and ask for their advice. They might have a product optimized for that purpose, and proper preparation is likely to be critical.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 18:23
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    @DanMantyla I would skip the Poly Urethane this stuff contrary to what the advertising and claims are - it yellows (amber) - of course this gives a warmth (age) to an antique and might be what you want. Also Alkyd or water based paints - spill any water there and you will have issues. Also sneakers on these paints might not be so good.
    – Ken
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 4:51
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    Water-based acrylic-alkyd enamel will work on a floor. Just make sure the product is designed for floors. A newer product that provides even better adhesion and durability are water-based urethane alkyd enamels. Providers also manufacture this type of coating specifically for floors.
    – Steve D.
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


Sherwin Williams has a product called Armorseal Treadplex that I used on concrete and porch/patio floors. It's a strong and reliable water-based product. How well any paint performs after its applied will depend on the condition of the previous coating. I would scuff sand the previous coat with 150 grit and vacuum up all dust to prepare for top coat. Treadplex only comes in a Semi-Gloss sheen level. Because you're planning on using paint, I would not advise finishing the floor with a clear coat. The reason being if paint does chip or wear, you will be able to simply touch it up as needed.


If I were you, I'd invest in an oil-based (mineral spirits cleanup) primer. I've painted several old wood pieces of furniture and you need the adhesion to whatever they used on the wood previously. Remember, it's likely in an older house that they used all sorts of older oil stains on the floor and latex has a hard time gripping them. Oil-base primers can overcome that issue.

Once the floor is primed, you should be set to paint whatever product you see fit, latex or otherwise. If you paint latex, be sure to use a water polyurethane as well (which doesn't yellow). You might want the extra protection for the paint. A semi-gloss or hi-gloss paint might not stand up well to the traffic by itself.

  • latex polyurethane... is that the same thing as water-based polyurethane? or a polycrlylic? Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 16:11
  • @DanMantyla Yeah, I typed latex without thinking about it. Corrected
    – Machavity
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 16:27

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