What Paint Do You Use on Subfloor? A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever been renovating an old house and run into the problem of what kind of paint to use on your subfloor? It’s a common issue that many DIYers face. You want to make sure that the paint you choose will adhere to the subfloor and provide lasting coverage, but with so many options on the market, it’s hard to know which one to pick. Well, fear not my friends, I’ve done the research for you, and I’m here to share my findings.

After speaking with multiple experts and testing various products, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best paint to use on a subfloor is a high-quality epoxy coating. Epoxy-based paint is incredibly durable and resistant to abrasions, chemicals, and heavy foot traffic. It’s ideal for high-use areas such as garages, basements, and laundry rooms. It also provides an even and smooth surface, ensuring a tight seal with the subfloor while preventing any cracks or chips over time.

Furthermore, epoxy-based paint is easy to apply and dries quickly. It requires very little maintenance, and its water-resistant properties make it a good choice for areas that may experience moisture or humidity. So, the next time you’re debating what paint to use on your subfloor, consider giving epoxy-based paint a try. Trust me, it will save you the headache of costly repairs down the road and provide a long-lasting finish that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Types of Paint for Subfloors

When it comes to painting subfloors, it is crucial to choose the right type of paint to ensure durability and longevity. Here are some common types of paint for subfloors:

  • Epoxy Paint: This is the most popular and durable type of subfloor paint. Epoxy paint is made by mixing resin and hardener, creating a strong and long-lasting coating. Epoxy paint is also resistant to chemicals, oil, and water, making it perfect for garages and workshops.
  • Latex Paint: Latex is a water-based paint that dries quickly. Latex paints are easy to apply and clean up with soap and water. However, they are not as durable as epoxy paint and may peel or chip over time. Latex paint is best used for indoor subfloors with low traffic.
  • Oil-Based Paint: Oil-based paint is more durable than latex but takes longer to dry. Oil-based paint is also resistant to water and stains, making it ideal for areas with high traffic. However, oil-based paint has a strong odor and requires solvents for cleanup.

Choosing the right type of paint largely depends on the area of the subfloor, its traffic, and lifestyle. For instance, if you have pets or kids, you may want to go for a more durable and easy-to-clean epoxy paint. On the other hand, if you are painting an indoor subfloor that doesn’t get much traffic, you can opt for a quick-drying and easy-to-apply latex paint.

Preparing Subfloor for Painting

Before starting to paint your subfloor, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure that the surface is properly prepared. Here are some tips on how to prepare your subfloor for painting:

  • Clean the subfloor thoroughly. Use a broom or vacuum to remove any dirt, debris, or loose particles. Then, wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove any remaining dust or grime.
  • Repair any damage. Fill any cracks or holes with a subfloor-leveling compound and let it dry completely. Sand the surface using a medium-grit sandpaper to ensure that it is flat and smooth.
  • Prime the subfloor. Apply a primer using a paint roller, taking care to cover the entire surface evenly. Allow the primer to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

By properly preparing your subfloor, you can ensure that the paint will adhere well and last longer without chipping or peeling. It also helps to create a smooth, even surface for better overall results.

Once you have completed the preparation steps above, you may also want to consider using a sealant to protect the subfloor from moisture and other types of damage. A sealant can also help to extend the life of the paint and maintain its appearance over time.

Choosing the Right Paint

When it comes to painting your subfloor, not all types of paint are created equal. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right paint for your subfloor:

  • Choose a paint specifically designed for floors. Look for a paint labeled for use on subfloors or concrete. These types of paints are formulated to withstand heavy foot traffic and resist chipping, peeling, and fading.
  • Consider the color. While you can choose any color you like, it is important to select a color that complements your room’s decor and style. Keep in mind that lighter colors tend to show dirt and scuffs more easily than darker colors.
  • Think about the finish. The finish you choose will impact the look and durability of your subfloor. A satin or semi-gloss finish is generally recommended for subfloors, as they are easy to clean and resist scuffing. Matte or flat finishes may not be as durable as they are not as resistant to dirt and wear.
Finish Type Advantages Disadvantages
Satin Easy to clean, resists scuffing, durable Shows dirt and scuffs more easily than matte finishes
Semi-gloss Easy to clean, resists scuffing, durable, offers a subtle sheen Shows dirt and scuffs more easily than matte finishes
Matte Smoother appearance, hides imperfections better than shinier finishes Less durable, shows dirt and scuffs more easily, may require multiple coats

By considering these factors, you can choose the right paint for your subfloor that will look great and last for years. Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the paint to ensure the best results.

Applying Paint on Subfloor

When it comes to applying paint on subfloor, preparation is key. Before painting, make sure that your subfloor is clean and free from debris and any existing finishes. Also, check for any damages that may need to be repaired prior to painting.

There are several types of paints that you can use on subfloor, but you need to choose the right one that is suitable for your subfloor’s material. Epoxy and oil-based paints are great options for concrete subfloors, while latex and enamel paints work well for wood subfloors.

Tips for Applying Paint on Subfloor

  • Apply painter’s tape to the edges of your subfloor to avoid getting paint on your walls or baseboards.
  • Wear protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, when applying paint.
  • Use a primer before applying paint to ensure better adhesion and coverage.

How to Apply Paint on Subfloor

When applying paint on subfloor, make sure to follow these steps:

  • Stir the paint well before using it.
  • Apply a thin, even coat of paint using a roller or brush.
  • Let the paint dry completely before applying another coat.
  • If necessary, apply a second or third coat of paint, letting each coat dry completely before applying the next one.

Best Paints for Subfloor

Choosing the right paint for your subfloor can make a big difference in its durability and longevity. Here are some of the best paints you can use:

Paint Type Subfloor Material
Epoxy Concrete
Oil-based Concrete
Latex Wood
Enamel Wood

By following these tips and using the right type of paint, you can achieve a great-looking and long-lasting subfloor that will enhance the overall look and feel of your space.

Cleaning and Maintaining Painted Subfloors

Painted subfloors can be a quick and affordable solution to spruce up an old or damaged floor. However, once the floors are painted, it’s important to take proper care to maintain their appearance and longevity.


  • Start by sweeping or vacuuming the floor to remove any loose debris.
  • Use a mop or cloth with warm water and a mild soap to clean the floor. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or anything that could scratch the painted surface.
  • For more stubborn stains, use a non-abrasive cleaner and a soft-bristle brush to gently scrub the area.
  • Dry the floor thoroughly with a clean towel or allow it to air dry.


Regular maintenance can help keep painted subfloors looking their best for longer:

  • Place doormats at entrances to prevent dirt and debris from being tracked onto the floor.
  • Avoid wearing high heels or shoes with hard soles that could scratch the surface of the painted floor.
  • Protect the floor from furniture by placing felt pads or coasters under legs and feet.
  • Reapply a clear coat of sealant every few years to help protect the paint and prolong its lifespan.

Types of Paint for Subfloors

Choosing the right paint for your subfloor can make all the difference in durability, ease of maintenance, and appearance:

Type of Paint Pros Cons
Epoxy Paint Highly durable, resistant to chemicals and stains. Expensive, requires careful application and preparation.
Acrylic Paint Easy to apply, dries quickly, and affordable. Not as durable as epoxy, may require multiple coats.
Oil-based Paint Durable and resistant to moisture, stains, and wear. Takes longer to dry, may have strong odor, and requires proper ventilation when applying.

Consider the specific needs of the space before choosing the type of paint for your subfloor. For example, if the area is prone to spills or heavy traffic, epoxy may be a better option. If durability is not a major concern, acrylic could be a suitable choice. Consult with a paint professional or do research to determine which type of paint will work best for your specific needs and budget.

Waterproof Paints for Subfloor

If you’re remodeling a basement or a bathroom, it’s essential to use a waterproof paint on your subfloor. Moisture can seep through the floorboards and cause significant damage over time. Waterproof paints are specially designed to repel water and prevent it from seeping through, thus prolonging the life of your subfloor.

  • Epoxy Paint – Epoxy paint is a popular choice for waterproofing subfloors. It forms a hard, durable surface that is resistant to water, stains, and chemicals. Epoxy paint can be applied with a roller and dries to a high gloss finish that resists chipping and peeling.
  • Polyurethane Paint – Polyurethane paint is another popular choice for waterproofing subfloors. It’s a clear, waterproof coating that can be applied over concrete, wood, or other porous surfaces. Polyurethane paint dries to a hard, glossy finish that resists chipping and peeling.
  • Acrylic Paint – Acrylic paint is a fast-drying, water-based paint that can be used to waterproof subfloors. It’s easy to apply and dries to a durable, water-resistant surface. Acrylic paint is available in a wide range of colors and can be used on concrete, wood, or other porous surfaces.

When choosing a waterproof paint for your subfloor, it’s important to select a product that is specifically designed for this purpose. Look for a paint that is labeled as waterproof and has a high level of durability and resistance to abrasion. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparation and application, and allow adequate drying time before walking on the surface.

Applying waterproof paint to your subfloor can be an effective way to protect your home from moisture damage. However, it’s not a substitute for resolving any underlying moisture problems that might exist. If water is seeping through your subfloor, it’s important to identify and fix the source of the problem to prevent further damage.

Pros Cons
Forms a protective barrier against moisture Not a substitute for resolving underlying moisture problems
Durable and resistant to chipping and peeling May require multiple coats for complete coverage
Available in a wide range of colors Preparation and application can be time-consuming

Overall, waterproof paint can be an effective way to protect your subfloor from moisture damage. However, it’s important to select the right product for your needs and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper preparation and application.

Best Brands of Paint for Subfloors

If you’re looking to paint your subfloor, it’s important to choose a brand that not only delivers a great finish but can also withstand the wear and tear that comes with foot traffic, furniture, and spills. Below are some of the best brands of paint for subfloors:

  • KILZ: KILZ has been a trusted brand in the paint industry for over 40 years. Their Original Interior Multi-Purpose Oil-Based Wall and Ceiling Primer is a go-to for many DIYers and professionals alike. When it comes to painting subfloors, KILZ Porch and Patio Floor Paint is a great choice. It’s durable, resists fading, cracking, and peeling, and comes in a variety of colors.
  • BEHR: BEHR is a premium brand that is known for its high-quality paint products. Their Porch and Patio Floor Paint is a top pick for painting subfloors. It has a durable, skid-resistant finish that is perfect for high-traffic areas. Plus, it’s available in a range of colors, so you can find the perfect shade to match your decor.
  • Floor-Tex: Floor-Tex specializes in paint and coatings for concrete and other floors. Their Concrete & Garage Floor Paint is a great option for subfloors. It’s designed to withstand heavy foot traffic and is resistant to oil, grease, and chemicals. Plus, it dries to a beautiful semi-gloss finish that is both durable and easy to clean.

Keep in mind that choosing the right brand of paint is only half the battle. Applying the paint properly is equally important. Make sure to properly prepare the surface by cleaning it thoroughly and removing any loose or peeling paint. Apply the paint in thin, even coats and let each coat dry completely before adding another. This will help ensure a smooth, long-lasting finish that will stand up to daily wear and tear.

Alternatives to Painting a Subfloor

While painting a subfloor is a common method to add color and personality to a room, there are other alternatives available for those looking for a different approach. Here are seven alternatives to painting a subfloor:

  • Staining: Using a stain instead of paint can give your subfloor a rich and natural look. Stain also penetrates deeper into the wood, making it more durable.
  • Vinyl Flooring: Installing vinyl flooring over your subfloor is an easy and quick way to update the look of your floors. Vinyl flooring comes in a variety of designs and patterns, so you can customize it to fit your style.
  • Carpet Tiles: Carpet tiles are a great option for those who want a soft and comfortable flooring surface. They are easy to install and come in a range of colors and patterns.
  • Area Rugs: For a non-permanent solution, you can add an area rug to your subfloor. This is a great way to add color and texture to a room without committing to a permanent flooring solution.
  • Epoxy Coating: Epoxy coating is a long-lasting and durable option for subflooring. It’s applied as a coating over your subfloor, giving it a shiny and smooth finish.
  • Tile: Tile is a great option for high-traffic areas as it is durable and easy to clean. It also comes in a variety of designs and patterns, so you can customize it to fit your style.
  • Concrete Stain/Overlay: If you have a concrete subfloor, you can use a stain or overlay to give it a unique and stylish look. Concrete overlays can be stamped or stenciled to create different textures and designs.

As you can see, there are plenty of options available for those looking to update their subfloor without using paint. Whether you’re looking for durability or style, there’s sure to be an option that fits your needs.

FAQs About What Paint Do You Use on Subfloor

1. Can I use any regular paint on my subfloor?

No, regular paint is not suitable for subfloors since it will not be able to withstand the foot traffic and moisture that subfloors are exposed to.

2. What type of paint is best for subfloors?

Epoxy paint or concrete paint is the best option for painting on subfloors. It provides a durable and long-lasting solution that will hold up to constant wear and tear.

3. Do I need to apply a primer before painting my subfloor?

Yes, it is important to use a primer before painting your subfloor. The primer will help to ensure that the paint adheres properly and that the color is consistent.

4. How many coats of paint should I apply to my subfloor?

It is recommended to apply two coats of paint to your subfloor to achieve a smooth and even finish.

5. How long does it take for the paint to dry?

The drying time for paint on subfloors can vary depending on the type of paint you choose and the humidity in your area. It typically takes 24-48 hours for the paint to fully dry.

6. Can I use a roller to apply the paint?

Yes, using a roller is the most efficient way to apply paint to your subfloor. It helps to achieve a smooth and even finish quickly.

7. Can I add a design or pattern to my painted subfloor?

Yes, you can add a design or pattern to your painted subfloor by using stencils or painters’ tape. It is a great way to add some personality to your space.

A Final Word

Thanks for reading about what paint to use on subfloors! Remember to use epoxy or concrete paint and apply a primer for the best results. Applying two coats of paint with a roller is the most efficient way to get an even finish. Don’t be afraid to add your personal style to your subfloor with stencils or painters’ tape. Come back soon for more home renovation tips and tricks!