I painted a slate floor in this house we bought. It was totally outdated and frankly, well, ugly. The slate tiles were mint and purple with cement grout lines.
Let me show you how I did it.
This house is the third we have owned in this neighborhood. We used to live down the street. Every day when I drove by this house I would say out loud “there’s my next house!” Or “that house it calling out to me, it needs me”. When it unexpectedly came on the market (at a time that we were not planning to move) we jumped on it anyway!
Many of the houses here were built in the late 50s or early 60s by the same developer. Although they were all custom homes, many of them have similar slate floors in the entry. I have been in several of the houses around here during estate sales. The colors I have seen of the slate tiles vary from greens and plums (which is what we had) to reds and blacks, and other weird shades.
My History With Slate
In the first home that we owned in this neighborhood and renovated, we had a small portion of slate floor in the entry and near the back door. The slate was set in cement that was like 3 inches thick. When they demoed the slate floor, it took so much manpower that they damaged the whole subfloor. There was a huge hole all the way to the basement! It was a super fun job (hahaha) so when I saw these slate tiles, I cringed a bit about the possibility of having to remove them.
After much deliberation, knowing this would be our forever home (or as forever as we get), I really wanted something classic for this space. The home is a Cape Cod style and screaming for a blue and white scheme, which I was much obliged to provide. I wanted a classic look that would stand the test of time.
When I finally decided, you know what I came up with? Slate! Yup, I wanted slate tile, just not mint green and plum. And then, DUH, I remembered who I was and what I do. I would chalk paint the slate floor the color it needed to be! Slate is a very porous stone and the paint adheres beautifully to it. Trust me, I have spilled paint in many spots all over the cement floor in my warehouse. I have been walking on that for more than 6 years now, and the paint ain’t coming off!
Here’s how I painted an outdated slate floor:
First, I planned to do this when my hubby was out of town, just so I would have less people in the house needing to get around it. The room is a decent size entry, so I planned to do it in stages, so we could still get around.
Next came the cleaning. As I said, I was going to work in sections over several days, so I only cleaned the area I would work on that day. I just used a simple product, something like Simple Green, and vacuumed the area and then hand mopped it.
Then I got to work! I chose the color Tarnished Silver from my Bungalow 47 Furniture Paint line. It is a dark charcoal gray and was the perfect shade I wanted for this space. The paint is a clay and chalk paint that adheres to most surfaces like wood, glass, metal, stone, fabric, and much more. Slate is a great candidate for painting and was super easy for a do-it-yourself project.
How I started
I taped off the transition areas and base moulding and began painting each slate tile by hand. Painting the grout lines was not in the plan. I wanted it to look natural and not like the whole floor got rolled with paint. I have painted a floor before with epoxy paint. But I feel that look works only when you want the tile and the grout lines the same color.
A synthetic bristle paint brush is the best choice, and I had a few different sizes on hand. The one I did most of the floor with was a 2″ straight edge brush.
I painted each individual slate stone
Dipping the brush in paint just at the tip was very important. I kept a controlled amount of paint on the tip, then beginning at the edge of each stone, cut a clean line on all the edges. Then I simply painted the surface of each stone separately and carefully.
This chalk and clay paint dries very fast. I wanted to be sure that it was getting closer to cured before I did anything else to it, so I let it dry overnight. As most, my dog is all over the place, so I set up barriers so he wouldn’t walk on it. I knew he would try cause he’s so snoopy and the only time he is interested in me is when I’d like him to actually ignore me. That is his usual because he loves my hubby, me not so much.
The next day I buffed the surface using a clean dry, white towel which took away that flat finish look and gave it a natural sheen.
Buffing is Key
Buffing really brought out the highs and lows of color in the paint and the texture in the stone. Look at the photo below. Can you see the two stones at the top of the photo that look like they have more dimension? Compared to the one sliver of the neighboring stone where it looks like it was painted with flat paint?
That is the beauty of using a chalk and clay paint like Bungalow 47! When it was buffed, the stone really took on a more natural feel and made it look like natural charcoal colored stone rather than a painted version.
Taking my time painting the stone
I worked in sections and took breaks along the way which stretched the project out to about a week. Taking my time allowed the paint to fully cure, but soon I had the floor done! You can see my empty Rubbermaid containers sitting around as blockades for the dog. Luckily he’s short.
After finishing, I seriously just sat on the stairs and obsessed over it for hours. Well, maybe a bit less but it looked so freaking awesome that I was congratulating myself on a job well done. When you are in the room, you would never know that it was painted and not the original color. I’m not kidding, you cannot tell this slate was painted.
Applying the Finish
When it was completely painted and buffed, I then brushed on the Matte Finish as a final protectant. Our Matte Finish is a water and chemical resistant product that is awesome for protecting the painted finish. It gives it durability so you can live with your finished project. I wasn’t too worried about getting it on the grout since it dries matte, so I just brushed it on the floor using a large brush. You could also use a roller.
It’s All About the Light
Matte Finish will make the paint appear darker due to the matte sheen that reflects light differently. The finish is NOT a dead flat. This picture above on the left shows the upper left corner without finish, where the other stones in the photo had received the finish. The good part about this is you can see if you missed any spots. In the photo on the right, you can see where I missed a spot. With my second coat, I made sure I covered the full surface.
The Matte Finish appears milky when in the can. You can see here where it has been brushed on. Do not over work it trying to get the color out, it will dry clear. Simply brush the product on with a few strokes and leave it, letting it do its thing. When it’s dry, you won’t see any of the brush marks.
Matte Finish on Furniture vs. Floor
Note that when I put the Matte Finish on a piece of furniture, I would work in one direction spreading out the brush lines. Due to the uneven nature of the slate, I wasn’t worried about putting the finish on perfectly as the slate has several highs and lows to its uneven surface.
Disclaimer: Although our Matte Finish worked wonderfully for my project, and is holding up great, the product is made for lighter water use such as furniture. If your floor is in an area that needs to be heavily mopped frequently, you may want to consider sealing your painted finish with a clear acrylic sealer top coat specifically for floor usage. Always test it out in an area that is inconspicuous to make sure it gives you the look you want. I would also choose a matte finish versus something that is shiny. I do not recommend this for inside a shower.
The room is now complete and we love it! What a transformation! We’ve been walking on it for over a year and it’s still perfect looking. This room is in the center of the house and is the thoroughfare to all the rooms on the main level and gets the most traffic. It looks as pristine as it did the day I finished it. If any scratches occur in the future, I have paint for touch up, where I can simply repaint the single stone that needs help at that time.
How much was this project?
If you have a slate floor that you hate the color, I would definitely paint it! Why live with something you don’t want? You can do it and Bungalow 47 Furniture Paint can help!
Next up, I’ll share how we transformed the entry room and added our personal style. You can read about DIY paneling here. If you’d like some good decorating inspiration, check out my Pinterest boards here.
After living with the paint for a year, I wrote a post about how it is holding up! Please read this so you know what to expect. There are also color recommendations in that post.
If you like what you see here, save this to your Pinterest board for inspiration.