How to Paint an Outdated Slate Floor

I painted a slate floor in this house we bought. It was totally outdated and frankly, well, ugly. 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, and everyday 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”. So 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 a similar slate floor entry, as was popular at the time. I have been in several of the houses around here during estate sales, etc. and the colors of the slate floor vary from greens and plums (which is what we had) to reds and blacks, and other weird shades.

This is the entry, looking toward the kitchen before we moved in.

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, and when they demoed the slate floor, it took so much manpower that they damaged the whole subfloor and there was a huge hole all the way to the basement! It was a super fun job (hahaha) so when I saw this slate floor, I cringed a bit about the possibility of having to remove it..

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, and I wanted something that would stand the test of time. When I finally decided, you know what I came up with? Slate! Yup, I wanted slate, just not mint green and plum (insert heavy eye roll here) and then DUH, I remembered who I was and what I do. I would 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 my warehouse that I have been walking on for more than 5 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Here’s how I painted an outdated slate floor: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 walk around it.

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. Our paint is a chalk and clay based 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.

The floor abuts to a classic oak wood floor on three sides of the room that is stained in light white wash tone. There is also the carpet on the stairs, which was actually here in the house when we bought it. It is a high end wool carpet that is off white with medium blue lines in a diamond pattern. It goes up the stairs and in the upper hallway. It was in great condition and I loved it, so it was staying. All of it would look great with this newly painted slate floor!

I taped off the transition areas and base moulding and began painting each slate piece by hand. I DID NOT paint the grout, as I wanted it to look natural and not like the whole floor got rolled with paint (I have done this before with epoxy paint, and that look works only when you want the tile and the grout lines the same color, which worked for me when I painted a bathroom white in another house). I used a synthetic bristle paint brush, and had a few different sizes on hand. The one I did most of the floor with was a 2 inch brush.

I painted each individual slate stone

I dipped the brush in paint and kept a controlled amount on the tip, then beginning at the edge of each stone, cut a clean line on all the edges. Then simply painted the surface of each stone separately.

This chalk and clay paint dries very fast, but 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. I had to set up barriers so the dog wouldn’t walk on it, as I knew he would cause he’s so snoopy and the only time he is interested in me is when I’d like him to actually ignore me (which 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.

Buff the slate with a clean dry cloth after painting

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 that you can see at the bottom of the photo where it looks like it was painted with flat paint? That is the beauty of using a chalk and clay paint like Bungalow 47! It really took on a more natural feel and made the stone look like charcoal colored stone rather than a painted version.

You can see all the highs and lows of the slate surface

Working in sections and taking breaks along the way stretched the project out to about a week. I was taking my time and letting the paint 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 (okay, 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.

The painted slate floor almost all done

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 and giving 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.

Matte Finish will make the paint appear darker due to the matte sheen that reflects light differently. The finish is NOT a dead flat. The picture 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 goes on milky but dries clear

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. Note that when I put the Matte Finish on a piece of furniture, I would work in one direction spreading out the brush lines in one direction. 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.

The room is now complete and we love it! What a transformation! On this project, I used two quarts of the Tarnished Silver color, and one quart of Matte Finish so overall it was about $130 to paint this floor. We’ve been walking on it for about 6 months and it’s still perfect looking. I did ask our house cleaners to give it a few weeks to fully cure before mopping it, as I wanted to make double sure it was completely cured (you never know when the weather is fluctuating so weird as it does here in Michigan, and things will cure at different rates with varied humidity). 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, but 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.

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. Stay tuned!

If you like what you see here, save this to your Pinterest board for inspiration.

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4 Comments

  1. Jill, this project came out beautifully. What a difference it makes. Hope you’re doing well. Miss our little shop in Old Town.
    Donna

    1. Donna, So good to hear from you. I miss it too. I’m selling in Williamston now at the Antiques Market. Are you still in Howell?

  2. Hi Jill! You inspired me to paint my multi colored slate hallway! I used Weathered Deck to cover the stones. I am about one third in, and up close some of the color seems to not cover as deeply as it appears yours did. Some stones look a bit streaky. Do I need to do a second coat, or will the Matt Finish cover more fully what I think isn’t covered enough? This is hard work for sure, and I don’t want to do what may not be necessary. Your article did not say you did two coats of color. it may be because my color is much lighter than the one you used. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kathleen, So glad you were inspired to do your floor! I believe I did one coat, pretty heavy, but with a darker color I may have gotten better coverage. Using a lighter color, I would do two coats for sure. You want full coverage before you put the Matte Finish on. And I can’t wait to see your project when you are finished! Definitely post a picture on social media and tag me in it! Let me know if you have any other questions!

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