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How to Paint Chipboard Floors to Look Like Hardwood

Chipboard is manufactured by mixing and compressing wood chips, sawdust and resin.
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Things You'll Need:

  • Floor or palm sander
  • Sandpaper, assorted grit
  • Vacuum
  • Tack cloth
  • Degreaser spray
  • Rags
  • Painter's tape
  • Shellac primer
  • Paint stirrer
  • Paintbrush
  • Roller
  • Roller pan
  • Latex acrylic satin finish paint in wood color
  • Yardstick
  • Fine liner paintbrush
  • Ruler
  • Latex acrylic satin finish paint in darker color
  • Glaze
  • Faux wood grain rocker and combs
  • Broom
  • Polyurethane floor varnish


Plan to do your floor on a week when it is expected to be very dry. You’ll need to leave windows open and allow several days for the project in order to give the floor adequate drying time.

Hardwood floor planks are usually between 3 and 8 inches wide. Plank lengths can range from as little as 4 feet to over 16 feet.

Practice using the grain rocker on scrap wood or cardboard until you get the feel and begin creating natural-looking impressions.

Reapply varnish once a year to keep floors protected.


  • Apply spray sparingly as chipboard is absorbent and can warp from excess moisture. Clean it one section at a time. Before varnishing chipboard, it needs to be not just dry to the touch but fully cured so that moisture does not get trapped inside. Avoid using the room during the curing period if possible. If you must use the room, don’t bring unnecessary pieces of furniture in as it cures, and put a blanket or something to pad the floor before putting down furniture. Wear socks or slippers instead of shoes. Avoid spilling anything on the floor, and try to keep it clean.

All that stands between you and gorgeous floors is the right faux painting technique. Chipboard, also known as particleboard, was not your first choice of flooring; but sometimes you have to work with what you have. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, a faux hardwood-floor paint job is a low-budget solution that can give you attractive faux hardwood floors for years until you can put in the real thing.

Sand the chipboard floors to prepare them. The job will go more quickly and easily if you have a floor sander, but a palm sander will suffice. If the floors are rough, start with a heavy- or medium-grit paper to smooth them out first. Once the floors are smooth, or if they were fairly smooth to begin with, go over them once with a fine-grit paper.

Vacuum the floors and wipe them thoroughly with tack cloth so they will be dust-free. Be thorough in getting dust out of corners and around the edges where the floors meet the walls. Spray the floor lightly with a degreaser spray in one section, and immediately wipe with a rag. Turn on the heat to warm the room to over 70 degrees, if necessary, and let the floor dry out thoroughly overnight.

Open the windows and tape off the baseboards. Prime the floors with a coat of shellac primer. Apply the primer with a brush around the edges, then apply a thin coat to the rest of the floor with a roller. Let the first coat dry overnight, then apply a second thin coat. Let the second coat dry overnight as well.

Paint the floor with a latex acrylic paint in a satin finish. Choose a color you want your faux wood to be. Allow it to dry overnight. Paint on a second coat, if necessary, and let it dry overnight.

For a natural look, make planks even widths with varied, staggered lengths.
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Make lines on the floor to mimic the wood planks: First, decide which direction you want the fake floorboards to run and how wide you want them to be. Then paint straight plank lines lengthwise from one wall to the opposite wall. Use a yardstick, a fine liner paintbrush and a color paint that is two or three shades darker than your floor color.

Let the plank lines dry for a few hours, then make staggered cross-lines to show where one plank ends and another begins. Use the same darker paint, liner brush and a ruler. Stagger the cross-lines at regular intervals, such as 8, 10 or 12 feet, for a more realistic effect. Let the floor dry a few hours.

Mix 4 parts of glaze to 1 part of dark paint color and stir well. Brush the glaze on to cover one “plank.” Slide a wood grain rocker over the plank immediately, while the glaze is still wet. The more you rock the tool as you go, the more knotholes you’ll have. Less rocking will create longer grain lines. Wipe the tool clean.

Apply glaze to each plank in turn, switching at random between different sized grain combs and rockers to create a varied look. Wipe the tool clean after each plank.

Give the floors one or two days to dry. Let the paint cure for three to four weeks.

Sweep the floor and wipe it with a tack cloth. Apply several coats of a polyurethane floor varnish according to the manufacturer’s directions.

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