If the floor is white, it’s right!!! I love white/whitewash wood floors. Painting a floor white can be the fastest and easiest way to fix an old hardwood floor, and oh so beautiful. The key to a lasting white floor is not skipping any steps.
1: You must, must, must sand the floor! Simply sand the floor with a fine sandpaper on a pole-sander. Sand the finish till it is dulled. You don’t need to sand all the way through the finish, you are just taking off the shine. This will allow the primer-coat to adhere properly.
2: Then, the primer coat is vitally important. Primer allows the paint to stick to the floors, cover evenly, and last longer. You will need to use an oil or shellac based primer. These primers adhere best. Yet, if you simply can’t take the smell, you can alternatively use an 100% acrylic water-based primer. Make sure is says 100% acrylic, not acrylic/latex blend. My favorite primer, that sticks to ANYTHING, is “BIN shellac primer” by Zinnser. It smells to high heaven, though!
3: Lastly, the paint-coat can actually be 100% acrylic or oil base, no matter what primer you use. That’s right, all primers are universal, and can be used with any top-coat. I know you’ve always been told that oil and water don’t mix, but this is only true with top-coats. The reason for this is simply that all primers dry with a rough, dull finish in order for paints to stick well. Water based paint won’t stick to oil paint, because oil paint is shiny. So the new rule of thumb is, paint and shiny don’t mix. Don’t paint anything shiny, prime first. Remember, shiny finishes (gloss or semi-gloss) will show scratches and wear faster. I tend to use a Satin finish.
Now, whitewashing is an entirely different story. I suggest that if you don’t have lots of finishing experience, use a professional!
Wondering where all this paint knowledge came from, and if it is legit? It came from about 5 men with about 30+ years experience each, who taught me everything they know about paint while working at a home-grown local paint shop. I am so lucky!