DIY Painted Checkerboard Floor with blue and white

Add some personality to bland floors in just a few easy steps. Learn how to create a painted checkerboard floor in this low-cost project that will transform your space.

Painted checkerboard floor is shown in blue and white in a 1950s galley kitchen.

 This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

I am so happy to announce our kitchen renovation is complete! If you’ve been following along, you may have already noticed the details and photos of it in an earlier blog post. 

One of the very last projects I worked on in the kitchen was painting the vinyl tile floors.
I was inspired by a blogger who had painted her studio floors in a checkerboard effect with light blue and white. However, she had painted wood floors

I had vinyl tile previously installed, so this wasn’t a feasible option for me. But I had noticed lots of DIYers on social media turning to paint to upgrade their cheap vinyl tile floors. I figured this idea had to work on these floors too.

You see, I didn’t hate the floors as they were, but I really didn’t love them either. They were sort of generic and added a bit too much gray to the room. (If you know me, you know I have a special dislike for the modern trend of grays everywhere in homes these days.)

I also felt the faux marble effect was too much once I added marble contact paper to our laminate countertops. It was way too matchy-matchy and looked overdone in the kitchen at this point. It needed a major refresh.

These DIY checkerboard floors add some character to our 1950s home and really honor the time the house was built. However, I also think they add a little cottage charm to the kitchen as well.

Checkerboard floors are a major trend in French country homes, one style I tend to borrow from time to time. 

The checkerboard effect also draws attention to the eye and creates the illusion of more space which is much needed in a small galley kitchen like this. I love that it pops but isn’t too dramatic, something I worried could happen with a true black and white checkered floor. 

For the white color I ended up using Atrium White by Pittsburgh Paints which I’ve used throughout my home on trim, doors, walls, and floors over these last few years. Then I went in with the color Upward by Sherwin Williams. I will admit, I probably could have gone a couple of shades lighter with the blue, but I was worried it wouldn’t show off the checkered effect enough.

One day, I may decide to switch to a lighter blue for a softer effect, but I am really loving the vintage style this gives our home. It isn’t something you see in many homes these days, and I take pride in owning a home that is set apart from the others.

Now that you have a little bit of background, let’s get into all the details of creating a painted checkerboard floor…

A painted checkerboard floor with blue and white are shown in a cottage style kitchen.

How many days do I need to complete this project?

I highly recommend doing this project over the course of about 2-3 days. It requires many coats of paint and a sealer to ensure everything stays put for a long time. This in turn creates a lot of drying time in between layers. Plan for at least two full days of work. 

Can I do this over any sort of tile?

Almost any type of tile can be painted. However, do note that this particular floor project works best on vinyl floor tiles. Other tile materials will require some sanding and very specific types of paint to stick to the tile. 

What colors should I choose?

This is the fun part for me. I have a love for color theory and putting together different color schemes for home projects. To start, complete online searches of checkered floors. You can try Pinterest or Google for this. 

Some may prefer the more classic black-and-white look that was so popular in the 1950s, which is still popular in little diners today. You also may be inspired by more of a French country café sort of style with a softer blue or mint green as your contrasting color. Regardless, I recommend choosing one neutral color (think: whites, grays, tans, or very muted pastel colors) and another color to contrast it. How much you want the second color to contrast the first is entirely up to you. 

A bird's eye view of painted checkerboard floors are shown.

Painted Checkerboard Floor with blue and white

Supplies | painted checkerboard floor

High- semi-gloss paint in white 

High- semi-gloss paint in color of choice

Water-based polyurethane spray (I prefer this product HERE and have used it for multiple projects in our home)

Paint rollers with roller brushes (2)

Painter’s tape

Paint tray 

Paint tray liners 

Angled sash brush 

Mineral spirits  

Straight-edge razor blade, optional 

Cleaning rags 


Safety glasses

Respirator mask  

Fan, optional but recommended

Steps | painted checkerboard floor

Degrease floors

Use mineral spirits to clean and degrease the floors. This effectively removes all dirt, grime, and grease from them. Good old soap and water just isn’t as effective as mineral spirits. Use old rags and towels to scrub and buff out any oils. Afterward, be sure to wipe the floor well with a wet, soapy towel to remove any residue from the mineral spirits. The petroleum in it will prevent paint from sticking well if you skip this step.

Mineral spirits are shown on a floor.

Always work in a well ventilated area and wear protective clothing, gloves, and possibly eyewear when working with mineral spirits, paints, sealers, or other chemicals. 

Prep floors for painting with tape

After the floor has dried, it’s time to start prepping for painting. Use painter’s tape to line the edges of the floors where they meet walls, cabinets, and appliances. Vacuum the floors before proceeding to the next step.

Paint the entire floor with your base color

Using a semi- or high-gloss paint, paint the entire floor with your base color (in most cases a white or neutral color). Start by using an angled sash brush to paint the edges first, where a roller won’t reach. Then use a roller brush to paint the rest of the floor. Allow to dry for at least 2-3 hours before adding another coat of paint (or according to paint instructions).

Reapply a second coat of paint

Apply a second coat of your neutral base coat to the entire floor, repeating the same exact steps from the previous step.

Vinyl tile floors have white paint added to the grout.
Grout is painted white with a brush before using a roller on tiles.
Two layers of white paint are added to kitchen floors.
A second coat of white paint is added to a kitchen floor.

Tape around tiles for checkered effect

Apply tape around every other tile to create a checkerboard effect. As you move on to the next row, tape around the tile diagonal to the first taped tile in the first row (the second tile in the second row) and continue the every-other-tile pattern. 

It is important to note that you should keep the grout line covered with tape to only leave every other tile piece to be painted with your second color. I chose to keep our grout white (or whichever color you used as the neutral base color) and I think this looks best visually.

Tape is added around every other tile in a pattern.

Add second (contrast) color

Paint every other tile, the ones you taped around in the previous step. It’s important to remember to paint inside the ones you taped and not to get them mixed up. I applied a stroke of my blue color to these tiles at the beginning, so I would not have to stop and think about which color each one would need to be and ruin my flow. Do this first to keep working quickly once you start using the roller brush. Allow to dry for 2-3 hours.

Paint is added to each square to indicate which tiles need blue color.
Paint is added to each square to indicate which tiles need blue color.

Repeat by layering a second coat of your contrasting color

Add another layer of paint color to the same tiles you painted in the previous step. For me this meant another layer of blue. Allow to dry thoroughly before moving on to the final step. I recommend letting all the paint layers cure overnight before adding polyurethane to seal the paint in. 

Marble style countertops are shown on green cabinets.

Seal floors

Carefully remove all the tape first. Prep your room by opening windows and setting a fan out to dry the floors once you’ve finished. Cover any countertops and move items so the chemicals in the spray do not contaminate foods or ruin decor. Vacuum immediately before adding the sealer (polyurethane).

Wearing the proper protective gear (gloves, eyewear, respirator), spray the polyurethane onto the floors around the entire room. Spray about 6 inches away from the floor and work quickly to prevent drips. Turn a fan on afterward to allow it to dry faster and to encourage air flow through the windows for proper ventilation.

Reapply the spray at least two more times (for a total of three coats), allowing it to dry for 2-3 hours between coats. Allow to cure overnight before use.

Tips for Success | painted checkerboard floor

Always work from the farthest corner and out when applying paint. This allows you to work your way out of the room upon finishing, so you don’t walk all over wet, sticky floors.

Really you should vacuum before almost every step: between coats of paint and the polyurethane layers. This prevents any dust, crumbs, or hairs from getting added into the final floors. Use a hand vacuum to prevent any scratches or nicks to the floors.

The best practice with any type of painted floors indoors is to try not to wear shoes in the house upon completion. This will significantly improve the longevity of your work.

When cleaning floors use soap and water only when mopping or cleaning by hand, not harsh chemicals. This can eat away at the paint over time.

A painted checkerboard floor with blue and white are shown in a cottage style kitchen.

More DIY Projects for Your Home 

European Gold Rub ‘n Buff on Cabinet Hardware  

Cottagecore Kitchen Color Palette  

Easy DIY Floating Shelves  

How to Install Beadboard Paneling

Easy $2 DIY Ceiling Medallion  

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.