As much as we love vinyl flooring, it can’t be refinished like hardwood once it begins to wear out. That leaves homeowners with a touch decision on removing and replacing vinyl, although there are a few things you can do to revitalize this flooring.
Repair and rejuvenation of vinyl can be challenging, but paint has been the go-to alternative for a variety of surfaces for hundreds of years. While we typically think of paint on walls, in this guide we’re going to discuss how to paint over vinyl flooring. It’s a unique option and one that can breathe new life into any room in your home.
The Problem with Paint and Vinyl Flooring
Paint is a versatile substance and over the years manufacturers have engineered paint so that it can adhere to almost any surface. You can paint rusty old metal, plastic deck chairs and use dyes on carpet. There are hundreds of paints designed for concrete floors and wooden surfaces as well, but you won’t find any sections at the hardware store for vinyl flooring paint.
Whereas paint can be designed to stick to surfaces, the top layer of vinyl flooring has the opposite effect. Wear layers keep damage from reaching the image layer beneath, and also provide protection from water, stains, and everyday wear and tear. That is an issue with paint, even if the wear layer is worn down.
Ground in dirt, grease, and other substances can keep paint from adhering to vinyl flooring as well. In other words, painting vinyl isn’t necessarily easy or cost-effective although entirely possible. Before you decide if it’s the right choice for your next DIY project, consider the pros and cons beforehand.
The Pros and Cons of Painting Vinyl Flooring
Before understanding any home improvement project, we feel it’s a good idea to sit down and weigh out the pros against the cons. That’s especially true in this case, considering the cost of budget-friendly vinyl flooring compared to the factors involved with painting it.
The main reason to paint vinyl flooring is to keep from having to remove it. New flooring will have to be purchased to replace the worn vinyl, and unless you do it yourself, you’ll also need to pay for floor removal and haul off.
That can be minimal depending on the company installing the flooring in your home but still doesn’t take into account the price of the new flooring itself. Painting vinyl is cheaper, even when dealing with larger rooms. In many cases, it’s something a homeowner can accomplish on a weekend as well.
On the downside, painting vinyl is just a temporary solution compared to replacing it. If the vinyl flooring is very worn or damaged, the prep work before painting can take a considerable amount of time and effort. No matter how thick the paint used is, eventually, it will wear down as well – especially in areas with heavy foot traffic.
The Best Types of Paint for Vinyl Flooring
When you’ve decided to paint the vinyl floors in your home, the first step is to find the right type of paint. As you might suspect, not just any type of paint will do, and only a handful of products are geared to adhere to this type of flooring. Thankfully, one of the best comes from a well-known name with Rust-Oleum Home.
The Rust-Oleum Home Floor Coating “system” is unique as it’s a 2-part solution that can both change the color and protect newly painted vinyl floors. It’s by far the simplest vinyl floor paint you can use when durability is a concern and comes in several different base colors including green, brown, black, and blue.
If you’re looking to save money, you can try paint designed for vinyl decks or garage paint, which is also resilient. VOCs could be a concern, however, and you still have to take adhesion into account along with any preparation that goes into getting the vinyl floor ready to paint.
We also highly advise getting a sample of the paint you like to test on an inconspicuous area. Once dry, the color may not be what you initially expected.
How to Paint Vinyl Flooring
To successfully paint vinyl flooring in any room of your home, you’ll need to gather a handful of supplies and get the area ready for paint. It’s also a good idea to set aside at least a day or two to account for drying times and putting things back into place.
First, you need to settle on paint, and may also require primer depending on the type of paint you choose. With Rust-Oleum Home Floor Coating, primer isn’t needed, but you will still need a degreasing or cleaning agent for any type of vinyl flooring. This allows you to remove any excess dirt or grime that could keep paint from adhering to the surface.
To apply the paint or primer, you will need a roller, brush covers, and a paint tray. If you have a broom or mop with a head that unscrews, you can use that pole for the roller brush. Otherwise, you’ll need to pick up a pole to roll the floor with and in case any sanding needs to be done. Caulk and wide painter's tape are also commonly used when painting flooring.
As for the optional supplies, if the vinyl flooring needs to be sanded, you can use sandpaper around 60 or 80 grit to remove the wear layer. We advise using a dust mask in this case, and if the flooring is damaged, there are a variety of vinyl flooring repair kits you can choose from as well.
Prepping the Vinyl Flooring for Paint
No matter what type of paint you plan to use, the room will need to be prepped before you break out the paint and rollers. The first order of business is to move any furniture from the room. You’ll also need to remove any HVAC registers in the floor along with anything else that doesn’t need to be painted.
Check the floor over for damage and repair anything as needed before cleaning the flooring. If you’re not sure what to use, Krud Cutter can remove almost anything from vinyl and is a safe, biodegradable cleaner. Follow the directions on the cleaner, and make sure the floor is completely dry before proceeding.
When you are sure the flooring is clean and free of any debris, get the painter's tape and place it around the bottom of any baseboard in the room. The wide tape prevents the paint from getting onto the baseboard and it can be used on any permanent fixtures in a room that don’t need to be painted.
Painting the Floor
While the steps may vary to a degree depending on the product used, the basics of painting a floor always remain the same. Before you begin, remember to take your time and allow one coat to dry before attempting to apply the next. Keep the exit “path” in mind as well or you could end up painting yourself into a corner.
When using primer, it needs to be applied before the paint is put onto the floor. This may require more than one coat as well, depending on the quality of the paint used and the texture of the flooring itself. The process below is recommended for paint or primer – just remember to let the primer dry completely before applying floor paint.
- Pour the paint or primer into the paint pan, but be careful not to overfill. You want enough room for your roller, and not have excess paint in the upper part of the tray. While some guides recommend pouring paint directly onto the floor – only use a paint tray, do not dump paint on the floor.
- Slip the roller cover onto the roller brush, and screw the pole into the end of that brush. Make sure it’s firmly attached, and that the brush spins freely before dipping it into the paint.
- ake the roller brush, place it in the tray and push it forward across the front of the pan to remove excess paint. When the roller cover is covered evenly in paint, you are ready to begin applying it to vinyl flooring.
- While you can start anywhere you like, it’s best to begin against a wall and work your way back towards a doorway moving the pan as you go. After rolling a few stripes across the floor, you’ll see how the paint will cover.
- Primer and paint could require more than one coat, especially if you chose a lighter color to go over darker flooring. In this case, always wait until the initial coat is completely dry before applying a second coat.
- Wait until the painted vinyl flooring is completely dry before walking across it. This could take 12-48 hours depending on the paint and the conditions inside the room itself. Once completely dry, you can touch up any spots with a small paintbrush and remove the painters tape from the baseboard.
While the video below uses a few different tools and techniques than you’ll find in our guide, you can see how easy it is to paint a small vinyl bathroom floor. It’s a good example of how quickly a coat of paint and a few stencils can completely change the look of a room as well.
Painting over vinyl flooring may not be the first thing to come to mind when your old vinyl becomes worn, but it is an interesting alternative to removing the flooring. With that in mind, if the vinyl is extremely worn or damaged, you should replace it to avoid potential problems down the line. If you’re interested in new vinyl flooring for your home, we have you covered.