How to Paint Laminate Flooring

How to Paint Laminate Flooring – Engineered Wood Painting Tips

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Painting any type of flooring is a bold choice, and at times it can seem like a huge financial and aesthetic gamble. These days, there are many types of flooring available like tiling, hardwood, linoleum, and laminate. Out of these options, laminate is arguably one of the most popular, but can you paint over it? Let’s find out if painting over laminate flooring is possible, and if so, how to go about doing it yourself!



Can You Paint Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is known for its smooth, stain-resistant surface and overall affordability. However, like any type of flooring, it has a certain lifespan and eventually you’ll need to decide whether you’d like to resurface your flooring or replace it. Thankfully, you can paint over laminate flooring but you should fully grasp what you are in for before you get started.

Laminate flooring can take considerable time and effort to paint as it’s designed to be installed and replaced once it’s exceeded its lifespan.

It also will not have the same look or feel once it’s been painted, so if you like the way laminate flooring looks naturally, you might want to consider simply replacing your flooring instead. It’s also a labor-intensive process that will require a degree of commitment and preparation for it to be done correctly and in a timely manner.

Laminate Flooring Painting Tips

Painted laminate will also lack the same sheer texture and overall stain resistance the laminate flooring inherently has. That being said, if you understand what lies ahead let’s have a look at how to paint laminate flooring.


How to Paint Laminate Flooring

Painting laminate flooring can take some time and preparation. To help you along we’ve prepared a list of things you’ll need and a step-by-step tutorial detailing how to execute this project. Have a look around to make it a certainty that you’ve gathered your things beforehand and that you have prepared both yourself and your workpiece. Here is what you will need:

  • Paint
  • Primer
  • Wood filler
  • A putty knife
  • Painter’s tape
  • A floor sander (with 150 to 180-grit pads)
  • A drop cloth
  • A paint roller
  • Paint brushes
  • A vacuum
  • Floor cleaner (preferably trisodium phosphate)
  • A mop


Clean Your Flooring

Before any other preparation is done, your surface must be cleaned. The first step in cleaning your flooring is to remove any dust and grime that may be sitting on the surface of your flooring and the easiest way to go about it is to use a vacuum cleaner. Give your floor a good cleaning and don’t forget to tackle the corners of the room too.

Once you have cleaned the dust from the surface of your floor it’s time to get rid of ingrained dirt.

Using a mop and some floor cleaners, preferably some that contain trisodium phosphate, clean the dirt and grime from the surface of your flooring and any little nooks. When your flooring is nice and clean, allow it to dry thoroughly before taking the next step.

Clean Laminate Flooring Before Painting


Sand the Surface of Your Flooring

Laminate consists of an image layer which is printed to look like wood and a clear smooth wear-layer designed to protect the print layer. Since the wear-layer is specifically created to be stain-resistant and non-porous, you will need to roughen up the wear layer to provide a surface that paint can adhere to.

When sanding the surface of your laminate flooring it’s important to be very carful not to destroy the wear-layer as this will expose the fragile print layer.

In painting terminology, to key a surface means to texture a glossy surface to make it more receptive for paint. Key your laminate flooring by evenly sanding the surface at medium speed without gouging the material underneath. Simply pick an end to start at and work your way to the other end being sure not to miss any spots between.

Sand Laminate Flooring for Painting

Once you have lightly sanded your laminate flooring ensure that you sweep/vacuum all particles present on the surface of your flooring before moving on.


Repair Cracks in the Surface of Your Flooring

Even though laminate is supposed to act as a protective coating it cannot protect the layers underneath from everything. After all, floors tend to see a lot of foot traffic and weight over time and this can cause cracks and dents to appear, not to mention that you could have accidentally damaged the surface of your flooring during the sanding process.

There are many ways you can go about repairing all these dents, but arguably the best way is to use wood filler.

Using your putty knife, pick up some filler and apply it to the damaged areas of your floor. Overfill the gashes in the surface of your flooring and remove the excess by sliding your putty knife across the surface at a 45-degree angle.

Wood Filler for Laminate Flooring Repair

Keep filling the holes in the surface of your flooring and removing the excess until the entire surface is nice and flush. When you are done, allow the filler to dry and harden completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions before moving on to the next step.

Do not attempt to take any further steps while the putty is still wet.

Once your putty is dry be sure to seal off your trim from the floor with some painter’s tape. Apply the tape to your trim (or wall) and if you want to ensure the seal is nice and tight you can run your putty knife along the edges to make sure it’s nice and flat.


Prime the Surface of Your Flooring

Priming the surface of your flooring is a rather important part of painting laminate as failing to do it correctly could cause your paint to adhere incorrectly or not at all.

Priming the surface can be done with a brush and roller and the primer of your choice (just ensure that the primer corresponds with the paint type you have chosen).

Start by getting some primer into your paint tray and dipping your brush into it. Start by cutting in the edges of your flooring along the trim getting as close to the edge of your flooring as possible. Once your edges have been primed grab your roller and submerge half of it in the primer and then roll it on the ramp to remove any excess primer.

Prime Laminate Flooring Before Painting

Use your roller to apply your primer to your flooring. The best way to go about it is to start at the furthest end of the room and work your way back toward a space that won’t be painted (and trap you while the primer dries). Apply your primer in sections so that you don’t miss any spots and once you are done let the primer dry as recommended on the packaging.


Paint the Surface of Your Flooring

Now that your floor has been cleaned, repaired, filled, and primed, it’s finally time to paint it. Painting your flooring should follow the exact same process as priming it, with the only difference being that you will be applying paint. Clean your brush, roller, and paint tray of all the primer, and then pour some paint into your tray. Next, dip your brush into the paint and begin cutting in your edges.

Remember that any brush strokes will be a permanent part of your floor’s paint job so take your time and ensure that it looks good. Once your corners have been cut in, repeat the same steps you did when priming the floor by dipping half your roller into the paint tray and then rolling off the excess paint on the ramp.

Next, begin painting the floor’s surface using your roller by starting at the furthest end of your floor and working your way toward the other so as to not paint yourself into a corner. Tackle the floor in sections to ensure you don’t miss any spots and be sure to reload your roller every once in a while to ensure you get a nice even coat.


Seal the Surface of Your Flooring (Optional)

Aside from laminate floor paint, you can also coat your flooring with sealer. Why would you do this though? Well, your laminate floor was designed to survive floor traffic, shifting furniture, and the odd spill of food and drinks. This is why laminate has a wear-coat, so by sealing your paint you’re adding a new protective coating to protect the integrity of your floor and your paint job.

Some paint types like chalk paint need a special type of sealant, but most other paint types are compatible with conventional sealant.

Sealants can be applied using the same method you used to apply paint and primer, but it can take a bit longer as sealant (especially if it is epoxy-based) is quite thick compared to paint.

Sealer for Painted Laminate Flooring

While you can apply sealant using a roller it can be easier to apply it using a sprayer, but this does take some practice and you’ll have to get your hands on one if you don’t have one. One or two coats of sealer should be enough to get the job done if you’re applying relatively thin layers, just ensure you allow for 24 to 48 hours for the sealer to dry and cure before you make use of the floor.



Types of Paint to Use on Laminate Flooring

As you can see, painting the surface of your flooring isn’t too complicated but it is quite labor intensive. To make things a bit easier for yourself and to avoid disappointment we highly recommend you choose a paint that is suited for use on laminated flooring. What is the best laminate floor paint though? Below you will find a list of the best paint types to use on laminate flooring and why they’re the best choice for the job.


Latex-Based Paint

Latex-based paint is one of the most popular paint types due to the fact that it is non-toxic and gets excellent coverage. Latex-based paint is also known as water-based paint because it contains little to no harmful chemicals, and because it is very accessible, affordable, and gets great coverage people tend to use this paint type to paint large surfaces.

Latex-based paints are therefore a great option for painting flooring as they tend to be among the largest surfaces in the home, and if value for money isn’t something that you’re interested in you should know that latex-based paints also dry pretty quickly.

Under ideal conditions, latex-based paints can dry within three to five hours. This is extremely fast when compared to other paint types it can take between 12 to 24 hours to dry and cure completely.

Latex Paint Dries Quickly on Laminate Floors

Latex-based paints are available in many colors too, but there are some downsides to this paint type. The most glaring of these downsides is that latex paints aren’t very durable, which means that the money and time you save by using this paint will be spent purchasing and applying a high-quality sealer instead.


Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paint is one of the oldest paint types and has been used on everything from flooring to cupboards and even ceiling boards. This paint type is more durable than latex-based paint and consists of pigments suspended in drying oil which produces a hard, thick surface coating when applied to flooring boards. This paint type’s thickness is what gives it strength, and the fact that it seeps into the fibers of a substrate to bond with its fibers. This allows oil-based paint to resist damage from impact, abrasion, heat, and moisture.

Oil-based paints produce deep, vibrant colors with a palpable texture that is often used on solid and engineered wood surfaces.

Oil-based paint is not without its faults though. This paint type tends to contain a lot of VOCs (volatile organic chemicals) and therefore isn’t very good for the environment. It also does not get very good coverage when compared to latex and acrylic-based paints, and it can also be marginally more expensive than these two paint types.

VOC's in Oil-Based Paint for Laminate Flooring


Polyurethane-Based Paint

Polyurethane-based paints are another very popular paint type for painting laminate flooring. As the name would suggest, polyurethane-based paint uses polyurethane as its primary component, a substance well known for its versatility and robust nature. It should come as no surprise then that polyurethane paint is a popular choice for painting both interior and exterior flooring. Polyurethane-based paints and sealers are highly resistant to things like impact, abrasion, heat, and moisture, making it the ideal coating for highly trafficked floors.

Polyurethane for Laminate Flooring

The main advantage of this paint is that once applied you don’t need to apply a sealer as it’s inherently durable, and it’s also available in a wide variety of colors that lean toward a sheen finish. This is great if you like the standard finish of laminate flooring.

Polyurethane-based paint is not without its disadvantages though. While this paint is durable it can also be quite expensive, which isn’t great if you are working on a budget.

It also doesn’t offer great value for money when it comes to coverage (at least compared to latex-based paint) as it’s quite thick and therefore doesn’t spread quite as thin as other paints.


Enamel-Based Paint

Enamel-based paints are an even more robust paint type that has been used on flooring (of both the wood and concrete variety) for many years. Enamel-based paints primarily consist of resins and petroleum spirits, which make these paints highly resistant to the effects of water, acid, alkalis, impact, abrasion, and even heat.

Resin in Enamel Paints to Protect Laminate Flooring

As you can imagine these characteristics are great for highly-trafficked flooring, as it means that you won’t have to apply sealer once your paint has dried and cured. However, like polyurethane-based paints, enamel-based paints don’t get very good coverage due to their thickness, and can be just as if not more expensive than polyurethane-based paints.

Enamel-based paints do produce great color though, but they’re generally only available in satin and matt finishes. If you aren’t into these finishes then you might want to consider using another paint type, but if you like a textured glossy finish that is durable and easy to maintain, this paint type should be right up your alley.



How to Clean Laminate Flooring

Once your flooring has been painted, you might be wondering how you can clean and maintain your flooring to avoid having to resurface it again any time soon. Thankfully, laminate flooring is very easy to clean and maintain, in fact, this is one of the many reasons that laminate flooring is so popular in modern homes throughout the United States and the rest of the world.

How do you clean and maintain laminate flooring then? The best way to clean laminate flooring (whether it has been sealed or not) is with a dry mop to remove any dust, sand, or dirt present on the surface.

If you have more stubborn stains present on the surface you can use a mop and some soapy water to remove them, but it’s best to avoid any harsh chemicals as this could damage your flooring.

Tips for Maintaining Laminate Flooring

You should never attempt to steam clean your laminate flooring. Why not, you ask? Steam has the potential to damage the composite material of the wood, and if this happens you could be forced to replace sections of your floor instead of just resurfacing them. If you would like to prolong the lifespan of your flooring, you can also use dedicated laminate floor cleaning products.

The best trick you can implement to avoid excessive and/or unnecessary damage to your laminate flooring is to avoid letting water pool up on its surface.

If your flooring is sealed this isn’t quite as important, but if it isn’t, water could seep into gaps between your boards and irreparably damage the porous engineered wood substrate, which will have to be replaced once damaged.



Can I Paint Laminate Flooring Without Sanding?

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. That being said if you’ve wondered “Can I paint laminate flooring without sanding?” The answer is yes, but it’s not a good idea. Why isn’t it a good idea?

The upper wear-layer on laminate flooring is glossy, non-porous, and resistant to adhesion by any foreign materials by design.

Attempting to apply paint directly to a non-porous surface specifically created to resist staining will result in the paint failing to adhere correctly. Even if primer is used, both the paint and primer will have limited adhesion, which could cause them to flake and peel away. This can cause a lot of mess, not to mention waste a considerable amount of your time and effort.


These are the steps you can follow to prepare and paint laminate flooring. Remember that laminate flooring is inherently durable and if maintained correctly, you might not even need to resurface it at all. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t paint your flooring if you want to, as there are many incredible colors and finishes for you to choose from.




Frequently Asked Questions


Can You Cover Laminate Flooring With Wood Stain?

If laminate flooring can be covered with paint, can you cover laminate flooring with wood stain? The short answer is no. Wood stains is designed to soak into wood fibers, and since laminate flooring boards have a smooth non-porous coating, stain simply cannot bond with this material and will peel off in not time.


Can You Change the Color of Laminate Flooring?

You can change the color of laminate flooring by painting it. In order to do this, you will need to sand the surface clean, repair, prime, paint, and then reseal the surface of your laminate flooring. This project can take a while and be quite tiring, so do your best to prepare your tools well in advance.


Can You Varnishing Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring can be varnished, but it can only be done with a special type of varnish suitable for non-porous surfaces. Unlike most materials, you will need to use around three to four coats of varnish on laminate floor boards to ensure a consistent color tone.

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