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How to Paint Floors

Painting ideas for wood, laminate, vinyl, or ceramic tile floors

By Jan Soults Walker

When something's afoul underfoot—flooring looks dated, dinged up, or dingy—you can revive the look with paint. Here's how.

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Open Transitional Hallway by Joel Snayd
Joel Snayd
As long as your wood, laminate, vinyl, or ceramic tile floors aren't badly cracked, curling, warped, or otherwise severely damaged, you can paint the surface for much less than it would cost to replace the floor. Follow these steps for painting each material.

How to Paint Wood Floors

  • Thoroughly clean the wood with water and TSP (trisodium phosphate) or a TSP substitute. Rinse thoroughly. Let dry for two days.
  • Fill cracks and holes with wood filler, if desired. Let dry.
  • Lightly sand the floor to rough up the existing finish and to remove excess wood filler around repairs; vacuum up the dust. If any dust remains, wipe the floor with a tack cloth until completely dust-free.
  • Use a short-nap roller with an extension pole to apply high-quality, oil-base or latex primer, based on the recommendations of your local paint store experts. Let dry.
  • If the primer raised the grain of your wood floor, sand lightly again. Clean up all sanding dust with a vacuum and tack cloth.
  • Roll on two coats of high-quality paint formulated for floors. (Use oil-base paint over oil-base primer and latex paint over latex primer.) Let flooring dry thoroughly between coats.
  • If you want a design on your floor, use painter's tape to outline the design and guide your paint strokes. Remove the tape before the paint dries. You can also opt for repeating motifs, using stamps or stencils. Let dry.
  • Protect your newly painted floor with two or more coats of clear polyurethane, allowing the sealant to dry between coats.

How to Paint Laminate Floors

  • Thoroughly clean the laminate with water and TSP (trisodium phosphate) or a TSP substitute. Rinse thoroughly. Let dry.
  • Fill cracks and holes with wood filler, if desired. Let dry.
  • Lightly sand the floor to degloss the laminate surface and to remove excess wood filler around repairs; vacuum up the dust. If any dust remains, wipe the floor with a tack cloth until completely dust-free.
  • Apply high-quality, high-adhesion, oil-base or latex bonding primer, based on the recommendations of your local paint store experts. Use a brush to cut in primer around the outside edges. Fill in using a roller with an extension pole. Let dry.
  • Apply two coats of high-quality paint formulated for floors. (Use oil-base paint over oil-base bonding primer and latex paint over latex bonding primer.) Use a brush to cut in paint around the edges of the room; roll on the remainder. Let flooring dry thoroughly between coats.
  • If you want a design on your laminate floor, use painter's tape to outline the design and guide your paint strokes. Remove the tape before the paint dries. You can also opt for repeating motifs, using stamps or stencils. Let dry.
  • Protect your newly painted floor with two or more coats of clear polyurethane, allowing the sealant to dry between coats.

How to Paint Vinyl Floors

  • Thoroughly clean the vinyl with water and TSP (trisodium phosphate) or a TSP substitute. Rinse thoroughly. Let dry.
  • Lightly sand the floor to rough up any glossy finish on the vinyl and vacuum up the dust. If any dust remains, wipe the floor with a tack cloth until completely dust-free.
  • Apply high-quality, high-adhesion, oil-base or latex bonding primer, based on the recommendations of your local paint store experts. Use a brush to cut in primer around the outside edges. Fill in using a roller with an extension pole. Let dry.
  • Apply two coats of high-quality paint formulated for floors. (Use oil-base paint over oil-base bonding primer and latex paint over latex bonding primer.) Use a brush to cut in paint around the edges of the room; roll on the remainder. Let flooring dry thoroughly between coats.
  • If you want a design on your vinyl floor, use painter's tape to outline the design and guide your paint strokes. Remove the tape before the paint dries. You can also opt for repeating motifs, using stamps or stencils. Let dry.
  • Protect your newly painted floor with two or more coats of clear polyurethane, allowing the sealant to dry between coats.

How to Paint Ceramic Tile Floors

  • Thoroughly clean the tile with water and TSP (trisodium phosphate) or a TSP substitute. Rinse thoroughly. Let dry.
  • Sand the tile with fairly coarse sandpaper (220-grit) to rough up the shiny surface; vacuum up the dust. If any dust remains, wipe the floor with a tack cloth until completely dust-free.
  • Apply high-quality, high-adhesion, oil-base or latex bonding primer, based on the recommendations of your local paint store experts. Use a brush to cut in primer around the outside edges. Fill in using a roller with an extension pole. Let dry.
  • Apply two coats of high-quality paint formulated for concrete and garage floors. (Use oil-base paint over oil-base bonding primer and latex paint over latex bonding primer.) Use a brush to cut in paint around the edges of the room; roll on the remainder. Let flooring dry thoroughly between coats.
  • If you want a design on your tile floor, use painter's tape to outline the design and guide your paint strokes. Remove the tape before the paint dries. You can also opt for repeating motifs, using stamps or stencils. Let dry.
  • Protect your newly painted floor with two or more coats of clear polyurethane, allowing the sealant to dry between coats.

More Flooring Ideas

Read on to get inspired for more flooring ideas:

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