Laminate floors can be gorgeous, durable, and affordable, but over time they can start to look dull or dirty. However, it is a hassle to install completely new flooring. The good thing is that it may not be necessary either. There are other ways, but many homeowners want to know, can you paint laminate floors?
You can paint laminate flooring to update the appearance using latex paint or floor and porch paint. To do so, you will have to use a high-quality sander on the floors and then use a primer before applying the paint. If you don’t do it correctly, the paint may not adhere or be scratched easily.
In this article, you will learn whether you can paint laminate floors and discover whether you should and some potential concerns and problems that you may want to keep in mind. You will also learn how to paint and whitewash laminate and the best paints to use for this type of project.
Can You Paint Laminate Floors?
It is entirely possible to paint laminate floors and do a good job with them so that it offers an attractive appearance and durability. However, that is only the case when it is done correctly and the right process and products are used. Otherwise, the paint may not cover damage, can become scratched and streaky, or inadequately adhere to the flooring.
Painting laminate flooring is an affordable fix as well. While it is unlikely to last as long as a brand new floor, it can last for years if you know what you are doing. Plus, you won’t have to pay more than $100 to $200 for materials. If you aren’t choosing to paint the laminate for cost-effectiveness or use a unique color, then it may be best to go a different route.
Having a clean floor is one of the most important things if you want to paint the floor to improve the appearance. Not only that, but you have to use a primer; otherwise the project will almost certainly be a total failure. Bonding primer is critical to the adhering properties of the paint and the aesthetic of the color and feel.
Laminate is made with layers and the top one is often a component meant to enhance the beauty of the flooring. However, it may also enhance the problems you face when painting it. Because of this, you may have to sand the floor so that the paint will properly stick. This is probably the most difficult portion of the project and you don’t want to sand too much either.
Should You Paint Laminate Floors?
Just because you can paint the laminate floor doesn’t mean you should, but whether it is a good idea or not depends on a few things, including your own desires and the amount of effort you want to put into the project. Knowing some important considerations and concerns can ensure that you do not make mistakes.
First, you have to make sure that you prepare the surface correctly and use the right type of paint. Otherwise, it will cause more trouble than it is worth because it either won’t adhere or will not last and become damaged and scratched too easily.
A second concern is the sanding in particular. You want to use a good quality sander for uniformity and cannot sand too far because it will not leave enough of the flooring left. This would make it hard, if not impossible, to achieve the look you are going for regardless of how much paint you slap on.
Furniture is another issue because the paint will not protect against scratches as the original laminate layers. The wrong type of paint makes this worse, but even the best paint types are more likely to become scratched by sliding chairs, falling objects, and other similar incidents. Sealer can help with this, so you may want to consider doing that step as well.
Another thing to keep in mind is shifting or expanding and contracting by the laminate floor. A floating laminate floor will move some throughout the year. Generally, this is a good thing, but once you paint it, the shifting could cause crevices and cracks in the layer of paint. Just keep this in mind, especially if the floor you want to paint is in a room that has drastically changing temperatures. You can still do the project, but just know that you may have to do occasional touch-ups.
Another issue you may encounter is that the project can take some time because you will have to let each layer of primer, paint, and sealer completely dry before moving to the next step. During this period, you will be unable to walk on the floor or use it at all. This can cause some problems, especially if you do not plan ahead and prepare to avoid the floor for a while. You also have to keep it relatively clean while the paint or primer is still wet.
Finally, painting your laminate is sure to void any manufacturer warranties that may still be active. If this is the case, then you may want to hold off. You can also check the laminate manufacturer to discover any additional concerns that you may run into when painting the floor or doing any other routine maintenance.
Can You Sand Laminate Floors?
Yes, you can sand laminate floors and we recommend doing so if you plan on painting. Otherwise, the non-porous, slick texture may impede the adhesion of the paint. Some people suggest using chemical etchers or other products to remove the top layer, but this is messier and less effective than sanding.
While sanding a laminate floor is certainly possible, you should not do so before knowing how to do it properly. An orbital sander works well and 180 or 150 grit sandpaper tends to work best with a low likelihood of damaging important layers of the flooring planks.
You want to remove the gloss layer from the laminate flooring, which is the uppermost layer usually made out of a plastic material. You do not have to remove the plastic entirely, but you have to remove all of the slick, glossy layer to reveal the other components underneath. This will allow the paint to stick without damaging the floor itself.
How to Paint Laminate Floor
What you need:
- All-Purpose Cleaner
- Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
- Latex Paint (Check out the best types later in the article)
- Paint Tray
- Paint Rollers
- Extensions for Rollers
- Paint Brushes (for edges)
- Oil-Based Bonding Primer
- Masking Tape
- Polyurethane Sealer
- Sanding Paper (150 or 180 grit)
- Orbital Sander
- Caulk (for filling in damage)
- The first step is to clean the floor and you must do so thoroughly. Merely sweeping is not enough because any small flecks of dirt or dust can negatively impact your painting job. You want to start by sweeping up all loose and visible debris and dirt. Then, you can move on to mopping with an all-purpose cleaner (make sure it is safe for laminate floors!). You want to completely remove any dirt, grime, and other build-up that has accumulated.
During this step, you also want to inspect the entire surface of the floor for dents, scrapes, and scratches. Any of these imperfections that go beneath the uppermost layer will need to be filled in or otherwise repaired unless you don’t mind them or they are in an out-of-sight location. You can use caulk to fill in these types of imperfections.
The next step is the sanding step, which we always recommend. A lot of people wonder if you can paint the flooring without sanding. The answer is yes, you can, but you shouldn’t because without sanding the laminate flooring, the paint will not stick appropriately because the laminate has a slick, non-porous surface. This will inevitably cause problems in the future, probably sooner rather than later. If you want the paint to be effective and attractive, then you must sand the floor.
Use an orbital sander and fine grit sanding paper (150 or 180 grit is best). If you don’t own an orbital sander, you can affordably rent one for a day or two. You want to let the sander do most of the work. This means you should not apply much pressure because you are only taking off a thin layer.
After sanding, you may want to sweep up any debris again. Then, use Trisodium Phosphate, or TSP, to clean the floor again. This should remove all debris from sanding and any other dirt and other particles. Make sure that you wash it away and dry the floor thoroughly before moving on so that the moisture does not cause bubbling in the paint. You can use fans or heaters to speed this process up.
Now you get to move to the primer. Well, kind of. First, you want to use masking tape to mark off all the corners, walls, edges, outlets, and anything else you don’t want to be painted.
Apply an oil-based primer evenly around the entire area, making sure that you do not miss any spots. Primer is usually best applied with a brush, but you can use a roller if you want as long as it is perfectly even or close to it. If you are going to be using a dark color of paint, then you should preferably use a tinted primer to reduce the number of coats required.
Be sure to allow the primer to dry completely before removing on. This is a crucial step and it may take overnight or longer to dry thoroughly. Moving forward prematurely can cause disastrous issues that will make you start over or deal with frustrating problems along the way.
Now you can paint and it is best to do so along the lines of the laminate boards. This will take longer than doing perpendicular painting lines, but it will also look better and not produce splotches of paint or imperfect drying. You can use a roller and extension to ensure that you do not step in wet paint as long as you make sure to use equal pressure throughout.
Use a brush along the edges and then you have to wait for the paint to dry. Drying times will be longer in humid areas. Once it is dry, you will determine whether you need another coat or not and apply one if necessary.
Now you will need to add one or two layers of polyurethane sealer to protect it and improve the smooth texture and appearance. We highly recommend that you do not skip this step. Do this just as you would paint the floor, but instead of using a paint tray, you can directly apply the sealer to the floor. After one layer dries, you can do a second.
Can You Chalk Paint Laminate Flooring?
Chalk paint is a fairly common choice for laminate flooring because it is unique and can provide a different contract. Some people even use it for stenciled designs on their newly painted laminate floor. The process is the same with chalk paint as with latex paint. If you are doing dark chalk paint, just make sure to use a tinted primer.
Best Paint for Laminate Floors
When painting laminate floors, choosing the right type of paint is essential. Generally, latex paint is the easiest choice and it is best to choose one made for porches or floors because it will be more resilient and durable. This is especially true for any high-traffic areas that you are painting.
One such latex porch and floor paint is Valspar 1500 Latex Satin Enamel. It is easy to use and reasonably priced. It also has excellent coverage and adhesion properties suitable for many floor types, including laminate.
Another option is the Rust-Oleum Home Interior Floor Coating Kit, which comes with two coats. The kit consists of a base that doubles as a primer and a topcoat. This makes the process easy and it is made to work on a wide variety of floors and they advertise its effective use on laminate.
As far as primer goes, we strongly recommend KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer. It not only adheres well to laminate but also covers 300 square feet per gallon, making it an affordable option.
How to Whitewash Laminate Flooring
Many people choose to whitewash their laminate flooring and it can be a great choice and is less likely to peel or chip than paint. This is especially good for those who want to paint or whitewash their laminate floors in areas prone to moisture or drastic temperature changes that can cause shifting.
You can make whitewash by mixing masonry lime with table salt and warm water. Another option is to use off-white latex paint and mix it with water. You want to dilute it until it looks and feels like heavy cream. You can also buy suitable whitewash products.
The process for whitewashing laminate flooring is nearly identical to painting. Follow the steps precisely until the last coat of paint dries before using a sealer. Instead of using polyurethane sealant as you would with paint, you will want to use a water-based latex varnish for sealing the floor. Other than that, the steps are the same.
Can You Stain Laminate Floors?
Unfortunately, you cannot use traditional stain products directly on laminate floors. Staining requires the product to seep into the wood, which is not possible with laminate because it is non-porous.
However, there is an alternative. You can sand the laminate floor as you would if you were going to paint it and then use a laminate floor finish, which can resemble wood and offer a similar, lasting color. It will usually take 3 to 4 coats for adequate coverage.
It is possible to paint laminate floors and it is much cheaper to do so than to replace the flooring. Paint will not adhere to the laminate directly, though, and you will have to sand down the top layer. Still, painting it correctly can reinvigorate your flooring and make it look great for years.