How To Paint Vinyl Floors? (Everything You Need to Know)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Vinyl floors have a top layer that repels liquid, including paint. So, can you paint vinyl flooring?

You can paint vinyl flooring, but you must clean, sand, and prime it before painting over. This is to prep the vinyl material to accept paint. If you don’t sand or prime, the paint won’t’ stick over it.

Also, you must only use solvent-based paint that can withstand wear and tear. You shouldn’t use water-based paint because they aren’t durable enough to withstand wear and tear.

Does Paint Adhere to Vinyl Flooring?

Paint doesn’t adhere to vinyl flooring. That’s because vinyl has a wear layer that repels liquid. The top layer of the floor is slick and moisture-resistant made with recycled PVC. The purpose of the top layer is to prevent liquid from penetrating its surface.

Paint must penetrate (soak into) a surface to stick. But, since vinyl planks don’t allow the penetrating of liquid, paint won’t stick or dry over them. Instead, it will turn sticky or tacky. Even if it sticks, the adhesion won’t be good and the paint will peel off within a few days.

To improve the adhesion of the paint, sand the top layer off. Sanding will abrade the wear layer and reveal the bare vinyl material underneath. Then, apply a primer to create a smooth surface for the paint to stick to.

What Paint Types Can You Use over Vinyl Planks?

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Vinyl Flooring

You can only use vinyl floor paint for vinyl floor. Floor paints are reinforced with additives and high sheen levels to make them stick better and offer a protective layer on the floor.

The best paint to use over vinyl planks is enamel floor paint. Enamel floor paint is oil-based and reinforced with a solvent that makes the finish hard and durable enough to withstand the pressure on floors without chipping.

However, floor paint isn’t colorful since it’s designed to be durable and not beautiful. So, to improve its color, mix it with acrylic paint or add paint pigments.

You shouldn’t use regular paints because they aren’t durable enough to withstand foot traffic, and don’t have extra additives that improve their bonding qualities. Regular paint might stick over the floor, but will peel off fast.

How to Paint Vinyl Flooring?

Painting vinyl floors is hard because you can scratch the planks while removing the wear (top) layer. This guide will show you how to do it without scratching or damaging the planks.

Here are the tools you need:

  • Floor paint
  • A sander
  • Sandpaper
  • A mop
  • Floor brush
  • An angled paintbrush
  • A paint roller
  • A bucket
  • Painter’s tape
  • Wall or floor primer
  • Caulk or wood filler
  • A bucket of warm water and some detergent

1. Prep The Vinyl Floor

Prep The Vinyl Floor

Remove all furniture and items from the floor. If the floor is damaged, use wood filler or caulk to repair it. If a plank is damaged or weak, replace it.

Also, you must clean the floor to remove dust and dirt. Use a floor cleaner (designed for vinyl) to clean it.

2. Sand The Floor

Sand The Vinyl Flooring

Sanding will remove the water-resistant wear layer from the floor so the paint can stick better.

To remove the top layer of vinyl, use 220-grit sandpaper and a floor sander (or circular sander). You can sand manually too, but it will be time-consuming. Avoid using coarse-grit sandpaper as it can damage and scratch the planks.

After sanding, remove the dust by mopping the floor. Also, you must clean the planks before applying the paint.

To clean vinyl planks before painting:

  1. Mix detergent with warm water.
  2. Apply the mixture over the floor.
  3. Use a mop to clean it.
  4. Rinse it with clean water.
  5. Allow the planks to dry.

If the floor is filthy, the paint will not stick properly. Also, the filth on the floor can cause bubbles and stains once the finish dries. So, the floor needs to be clean.

3. Tape The Floor

Tape The Floor

Use painter’s tape to cover the low area of walls and wood trims. The tape will prevent paint spills on wood trims and walls. This makes cleaning up easier. You can use tape to cover other surfaces you don’t want to paint.

4. Apply a Coat of Paint Primer

Apply a Coat of Paint Primer

Before applying paint, apply one coat of primer. The primer will cover imperfections and provide a base coat for the paint to stick to. You must use a primer that is compatible with floor paint.

To apply primer, use a paint roller or sprayer. Allow the primer to dry before applying the paint.

5. Paint The Vinyl Flooring

Paint The Vinyl Flooring

To apply paint on vinyl floors, use a sprayer or roller, Apply 3 coats of floor paint over the vinyl floor. Wait until one coat dries before applying the next one. After applying the final coat, wait for it to dry, and then seal itwith polyurethane.

Sealing will make the floor moisture-resistant and strong enough to withstand foot traffic without chipping.

P.s. Some floor paints need to be thinned, mixed, or stirred before usage. So, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to prep the paint.

Can You Stain Vinyl Floors?

You can’t stain vinyl floors because stain won’t stick even if you sand the planks. That’s because wood stain must penetrate deep into the wood grain to stick. Since vinyl is a synthetic material and doesn’t have pores, the wood stain won’t stick over it.

Also, wood stain isn’t durable enough to handle furniture weight or constant foot traffic. So, even if wood stain sticks to the floor, the stain will get washed off by constant foot traffic.

Wood stain doesn’t stick the same way as paint. Paint doesn’t need to penetrate a surface deep to stick, it can stay over the top layer of the surface and stick there. However, wood stains must penetrate the surface deep to stick. So, wood stain sticks to porous surfaces, such as fresh wood, but won’t stick to the non-porous vinyl floor (or material).

Vinyl is a hard-multilayered material made from recycled materials. Since vinyl is not porous, the stain can’t penetrate it, and if the stain can’t penetrate a surface, it won’t stick or dry properly. Instead, the stain will turn into a tacky mess on the floor.

How Long After Painting Can You Walk over Vinyl Flooring?

You must wait until the paint dries fully (cures) before walking over vinyl flooring. The dry time of floor paint depends on the brand and type of paint. However, on average, it takes 12-24 hours for floor paint to dry enough to be walked over.

If you seal the paint, you must wait until the sealer dries before walking over it. For instance, water-based polyurethane takes 24 hours to dry fully (cure). So, you must wait until the paint dries, and then wait 24 hours more for the sealer to dry.

If you walk over the floor before the paint is dry, you will smear or remove the paint. Also, you will create a messy and tacky finish that will take days to dry.

So, wait 24 hours before walking over unsealed floor paint. And, wait 48 hours before walking over sealed floor paint.

Can You Change The Color of Vinyl Planks?

You can change the color of the vinyl floor by applying floor paint with a different color. However, if the planks are already painted, you must remove the existing finish before painting a new color. That’s because the old finish will bleed-through and interfere with the paint color.

You can also change the color of the floor by using a special vinyl dye. Vinyl dye is a spray can that is designed to be sprayed over the floor and change its color or shade.

Final Words

You can paint over vinyl floor, but you must sand the top layer of the floor first. That’s because vinyl floors have a moisture-resistant top layer that repels liquid. Sanding will remove the top layer and allow the paint to penetrate the planks. If you don’t sand or prime, the paint won’t stick.

Also, you must only use floor paint over vinyl planks because this paint is durable enough to withstand foot traffic and furniture weight, while regular paint isn’t.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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