Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

October 4, 2016

How to Paint a Vinyl Floor | DIY Painted Floors

DIY Painted Floor

I'm sooooo excited about today's DIY project, even though things didn't go exactly as planned.  

When Hubby and I gave our oak kitchen a spunky turquoise makeover - painting the cabinets turquoise, ripping down the tiny awkward cabinetry for more storage in the form of open shelving, and building solid white washed maple counters from scratch - we left the vinyl flooring untouched.  I often cropped it out of photos (like these), but you can spot it in a post about my case study planter

Painted Vinyl Floor
Turquoise Kitchen

It was a cute enough pattern in a neutral, creamy hue with flecks of teal.  It looked okay but, frankly, because it extends into the adjacent entryway, shoe closet, laundry room and powder room, we were just too lazy to replace it!  It would have been one of those mushroom jobs, where you end up just gutting a room and repainting the entire house.  So we left the floors.  They were, however, a little grungy and dirt loved to settle in deep gauges the former owners had made.

Painting a Vinyl Floor

After the turquoise kitchen makeover was complete, I scrubbed the floors on my hands and needs with a stiff bristled brush and caustic cleaner and eventually made them look shiny and new.  Fast forward exactly three days and the dirt and grime had settled in the deep scratches again.  A simple mopping did little.  Then I realized that although Szuka sheds very little, she brings in a lot of debris from the yard, so sweeping or mopping the light floors became a daily task.

I had seen tutorials about painting vinyl flooring (from Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body and View Along the Way), but neither of their laundry rooms seemed to as high traffic as my space.  I waffled between painting and doing peel and stick - until we finished the bathroom reno.  I  just loved how the matte charcoal grey tiles looked and decided I wanted to test out the same look in the kitchen and adjoining rooms.  Unable to find the exact peel and stick tile, I decided to take the plunge and try paint, figuring that if all else fails, I could still do peel and stick.  I had nothing to lose!

Painting a Vinyl Floor

I decided to an another step to the pained vinyl floor tutorials I had seen online, though...

This was the plan: paint the vinyl floors a charcoal grey, then add a clear coat with fine flecks of black glitter.  I was hoping the floor would look less "painted" with the flecks of glitter.  I was also banking on the subtle sheen and speckles disguising crumbs and the like. 

Although the painted vinyl floor turned out so beautifully, I ran into a little trouble with the glitter, thanks to the clear coat not cooperating with the paint.  I'm still chatting with my local paint store to figure out if it was because the base coat was still off-gassing, or maybe because they weren't compatible to begin with.  There might still be a glitter top coat in my future but, for now, I really, really love how my dark grey painted vinyl floors turned out so I wanted to share!

If you've been eyeing up an ugly vinyl floor in your house, here's how we painted our vinyl - along with some tips to make painting a floor in a high traffic area (like a kitchen or entryway) a little easier.


How to Prepare to Paint a Vinyl Floor

Like most DIY projects, the prep work is the most important.  This will sound silly, but I spent an entire day getting the kitchen ready before we even touched the floor.  I batch cooked a week's worth of meals and stockpiled easy to re-heat grub.  I washed a bunch of laundry, washed all of the dishes, emptied the dishwasher, grabbed some paper plates and the microwave from our basement and thought about how we'd live without access to the kitchen, laundry room, and front door. 

How to Prep a Vinyl Floor for Paint

Hubby and I thoroughly scrubbed the floors with a stiff bristle brush and TSP, which we realized after isn't recommended by Zinsser but we rinsed it well - I recommend a TSP substitue.  Then we scuff sanded, which didn't really take that long.  A circular sander (which we don't have) would make light work of this task.  Finally, we washed the floors once again and rinsed really, really well so no residue remained.  We moved the appliances out of the way.

How to Prime a Vinyl Floor for Paint

We waited for the floors to dry overnight and then applied a coat of Zinsser 123 primer the next morning, which I had the store tint a dark grey. 

Priming Vinyl Floor for Paint
Prime Vinyl Floor

We treated it much like a wall:  we both edged because it took longer and then one of us rolled the primer on.  I free-handed the edging because I knew if I taped, I'd surely miss places and leave a sliver of beige vinyl tile.   

How to Paint a Vinyl Floor

Here's an important tip: I kept a swiffer cloth handy and quickly dry wiped each area before painting, just to catch any rogue fuzzies (I caught a lot!).  Any place where we primer or painted over a crumb (it happened a few times), when the crumb was finally knocked loose, we were left with a bear spot to touch up, so making sure the floor was spotless was essential to good adhesion and a nice looking paint job.

How to Prep a Floor for Paint

How to Paint a Vinyl Floor 

Once the primer had dried for 24 hours, we pushed the appliances back.  The primer and paint were really similar and I was really worried the appliances would scratch up the finish paint job.  After pushing everything back, we started applying the paint.

What to Paint Floor With

The Porch and Floor enamel we used was the same brand of  Porch and Floor enamel I used for the DIY painted particle board floor I tackled (I used a different brand, but the same kind of product, for the DIY painted concrete floor in the townhouse laundry room).  Concrete is SO much easier to paint, probably because it is porous and these products are designed for it.  With the tinted primer, though, painting the vinyl floor went smoothly.  We edged together and then one of us rolled again, being careful not to paint ourselves into a corner.  I used a tiny brush to get in between the wall and the side of the appliances - you cannot see back there at all, anyway.

One problem to watch out for: the floor enamel did not like being applied to drier areas, so we had to work quickly and keep a wet edge.

We applied two coats, waiting 24 hours in between coats.  We lit a fire on one damp evening so the house wasn't too humid.  24 hours after the second coat, it was fine to walk on, although we were careful to only wear socks and not drop anything sharp.  Szuka was expressly banned!

How Will Painted Floor Wear?
Dark Grey Painted Floor

How to Mess up the Glitter Top Coat

After letting the second coat dry for 36 hours, we started with the glitter top coat.  I had bought a clear coat recommended by the paint store employees and I purchased a pound of glitter.  They were dubious about my painting a vinyl floor plan, so I knew I was taking a risk.

Black Glitter

I poured a a third to one half of the bag into the clear coat (which I poured into a clean pail, first) and mixed really well.  I brushed it onto my paint stick to get a feel for how glittery it would be, and it looked perfect!  Just a hint of sparkly, not a full on glitter floor.  The clear coat was milky but was supposed to dry clear.

We got our supplies ready and started to apply the clear coat to the floor when we both noticed it was sort of seizing up.  We quickly washed it off and ran to the garage to do some testing.  Was it the glitter?  The vinyl?  The paint?  I applied the glitter top coat to various surfaces: painted trim scraps, a stained piece of wood, the stir stick with floor paint on it.  Every surface was fine (and SO pretty) except for the stir stick - the paint and clear coat were reacting.

The Results of my Painted Vinyl Floor DIY

We decided to forgo the glitter top coat for now, but once I hear back from the paint store I might still go ahead with it, but the matte look does really mimic the painted fireplace and the bathroom floor tile, so the cohesion and flow in the house is looking pretty darn awesome (time for an updated house tour!).

I'm also loving that the floors no longer sport streaks of perma-dirt:

How to Paint a Vinyl Floor
DIY Painted Kitchen Floor
Black Painted Kitchen Floor

Again, I didn't hate the before - the cream vinyl floor was nice but although it photographed well, in real life it looked pretty beat up.  Here's a look at the before again:

Painted Vinyl Floor - Before

This is going to be a great way to experiment with dark grey floors in here and see if we like them in time, before committing to a major reno and thousands of dollars of tile work.  (A couple of my photos have some lighter spots in them - I think my camera lens needs a cleaning, because those do not exist in real life - the floors look evenly colored).   

DIY Painted Vinyl Floor

How Does a Painted Vinyl Floor Hold Up?

So far, it holds up well!  It's been over a week and we have had absolutely no issues (knock on wood), but the primer takes a full seven days to harden - and the paint thirty - so I'm trying to keep Szuka and her claws away but she still sneaks in once a day but there are no scratches.

I really like how the design of the old floor sort of peeks through.  Walking on the floor feels weird, though, because it tricks my mind into thinking it's concrete because of the texture.  It's no longer as smooth as the vinyl but it's not rough, either - just sort of more matte, like the matte tile in the bathroom.  Importantly, it swiffers really well - no issue with dust getting stuck of anything - which is such a relief!  You wouldn't guess this is a painted floor.

My Tips for Painting a Vinyl Floor:
  • Chat with the pros about what products to use - not all primers can withstand foot traffic, for example.
  • Spend a few days making a list about what you'll need from the room(s) you're painting because it will be off limits while the paint dries.
  • Read the can labels but don't defer to paint store staff - do your own research too!  I found a LOT of helpful stuff in some DIY forums.
  • Don't skip the prep work: clean, sand and prime properly for maximum adhesion.
  • Keep a dry swiffer cloth handy to wipe each spot before applying primer and paint because little dust bunnies and flecks of stuff prevent paint from adhering properly.
  • Edge and roll just like you would a wall, making sure to keep a wet edge
  • Keep dust, pets, and people out of the area to avoid any pesky dust bunnies or hairs getting stuck in the fresh paint

The painted vinyl certainly lends more contrast, making the turquoise cabinets pop, drawing more attention to our beautiful maple counters!  I'm actually working on a mini face lift for the powder room, so when that's done I'll show you the new painted flooring in all of the rooms - and give you another update on how well it has held up.

Cross your fingers for me!

DIY Painted Vinyl Floor
DIY Painted Floor


  1. I love painted vinyl floors! I did my bathroom and it's holding up so well. I've always read that glitter can be a pain to add to paint. However, Target carries some that is supposed to work nicely. Maybe get 500 bottles of nail polish. ;)

    1. I'm so glad to hear your vinyl bathroom floors are holding up! That's fabulous!!

      I have read that glitter can be a problem too - it seems a lot of people couldn't permanently seal it, but from what I read, the major problems were with concrete. After testing my clear coat, I noticed it was absorbed by porous surfaces, leaving a lot of glitter loose and requiring a second top coat without glitter to seal it in. But on non-porous surfaces, it seems to fair a LOT better, with very few loose flakes - nothing a quick top coat can't fix. Theoretically.

      I didn't even realize Target sells such a thing! It's meant for floors? Interesting! I'll have to look into that, thanks for the tip. Can you imagine using nail polish, lol? "And today's DIY is sponsored by OPI"...

  2. It looks fantastic. One of our neighbors painted their garage floor with a kit that included glitter, don't know what kit it was, but it looks great.

    1. Thanks! I'm really happy with the change.

      I saw a few kits online but they seemed to be for exclusive concrete use and I was really worried about sticking the paint to the vinyl. I should have been a little more brave, because it seems that proper prep and a walkable primer was all I needed for solid adhesion.

  3. I've painted concrete floors, but I had no idea you could paint vinyl. It looks great! I'm about to try stainless steel paint. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Our vintage stovetop is in great condition...except for one spot about 3" in diameter where a previous owner scrubbed it with something abrasive, probably steel wool. I thought I could live with it, but it drives me nuts.

    1. Thanks Dana! I was pretty nervous about it, especially because the folks at the paint store were really, really skeptical, but so far so good...

      I'm very excited to hear about how your stainless steel paint turns out - will you share the outcome on your blog? Good luck!!!

  4. I've thought about painting my laundry room floor. The vinyl flooring is in very good shape but I hate the pattern & color. It is a high traffic area as well because it's also the mud room/side entrance that we use the most.

    We had sheet vinyl flooring installed in all of the main living areas of our home in past few years & we absolutely love it! We chose a slate tile pattern in the kitchen, dining & bathroom & an oak plank pattern in the living room & hall. It is obvious that the oak pattern is not real wood but no more so than other manufactured wood look flooring. The tile pattern looks like real tile until you feel it.

    They are the most comfortable floors to walk on as well, super easy to keep clean & I feel safer about how soft they are compared to other floorings as I age. I also have no worries at all about water spills or leaks like I would with other floors.

    Eventually we'd love to replace the carpet int he bedrooms with sheet vinyl & then add an area rug. It's the cleanest flooring I've ever owned!

    1. Hi Jenny! I think sheet vinyl flooring is seriously underrated. We installed it in the bathroom in our last house and nobody guessed it was vinyl. I agree totally that it's easy to clean (no grout lines!), easy to walk on, and some vinyl out there looks really, really good - yours sounds gorgeous! And I'm sure it was as easy on the wallet as it is the eyes. Plus it doesn't chip and crack the way tile can (although scratches and gauges have been an issue for me - but no more than the hardwood, which is scratched like crazy).

      If you paint your laundry room vinyl, let me know how it goes! Other folks have done stripes and stencils, so there are a ton of options. I just like the solid color because it looks less painted, somehow... But that might be in my mind, haha.

  5. Wow, that really looks great. I really love the dark grey.

    1. Thank you! So far, I'm finding it much easier to keep clean (ie. looking clean) than the light floors, but time will tell...

  6. I love your floors, and kitchen! I am about to paint my particle board floors in the living room, as well as vinyl floors in the kitchen. This so inspires me to keep having wonderful, money saving ideas! Everyone I know keeps telling me that painting the kitchen floor, and the particle board floor in the living room, will not work. They have also said that I am crazy for thinking about it. Well, I am going to show them the pics of your kitchen floors, and the pics of the pb floor at the building that you rented several years ago. Thank you so much for the encouragement and drive!

    1. Hi Donna, thanks so much! Good luck with your floor painting projects! I hope your particle board floor and kitchen floor turn out beautifully. (I'd love to see photos!). I'm happy I could help :)

  7. Would love to know how the floor is holding up.

    1. I am SO thrilled with it!! Even 100+ pound Szuka hasn't been able to ruin it. It looks amazing even after muddy boots and dog paws. There's a few slight surface scratches, but the top coat of our hardwood floors have them too. No scuffs through the paint at all, it looks freshly painted but if you crouch a certain way you can see those light scuffs. Seriously I'm so impressed with the paint!!

  8. Thank you for the great tutorial. I'm making over our guest/kids bathroom and the vinyl floor is a scuffed up awful cream color that brings the bathroom look down. I was wanting to change it to dark grey....I love the color of your kitchen floor. After reading this, I'm feeling brave enough to tackle this project!

    1. Thanks so much! I'm so happy to hear you feel emboldened to try - let me know how it goes!

  9. I like that floor a whole lot. Great job! I've been considering doing something for my vinyl kitchen floor. Doing without the kitchen for a while will be the tricky...


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