Learn how to paint a vinyl floor and update your floors inexpensively with this thorough tutorial for DIY painted floors! Painted vinyl floors really hold up, I promise.
I’m sooooo excited to show you how to paint vinyl floors, because this cheap flooring DIY totally changed the look of our kitchen (and entry/laundry/powder room). 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:
It was a cute enough pattern in a neutral, creamy hue with flecks of teal. It looked okay and 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 everything. So we left the floors. They were, however, a little grungy and dirt loved to settle in deep gauges the former owners had made.
After the turquoise kitchen makeover was complete, I scrubbed the floors on my hands and knees, 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. I had seen tutorials about how to paint a vinyl floor, but none of the rooms with painted floors seemed to be 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 figure out how to paint a vinyl floor, figuring that if all else fails I could still do peel and stick. I had nothing to lose!
This was my orinial 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 dirt. 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. Luckily, I like the plain look of the painted vinyl floor anyway! If you’ve been eyeing up an ugly vinyl floor in your house, here’s how to paint a vinyl floor – along with some tips to make painting a floor in a high traffic area (like a kitchen or entryway) a little easier.
- Stiff Bristle Brush
- Cleaner (check for compatibility with primer/paint; TSP, for example, is not recommended by Zinsser – a TSP substitute like Krud Kutter would be better)
- Sandpaper and Sanding Block (we used 120 – you can also use a circular sander)
- Zinsser 123 Primer, Tinted
- Porch and Floor Enamel (I used PPG’s “Knight’s Armor” – Behr’s “Graphic Charcoal” is nearly identical)
- Good Quality Angled Brush
- Paint Tray + Liner
- Swiffer cloths
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:
On the advice of the folks at the paint store, 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 and so we had no problems – but I recommend a TSP substitute. 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. Then we moved the appliances out of the way. Taking the time to prep the floor is the most important step in the process for how to paint a vinyl floor. Without properly cleaning and sanding the floor, the primer and paint my not adhere well.
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.
When it came time to figure out exactly how to paint a vinyl floor, we treated painting the floor a lot like painting a wall: we edged with a paint brush around the perimeter and then rolled the primer on to the rest. I free-handed the edging because I knew if I taped it off, I’d surely miss places and leave a sliver of beige vinyl tile.
Here’s an important tip: I kept a swiffer cloth handy and quickly 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 bare spot to touch up, so making sure the floor was spotless was essential to good adhesion and a nice looking paint job. Again, the prep is really the key part of how to paint vinyl floor.
What Kind of Paint to Use on Vinyl Floor?
When painting a vinyl floor, it’s important to use a high quality primer and a Porch and Floor enamel designed to take foot traffic. 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).
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 finished paint job. After pushing everything back, we started applying the paint. With the tinted primer dry, painting the vinyl floor went smoothly. Just like with applying the primer, we edged around the perimeter with a paint brush and then rolled the rest of the paint on, 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 in the fireplace on one damp evening so the house wasn’t too humid, to help the paint dry. 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 (our 120lb pup) was banned! If you came here looking for info on how to paint a vinyl floor, that’s it! This floor has held up for years (from 2016-2022, when we finally renovated) and I’m so, so happy we tried this idea because I love the look. Neighbors who came by were even convinced we got new floors – no one guessed it was painted vinyl.
How to Mess up the Glitter Top Coat (lol):
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.
I poured 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. The folks at the paint store did some testing, and in the end it was a problem with the paint and clear coat. They provided another gallon of clear coat free of charge, but I never did tackle the glitter floor because, in the meantime, the solid grey really grew on me. 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!). And I’m just loving that the floors no longer sport streaks of perma-dirt:
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.
How Does a Painted Vinyl Floor Hold Up?
UPDATE July 2022: the painted vinyl floor held up so well! Primer takes a full seven days to harden – and the paint thirty – so I kept Szuka and her claws away for awhile but she hasn’t caused any major damage since. Even with two dogs and lots of sand and gravel and rough material that gets tracked in, the floors looked amazing over the last 6 years. There eventually were a few light scuffs to the paint but no scratches and NO beige vinyl peeking through – until we renovated the kitchen. At that point, it got a little beat up and some flecks of beige appeared but that’s because we beat it up during the renovation. For 6 years of normal, “hard” wear with shoes and dogs, it held up amazingly well.
My Tips for Painting a Vinyl Floor:
- If you don’t use the EXACT products I used, chat with the pros about what products to use – not all primers can withstand foot traffic.
- 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 and don’t defer to paint store staff – do your own research too!
- 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
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. 😉
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"…
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.
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.
I want to paint my vinyl bathroom floors but some of the tiles have slid apart. There appears to be at least 2 layers of flooring. I don’t want to add a third and don’t have the budget to rip up and replace with ceramic or wood. Any suggestions on what to use to fill the gaps between tiles before priming?
I would recommend using paintable caulk. You can smooth it out really well so it’s flush with the surface of the flooring and, once it dries, you can prime and paint right over it. There are different kinds, so make sure you get one that is paintable.
The paintable caulking is a genius idea
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.
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!!!
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!
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.
We had “wood” vinyl floors and they are cracking/ separated. I haven’t been able to find anywhere that offers advice on filling in the cracks. Do you know what would work or can point me in the right direction? I’ve read all the blogs out there and none have said anything about that. Ps the floors look amazing. I think they definitely look clean/ fresh without the glitter.
Thanks Natalie – I like them better without the glitter too, especially because they’re not as temporary as I thought, haha.
Unfortunately, I’ve never had experience with wood look vinyl floor cracking or separating. If you have any locally owned flooring stores in your city, sometimes those places can be a wealth of information – as opposed to the big box retailers. I can’t even really picture what you’re describing but my best guess would be some kind of epoxy to fill the cracks? When my hubby, father-in-law and I made our walnut desk, my father-in-law used epoxy and some saw dust to fill the knots and any holes for a seamless look. I wonder if that could work for you? You can tint it to match the floor color… But that’s really just a guess, I’m sorry!
Wow, that really looks great. I really love the dark grey.
Thank you! So far, I'm finding it much easier to keep clean (ie. looking clean) than the light floors, but time will tell…
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!
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 🙂
Would love to know how the floor is holding up.
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!!
Struggling right now as to when it will finally be ready for traffic such as a dog. How long did you have to wait? We are 5 days in and if you hit it just right it scratches.
Different manufacturer’s will recommend different dry times, I think we waited a few days. But I have heard from people who work at paint stores that it actually takes 30 days for paint to fully cure! And humidity and temp in a home can slow down the drying/curing process. But 5 days seems like a long time, definitely longer than we waited but our house is also very dry. And we didn’t have issues with it scratching either. Did you use these exact products or different ones? If different, you can always reach out to the manufacturers – sometimes certain primers and paints (or cleaners used beforehand) impede the curing process also.
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!
Thanks so much! I'm so happy to hear you feel emboldened to try – let me know how it goes!
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…
Great looking reno! I’m curious what type of clear coat you used that seized up so I know what NOT to use with an acrylic floor paint. Thanks!
Good question! I’m sorry I don’t remember but I will say it doesn’t need a top coat! It has held up beautifully.
Your kitchen is absolutely adorable!!! I love it. I just painted the vinyl floor in my bathroom today. Hoping it turns out as cute as yours did!
Thank you so much! I’m so excited you painted your bathroom floor. I hope it turns out great to – although I’m sure it will. What color/pattern did you go with?
I see where your vinyl floor looks solid, and everywhere I look they have solid vinyl floors, what I need to know is will this work on peel and stick vinyl floors? Mine is so ugly and old but I can’t afford a new floor. What do you think?
Hi Sonja, I don’t see peel and stick vinyl floors behaving too differently in terms of painting them. At first I was thinking that the only risk could potentially be paint seeping between the seams and lifting tiles. It’s possible paint could loosen the adhesive? That’s a big question mark – but with projects like this, there’s always a tiny risk. But there were no issues where my sheets of vinyl have seams. I’ve been wracking my brain but I can’t see this not working. The paint I used isn’t designed for a certain kind of flooring – I’ve painted chip board floor too. As long as you clean it well, sand/scuff well and use a good primer, you should be able to paint your peel and stick floor. I would maybe just apply a few thin coats to keep paint from really seeping in – it might take you a little extra time. Good luck 🙂 I know what it’s like to have ugly vinyl floors and no money to replace them!
I am in the process of painting our bathroom vinyl. Did you do one coat of printer, one coat of paint and one coat of enamel?
Hi Jeni! We used one coat of primer and two coats of Porch and Floor enamel. That’s it! Make sure to prep the floors well: scuff sand and a good clean! That’s the most important step. Good luck 🙂
Thanks for the tips! I am considering painting my vinyl kitchen floor, which extends into the laundry room. My question is whether you thought moving the appliances was necessary (obviously I would make it appear that the paint went a bit underneath to make it appear as though it was all painted).
If your color change is very dramatic, you might see it along the edges too? I only primed, didn’t paint (which made the contrast low because the primer was tinted) and in hindsight I wish I had painted also because the primer isn’t really tough so we have to move it gingerly to clean/make repairs (had to unplug the stove to replace coil recently). I was worried the paint wouldn’t hold up when we pushed the appliances back but it’s so tough! But I totally get where you’re coming from and moving them out can be a pain. If you can’t see the edges well because of shadow and getting under there with a little paint brush, then I’d go ahead and just paint around them.
To get to this site I typed bluegreen vinyl floors. I yearn to move into a house because my travel trailer is too small and needs too many repairs. Yes I live in a travel trailer. I find that all the floor coverings at Lowes or wherever are beautiful but never glossy bluegreen. I came here just to see what you were doing. It never occurred to me that anyone would want to paint an old floor like that. I just wanted to take bluegreen stain that I’ve seen at Sherwin Williams to jazz up a new vinyl floor covering. I believe it would be very simplified over what you have done since I don’t even have to remove scratches. Is there any advice for that?
Interesting that blue green vinyl floors led you here! Living in a travel trailer sounds like fun, but I can understand craving a house. I’m not sure that you could use stain on a vinyl floor – definitely paint, like I used, and you can have that color matched to any color or shade you’d like, but stain is meant to penetrate a porous surface so I doubt it would adhere to vinyl. But you could definitely stain wood flooring with a bluegreen stain. I would say the options are to color match the stain you like to paint vinyl, or go with wood flooring and then use your dream stain. Hopefully I’m understanding your dilemma properly.
P.S. Did you see the glossy blue/teal plywood stained floor I did? You can see it right here: https://www.danslelakehouse.com/2017/11/diy-plywood-floor-tips-tricks.html
I can’t believe you have the same color cabinets as me! lol I want to paint my vinyl floor as well but am thinking of doing big (maybe 1 foot) stripes of gray and white but I saw you said its hard to paint on the drier areas so am wondering if the two colors would work. Also I think you said that you didn’t put a poly or sealant over the paint. Did you have any cleaning or other issues because of that?
Cabinet twins! Except I painted mine teal since these photos were taken – just a bit darker.
I have seen other people do stripes and I think it will work out just fine for you – just let the first coat dry well so the tape doesn’t lift off any paint.
This has been a DREAM to clean. First, it doesn’t show the dirt as much, haha. But also it’s been super durable. I use any cleaners, mops, swiffers, rags – I scrub, I mop, I vacuum. It holds up unbelievably well, I am totally shocked. I don’t ever do a bristle brush bleach clean any more, but it doesn’t need that.
I painted half of my floor today. So far, it looks fantastic. My question is, how long before I can move my fridge and stove back to there original spaces? I know it says paint cures in 30 day but there is no way I can have the appliances pulled from the wall for that time.
So happy to hear your floors look fantastic! I primed under my appliances, then pushed them back and painted around them because I didn’t want to be stuck in this dilemma either (primer and paint were similar color and you can’t tell). If you can, lay some cardboard down for the fridge and stove to move along (depending on how far away you pushed them). That should help save the paint while it’s still curing.
Hello, I own a bar that has vinyl flooring (hate the color)
This is definitely a high traffic area, walking, stools being pushed in and out etc. What is your opinion will a painted vinyl floor hold up?
That’s a good question! We don’t walk on our floors with shoes or boots much – just to run in and grab something, otherwise we are a shoeless home. So it’s not getting the wear of people dragging in and grinding in grit and the like. And where the floor is, I don’t have chairs dragging. I have been rough on it with two dogs tearing across (and one is 100 pounds) and the floor has held up. I’ve dragged stuff and thrown stuff, lol. But your traffic would be considerably more than mine, so it’s really difficult to guess. I want to say yes because I know the feeling of hating the color…but it might be a gamble and there’s also dry/cure time that would hinder your business (although if you’re closed now with what’s happening, maybe its a good time – extra cure time could help).
Hi,I was just watching your story,it looks fantastic.My question is, I rent a basement apartment and because it’s so dark down here(lots of dark wood and small windows)I’ve lightened the dark cheap wood issue,now the floor…well because the present owners are two young guys who’ve overextended themselves by buying two other newer properties(my place is over 60 years old with no priorities)I was given the go-ahead and do whatever I thought would look good.My kitchen floor is such a mess,and because I don’t own the home,I thought I’d like to paint the floor,it’s vinyl and very skuffed-up,so because I’m a artist,I’d like to paint something untraditional,more of a me kinda thing,”abstract”.I’m not afraid of bright colors,my hitchen is a lot of reds and yellows and of course whites.any suggestions,just to give you a better idea of my uninhibitedness with color,my one wall in my kitchen and living room has a comic book pattern,so I’ve just pulled out a few (only a few) colors from that patteren.my kitchen appliances are fire engine red.So that’s my starting point.
That’s a tough one for me to answer because you’ll know from my home I’m a little turquoise obsessed, lol. And without photos, I’m just taking a stab at things. But I love the idea to create an abstract or some kind of abstracted design. You could use a stencil in an abstract type design to create a cool and artistic pattern that repeats. Or you could find inspiration in something like a Terrazzo type color palette, which could be fun and that has a really abstract look to it also. If your kitchen is already red, yellow, and white, I’d recommend going really wild with multicolors and a smaller, tighter design. I’d incorporate the red and yellows so it looks coordinated, but then pull in some more colors. Like this one, in my color palette, has five. So you could try doing something like red/yellow/white/teal/spring green so the floor has a lot going on. Just my two cents…but I’d definitely pull the main kitchen colors into your floors and then add a few more from your predominant decorating colors for a cool and custom look. I’d love to see when you’re done!
I’m curious how you are cleaning your floor. We typically mop with bleach water, but I’m guessing that could be damagaing to the paint.
I use Mr. Clean or Murphy’s Soap. And I can scrub vigorously with a Vileda sponge mop – no damage. But I don’t ever use bleach water, so I’m sorry I can’t say for certain. Do you use that to wash walls, also? If so, it could be fine… The amount of bleach you probably use is so little, if I had to guess I’d say it wouldn’t be an issue because this is a surprisingly durable surface.