Laminate consistently tops the list as the most popular flooring material for kitchens, living rooms, and other high-traffic areas in the home. Durable and inexpensive, laminate flooring gives homeowners the look of real wood or tile for far less money—and less maintenance.
However, over time laminate can grow scuffed and dingy. Rather than replace it, many people opt to paint their laminate flooring. In this guide, learn how to paint your laminate floors correctly, the pros and cons of doing so, and common mistakes to avoid.
Some experts recommend against painting laminate, reasoning that it doesn’t bond as well as other surfaces. However, when done properly, painting old laminate can cheaply refresh your floors and provide a new protective layer, keeping them in great shape for many more years.
Laminate, when installed correctly, will last up to 25 years with normal traffic and use—sometimes even longer than that! During that time, it's almost guaranteed to sustain scratches and stains or become outdated in its design.
This is why many homeowners choose to paint it: to smooth out imperfections and wear or give their space a new color scheme.
What Is Laminate Flooring Composed Of?
Pros & Cons Of Painting Laminate Floors
Preparing Your Laminate Floor For Painting: Sanding & Priming
- 1Gather your materials
You’ll need cleaning supplies, a sander, rollers and brushes, and your floor primer.
- 2Clean the floor
Vacuum or sweep up debris, then clean the laminate with a mop or rag. Water and a mild cleanser will work fine. This is also a good opportunity to take all the furniture out of the room.
- 3Sand the laminate
This removes the glossiness of the laminate. Note that this is not the same as the protective overlay above the design layer: you don’t have to sand that away unless it’s scratched and has to be leveled. Wipe up all residue and dust. You may also want to apply a de-glosser when this is done, in case you missed any before.
- 4Use painter’s tape
Use painters tape and protective sheeting to cover any trim work, thresholds, and other low areas that won’t be painted.
- 5Paint on your primer
You may want to do two coats, spaced about 24 hours apart. Make sure the primer is suited for laminate flooring and that it's compatible with your paint type.
How To Paint Laminate Flooring: Easy Step-By-Step Guide
1. Prep, Tape, And Prime
If you haven’t already done so, take time to prepare your laminate flooring before you paint.
2. Apply Your First Coat
You can do this with a roller or speed the process along dramatically by using a paint sprayer. Whatever you use, make sure it gets the paint on evenly. A small brush might be helpful to get into corners or other tough spots.
3. Apply A Second Coat
Wait 12 to 24 hours for the first to dry completely, then paint on another layer. If your laminate’s original design still shows through after the second coat has dried, you might need a third.
4. Seal Your Floors
This isn’t always necessary, but many experts recommend painting a final layer on your laminate flooring: a polyurethane topcoat to protect the paint from wear and tear.
5. Let It Dry
Avoid walking on the floor until the final layer is dry, about a day or so. If you sealed the floor, don’t put furniture back into the room for several days to a month, per the sealant’s curing time instructions.
What To Look For In A Laminate Flooring Paint?
When you decide to paint your laminate flooring, keep in mind that not all paints are created equally. You’ll want a paint that’s extremely strong, meant for floor traffic, and high-quality.
There's a world of difference between matte and high-gloss paint—and a range of options in between the two finishes. Before you paint, decide what kind of finish would suit your space best and which will hold up to your daily use and traffic.
Matte, which provides a soft and shine-free look, isn’t as durable or easy to clean as glossier options. High-gloss, on the other hand, delivers a shiny surface that's durable and easy to clean but might be too much for certain decor schemes.
Of course, you can also choose an option between matte and high-gloss to get the best of both finishes.
As with any paint—whether it's for walls, floors, or other projects—color is an essential factor to consider. Besides your room's decor, think about what you'll be doing in that space.
Heavy-traffic areas, like mudrooms or garages, might need dark or textured paint to hide stains and dirt. On the other hand, a high-gloss white can be easy to clean and brighten up dark spaces.
Lastly (though perhaps most importantly), you’ll want a durable paint that can hold up to everyday use, assuming you use the space frequently. Choose a floor paint formulation that says it’s suitable for laminate, and try to invest a reasonable amount.
Getting what you pay for is often true when selecting paint. While higher quality paints do cost more, they’re usually more than worth the difference.
Latex floor paint is a great standard option since it's strong and long-lasting. Others choose oil-based primers because once cured, they’re very strong. Chalk paint will also stick to laminate floors well, if you prep the surface properly beforehand.
Common Mistakes When Painting A Laminate Floor – What To Avoid!
Does Hardwood Have Layers?
Hardwood flooring also has layers, but the amount depends on what kind you install. Engineered hardwood, made from medium- or high-density fiberboard and real hardwood veneer, can range from three to twelve layers glued and pressed together under extreme pressure or heat.
Like laminate, these multiple layers serve to absorb impacts and resist moisture, and the veneer helps give floors durability and shine.
Real hardwood floors are made from solid timber, however. Other than a protective topcoat, they have only that one layer.
The drawback of hardwood is that it’s more expensive and can scratch more easily than laminate flooring. That said, it’s also easier to fix: you simply take up the damaged boards and replace them. While you can replace individual sections of laminate sometimes, you often have to take it all up and replace entire floors when they grow damaged.
Both types of flooring can be painted if the aesthetic damage grows to be an eyesore, or if you’re looking to update a room’s look without spending money on brand-new flooring.
If you have both hardwood and laminate flooring but only want to paint the latter, it might be wise to learn how to remove paint from laminate and hardwood floors in the event of a spill or accidental tracking.
Painting Laminate Flooring FAQs
Can you use spray paint on laminate?
Short answer, yes: most spray paint formulations will bond to laminate. Longer answer: spray paint is better on laminate furniture and other surfaces, not necessarily floors. The formula isn’t meant for high-traffic contact.
What is the best way to clean your newly painted laminated flooring?
A mild cleanser or simply water can clean painted laminate floors quite well in most cases. For stubborn stains or grime, you might need to add some detergent or a bit of vinegar. Just be sure to use it sparingly, and always dilute it first.
Can laminate flooring be varnished?
Yes, although most find polyurethane sealers to work better and peel less. Generally speaking, however, they do the same thing: adding a layer of protection to your laminate.
Does vinegar ruin laminate floors?
Vinegar can be used sparingly in cleaning solutions if it’s diluted (about 2 cups water for every ounce of vinegar), but be sure to wipe it up quickly. If used undiluted or allowed to sit too long, vinegar will harm laminate and paint.
Laminate is a popular flooring option due to its strength, versatility, and affordability—but when it grows discolored or outdated, replacing it might not be within everyone's budget.
Painting laminate flooring can extend a floor's lifetime and easily refresh a room, provided homeowners take their time to get the process just right.