HOW TO PAINT VINYL FLOORS THAT LAST: STEP BY STEP GUIDE (2021)
The Ultimate Guide on How-to DIY paint vinyl floors with step by step instructions, photos & videos will help you update your old builder grade flooring. Also included are troubleshooting tips in case you get stuck.
Do you want to learn how to paint vinyl floors? Have builder grade flooring in your bathroom or laundry room like I do? Or are you blessed with 70’s flooring that is wild in pattern and color and you are looking to tone it down. This is the perfect budget friendly solution for you!
Painting vinyl floors is a cost effective way to update ugly or dated flooring without the cost of tile. While I think we can all agree that beautiful marble or patterned tile would be a dream, it’s expensive and right now may not be the perfect time for an upgrade.
I’m with you- my dream bathroom has large marble tiles on the walls and small marble tile on the floor. Wake me up, I’m dreaming. My mind and my budget just don’t live in the same place. And that’s okay.
Guest Bathroom Update: Painted Flooring
As part of the One Room Challenge I am updating our Hallway Bathroom (the kids bathroom). I am painting and stenciling the vinyl bathroom floors as a cost effective alternative to tiling. Check out the inspiration and progress list; the tutorial for painting the floor will be at the bottom of the post!
VINYL FLOORS BEFORE PAINTING
Here are the before photos of the vinyl bathroom floor that I painted. This kids bathroom isn’t terrible, it’s just terribly outdated and a little messy. (You should see the hallway where said mess has been displaced to).
Between the builder grade light fixture and the tan/beige vinyl flooring, everything is bland. And the beige flooring means it never looks clean, it always looks like brown dirt. No one wants to look at beige flooring all the time. I cannot wait for a clean, crisp white painted vinyl floor!
HOW TO PAINT VINYL FLOORS + Photos & Video
Below I’ve listed the supplies I used for this project. I have included some store and Amazon links (Amazon affiliate) so that you can see the product. But, I recommend running to the hardware store and Sherwin Williams because they will be cheaper to buy in store.
You can also find General Finishes paint at local (non hardware) stores – just use the locator on their website to find the closest retailer.
- Tile Stencil (I love Cutting Edge Stencils)
- Stencil Paint (My hands down favorite is General Finishes Milk Paint in Lamp Black)
- Sherwin Williams Floor & Porch Enamel Primer
- TSP cleaner/deglosser
- Bucket, gloves, scrubby sponge & clean rag
- Minwax Polycrylic Top Coat
- Low Tack Painters Tape
- Wooster Shortcut Paint Brush
- 3/8″ Nap Roller
- 5″ Dense Foam Roller (from Cutting Edge Stencils)
- Roller Paint Tray
- Handy Pail Paint Cup + Liners
- Paper Towels
- Scrap cardboard or poster board
- Measuring Tape + pencil
I researched and considered a lot of options before painting my vinyl bathroom floors. There is a brand that makes a kit complete with stencil, primer and paint. But I opted to not go with the whole kit.
Because I know the quality of both Sherwin Williams porch primer, General Finishes paint, and Polycrylic Top coat, I would much rather piece together the best materials for this project so that it lasts the longest.
Ultimately, it’s up to you, but I promise if you gather quality supplies, it will last. (I have a 2 years later video update on Instagram).
MOST HELPFUL VIDEOS ON PAINTING VINYL FLOORS
Here are two videos which give you the best directions for painting your vinyl flooring. The first is a great overview of how to properly roll the paint over the stencil.
It discusses how much pressure to use and how to remove excess paint from the roller- which is the only challenging part of this entire project. If I have one piece of advice for you, it would be to make sure the roller is almost dry!
The second video shows the actual tile stencil I used in this tutorial, although you can choose any stencil or pattern you like for your floors!
An important note on this video, is that the actual process they use, stippling with a brush is not what lent me to the best results. I preferred rolling a firm 5″ roller brush. It was also quicker to roll than to stipple.
Now that you have watched a few video’s to prep yourself for painting your floors, it’s time to round up your supplies and get started painting that vinyl bathroom flooring.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE: HOW TO PAINT VINYL FLOORS
Gather the supplies.
Remove everything from the room you will be painting. For this, I recommend getting 2 XL totes – one to keep everything from the room and one for the supplies you will use over the next few hours/days.
Clean the floors thoroughly with TSP.
Follow the directions on the box. The general instructions are to fill a bucket with warm water, mix in a tbsp of TSP and scrub the floors with a sponge. After scrubbing you will want to wash the floors with a rag and clean water.
Make sure you wear gloves and goggles because TSP is a strong substance.
Prime the Floor
It’s time to prime the floor. This was by far the most satisfying part for me! It takes the ugly flooring and covers it with fresh, clean white!
- Prime your vinyl flooring with Sherwin Williams Floor and Porch primer. SW porch primer was highly recommended to me for making sure the floors stay durable and don’t chip, bubble or peel. It is around $27 a can, but definitely worth the price.
- Tape off the cabinets, toilet, and door threshold.
- Start by cutting in the edges with an angled Wooster brush.
- Now is a good time to freshen up baseboard paint and run a new bead of caulk around the tub and any trim gaps.
- Next, roll the floor with primer, starting in the back corner and painting yourself out of the room.
- Let it dry
After the recoat time has passed (consult the primer can, but likely around 4 hours), roll a second coat. After the second coat of primer dried on these floors there were a few sections that still looked slightly opaque.
Add a third coat of porch primer if the floors still have weak spots. You will never regret adding a coat, you will however regret not doing it!
Let the primer dry fully, overnight is best.
STENCIL THE VINYL FLOORING
Get ready to stencil the floors with General Finishes Milk Paint and a firm 5″ roller. I will also use the word “tile” interchangeably and by this I mean vinyl square. The vinyl square size does not have to match the stencil size for it to look awesome!
As a side note, I have done a ton of painting and General Finishes Milk Paint does a fantastic job with coverage and not showing brushstrokes or amateur painting mistakes. It is really forgiving. I just adore it. You can also now get it on Amazon which is awesome! (Disclosure* This is an Affiliate Link, but it won’t cost you more!)
- Measure the room to find the center line.
- Now layer the stencil centered in the room or longest sight line and lightly mark both sides of the stencil with a pencil (or tape) line. If you’re stenciling over existing tiles with the same size, simply center the stencil on your next tile.
- Continue the line the length of the room to ensure your pattern stays straight. You can also use a laser level.
- For the stenciling, I used Cutting Edge Stencils. I ordered the 8″ Nola pattern and a roller.
- With the floor properly primed, spray the back of the stencil with removable spray adhesive to avoid pulling up any base coat paint.
- Never mask over freshly dried paint – the tape will pull it up.
- Mask off the baseboards, and those surfaces that will not be stenciled.
- Burnish (rub down) the edge of the tape for a cleaner line with less paint seepage. Always remove your masking tape slowly, pulling it an an angle.
- Pour stencil paint into a tray. Roll the foam roller in contrast paint (lamp black in this example). EVENLY load your dense foam roller by rolling it a few times back and forth through the poured paint.
- Once your stencil roller is evenly saturated with paint, off load the excess paint by rolling it a couple times on scrap cardboard or poster board. This is the most important tip!
- If the roller leaves stripy lines on the paper towels, reload the roller so it’s evenly coated and then off load it again on your cardboard.
- The roller should appear somewhat dry. It’s always better to have less paint on your roller because too much paint can cause paint seepage under the stencil.
- Start rolling over the stencil. Slowly build up paint coverage using light to medium pressure. Don’t push too hard as this can cause paint bleed under the stencil. Roll over the entire stencil. You may need to reink your roller depending on the size of your stencil and the amount of paint needed to cover it.
- Carefully un-tape and pull back a corner of the tile stencil to see if your paint coverage is satisfactory.
- Wait 30 seconds for the paint on the back of the stencil to dry. If you place the stencil down immediately for the next tile, the back of the stencil will leave paint seepage marks on the primer.
- Continue to the next tile by lining up the corner registration marks. Reload and off load stencil paint each time.
- Stencil as many full tiles as you can. When you have finished stenciling the full tiles, you will start on the perimeter.
- This is a time consuming part. You will bend the stencil up the wall or baseboard leaving the floor portion flush. If you find that you cannot get close enough or you are losing detail, cut the stencil to size.
- You may want to purchase a second stencil for this purpose.
- For toilets cut down your stencil. Start with the tile that surrounds the toilet. Line it up the grout lines (aka strait lines of square beside) and let it fold up the toilet base. Cut right around the toilet to get the correct shape of the stencil.
- Touch Ups. For me, it was easier to go back with a craft paintbrush or a Sharpie Paint Pen in white and black to touch up any areas that bled or looked to light or thin.
- Sharpie now makes a water based paint pen which works perfect for this.
- You’re going to want to quit. This is a long process- it feels like forever. But, you’re doing great-you are in the home stretch! Keep going!!
LET THE FLOORS DRY
I recommend letting the floors dry fully overnight before sealing. You don’t want to seal not fully dry paint.
SEAL THE FLOORS
After the stenciled paint is dry, you can seal the floors with Minwax Polycrylic Finish which can also be purchased at Sherwin Williams. I talked with the paint guys at SW and we discussed Polycrylic (water based) and Polyurethane sealers. I wanted a completely clear coat that won’t discolor over time.
We tried samples of both on a paint chip at the store. The SW staff is truly remarkable! As a side note, if you ever have questions, never hesitate to ask them. They are experts. Because Polyurethane has a slight amber tint, we agreed it was best to go with the Polycrylic because it is completely clear. With 2-3 coats it should hold up as well as it’s oil based counterpart.
To seal the painted floors: Cut in the edges like you did with the primer and roll on the rest.
GUIDE TO DIY PAINTED FLOORS: TIPS & TROUBLESHOOTING
- Have the proper supplies: a large rolling tray for priming with a liner from Handy Paint was a lifesaver. I used a liner in a paint cup for the stencil paint color.
- To help out my super ambitious One Room Challenge, HANDy Paint was kind enough to gift me painting supplies- paint pail, liners, rolling tray, handy tray and liners. A HUGE shout out to HANDY PAINT for the swag– Thanks!! They loaded me up with all I will need to complete this project and I must say I am ecstatic. Clean up will be a breeze. And we all know I struggle with the clean up part.
- Do thin paint layers and wait for them to dry.
- Stenciling will inherently have a stenciled look- not completely filled in- a hand painted appearance. Use a little bit of paint at a time. Go back for more layers after it dries. Touch up any bleeding with your primer.
- Use a dense firm roller instead of a fluffy roller. The firmer the roller the less paint it will hold, meaning it won’t bleed and won’t take forever to dry.
- Roll off excess paint. If I could only give one tip, it would be to offload that excess paint onto paper towels or cardboard.
- You will think it’s dry enough and it won’t be. It will seep.
- You’ll think it’s too dry and it will paint perfectly.
- So practice, practice, practice on poster board & you will start to feel the right amount of pressure and know how many times to roll off paint to get the perfect stencil.
- To move along quicker, buy two identical stencils and work on every other block.
See the finished bathroom: DIY Navy & Gold Bathroom Reveal
FAQ’S ABOUT PAINTING FLOORS
Lastly, I’ve answered the top reader submitted questions I get about painting vinyl floors.
What kind of paint do you use on vinyl floor?
Prime the floors with Sherwin Williams Floor and Porch primer. Use acrylic paint for the design and seal the painted floors with polycrylic.
Can you paint over vinyl flooring?
Yes! You can paint vinyl flooring to make out dated floors look new.
How long does painted vinyl floor last?
Painted vinyl flooring that was properly cleaned and sealed will last 3-5 years.
How do you seal acrylic paint on vinyl?
After you have finished painting the flooring, use Minwax Polycrylic to seal the vinyl. Roll on at least two coats for best results.
Can you use chalk paint on vinyl floors?
Yes, you can use chalk paint on vinyl floors, but sealed acrylic paint yields cleaner, better results.
How do you clean a vinyl floor?
You can clean your painted vinyl floor with a spin mop and hot water with 1/4 cup of bleach. You can also steam mop vinyl floors for a natural alternative.
See the full bathroom reveal here: Navy & Gold Budget Bathroom Makeover
LOVE IT, PIN IT!