Some homeowners consider painting over hardwood floors after they’ve become dull or damaged. While restoration and refinishing are almost always an option, sometimes folks just want to transform the aesthetic of a room with a bold flooring choice. To paint or not to paint old wood floors is a personal choice that should take some heavy consideration.
But what about laminate floors?
Laminate flooring is made of wood like traditional hardwood flooring, but is constructed differently and contains other materials as well. Plastic laminate flooring can be a more cost effective option for hardwood flooring, but because of its composition, is difficult to paint.
So can laminate flooring be stained? Can you refinish laminate floors? And, most importantly, can you successfully paint a laminate floor? If so, should you?
We’ve got all these answers for you and more, and can help you weigh your options.
Can I paint laminate flooring?
The short answer to this question is yes, you can paint your laminate flooring.
However, it is difficult to paint laminate flooring correctly, and even if you do, the paint job may not last very long. This is because the top layer of laminate is not the same porous wood-plank surface that typical hardwood has.
Laminate flooring consists of three layers, the middle of which is partly wood fibers, and partly resin. The other layers include a printed image of wood with a finish coat, and a supporting layer to give the flooring more structure and stability.
Can you refinish laminate floors?
Because it is not the same as hardwood, you cannot refinish laminate flooring. Sanding the top layer of your laminate flooring will damage it, permanently. However it’s a necessary step if you decide to try painting over your laminate floors.
Therefore, the answer to the question “can laminate flooring be stained?” is also, basically, no. You can apply a gel stain for laminate, but traditional wood stain is not an option.
When should I consider painting laminate flooring?
Because it’s hard to refresh the look of laminate flooring, some people choose to paint over it. Painting laminate can be very meticulous, and even in the best of cases, will require delicacy and specific care afterward.
For these reasons, you should really only paint a laminate floor if you’re looking for a temporary solution to damage that can’t be repaired, AND you’re not ready to replace the flooring yet.
If cost is a factor, be aware that it will cost somewhere between $100-$300 to properly paint your floor. The success of your job will depend on the quality of materials and your attention to detail.
Painting over laminate flooring: steps and tips
Artificial wood floors require the same basic refinishing steps as hardwood when it comes to painting.
To paint over plastic laminate flooring, you’ll need the following materials:
- An orbital sander and fine-grit sanding paper
- Painter’s tape
- A paint sprayer or paint roller
- Paint brushes for edges
- Laminate primer
- Your choice of paint (porch paint works well)
- Your choice of glossy finish or epoxy for the top coat
- A dry mop, wet mop, bucket, and gentle or all-natural cleaning detergent
Painting over laminate flooring requires patience and close attention to the before and after-care. Here are the 6 steps to painting your laminate floor:
- Remove all furniture and clean the floor surface. This step is very important, as paint will not last long at all if you paint over dirt, dust, or dog hair. Use a soft-bristle broom to sweep the floor thoroughly, paying special attention to corners and creases.
- Use the orbital sander to sand down the top glossy-finish layer of laminate. You’ll need to be very careful to only roughen the surface, and not to sand too deeply into the floor. Remember this is not hardwood, and isn’t meant to be sanded, so be delicate and go slow. If you notice any damage during the sanding step, address it when you’ve finished sanding and before you prime the floor.
- Clean the entire floor a second time with the same method in step 1. Then, dry mop, wet mop, and allow the floor to thoroughly dry.
- Once the floor is dry and passes a final cleanliness check, it’s time to apply the primer. Make sure you choose a laminate primer like this one, and tape off any surfaces that you want to protect around the floor before painting.
- Once the primer dries, apply a coat of your chosen type of paint and allow it to dry completely. Apply a second or third layer as needed.
- Once the paint dries, apply your epoxy or laminate paint sealant, and allow it to dry while providing adequate ventilation and air flow.
Before you dive in to a tricky project like painting laminate flooring, consider these project hacks and safety tips:
- Proper preparation of the laminate floor is crucial. Do not skip cleaning or sanding.
- This process will take a couple of days, so be prepared not to use the floor during that time.
- Wear clothes you’re okay with ruining.
- Expect that the painted floor may look drastically different than you expected. Painted floors can be eye-catching, but can also wear very quickly.
- Use a square paint brush for edges only. We recommend a paint sprayer or long-handled paint roller to coat the floor.
- If your room, house, or climate are humid, use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to help the drying process and allow longer than normal drying times, even if you think the floor has dried.
- Painting laminate floors is not a permanent solution to wear.
- We recommend using a ventilator, goggles, and gloves when handling any kind of chemical based products or paints.
From here, you’re done! Now, give your painted laminate flooring the care it will require to stay that way.
How to care for painted laminate floors
As mentioned, painted laminate flooring can wear quickly and scuff easily due to furniture movement, pets, kids, and general foot traffic. To keep your painted laminate flooring looking good as long as you can, we’ve got some aftercare tips.
Firstly, use felt squares or other under-the-furniture products to protect the floor against scrapes from furniture. Require that this room is now a shoe-free zone, and keep your pets’ nails clipped to an appropriate length so as not to scratch the surface finish or the paint.
Use very gentle or all-natural cleaning products, and always check for product compatibility for any chemical-based products. Do not use hard-bristled brooms or scrub brushes to clean the floor. Instead, try dry mopping, buffing the floor with a towel, and using sponges to spot-clean.
Laminate flooring is still wood flooring, so protect your finished masterpiece from excess moisture and clean spills right away to prevent damage.
Other solutions for damaged laminate floors
If you’ve painted your floors and aren’t loving the result, or the paint has begun to wear and you’re wondering what to do next, there are options.
Your local hardwood flooring professionals will know what type of flooring is best for your space and your budget. There are affordable solutions for hardwood flooring installation and other types of flooring. If this is a heavily-trafficked space, rental property, or room that gets repeated moisture exposure, installing new laminate or other flooring types may be your best option.
Check out some of our recent blog posts for more DIY information and resources for caring for your floors. Or, reach out to us today for more laminate flooring answers or your free flooring project estimate today.