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Can/Should You Paint Over Linoleum Flooring?

If you have been thinking about giving your floors a quick upgrade, painting them may have come to mind. Is it a good idea to paint over linoleum?

It is possible to paint over linoleum and many people have done it successfully. One of the most important parts of the project is preparing the floor before the first coat goes down. Painting linoleum flooring is a quick and inexpensive way to upgrade the floors that adds beauty and livability to the home.

Painting the floor over the vinyl

There are a few things you should consider before you apply paint to linoleum. Making the right choices and preparing the floor is the key to success.

If you don’t prepare the floor properly, the paint is likely to peel. In addition, any defects in the floor, such as dents or cracks will not be covered acceptably.

Can You Paint Over Linoleum Flooring?

Man painting the floor with white

The question as to whether you can paint over linoleum is different from the question as to whether you should paint the floor. Some families have been living on painted linoleum for many years.

More than likely, the reason why you want to paint over linoleum is that the old floor has been down for quite some time. Over the years, linoleum takes quite a beating from most families. This creates a unique problem.

Linoleum that is dirty, waxed, or stained will not easily accept a layer of paint. It might look fine for a while but, sooner or later, the paint will start to lift. At that point, the entire job will be ruined.

Read on to find out more about painting over linoleum. With the right prep and the proper care, it is a job that can last for a lifetime.

Should You Paint Over Linoleum Flooring? Reasons Why Not And Why Yes

Painting the floor over the vinyl

Like most homeowners, you would like to have beautiful floors and painting over the linoleum seems like a good idea. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons so you can make a good decision.

Once a linoleum floor is cleaned and repaired properly it can be painted for a beautiful finish. You can consider the linoleum to be a canvas to turn the floor into whatever you want it to be. Many people who paint their floor properly enjoy years of use out of it.

That doesn’t mean, however, that painting your linoleum floor is going to be all smooth sailing. In fact, you might find that there are some issues you didn’t expect.

Let’s take a look at the good and the bad of painting your floor:


  • Long-Lasting – If you paint the floor properly, there is no reason why it will not last for many years.
  • Beauty – A painted floor can be a very beautiful addition to your home. Since you will be choosing the look, you can expect it to be everything you wanted it to be.
  • Options – You are at least a little limited when it comes to options with many types of flooring. Those options are limited to what is in stock and even what is in style. With a painted floor, you have unlimited options.
  • Maintenance – Although you will not be able to use any harsh cleaning materials or tools, you will be able to maintain a painted floor easily. Just be gentle and clean it regularly for a beautiful, lasting finish.
  • Change – If you are set on painting over linoleum, there is no reason you have to keep it the same. Once the first coat is down, you can change the look and the color much easier than the initial project.
  • Cost – You can expect to spend hundreds or perhaps even thousands of dollars on most types of flooring. Aside from a few gallons of primer and paint, you typically won’t have any substantial costs.
  • Time – Painting over linoleum is not always the ideal option. You may want to have tile or wood but painting the floor can keep you happy until you decide to make the larger investment.


  • Prep Work – There is a considerable amount of prep work that goes into painting over linoleum. In fact, the more you put into preparing the floor, the better the finished job will be.
  • Sanding – We could have included this under prep work but it deserves its own status. You will want to sand the linoleum to get the paint to adhere properly. That adds an extra step and extra effort.
  • Easy to Damage – Unless you use a specific type of paint (described below) you will have to be careful about moving furniture or anything else across the floor. In almost all cases, the scraping action will ruin the painted finish.
  • Time-Consuming – Although there are many benefits to painting the linoleum floor, it is likely to be more time-consuming than choosing another type of flooring.
  • Completion Time – Since painting a linoleum floor happens in multiple steps, it can spread out over days before you are finished

As you can see, there are many points to consider when painting over linoleum. Each point should be considered carefully before you jump in with both feet.

I’m sure you will agree that there are no good or bad points that are a deal-breaker. They really are just some points to consider so you can make the best decision for your home.

How To Paint Over Linoleum Flooring

Woman painting the floor

If you have made the choice to paint over linoleum, you should consider every step before getting started. It will make a difference in how happy you are with the finished job.

The most important step in painting over linoleum is preparing the floor properly. It is a multiple-step process that involves cleaning, repairing, and roughing up the finish on the existing linoleum. Only after preparing the floor should you start painting it.

Here are the steps needed to paint over a linoleum floor:

  1. Choose Your Colors and Patterns – Since you will be damaging the linoleum floor proper to painting it, make sure you have your colors (and patterns) selected in advance.
  2. Buy the Primer and Paint – Although you can paint with any type of paint, there are sure to be problems unless you choose the right type of paint. Basically, it is choosing a paint that will stand up to everyday use.
  3. Porch Paint – This is an excellent option because of its durability and beauty. It was made to stand up to heavy use and the elements so it is sure to do great with your indoor project.
  4. Porch Paint Sealer – Porch paint may stand up to heavy use but it is still going to scratch easily if you don’t seal it. A clear polyurethane-based sealer is typically recommended but you may want to go with a low-VOC option for indoor use.
  5. Driveway Paint – Like porch paint, an option that is good for use in the driveway will also stand up to heavy use.
  6. Clear the Area – It is always best to start with a clear area. Move all furniture and other items in the room to a different area while you do the job.
  7. Clean the Floor – Linoleum has a reputation of being easy to clean but over the year, it may have a buildup of dirt, oil, and wax. Scrub the floor, preferably with an industrial scrubber. You can rent them at a local hardware store.
  8. Sand the Floor – Scuff up the floor with sandpaper (or a sanding pad if you have a floor scrubber). Doing so will allow the primer to properly stick to the floor.
  9. Prime the Floor – A high-quality primer will go a long way in making your finished job beautiful. You can use Kiltz or a similar primer.
  10. Paint the Floor – Use a paint roller and paint the floor with your paint of choice. Allow it to dry and add a second coat for proper coverage.
  11. Seal the Floor – Use a low-VOC sealer to seal the floor. Doing so will allow it to last for many years.

What Tools And Preparation Are Needed?

Tools to point for the floor

Are you ready to get started and paint your linoleum floor? Here is what you need to know to get started.

Preparing the linoleum is the most important part of painting it. Without proper preparation, the pain will not likely last more than a few months before it starts to peel. In order to get the floor ready, you must clean it thoroughly and rough up the surface with sandpaper. You can then prime the floor with Kilz or a similar primer.

Here are the tools you will need to get the project underway:

  • Painter’s Tape
  • Paint Brushes
  • Paint Rollers
  • Rags for wiping up paint drips
  • Sandpaper for roughing the linoleum floor finish
  • Caulk to repair small holes or tears in the linoleum
  • Box fan (to help dry the floor quickly)
  • A good exit plan

It is not only possible to paint a linoleum floor, it is a great idea. You can paint any color you choose and have a durable, beautiful surface that you can enjoy for years. As long as you properly prepare the floor, the paint will last a long time.

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